In another life we are bombarded with pompous pronouncements that Canada’s Governor General will take a private jet airplane to Finland because “These meetings will help strengthen relations between our two countries and offer an opportunity to advance important global issues, such as peace, support for democracy, and climate change”. Such as. Just as our Prime Minister welcomed the new Prime Minister of New Zealand who stepped in when Jacinda Ardern collapsed with “Canada and New Zealand enjoy a close relationship based on strong ties between our people, common values, and shared priorities. These include promoting peace and security; advancing human rights, inclusion, and gender equality; and continuing the fight against climate change.” Include. So there’s more. Although as we predicted, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act in the United States that everyone said had saved the climate (as did Brazil’s election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, independently) turns out not to have. Like Lois Lane, it needs rescuing over and over again by those handsome, dashing… politicians?
On the Brazil thing, in case you forgot, the New York Times reported on October 27 of last year that “Brazil’s Presidential Election Will Determine the Planet’s Future/ And your chances of surviving on it, too.” But apparently it didn’t. Even though their guy won. Instead, their columnist Peter Coy wrote on January 9:
“Brazil’s new president is hemmed in by protesters on one side and financial markets on the other. He needs to spend money to please the public, but he needs to demonstrate fiscal responsibility to keep investors from abandoning Brazilian assets, which could cause interest rates to soar and cripple the economy. Unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult to do both at once.”
And they never saw it coming. Plus he has to save the planet on the side. Even though Biden already did.
Don’t you remember? Back in August we were also hearing things like “the most important and far-reaching climate legislation in U.S. history” and “History’s Greatest Obstacle to Climate Progress Has Finally Fallen”. The latter being, of all things, the United States Senate rather than, as we snarked at the time, “China’s runaway coal plants”. But, as we also said, “look for them to switch back to claiming America is the leading climate stinker and needs to finally take action faster than a summer tan can fade.”
So here we go. Canary Media now hypes “The make-or-break moment for America’s energy transition” because:
“Getting a climate bill passed was just the start. Jigar Shah and Katherine Hamilton explain the hard work ahead for kick-starting the era of mass deployment.”
So the IRA didn’t actually do anything about emissions. But it’s about to. Maybe.
And we’re savedoomed because:
“America enters 2023 faced with two opposing realities: Greenhouse gas emissions are going up, but the opportunity to slash those emissions has never been greater.”
Opportunity being a word here meaning we have a big pile of money and no plan on how to spend it:
“‘One of the big differences is that [the IRA] really does put a lot of benefits in the hands of consumers. And that means we have to design the programs correctly,’ says Katherine Hamilton, chair of consulting firm 38 North Solutions. ‘Making everybody who deploys a project have to think about it very intentionally…and making sure that the results go to the communities in the ways in which it was intended.’ That means marshaling the departments of energy, treasury, interior and agriculture as well as the Environmental Protection Agency to properly staff and implement programs — all while coordinating with states to deploy local funding.”
Piece of cake, right? Consultants, interdepartmental committees and a whole-of-government approach.
“‘This is what a World War II mobilization looks like,’ says Jigar [Shah, director of the Loan Programs Office at the U.S. Department of Energy] whose office now has $100 billion in loan authority for decarbonization through the IRA. ‘Now we gotta shift to the “how.”’”
Blast. That pesky thing again.
As it had observed nine days earlier, “US carbon emissions rose in 2022” before asking “Can clean energy get them on track?” Obviously it thinks so but:
“Historic investments in renewable energy will help the U.S. get closer to halving emissions by 2030, but there’s a lot more work to do, a new report warns.”
How much? Well, a bit. The usual. As in:
“The trick will be to accelerate an already ongoing shift to carbon-free electricity and put the rest of the economy on a path to moving from fossil fuels to electrification.”
Just that. And a week before that piece it lamented that:
“Huge opportunities and huge threats loom for US clean energy in 2023/ Wind and solar deployment fell steeply in 2022. Can the Inflation Reduction Act help build it back this year?”
Again, the predictable answer is yes if (a) government subsidies flow in torrents and (b) the world works completely differently this year than it did last year.
As Roger Pielke Jr. noted tartly:
“Despite all of the froth associated with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, according to the latest data from the U.S. government, whoever is sworn in as president in January, 2025 will face an enormous emissions reduction challenge.”
Grist, meanwhile, worries about “What the House speaker’s deal with ultraconservatives means for climate”. As usual there are no ultraliberals, just a few mildly left-of-centre pragmatists, against a horde of barbarians on the megaright. And they plan to sack Rome and everything else:
“‘Kevin McCarthy has ceded his speakership and control of the House Republican agenda to the most extreme fringe faction of his party,’ Josh Freed, the senior vice president for climate and energy at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Third Way, told Grist. ‘There’s a real chance that Republicans are going to try to gut really important government investment on everything, including clean energy and climate.’”
Boo! Republicans. Gutting everything. Just because.
The New York Times “Climate Forward,” not to be left behind on any woke front, warns that:
“The Biden administration has two years left to make good on a big, bold promise to redress longstanding environmental harms suffered by poor communities of color in the United States and to help them prepare for the climate-changed era…. With the Inflation Reduction Act, the White House has $370 billion at its disposal. How it distributes that money, and to whom, will be crucial in demonstrating the administration’s commitment to environmental justice.”
Should it somehow do so, we will all be saved again, especially as:
“The biggest pot of money in the environmental justice basket is a $27 billion fund that the E.P.A. hopes will inject capital into areas that have traditionally not attracted investments for clean energy and transportation projects. It’s called the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.”
With luck it also includes grants, which the piece notes can be time-consuming and fiddly to apply for, to replace your single-cup coffee maker with a basket job or vice versa depending which is crucial to saving the Earth.
The IRA is a legislative Superman. Why, it even includes $490 million to fight forest fires because, NBC misinforms its audience, “Studies have also shown that climate change will increase both the frequency and intensity of such blazes.”
Strangely, in insisting that 2022 was better than it looked, climate-panic-reassurance-wise, Euronews.green pointed to “more than 100 positive environmental news stories from 2022” that kicked off with “Ireland could hold a referendum on giving nature the same rights as people” and did mention Lula de Silva but not the Inflation Reduction Act.
It’s not just climate. Apparently Canada’s Prime Minister was to meet with the King of Jordan “explore opportunities to support and advocate for sustainable solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the situation in Iran.” Which if either of them had some original thoughts on you’d think they’d tell the world and collect their Nobel Peace Prize with a self-satisfied smile. (Evidently they will also discuss “women’s economic empowerment” in case you didn’t know Jordan was a world leader on that file.) But our politicians have trouble attending the opening of an envelope without throwing in a ritual reference. And like many such, Canada’s Justin Trudeau really has a saviour complex:
“we have the potential to transform how we work and live in Canada and around the world – in areas from fighting climate change to making advancements in health care. The Government of Canada will continue to support Canadian companies to help them keep growing and staying competitive, while driving economic growth and creating highly skilled and well-paying jobs for Canadians.”
A man who has never run a corner store thinks he can do all that. (And note the telltale “continue” he employs when describing something he is not doing and would have no idea how to do if he tried.)
On the subject of settled science we have to add that an NPR piece on coffee pods cites a new study that they’re better than filter brewing. But, it adds:
“research into the climate impact of coffee pods isn’t settled. Viana’s article says that coffee pods may have less emissions than other forms of coffee preparation. But a peer-reviewed paper from 2021 found the complete opposite: that coffee pods account for more emissions than other ways of making coffee, because of greenhouse gases from producing the pods’ packaging and dealing with the waste.”
So all those detailed national plans that say they know exactly what’s going on and what to do about it really should make you spit out your coffee, ideally from one of our stylish new Climate Discussion Nexus “Stripes” mugs.