Citi's net zero revamp with Val Smith; plus Covid's coming home to Glasgow

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

Fireworks laws vary from state to state. Massachusetts is the only state where fireworks are completely banned aside from professional displays. Illinois, Ohio and Vermont have the next-strictest laws in 2021, the report said. According to Cal Fire, about 18,000 fires are sparked each year in the U.S. by fireworks. In California, many regions had banned both consumer sales and public displays. In related news, a bomb squad’s attempt to detonate an estimated 5,000 pounds of explosive devices and illegal fireworks seized from a house in south Los Angeles went awry. The resulting explosion injured 17 people, including nine Los Angele Police Dept. officers, and destroyed an armored LAPD truck.

London has been filled with chants and the singing of “football’s coming home” the past few days after England beat Germany in an historic soccer match in the European Championships. But for more than 2,000 Scottish fans who traveled to Wembley Stadium two weeks ago for a Scotland-England game, it’s coming with Covid.

The outbreak, part of a larger outbreak of the delta variant that threatens the entire UK’s ability to re-open this summer, is now bound to become a key factor in the decisions on whether to proceed with the COP26 global climate summit just four months from now, in November.

The numbers are bad and getting worse by the day. In Scotland alone almost 2,000 people who traveled to London for the match were infected, including about 400 who were inside Wembley.

The World Health Organization said fans who traveled to other matches in Europe, including St. Petersburg, Russia, also contacted Covid. And the final three matches of the tournament are all scheduled at Wembley next week, with up to 60,000 fans attending each one. Europeans are only about a third vaccinated, so the delta variant is spreading faster than authorities can get shots to people.

COP26 officials are currently not requiring delegates to be vaccinated; instead offering to vaccinate anybody who attends on site. Whether the delta outbreaks will change that will be closely watched. The summit could always be moved, as it was in 2019, but any decisions of that order would need to be taken soon.

More insights below. . . .

ZEUS: Turning ESG promises to action at Citi, with sustainability head Val Smith

. . . . The United Nations estimates the world’s banks will need to quadruple green lending by 2030 to more than $3.2 trillion. David Callaway catches up with Citigroup’s Chief Sustainability Officer Val Smith to take a look at how Citi is responding and what new net zero policies came in with its new CEO Jane Fraser this past spring. How Citi, one of the world’s largest banks, addresses the transition of its portfolio from fossil fuels to renewable energy will be closely watched by Wall Street as well as the international regulators ahead of the COP26 climate summit in November. . . .

Read the full ZEUS column

Return of the yellow vests? New carbon market rules dubbed ‘politically suicidal’ – EU notebook

. . . . A proposal to expand the European Union’s new carbon market to include the transportation and construction industries threatens to re-ignite massive protests such as the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement in France three years ago, writes Daniel Byrne from Dublin. French MEP Pascal Canfin, head of the powerful environment committee of the European Parliament, said the proposals, which may appear next month on the EU’s climate roadmap, would simply put taxes on the poorest members of society, the ones who can’t afford renewable energy. As the roadmap date approaches — coincidentally on France’s Bastille Day on July 14 — politicians are increasingly coming out against some of the new rules. . . .

Read the full EU notebook

Thursday’s subscriber insights: Exxon’s latest black eye, plus the French enter the U.S. offshore wind game

. . . . ExxonMobil’s (XOM) long climate summer got worse this week when a lobbyist was recorded dismissing its climate efforts as simply “talking points.” The company leaped to deny the comments represented its views, but it will have to take more concrete action to convince anybody. Read more here. . . .

. . . . The nascent offshore wind campaign on the U.S. East Coast picked up a new player this week — the French government. Électricité de France is teaming up with Shell on a new wind farm off the coast of New Jersey. The investment is notable as the French are more closely tied to nuclear energy. Read more here. . . .

Editor’s picks: Western fires explode; GM creates climate equity fund

Western fires explode amid head, drought

Lytton, B.C., the western Canadian town that endured a killer heat wave with temperatures topping 122°F. over the past week, is now burning. Mayor Jan Polderman told CBC News “It’s dire. The whole town is on fire. It took, like, a whole 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to, all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere.” The 250 residents were forced to flee without their belongings. In California, the Lava and Tennant fires have been exploding across Siskiyou County in the northern part of the state. Earlier in June, officials warned of a higher wildfire risk in California due to record heat and intense drought. While the Lava fire scorched about 20,000 acres Wednesday, officials said firefighters were able to get about 25% containment by early today.

GM creates climate equity fund

General Motors (GM) is creating a new $25 million Climate Equity Fund that, the company said, is dedicated to helping close equity gaps in the transition to electric vehicles and other sustainable technology. The philanthropic fund complements the company’s $35 billion global investment in EV and AV programs, research, technology, manufacturing and charging infrastructure. GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra said “Climate change does not impact every community equally. As we move to an all-electric, zero-emissions future, it is on us to lead positive change and implement inclusive solutions that bring everyone along, especially our employees and communities.”

Tropical Storm Elsa could become 1st Atlantic hurricane of 2021

AccuWeather forecasters are watching Tropical Storm Elsa, named the fifth storm of the Atlantic hurricane season early Thursday morning. The storm is likely to strengthen into the first hurricane of 2021 in the Atlantic and is predicted to approach the United States next week after it unleashes heavy rain, strong winds and stirs up dangerous seas in the Caribbean islands starting on Friday, said Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist. AccuWeather says If Elsa slides south of the Caribbean islands and enters the Gulf of Mexico, a more potent hurricane could evolve and potentially affect the U.S. A track into the eastern Gulf of Mexico appears most likely at this time, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

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