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Al Gore Said Something Funny at COP28

The former U.S. Vice President invoked Dickens in an interview with Bloomberg.

Former Vice President Al Gore at COP28.
Heatmap illustration/Getty Images

Al Gore is done mincing words. In a TED Talk this past July titled “What the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want you to know,” the former U.S. Vice President and long-time climate champion took aim at the major oil and gas producers. “They have used fraud on a massive scale,” he said. “They’ve used falsehoods on an industrial scale. And they’ve used their legacy political and economic networks, lavishly funded, to capture the policymaking process in too many countries around the world.”

So you can imagine how he might feel attending COP28 in a petrostate (the United Arab Emirates), hosted by a petroexecutive (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company CEO Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber), surrounded by petrorepresentatives (more than 2,400 of them).

Gore expressed some of his frustration to Bloomberg’s Akshat Rathi in an interview for the Zero podcast. The COP requirement that all nations reach consensus gives oil and gas-producing nations too much power, he said roughly eight minutes into the interview. Except he said it funnier than that:

“The situation that leaves our world community in is that we have to beg for permission from the petrostates. ‘Please, sir, may we protect the future of humanity?’ ‘No, sorry.’”

You can find more excerpts from the interview here or listen to the full episode below.

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Jillian Goodman

Jillian is Heatmap's deputy editor. Before that, she was opinion editor at The Information and deputy editor at Bloomberg Green. Read More

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Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

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Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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