Sign In or Create an Account.

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


AM Briefing: Catch Up on COP28

What you missed in Dubai, new methane rules, and more

AM Briefing: Catch Up on COP28
AM Briefing: The Window Is Closing
AM Briefing: The Window Is Closing

Current conditions: There’s a high risk of avalanches in the Cascade Mountains after a storm dumped up to 14 inches of snow • The AQI in Dubai is back down to 80 after spiking to 155 this weekend • The high is in the low 50s in Central Park, which has been without snow for a record-breaking 659 days.


1. What Happened at COP28 This Weekend

COP28 continued for its third and fourth days in Dubai this weekend. Here’s a quick primer on what you might have missed:

  • On Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the U.S. will commit $3 billion to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund, aimed at helping developing countries adapt to climate change.
  • Exxon Mobil and Aramco were among nearly 50 oil and gas producers that signed a “decarbonization charter,” committing to reduce their methane emissions. U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry separately announced $1 billion raised in grant financing by the U.S., EU, and companies like BP, Shell, and Occidental Petroleum to help curb methane.
  • One hundred and eighteen nations agreed to a U.S., EU, and UAE-fronted pledge to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity by 2030 on Saturday. India and China sat this one out.
  • The U.S. joined 56 other nations in the Powering Past Coal Alliance, vowing to transition away from coal power plants.
  • At COP’s first-ever Health Day on Sunday, the UAE, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other groups announced $777 million in financing toward the eradication of tropical diseases that will be exacerbated by climate change, such as malaria and heat stress.

Monday’s agenda is focused on finance, trade, gender equality, and accountability.

Get Heatmap AM in your inbox every weekday morning:

* indicates required
  • 2. Biden Administration Finalizes Strongest Federal Methane Regulations Yet

    Speaking of methane, on Saturday the Biden administration announced the finalization of long-in-the-making regulations that will rein in methane leaks from existing and future oil and gas wells. The EPA says the rules will prevent the equivalent of 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted between 2024 and 2038, almost as much as was emitted by all power plants in the country in 2021. The total benefits created by the new limits, the administration estimates, will reach $98 billion by 2038.

    “The U.S. now has the most protective methane pollution limits on the books,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, which has played a major role in exposing the dangers of methane.

    3. COP28 President: Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Would ‘Take the World Back into Caves’

    During an online event in late November, COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber claimed there is “no science out there” to support phasing out fossil fuels to mitigate global warming, The Guardian and the Center for Climate Reporting jointly reported on Sunday. Al Jabar, who is also the chief executive of the UAE’s state oil company Adnoc, further claimed in the conversation that such a phase-out was “alarmist” and would “take the world back into caves.”

    The leaked comments have caused a stir on the ground in Dubai, where Al Jaber was already under fire following a BBC report that he planned to use the climate summit to promote oil interests. (A spokesperson denied this). U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the president’s newly revealed comments were “verging on climate denial,” while Oil Change International’s Romain Ioualalen said that Al Jaber’s “science-denying statements are alarming and raise deep concerns about the presidency’s capacity to lead the U.N. climate talks.”

    4. Police Claim to Have Thwarted a ‘Mass Casualty Event’ at the Cybertruck Promotion

    A 28-year-old Florida man was arrested last week after he allegedly threatened to carry out a “mass casualty event” at Thursday’s Cybertruck promotional event in Austin, the Austin-American Statesman reported this weekend.

    Tesla was notified of the threat after a man, identified as Paul Ryan Overeem of Orlando, said in an Instagram group chat that he was “planning” an attack at the event “so up to you guys to stop me.” In another message, Overeem allegedly said “I plan on killing people” and “I would like you to do something about it so I don’t have to.” He was arrested in Austin’s Travis County after driving there from Florida, and has been charged with terroristic threat.

    Though the event was attended by Elon Musk, NBC News writes the CEO did not appear to be a specific target and the suspect, rather, “appeared to object to technology in modern life.”

    5. New Report Puts Airplane Contrail Mitigation Efforts in Doubt

    Airplane contrails — those white, vaporous ribbons that follow jets across the sky — have long drawn scrutiny from environmental activists, who’ve pointed to them as a major source of warming, saying the creation of high clouds could trap heat in the atmosphere à la the greenhouse gas effect. Boeing and NASA have been conducting test flights to explore if sustainable aviation fuel could help limit contrails, while Google and Bill Gates-funded Breakthrough Energy climate action group have experimented with rerouting planes through regions of the atmosphere that are less likely to induce contrails.

    But a new report by David Lee, an influential researcher of aviation and climate who previously looked at the issue in a 2021 paper, has found that “the fundamental premise” that contrails are concerning enough to warrant mitigation investment “is not yet established,” The Seattle Times reports. The science around contrails and the climate is extremely complicated — that much is clear — but Lee writes that it is so uncertain that efforts to limit contrails could actually be “of limited effect” or even “have unintended consequences,” like burning longer-lasting CO2 to reroute planes.

    Marc Shapiro of Breakthrough Energy, who is working to reduce contrails, told the Times, “to be totally frank, our numbers are coming up on the low end of David Lee’s [2021] estimates as well.”


    Johannes Simon/Getty Images

    Life on pause in Munich, where Bavarian broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reports the 17.3 inches of snowfall on Saturday were the most since recordkeeping began in 1933.

    Jeva Lange profile image

    Jeva Lange

    Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City.

    Electric Vehicles

    May Was a Pretty Good Month for EVs

    As long as you’re not talking about Tesla.

    EVs driving on a Tesla.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, Tesla, Kia, Hyundai, Chevrolet

    In the closing days of April, Elon Musk shocked the EV world when he laid off Tesla’s entire 500-person charging division.

    The company suddenly — and seemingly for reasons of professional pique — gave up on its biggest competitive advantage. At a time when every other automaker was supposed to be moving to Tesla’s best-in-class charging network, Tesla seemed to be abandoning it.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Electric Vehicles

    The Airstreams of the EV Age

    You can do so much with an electric RV.

    The Pebble RV.
    Heatmap Illustration/Pebble, Getty Images

    Battery-powered vehicles appear ill-suited to the backcountry — at first blush, at least. Big cities and well-traveled highways are where the plugs are. Far-flung locales, like the kind of places you’d want to drive an RV or tow a trailer, aren’t brimming with DC fast charging stations. And towing extra weight exacts a penalty on the EV’s range.

    Yet the electric vehicle market is starting to get outdoorsy, providing more ways for people who might have gone electric because they care about the planet to get out there and see more of it. That’s thanks in part to startups and engineers trying to reimagine the RV market for the EV age.

    Keep reading...Show less

    Why Climate Optimism Is Smart Politics

    It’s morning in America, and the sun is shining on our photovoltaic panels.

    A door opening onto nature.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Campaign strategists and political consultants have a lot of folk theories that guide their work, some of which are even true. One common one is that the more optimistic candidate wins, especially in presidential races: Figures such as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama who painted a bright vision of the future with a smile on their faces triumphed over their more dour opponents. Some political science research backs it up: One study examined candidates’ rhetoric over four decades of campaigns and found “the candidate who was more a pessimistic ruminator lost 9 of 10 times.”

    This presents a problem for those who want candidates to make climate change advocacy a key part of their campaigns (and make promises they’ll have to keep once they take office). If candidates want to be optimistic, they may shy away from talking too much about a topic that can be disturbing, with the potential of global catastrophe always looming.

    Keep reading...Show less