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Climate

Flood Risk Is Hurting Texas Home Prices

On real estate in the era of climate change, Jeep EVs, and angry farmers

Flood Risk Is Hurting Texas Home Prices
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Mexico City’s iconic jacaranda trees have bloomed early • More than half of Australia’s Victoria state is under an extreme bushfire danger alert • It could hit 63 degrees Fahrenheit in Green Bay, Wisconsin, tomorrow. The average February high is 29 degrees.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Study: Mandatory flood risk disclosures hit Texas property prices

New research offers a glimpse into how climate change continues to alter the real estate landscape in America. A recent study from Fannie May examined a Texas law, enacted in 2019 after Hurricane Harvey, that requires properties at risk of flooding be listed as such. The study found that the law has decreased prices for flood-prone homes by $15,000 on average. The study “comes as many states adopt or consider similar flood disclosure requirements,” E&E News reported. Harvey caused $155 billion in property damage. Experts say climate change is making hurricanes more destructive.

2. First U.S. Jeep EV coming soon

Eco-conscious Jeep lovers have been waiting patiently for a fully-electric version of their favorite vehicle, and their wait will soon be over. Jeep’s first EV – the Wagoneer S SUV – is entering production in the second quarter of 2024 and could be delivered to customers by July, the company’s CEO Antonio Filsosa said. It will be the first EV to sit on Stellantis’ new STLA Large EV platform. An electric Recon (which is inspired by the Wrangler) could be available by the end of the year. Stellantis-owned Jeep saw a 6% drop in U.S. sales last year, and is slashing prices on some of its best selling vehicles to combat the dip. It is no doubt hoping the EV push will help turn things around. “They’ve suddenly got a lot more competition than they traditionally have had,” Sam Abuelsamid, an e-mobility analyst at market research firm Guidehouse Inc., told The Detroit News. “There’s certainly opportunity for them to grow their share, but it’s not going to be easy.”

The Wagoneer SJeep

3. UN Environment Assembly kicks off in Nairobi

The sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) gets underway in Nairobi, Kenya, today. Member states will consider 19 draft resolutions on issues including climate change, pollution, and biodiversity. At the last meeting, in 2022, the group adopted 14 resolutions, including one on ending plastic pollution, which was called “the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris Agreement,” according to The Associated Press. “UNEA-6 won’t solve the world’s problems overnight,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme. "What it will do is unite nations under the banner of environmental action, focus minds and energies on key solutions and guide the work of UNEP in this critical period for people and planet.” The meeting runs until March 1.

4. Farmer protests escalate in Brussels

The streets of Brussels are clogged with nearly 1,000 large tractors today as farmers descend on the city to protest environmental policies being discussed by EU agriculture ministers. Piles of tires were set on fire and manure was dumped onto the streets. Some tractors plowed through barricades. Police fired water cannons. Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks, demanding that policymakers do more to help out the agriculture sector, including scrapping some policies aimed at significantly reducing the bloc’s emissions by 2040. “We are not against climate policies,” the head of one farming organization told Reuters. “But we know that in order to do the transition, we need higher prices for products because it costs more to produce in an ecological way.” The protests may be working: The EU has already back-tracked on cutting farming emissions, and nixed plans to urge citizens to eat less meat.

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  • 5. Walmart reports Scope 3 emissions milestone

    This went slightly under the radar last week, but is worth highlighting: Retail giant Walmart has hit a 2030 goal of reducing its Scope 3 emissions – six years early. Through the company’s “Project Gigaton” initiative, Walmart suppliers have removed 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from their value chains by reducing emissions, sequestering them, or avoiding them altogether. Project Gigaton launched in 2017. It’s a voluntary program that asks suppliers to set science-based emissions reduction targets in areas like waste, packaging, energy use, and transportation. Nearly 6,000 suppliers have signed up, and nearly 75% of net U.S. sales now come from Project Gigaton suppliers, reportedThe Wall Street Journal.

    Scope 3 emissions – which come from a company’s supply chain and also from the ways consumers use its products – usually represent about 70% of a company’s carbon footprint. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was set to require all U.S.-listed companies to disclose their Scope 3 emissions, but appears poised to roll back this rule, leaving companies and individual states to take the initiative. Already California is requiring large companies doing business in the state to report Scope 3 emissions by 2027.

    THE KICKER

    “We live in the narrow window where the severity of the problem is known, but there is yet time to act.” –Climate researchers Delvane Diaz, Steven Davis, and Zeke Hausfather writing about climate optimism for The Hill

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    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

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    Politics

    Are Pollsters Getting Climate Change Wrong?

    Why climate might be a more powerful election issue than it seems.

    A pollster on an ice floe.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Climate change either is or isn’t the biggest issue of our time. It all depends on who you ask — and, especially, how.

    In March, as it has since 1939, Gallup asked Americans what they thought was the most important problem facing the country. Just 2% of respondents said “environment/pollution/climate change” — fewer than those who said “poor leadership” or “unifying the country” (although more than those who said “the media.”) Pew, meanwhile, asked Americans in January what the top priority for the president and Congress ought to be for this year, and “dealing with climate change” ranked third-to-last out of 20 issues — well behind “defending against terrorism,” “reducing availability of illegal drugs,” and “improving the way the political system works.”

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    Politics

    AM Briefing: Earth Day Edition

    On expanding solar access, the American Climate Corps, and union news

    Biden’s Big Earth Day Agenda
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Torrential rains forced Mauritius to shut down its stock exchange • “Once in a century” flooding hit southern China • In the Northern Hemisphere, the Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. Biden kicks off Earth Day with $7 billion for expanding solar access

    Today is Earth Day, but President Biden and his cabinet are celebrating all week long. Senior members of the administration have scheduled a national tour of events and announcements related to the president’s climate and environmental record. It starts with Biden’s visit to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia, today, where he will announce $7 billion is being awarded to 60 state and local governments, tribes, and national and regional nonprofits through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar for All initiative, which aims to support solar in low- to moderate-income communities. The average grant size will be more than $80 million, and the funding will be used to design new programs and bolster existing ones that subsidize the cost of rooftop solar installations, community solar projects, and battery storage.

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    Sparks

    Biden’s $7 Billion Solar Bonanza

    The Solar For All program is the final piece of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

    Solar panel installation.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    The great promise of solar panels — in addition to their being carbon-free — is the democratization of energy. Anyone can produce their own power, typically for less than the going utility rate. The problem is that those who stand to benefit the most from this opportunity haven’t been able to access it.

    That pattern could change, however, with Solar for All, a $7 billion program under the Environmental Protection Agency to support solar in low- to moderate-income communities. On Monday, the Biden administration announced it was awarding the funds to 60 state and local governments, tribes, and national and regional nonprofits, at an average grant size of more than $80 million.

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