Climate Activists Force Exxon Board Changes

The New York Times reports:

Shareholders of Exxon Mobil dealt the company’s management a defeat on Wednesday by electing at least two of four candidates activist investors had nominated to its board — the first time that has happened, according to analysts who follow the company.

It adds:

A coalition of investors concerned about the environment had argued that Exxon had not invested enough in cleaner energy, which will hurt its profits in the future. And a majority of the company’s shareholders appeared to at least partly agree with that position, according to the preliminary results.

Reuters reports:

Exxon has lagged other oil majors in its response to climate change concerns, forecasting many more years of oil and gas demand growth and doubling down on investments to boost its output – in contrast to global rivals that have scaled back fossil fuel investments.

That approach boosted the company’s debt load by billions of dollars in recent years, leading to a record $22 billion loss in 2020 after years of underperformance.

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Keene Adopts Community Power, First in NH

“Keene has become the first New Hampshire municipality to adopt a community power program since the state began allowing them in 2019,” according to the Keene Sentinel.  In the story Keene’s mayor praised it as a citizen based, grassroots effort.

The story adds:

The City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a plan for the program, which would allow Keene to purchase electricity on behalf of consumers. This would give the city more say over where the power used in Keene comes from.

Now the plan has to be approved by the N.H. Public Utilities Commission, which has a history, as one commentator put it, of “sitting on their hands.”

The Keene Community Power website says:

Keene Community Power (CP) is a City-operated group purchasing program that pools the electric use of residents, businesses, non-profits, and property owners to provide competitively priced electricity options. The program offers Keene electricity customers with a City-vetted alternative to Eversource’s default service and other third party electricity suppliers.

Eversource continues to deliver electricity and manage all billing. The only change will be the source and cost of electricity supply, chosen by the City of Keene through a competitive bidding process. The program is part of a larger effort to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

A draft of Keene’s final plan can be see here.

NHPR’s Exchange did a program in February 2021 entitled: Community Power: A New Way to Think About Your Energy Bill

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Biden, Climate & New Hampshire Initiatives

Learn how the Biden administration’s clean energy, infrastructure and jobs initiatives affect New Hampshire and what can we do to help move the process forward. Watch the YouTube video here. 
Please share with your friends interested in climate issues.
The Sandwich Climate Action Coalition (SCAC) hosted the Biden, Climate and Us Zoom discussion on Monday April 19, 2021 and now the one-hour YouTube video is ready for sharing. The presenters are  Rob WernerNH Director of the League of Conservation Voters, and Brianna Fiorillo, Senior Program Director, Clean Energy NH
Right now New Hampshire’s Gov. Chris Sununu and the Republican majority legislature are slowing progress and the state could be left behind as this inevitable clean energy revolution unfolds. So it will be up to individuals like us to push the issue and, if needed, work to elect more enlightened leadership. 
 
Please enjoy Earth Day, this year could be one of the most important in slowing global warming and we can be part of making that happen. Thank you so much for the important work each of you do. 
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Clean Energy Focus of Biden’s $4 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

The New York Times reports that “climate change has become the centerpiece” of President Biden’s $3 trillion to $4 trillion infrastructure rebuilding plan and no longer a side issue as in the past.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama both in dark suits, holding each other and smiling

Biden’s clean energy plan is more aggressive than Obama’s.

Administration officials say they view averting catastrophic warming and pursuing American dominance of the emerging global industries as inseparable.

The article continues:

accelerating a clean energy transformation underpins nearly every part of the plan, people familiar with it said. It includes building electric power lines that can deliver more renewable energy, building electric vehicle charging stations, capping oil and gas wells to reduce emissions and reclaiming abandoned coal mines. There is money to build a million new affordable, energy-efficient housing units and to make existing structures more energy efficient. Hundreds of billions of dollars would go toward “high-growth industries of the future,” such as advanced battery manufacturing.

Carbon fee and dividend proponents are critical of the proposal, with the Times reporting:

“Biden never made a carbon tax the center of his proposal,” said John Podesta, a former adviser to President Barack Obama on climate change. “I think he believed that the combination of investments and standards with a focus on equity was a winning formula both for the economy and was more politically viable.”

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When Will Electric Vehicles Take Over?

The New York Times has an in-depth story trying to anticipate when electric vehicles will rule the roads. Volvo and GM have goals of 2030 and 2035 respectively to end combustion engine production and others companies are sure to follow suit.

Car dump in Port Charlotte Islay

Even so, given that cars have a nearly 15 or more year lifespan, the times anticipates that combustion engine cars could be dominant on the roads even in 2050.

The article says:

If the United States wanted to move to a fully electric fleet by 2050 — to meet President Biden’s goal of net zero emissions — then sales of gasoline-powered vehicles would likely have to end altogether by around 2035, a heavy lift.

It adds:

In order for almost all cars on the road to be electric by 2050, new plug-in sales would need to quickly ramp up to 100 percent in the next 15 years.

In the opinion of this Sandwich Climate poster, Leonard Witt, the Times reporters are underestimating how rapidly change is going to occur. The big oil companies are already losing value, no one in their right mind would mega invest in gas stations now or even in their infrastructure or anything to do with combustion engines. So gas stations will begin to disappear quite rapidly and combustion engines will never get any better than they are today with all the R&D investment going into EVs. Who will invest $20,000 to $50,000, the cost of a car,  in a dying technology to which the manufacturers are going to pay less and less attention. In other words, the chances are high that by investing in a combustion engine car you will get a clunker with little infrastructure to help make it better. Even if the car is perfect, the resale value we will be much lower than an EV. Personally, I’m putting off any major car investment as long as possible to be part of the electric wave. Even if the car lasted 20 years, I don’t want to be in the minority of combustion cars on the road for all the reasons I mention above.

Here is the last paragraph of the Times story, which makes the most sense to me:

“It would not shock me if the transition eventually starts accelerating,” said Dr. Knittel of M.I.T. “Right now it can be inconvenient to own an electric vehicle if there are no charging stations around. But if we do get to a world where there are charging stations everywhere and few gas stations around, suddenly it’s less convenient to own a conventional vehicle.”

Photo credit: “Car dump in Port Charlotte Islay” by larsomat is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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Biden Agency Advances Wind Farm Off Massachusetts Coast

Politico reports: 

The Interior Department said on Monday it had completed its environmental review for a massive wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, a key step toward final approval of the long-stalled project that will play a prominent role in President Joe Biden’s effort to expand renewable energy in the U.S.

Phil Hollman from London, UK, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The article adds:

Vineyard Wind says the project will provide clean electricity to power more than 400,000 homes, creating thousands of jobs, and reducing electricity rates by $1.4 billion over its first 20 years of operation.

Liz Burdock, head of the non-profit group Business Network for Offshore Wind, told Politico:

This is the day the U.S. offshore wind industry has been anxiously awaiting for years. Today’s announcement provides the regulatory greenlight the industry needs to attract investments and move projects forward.

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Volvo Exec: No Future for Combustion Engines

The AP reports:

Volvo says it will make only electric vehicles by 2030….Henrik
Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer,  adds, “There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine.”Image 2 alt text

GM made a similar announcement earlier this year, with its all electric vehicle goal set for 2035.

The New York Times says Volvo’s decision is:

 one of the most ambitious proposals and ratchets up the pressure on others to follow suit.

The Times adds:

Where once automakers bragged about horsepower and acceleration, now they are competing to be the greenest.

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Opinion: Sec. Vilsack Listen to Family Forest Owners

Since 81 percent of New Hampshire is forested and 52 percent of that is owned by families, it will do well for woodlot owners to pay attention to the role and potential economic beneftis family woodlot owners, especially those in the 10 to 1,000 acre range, can play in climate change.

Sandwich, N.H photo by Leonard Witt

Here is a  link to an  opinion piece by Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. It appears in Agri-Pulse and is addressed to newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Some key points:

  • Currently, U.S. forests and forest products sequester and store roughly 15% of the country’s annual carbon emissions, representing our single largest natural carbon sink. More importantly, studies suggest this could be nearly doubled with the right actions.

  • Family forest owners represent 1 in 4 rural Americans…They want their land to remain as a forest into the future and improve its health today, both key climate mitigation strategies.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture… can help small family forest owners access carbon markets, which would leverage billions in private funding to help finance climate action.

  • Carbon markets provide small forest owners with an avenue for generating income from their land that they can put back into the trees. Carbon markets also encourage landowners to create forest plans and work with professional foresters – critical steps to long-term care of our forests.

  • Presently, carbon markets are inaccessible to small forest owners. In fact, 98% of the properties in existing carbon projects are large industrial tracts of 5,000 acres or more. Less than 1% are on acreages between 20 and 1,000— the size range of the majority of family-owned properties in the U.S.

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Lessons Learned from Texas Power Crisis

Inside Clean Energy newsletter reporter Dan Gearino does a great job of summarizing the good and bad lessons that can be learned from Texas’ massive power outage during the winter of 2021. These lessons are applicable for all electric power systems.

“Overhead power lines Texas” by shannonpatrick17 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here is an outline of the content of the report.

1. Our power system was built for summer peaks, and that’s part of the reason why things went haywire in Texas.

2. Just about everything failed, so be careful blaming any one power source.

3. Just below the surface of Ted Cruz’s scandal was an important message. (The rich will find ways around climate crises, while moderate and low income folks will suffer most.) 

4. We don’t focus nearly enough on reducing demand. ( Learn more about that  here. ) 

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Biden Decrees Mobilizing Civilian Climate Corps

On April 5, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC. One of the New Deal’s more popular programs.

“Civilian Conservation Corps 1939” by rich701 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On January 27, 2021 President Joe Biden signed the comprehensive Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which in Section 215 dictates that

 the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the Secretary of Agriculture and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit a strategy to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order for creating a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative…to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.

“Civilian Conservation Corps” by Olivander is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The new CCC shall :

 aim to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.

The website Grist reports:

According to a December survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, some 85 percent of Americans support reestablishing the Civilian Conservation Corps, though that survey didn’t mention anything about the climate. A different poll from Data for Progress last May found that nearly 70 percent of the public supports the idea of a new, climate-focused corps. Even a majority of Republican voters, 62 percent, liked the idea.

The site adds that the original CCC:

employed 3 million men from 1933, in the depth of the Great Depression, to 1942, after the country had joined World War II. Lasting reminders of the CCC are all around us. Go into a state park or national park anywhere in the country, and you’ll likely see buildings, trails, and hiking shelters built by the program’s volunteers.

 

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