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Politics

Mexico Just Elected a Climate Scientist President

On the election of Claudia Sheinbaum, the farm bill, and hurricane season

Mexico Just Elected a Climate Scientist President
Heatmap illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: At least two people have died in ongoing flooding in southern Germany • Delhi’s deadly heat wave continues this week • Seven-inch hail reportedly fell in the Texas Panhandle.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Mexico elects climate scientist as next president

Mexico resoundingly elected Claudia Sheinbaum as its next president over the weekend. Sheinbaum, 61, is making headlines for becoming the country’s first female president, as well as its first Jewish leader, but she is also a climate scientist, and her landslide victory “could mark a turning point from the current administration’s pro-fossil fuel policies,” as Climate Home News explained. Sheinbaum studied physics and then received her doctorate in energy engineering. She spent four years at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab studying Mexico’s energy consumption, and had a brief stint on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She was tapped as secretary of the environment for Mexico City before being elected as the capital’s mayor in 2018. During her tenure she was an advocate for rooftop solar and better public transportation infrastructure.

Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

On the presidential campaign trail, Sheinbaum promised to “accelerate the energy transition” by boosting wind and solar, installing new transmission lines, and improving the country’s hydropower stations. But she has also backed the “energy sovereignty” policies of her predecessor and mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He built an oil refinery, funneled support into an indebted state oil company, and failed to set a national net zero target. Under his leadership, private investment in renewable projects has slumped. Energy policy may be on Sheinbaum’s to-do list when she takes office in October, but tackling crime is likely to be top of the agenda.

2. House set to consider 2025 energy and environment programs

The House returns to Washington this week, with 12 bills for 2025 fiscal spending up for debate. GOP lawmakers will seek “deep cuts for energy and environment programs,” E&E Newsreported, while looking to shift funding toward bills that prioritize defense and homeland security. The proposed Agriculture spending bill, up for subcommittee considerations on June 11, contains annual funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other agencies. The farm bill got the stamp of approval from the Agriculture Committee recently after the panel “rejected a Democratic-led effort to preserve conservation programs’ focus on farming practices that reduce emissions tied to the warming and erratic climate,” according toE&E News.

3. La Niña looms as Atlantic hurricane season kicks off

The Atlantic hurricane season started on Saturday, and forecasters are getting nervous as ocean water temperatures remain at record highs and the La Niña weather pattern approaches. Warm waters supercharge storms, while La Niña removes wind shear, which is “one key barrier that can block Atlantic storms,” explained Brian Sullivan at Bloomberg. This morning the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said there is a 60% chance of La Niña returning between July and September, and a 70% chance that it’ll make an appearance between August and November. “We’ve never had a La Niña combined with ocean temperatures this warm in recorded history so that’s a little ominous,” University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher Brian McNoldy told PBS. Various agencies and experts (including NOAA and Colorado State University) estimate that the number of hurricanes this year could range between eight and 13, compared to the annual average of seven. But for now, the coast is clear:

NOAA

4. West Coast braces for early-season heat wave

A whopper early-season heat wave is headed for the West Coast, and it could last all week – maybe longer. The heat dome will likely tip temperatures into triple digits in Northern California, with Sacramento Valley expecting to see 110 degrees Fahrenheit by Wednesday. The heat could “be the death knell for the remainder of the state’s snowpack,” wrote Hayley Smith at the Los Angeles Times. Coastal regions will probably be spared the worst of the heat. That said, a wildfire near San Francisco has burned about 14,000 acres, making it the state’s largest fire of the season so far. It was about 50% contained as of yesterday.

5. OPEC locks in more oil production cuts

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies agreed over the weekend to continue to cut oil production into 2025, the Financial Times reported. There are several reasons: Demand growth remains slow, interest rates remain high, and the U.S. is ramping up production. All of this means OPEC+ isn’t keen to boost supply for fear of depressing oil prices, which have hovered around $80 per barrel recently, down from $90 in April, and much lower than OPEC’s desired $100 per barrel.

THE KICKER

The European Union’s wind and solar power generation has increased by 45% since 2019, while fossil fuel power generation has dropped by 22%.

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Jessica  Hullinger profile image

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.

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