Economy

Elon Musk's new climate tell, plus India's heatwave is one for the books

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

Father of the electric vehicle. Space pioneer. Celebrity CEO. Shareholder activist. Now add media mogul to Elon Musk’s list of special interests, once his $44 billion purchase of Twitter (TWTR) closes.

Climate advocate is not among them, however.

Despite helming the world’s most successful electric vehicle company, Tesla (TSLA), and offering a $100 million prize for the best carbon capture storage idea last year, Musk’s political ramblings and skepticism about President Joe Biden’s climate strategies are decidedly against government influence on global warming.

Musk is a capitalist, and a libertarian through and through. He is against Biden’s Build Back Better plan but is a major donor to the American Civil Liberties Union. He is against government subsidies and incentives, yet he built his corporate empires on them, including Tesla and Solar City. He publicly moved out of San Francisco to Texas, and now has just bought a company in the technology heart of the City by the Bay.

He will do his best to make (more) money on the renewable transition, and indeed makes a fortune selling carbon offsets to polluters. Yet he will likely use his new plaything Twitter to allow for the widespread dissemination of climate denial comments in the name of free speech at the same time.

The first test will come right away. Twitter on Friday — Earth Day — said it would no longer allow advertising that includes denial of accepted scientific consensus on climate change causes and solutions. It followed Pinterest, which changed its policy last month, and Google, which did so last year. If Musk strips that strategy it will be an important indication of what he means by saying he believes in free speech.

As for what he does next, or which way he goes, nobody knows. If his past actions are any indication, it’s likely he doesn’t either.

More insights below . . . .

Climate disasters in Latin America threaten to drive six million into poverty in next decade

. . . . As Latin America girds for another long hurricane season, the potential impact on vital crops as well as the minerals behind the production of electric vehicles from global warming is creating a crisis situation, writes Michael Molinski. Almost six million people are in danger of being pushed into poverty in the next decade in a region that has done little to cause the harmful effects of global warming. The dangers promise to cut gross domestic production across the region, with Central America and the Caribbean areas being most heavily-hit. . . . .

Read the full story

Climate books: Atlas of Disappearing Places

. . . . A new book called The Atlas of Disappearing Placesby Christina Conklin and Marina Psaros puts in stark detail the inequality tied to climate change, pointing out which countries can buy their way out of global warming misery and what will happen to those who cannot. Jack Hamilton discusses it and the potential ways global warming will manifest with Gaël Giraud, director of Georgetown University’s Environmental Justice Program, in an exclusive interview. . . .

Read the full interview

Tuesday’s subscriber insights: Shareholder proxy votes on climate hit record levels

. . . . Annual general meeting season is here for public companies, and in recent years that means one sure thing: that shareholders will be pressing companies about all matters ESG. This year the number of proxy resolutions is higher than ever before, especially in the context of the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine. Just this morning shareholders recorded improved results on climate votes at Citi (C), Bank of America (BofA) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Will this be the year shareholders finally make a difference? Read more here. . . .

. . . . Tidal energy has long been thought of as the best solution to pollution caused by fossil-fueled power production. It is, however, technologically difficult and expensive to build. Increasingly, though, thoughts are turning to the idea of tidal lagoons. Read more here. . . .

. . . . What will solve global warming? The same force that created the climate crisis: capitalism. Best Buy, for instance, is looking to make money from a new program called Haul-Away, where they will take away your used appliances and recycle them. Are they doing it out of the goodness of their green hearts? Hell no. Same for wind projects in red states. There’s cash in them thar turbines. Read more here. . . .

. . . . An electric Corvette! Production of Ford’s F-150 Lightning EV pickup truck upped to, er, lightning speed! FedEx EV truck sets new Guinness World Record for distance covered in one charge! Electric vehicle innovation is moving faster than anyone thought possible even as recently as 2020. Expect consumer buying trends to catch up soon. Here’s the latest. . . .

Editor’s picks: How to spot greenwashing; threat from new coral disease

Corals devastated by swift-spreading disease

Stony coral tissue loss disease, or SCTLD, is spreading rapidly and causing greater damage to coral reefs already hit by environmental damage. The Guardian quotes marine scientist Krista Sherman as saying that in the Caribbean, “the disease is spreading really quickly. In some areas where we’ve been able to assess the rate of spread, we’re looking at a mile a month.” The disease was discovered in Florida about eight years ago and has now been confirmed in 22 countries and territories across the Caribbean, according to data compiled by the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA), which has been tracking the outbreak, according to the report. The speed at which the disease progresses has outpaced efforts to battle it. The report says the only treatment currently available is to put antibiotic paste on individual corals.

Is that greenwashing? Here’s how to tell

“Greenwashing 101: How To Decipher Corporate Claims About Climate” is a new article from The Washington Post by Douglas MacMillan that offers five tips on how to know if a corporation’s environmental claims pass the straight-face test. The tips include analyzing net-zero pledges, carbon offsets, and the details of how companies phrase their commitments. Also, MacMillan writes, “Focus on parent companies, not individual products and brands. Some corporate marketers attempt to position many of their products and brands as green. But in some cases, those claims are outliers when considered more broadly with the actions of their parent company.”

Data driven: Your complete list of 2022 EVs in the U.S.

. . . . Visual Capitalist has tallied up every electric vehicle available in the U.S. this year, and the list is impressive. There’s the Nissan Leaf, with max horsepower of 147, up to the 1,000 max horsepower of the Hummer EV pickup. There’s a wide range for MSRP, too, with the Leaf at $27,400 up to the aforementioned Hummer’s $110,295. There are 26 models in between and most of them get a fuel economy rating of around 100 MPGe. Author Omri Wallach writes in this visualization: America’s EV market has surged in the past decade and the Biden administration has allocated billions towards the EV transition in the hopes that by 2030, electric cars make up 50% of all new cars sales in America. This graphic, using data from Car and Driver and EPA, highlights every single EV that’s available for sale across America, showing the wide range of manufacturers, vehicle types, and prices. The report notes that at less than $30,000, the Nissan Leaf and Mini Cooper SE are currently the most affordable options for Americans. “It’s important to note that, while EV adoption in America has increased over the years, the U.S. is still lagging behind other countries. Between 2015 and 2020, America’s EV fleet grew at an annual rate of 28%, while China’s grew by 51%, and Europe increased by 41%.” See the full visualization at Visualizing All Electric Car Models Available in the U.S.

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