Climate Week En Review, March 8, 2019

20141118 chelsea 122 Chelsea Henderson | March 08, 2019 |


Happy Friday from me and the squirrel caught in a trap on my roof. She's moving from her cozy home in my attic to the Eastern Shore today, but in the meantime, the steady thumping of her trying to get out of the trap is my background music today.

And now, the news (a welcome distraction):

This week's must read: Republicans who couldn't beat climate debate now seek to join it (Fortune) From the article: "The shift in posture follows the public's growing anxiety after catastrophic hurricanes, flooding and wildfires linked to global warming. Fully 74 percent of registered voters think global warming is happening and 67 percent said they are worried it, according to polling conducted by Yale Program on Climate Change Communication."

Disputer turns advocate: Georgia's Rep. Buddy Carter, recently appointed to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, says he's "all in" on addressing climate change, a shift in position from even a year ago. "I've heard from constituents and this is real and this concerns them and it's something we need to address," he said. "It's important to us in Coastal Georgia and I get it and I understand that. Climate change is real." Carter's district encompasses the state's coastline and includes Savannah.

"In order to succeed, we've got to have a broad area of technologies that are brought to the market and they've got to include renewable and cleaner energy," he said. "I view our responsibility in Congress is making sure we incentivize clean energy and technology and promote clean energy and the research and development." While he's "withholding judgement" on a carbon tax, he pointed to the need for a mechanism to incentivize the transition to clean energy. "America is the innovator and this is the opportunity for us to step up and a responsibility for us to step up."

Alaska has "no choice": Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, noted Republican members "are openly using the term climate change," a shift in the GOP, which lately is leaning into instead away from climate conversations. "You are not seeing this kind of dismissive attitude but more open conversations about some of the challenges, some of the technologies we can look to, some of the solutions." Murkowski chaired her committee's first climate change hearing since 2012, with the focus of the hearing on the electricity sector. Hers will be one of several committee debating the issue. "It is very much a multi-committee effort," she said.

In her opening statement, Murkowski said: "As more renewables come online and the mix of baseload power changes, our committee will focus on maintaining grid reliability and resiliency. We will prioritize keeping energy affordable. And we will also be working to advance cleaner energy technologies that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Club T. Roos: In a bicameral effort to meet the Green New Deal, Republicans on both sides of Capitol Hill launched the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner joined with New York's Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Florida's Congressman Brian Mast of Florida to lead the caucus in their respective chambers. The caucus will not focus on climate change, but instead on returning Republicans to the conservation and environmental roots laid by President Theodore Roosevelt by tackling public lands issues, wildlife conservation, and environmental degradation of rivers, streams, and animal habitats. Toward that end, the caucus will work on "conservative solutions which are driven by a commitment to innovation, competitive markers, and entrepreneurialism."

"In Florida, we've felt the social and economic consequences of environmental disaster firsthand," said Mast in a statement. "It's necessary that we work together to strengthen conservation efforts and protect our environment."

Separately, regarding climate change, Graham noted in an interview: "There is a growing consensus on our side that man-made emissions are contributing to global warming, that the 'green deal' is absurd, and we should be able to find a more appropriate solution to the problem."

EcoRight leadership: RepublicEn.org spokesperson Kiera O'Brien—who hails from Ketchikan, Alaska (also home to Senator Lisa Murkowski) and who as the president of the Harvard Republican Club co-founded Students for Climate Dividends (S4CD)—is featured in the latest edition of Sierra in the article: College Republicans Want Their Party to Confront Climate Change.

"As a Republican, I like to see government getting out of the way of the people, allowing businesses to flourish and proceed with the development of technologies, rather than dictating to them what should be done," O'Brien says in the interview. She notes that when she left Alaska to go to college in Boston, she "wasn't used to the pollution, even just the noise and smell of cars." Her S4CD Yale counterpart Alex Posner adds. "If we can crack the political knot and engineer a bipartisan solution on climate...I think that will be the greatest magic trick to date."

Together with the Climate Leadership Council, S4CD helped organize a carbon dividend support letter from economists at most major universities in the U.S.

Price of inaction: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that federal inaction on climate change is costing U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually. In its most recent biennial High Risk report on waste, mismanagement, abuse, and fraud in government agencies and programs, GAO concluded that "federal investments in resilience could be more effective if post-disaster hazard mitigation efforts were balanced with resources for pre-disaster hazard mitigation." According to the report, the federal government has spent nearly half a trillion dollars since 2005 on disaster relief, and while it had been making progress improving leadership on Congress, the government "has not made measurable progress since 2017."

Happy International Women's Day and a shout out to all the amazing EcoRight women out there, especially those highlighted in this news roundup.

P.S. Spring forward this weekend. In the meantime, make the most of every hour you have.


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