To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Climate

AM Briefing: A COP Breakthrough

On the historic climate deal, EV adoption, and AI

AM Briefing: A COP Breakthrough
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Spain recorded its highest-ever December temperature • Flooding forced some London drivers to abandon their cars • It will be cold but clear tonight in New York City for Taylor Swift's blowout birthday bash.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Breakthrough COP28 deal calls for transition away from fossil fuels

A deal has been reached at the COP28 climate summit that marks “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era, says United Nations climate chief Simon Stiell. After two weeks of intense negotiations and several rejected drafts, an agreement was swiftly finalized today that calls on countries to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels this decade in pursuit of achieving net zero by 2050. It also calls for tripling renewable energy capacity, phasing down unabated coal, reducing methane emissions, phasing out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies, and accelerating zero and low-emissions technologies.

Applause at COP28COP28 leaders and delegates applaud a breakthrough at the conference.Fadel Dawod/Getty Images

The text of the deal will not please everyone. It is weak on financial commitments for helping developing countries. It allows for the use of “transition fuels” – such as natural gas, a fossil fuel – in facilitating the energy transition, as well as carbon capture technologies. It uses vague language that leaves much room for interpretation and loopholes. But this deal marks the first time oil and gas has been mentioned in a COP agreement, which would have been “unthinkable just two years ago,” saysBusiness Green’s James Murray. COP28 president Sultan Al-Jaber called the deal historic but followed that with a word of caution: “Any agreement is only as good as its implementation. We are what we do, not what we say. We must turn this agreement into tangible action.”

2. COP agreement met with mixed reactions

The positive:

  • “We’re standing here in an oil country, surrounded by oil countries, and we made the decision saying let’s move away from oil and gas.” – Dan Jorgensen, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy
  • “It puts the fossil fuel industry formally on notice that its old business model is expiring.” –Jake Schmidt, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • “The decision at COP28 to finally recognize that the climate crisis is, at its heart, a fossil fuel crisis is an important milestone. But it is also the bare minimum we need and is long overdue.” –Former Vice President Al Gore

The negative:

  • “We asked for a fast phase out. This is not that.” –David Tong, Oil Change International
  • “The wealthiest countries have clearly refused point blank to offer any new finance to help developing countries make these targets a reality on the ground.” –Teresa Anderson, ActionAid
  • “Carbon capture and storage, hydrogen production, nuclear energy and others, increase climate vulnerability and lead to the violation of the rights of communities and nature in the Latin American and the Caribbean region as well as the entire Global South.” –Eduardo Giesen, global campaign to demand global justice
  • “The text calls for a transition away from fossil fuels in this critical decade, but the transition is not funded or fair.” –Mohamed Adow, Power Shift Africa

3. Study: EV adoption is seeing ‘genuine exponential growth’

A new study concludes electric car adoption is seeing “genuine exponential growth” across the world and that EVs “are highly likely to dominate the global passenger car fleet in the near future, less than a decade from today.” After analyzing the uptake of passenger EVs across 17 individual countries, Europe, and the world, the researchers believe that “system-wide adoption” will happen much faster than other estimates suggest. In Europe, for example, the researchers predict the majority of passenger cars will be EVs by 2031. The findings, published in the journal PLOS One, hint at “radical economic and infrastructural consequences in the near future.”

Estimated future share of EVs within fleets across regions.PLOS One

4. The Arctic just had its warmest summer ever recorded

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s annual Arctic Report Card, out yesterday, outlines the many ways climate change is dramatically transforming the Arctic’s delicate landscape. Some key takeaways:

  • October 2022 to September 2023 was the sixth warmest year in the Arctic since recording began in 1900.
  • Summer 2023 was the region’s hottest ever.
  • Arctic temperatures have risen at least twice as fast as global temperatures.
  • The area is seeing record “greening” – the emergence of shrubs, grasses, and other plants – as the tundra thaws.

There was one bright spot: A restoration initiative in Finland has helped protect nearly 130,000 acres of carbon-storing peatland and brought the return of more than 200 species of birds.

5. New DOE office will examine how AI could address climate change

The Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday announced the creation of a new office that will focus on “emerging technology” including artificial intelligence and how it could be used to address climate change. The Office of Critical and Emerging Technology will help the DOE research how AI could help the nation prepare for “climate-related risks, enable clean-energy deployment (including addressing delays in permitting reviews), and enhance grid reliability and resilience.” “We are preparing to ensure that, as new technologies emerge, the United States leads the way in exploring those frontiers,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

THE KICKER

The Gila River Indian Community in Arizona recently broke ground on America’s first project to line a water canal with solar panels.

Yellow

Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London. Read More

Read More

To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Politics

MAGA Republicans Have a 920-Page Plan to Make Climate Change Worse. Here’s What It Says.

We read the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 playbook so you don’t have to.

Donald Trump.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

When former President Donald Trump exited the Oval Office in January 2021, he left behind a record of environmental rollbacks unrivaled in modern U.S. history. Over his 1,461 days as commander-in-chief, Trump replaced, eliminated, or otherwise dismantled more than 100 environmental rulesat least — from repealing the Clean Air Act to allowing coal plants to dump toxic wastewater into lakes and rivers to declaring open season on endangered gray wolves.

President Joe Biden then rolled back most of the rollbacks, largely before their full impacts could be felt, which is why some experts say the most significant climate consequence of Trump’s presidency was actually the loss of four years that could have moved the green transition forward.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
Climate

AM Briefing: More Heat Pumps, Please

On new DoE funding, methane leaks, and beef rice

More Money, More Heat Pumps
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: A storm lurking off the coast of Australia could soon become a tropical cyclone • Bangkok's 11 million workers have been told to stay home today to avoid harmful air pollution • Washington, D.C., could see up to four inches of snow this weekend or none at all.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Americans are buying 675 EVs a day with the help of the IRA

Car sellers sold more than 25,000 tax credit-eligible electric vehicles between January 1 and February 6, according to new Treasury data. That’s an average of more than 675 EVs sold at a government-sponsored discount per day, Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo calculated. To put that in perspective, about 1.08 million cars were sold in total in the month of January, according to Cox Automotive, or about 34,840 per day. So the tax credit-supported EVs were only about 2% of the total cars sold. But 25,000 discounted EVs is nothing to scoff at considering that fewer models are eligible now than last year. Also, the Treasury said it has paid approximately $135 million in advance payments to dealers for about 19,000 of the EVs sold this year. “So even with fewer options available, buyers are still taking advantage of the new instant rebate and finding vehicles that work for them,” Pontecorvo said.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
An EV charger.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Earlier this week, I was thinking to myself, how are we going to know how many people are actually taking advantage of the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act?

When I put the question out on Twitter — I mean, X — I heard from Sam Hughes, a researcher inside the Treasury who pointed me to a section of the department’s website that contains data on tax credits by year. The problem is, it hasn’t been updated since 2020. But then today, as if to answer my prayers, I received a taste of the data I was looking for in my inbox.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
HMN Banner
Get today’s top climate story delivered right to your inbox.

Sign up for our free Heatmap Daily newsletter.