Drawdown Conference, Networking Event Jan. 7-9

An upcoming virtual conference sponsored in part by Project Drawdown, from which the Sandwich Climate Action Coalition got its initial inspiration, is set for early January 2021. The international conference in full or part might be of interested to readers here. More about that below.

But first a quick update: There has been a hiatus here at our website because the three members of the Sandwich Climate Action Coalition (SCAC) steering committee were asked by the Sandwich Planning Board to write the first draft of a 2021 update of the Energy Chapter for the Sandwich Master Plan. Peggy Longley, Katherine Thorndike and Leonard Witt did so as Sandwich residents and as an endeavor separate from the SCAC. After some three months of working on the draft via Zoom meetings open to the public, it was completed and submitted in mid-December. Now it will be reviewed and edited by the Planning Board and Select Board with at least one public review before it becomes official.

Now more about the conference. Project Drawdown and National Council for Science and the Environment :

will bring people together from across the globe to share and expand on the latest solutions to the world’s most pressing global challenges. Through intentional virtual conference design, NCSE Drawdown 2021 will offer numerous opportunities for networking, collaborations, and actions for building a pathway to a future with a shared vision for sustainability and regeneration informed by an enduring foundation of science.

The first few days, Jan. 5-7, might be a big wonkish, high level. But the last days from the afternoon of Jan. 7 to Jan. 9 are free thanks to Project Drawdown and might be of most interest to our local climate change, action oriented general public members. Here is what the conference website says:

Share a new solutions-oriented narrative to address global warming through meaningful partnerships between scientists, businesses, policy makers, civil society organizations, and engaged citizens…All are welcome. Open to anyone who wants to explore the linkages between science and solutions for the planet’s most pressing problems. 

Learn more about the conference and registration here.

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Need a job? Become an arborist

New England trees are vulnerable. Help is needed. Photo by Leonard Witt

The New York Time reports that because of climate change and resulting distressed trees there is a need for more arborists in New England.

Kristina Bezanson of UMass Amherst, who is among those training the next generation of arborists, said she sees rising demand not just regionally but nationwide in the profession’s three principal sectors: commercial, municipal (also called urban forestry), and utility. Graduates specializing in arboriculture “have so many jobs waiting for them, they get to pick and choose,” Ms. Bezanson said. “I like to say they have a 150 percent job placement rate.”

One of the fastest growing areas has been utility arboriculture, which involves managing trees near power lines and other infrastructure. Philip Charlton, executive director of the Utility Arborist Association, said that his organization had grown from 2,800 to over 6,100 members in the last five years. The demand, which he said is outpacing supply, has been driven by regulations drafted after power failures, by storms, by fires and by pests.

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Solar, Wind Power Company Tops Exxon in Value

The CBS News headline shouts out the good news:

Wind and solar producer tops Exxon as most valuable U.S. energy company

The Sandwich Climate Action Coalition continues to watch a trend away from fossil fuels to renewables; so this is really big news because the smart money is starting to go to major corporations with renewable foci.

Here is more from the CBS News story:

It’s a milestone for renewable energy in the U.S.: A solar and wind power provider on Friday briefly topped ExxonMobil as America’s most valuable energy company.

NextEra Energy, based in Juno Beach, Florida, temporarily eclipsed Exxon when its value hit $138.3 billion, edging out the fossil-fuel giant. Although the two have since swapped places, with Exxon worth about $2 billion more as of the close of trading on Monday, NextEra’s enormous growth underlines the shift toward clean energy amid growing planetary destruction as a result of climate change. The two companies closed neck-and-neck yesterday, both at $142.7 billion. NextEra remains more valuable than Chevron, America’s No. 2 oil and gas producer.

Robert Rapier at Forbes writes:

If you had invested in Florida-based utility NextEra Energy NEE +0.9% a decade ago, your total return through this week, including dividends, would have been 600%. That is a phenomenal return for an energy company.

In contrast, if you had invested in ExxonMobil XOM +1.1% a decade ago, you have seen the share value decline by half. Add in the dividends, and the total 10-year return of ExxonMobil is -25%.


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California to Phase Out Combustion Vehicle Sales by 2035

“Electric Car” by Open Grid Scheduler / CC0 1.0

The Washington Post reports: 

California, the world’s fifth-largest economy and the state that created U.S. car culture, will stop selling gasoline-powered automobiles within 15 years, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Wednesday.

The articled adds:

Transportation currently accounts for the largest source of emissions in the state, outpacing the industrial, agricultural and residential sectors combined.


“We’ve seen this show before, where California does something, and others jump on board,” said Karl Brauer, a veteran auto industry analyst now serving as executive analyst at the website iSeeCars. The auto industry is already embarking on a rapid shift toward autonomous vehicles and electrification, he noted.

No surprise, automaker and the fossil fuel spokespeople were not overjoyed by Newsom’s  edict.

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NH Plan to Install EV Charging Stations on Hold

This from the Concord Monitor:

Electric vehicle fans anticipating fast-charging stations along New Hampshire highways will have to wait some more.

Plans to use $4.6 million from the VW “dieselgate” settlement to install DC fast chargers along 6 major routes in New Hampshire are on hold because there were no suitable bids to the state’s request for proposals last winter. The RFP is being reworked but COVID-19 restrictions have gotten in the way and no new release date has been announced.

The story reports there were no qualifying bids for the request for proposals. Now it is back to the drawing board.

New Hampshire funding from “dieselgate” includes:

As previously announced, $4.6 million of the state’s money will build charging infrastructure for electric vehicles; $15.5 million will go toward replacing diesel-powered vehicles owned by state and local governments, including school buses; $6.2 million will be up for bids from public or private groups that have proposals for ways to spend it that will meet the program’s goals of reducing the state’s air pollution caused by vehicles; and $4.6 million has been earmarked for administrative costs.

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Climate Likely to Play More Important Role in November Election

The New York Times reports:

The number of Americans who feel passionately about climate change is rising sharply, and the issue appears likely to play a more important role in this year’s election than ever before, a new survey shows.

Rise for Climate march in San Francisco by 350.org is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Even with the Covid-19 pandemic, the populace’s worry about climate change has stayed steady at 68 percent of the US population, while what sociologists call the climate “issue public” numbers have grown.

 “In 2015, the group was 13 percent of the population. By 2020, it had nearly doubled to 25 percent.” By comparison, the group of American adults who are passionate about gun control generally hovers around 17 percent, and capital punishment weighs in at about 14 percent.

Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of communication, political science and psychology at Stanford University, told The Times:

“They are the people who make things happen on the issue,” That means, for example, making donations to lobbying groups, sending emails to lawmakers, attending rallies — and voting.


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New solar array projected to save $370,000 for Madison, N.H.

Madison, N.H., population 2,600, recently dedicated, according to the Conway Daily Sun, a:

Madison, N.H. Town Hall. Photo by Ken Gallager — Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

63-kilowatt, 180-photovoltaic panel solar array, which was installed by ReVision Energy and will produce more than 80,000 kilowatt-hours of solar electricity each year.

It  will provide the electricity for the town garage, town hall, town fire department, town maintenance garage and library.

The Conway Daily Sun adds:

According to a press release, the project was installed under a power purchase agreement, so there is no upfront cost to the town.

Under a PPA, an investor owns the solar array and sells electricity to the town at a discounted price over the utility’s rate.

For the town of Madison, that investor is Blue Haven Initiative, an impact investor dedicated to putting wealth to work for positive social and environmental change. Blue Haven is able to take advantage of a 26 percent Federal Investment Tax Credit and equipment depreciation write-offs that the municipality cannot take because it doesn’t pay taxes.

The town benefits because it can purchase the facility in the future at a reduced cost instead of owning it from day one. At the start of year six, the town can purchase the installation from Blue Haven at a fair market value, normally around 60 percent of the original cost. After the purchase, the town owns all the power generated. This project is estimated to save the Town of Madison almost $370,000 over the 40-year lifespan of the system, according to Angelo of ReVision Energy of Maine and New Hampshire.

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Tips to Overcome Climate Change Anxiety

Lindley Saffeir for Maine Conservation Voters writes:

Climate or “Eco” anxiety is defined by the American Psychological Association as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.”

Psychologist Laura Kastner explains:

 “Climate anxiety exists on a continuum, with feelings of stress and sadness about climate change at one end, to depression, hopelessness and helplessness at the other.”

“Anxiety” by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Saffeir provides ways t0 overcome the anxiety:

Many of us who are conscious of climate change are also aware of what we could be doing as the “ideal climate activist” – reducing our driving time, avoiding air travel, eating a vegan diet – the list goes on and can feel overwhelming and unachievable. Kastner suggests that, “just like all habit change, the best policy is to choose something small enough that you will succeed at but large enough to challenge you.” Set a limit on how many miles you are comfortable flying in a year. Limit your meat consumption to a number of meals per week. Make these actions quantifiable and clear. What takes the least amount of effort and will make the most impact? Is it spending hours biking to work or using that time to call your representatives to push for more progressive climate action? It is important to decide what feels meaningful to you, and to then commit to it.

She also provides suggestions to deal with white guilt, anger and hopelessness, including this from Kastner:

When you are helping others, or working in solidarity with others towards a common good, your body releases oxytocin, the ‘tend and befriend’ neurochemical.” The climate movement, and other deeply intertwined political movements that are ultimately rooted in justice and empathy, can carry a spiritual lift that compensates for the setbacks and struggles.


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New NH Emission Reduction Commission To Start Meeting

“The state is launching a broad new effort to find ways to reduce the air emissions that drive respiratory disease and climate change in New Hampshire,” according to NHPR.

State Sen. Tom Sherman said the purpose of the commission is to “to draft emissions-cutting legislation for the next session.”

Photo by Jim Richmond, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The NHPR stories says

New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country. Science shows this and other respiratory problems – including, potentially, COVID-19 – are made worse by many of the same pollutants that drive the harmful effects of climate change.

The first meeting of the non-partisan ad hoc Emissions Commission is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. via Zoom and is open to the public. (At this posting there is no Zoom link for the public. The Sandwich Climate Action Coalition is trying to get one and will post it here when available.)

The Emission Commission also has a link for public comments, saying:

Upon submission, all public comment will be reviewed by the members of the NH Emissions Commission.

All public comments will be taken into consideration as the commission compiles the 2020 Emission Reduction Report for the state of New Hampshire. 


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Biden, Sanders Agree: Clean Electricity by 2035

The New York Times reports that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders agree that the Democrats’ 2020 platform should include:

moving all electric power off fossil fuels by 2035; achieving carbon-neutrality in all new buildings by 2030; and installing 500 million solar panels in the next five years.

According to a recently released University of California, Berkeley report, a  goal of renewable electricity by 2035  is technically feasible, if policymakers move in that direction. The goal becomes much more achievable if Biden gets elected in November.

Here are other items Biden and Sanders agree upon, according to MarketWatch:

  • installing the 500 million solar panels, include eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 made-in-America wind turbines.
  • a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030, including making energy-saving upgrades to up to two million low-income households and affordable and public housing units within five years.
  • installing at least 500,000 public electric vehicle charging stations across the nation.
  • Recommit the U.S. to the voluntary Paris Climate Agreement
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