Economy

Climate leadership wilts in extreme heat; plus, China’s carbon market a year in

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

In today’s issue:

— As Europe melts, global climate leaders are nowhere to be found
— China’s carbon market turns one this week. Volumes are encouraging. Prices? Not so much.
— Why the SEC’s disclosure rule may not rise to the Supreme Court’s “major questions” doctrine.
— Charging stations may be the secret sauce for the next generation of gas stations.
— Vanguard’s new active ESG fund has a Scottish flavor.

One of the best things about the UK for climate nerds like me is that they always measure extreme weather events in terms of their 2,000-year history. The wettest June since 1784. Or the coldest Christmas since 1939. So when they say today and tomorrow will be the hottest ever, that means something.

With temperatures approaching 40°C. (104°F.), and no real culture of air conditioning, London is in emergency mode. I saw a tweet that the Royal Air Force has halted flights at one of its major bases because the runways have melted, which brings a new channel of weather excuses to the famous “leaves on the tracks” genre.

What London is enduring is nothing new to Delhi or Dubai or Singapore or even Chicago. But that it is happening at a time of a collapse in climate leadership in the UK and U.S. makes climate politics all the more frustrating.

My long-time buddy David Andelman, for many years the Paris correspondent for CBS News, laments in his latest column the lack of climate leaders in today’s politics, such as Laurent Fabius, who as France’s foreign minister presided over the COP21 talks seven years ago that brought us the Paris Agreement.

Now the face of climate is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a coal baron who has single-handedly stopped President Joe Biden’s climate agenda in its tracks, in effect slowing down the world’s response and dooming it to miss the Paris targets. For his part, Biden has promised to run around Manchin with executive orders, now that he is back from pushing Saudi Arabia for more oil.

The vacuum in leadership means that voters, as they have done in Australia and Germany, and investors, as they have done in proxy contests and cleantech underwriting, will have to enforce change and develop new leaders. We do not yet have a Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs of cleantech, but there are plenty vying for the position.

The question is whether voting revolutions and advances in cleantech and renewable energy can come in time to stop the ravages already inflicted by the greed and stalling of current leaders. I’m betting — against the odds — that as extreme heat and weather become more common in our international capitals, that they can.

More insights below . . . .

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