Climate Hope


The existential threat of climate change can’t be ignored


On January 20, a new expert team will act on the climate emergency. Here are administrators selected by the new administration: Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Department of Energy; U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), Department of the Interior; Michael Regan, Environmental Protection Agency; Brenda Mallory, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, National Climate adviser; and Ali Zaidi, deputy National Climate adviser.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will head the new Climate Department, assisted by Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi. The U.S. will also rejoin the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement.

The Climate Team described in detail the economic opportunities of clean energy, clean transportation, and the economic recovery with a substantial number of quality jobs.

Oil and Gas push back

Using flawed EPA emissions data to pretend greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are going down, Oil and Gas are crying out loud. Power plants burning “natural” gas ignore the massive methane leaks from the shale wells to the point of combustion and pretend to be clean. The Earth’s climate system does not care what Oil and Gas say. In the short term, the atmospheric warming potential of methane emissions is 84 times worse than carbon dioxide.

The American Petroleum Institute says, “we will continue to advocate for policies that promote technological innovation, advance modern energy infrastructure, and support access to natural gas and oil resources — both on federal and private lands.”

The American Gas Association says, “There are no Republican or Democratic energy molecules,” she said. “We will continue to find consensus across political lines and do what is best for each community.”

The Empowerment Alliance says, “Regan and Haaland have repeatedly expressed hostility to natural gas, and America should be very concerned that Biden’s energy and environmental cabinet officials will roll back our progress.”

No excuses

Former DOE administrator Ernest Moniz is not in the Biden-Harris climate team. Moniz created the Energy Futures Initiative to promote “clean coal,” investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS), and the “Green Real Deal,” to protect Big Oil. Biden is not buying Moniz’s false climate solutions.

In 2018, Moniz joined the Southern Company board of directors, the largest U.S. electric utility. Southern owns the $7.5 billion Mississippi Kemper clean coal CCS power plant under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Kemper plant has been a total failure but is not dead. In July 2020, DOE announced Kemper would receive $17.4 million in DOE grants and $6.1 million in other funds. Other DOE CCS projects include Illinois, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming.

It’s Biden time

It was refreshing to hear the new EPA administrator talk about clean air and water, the reduction of carbon emissions, and other environmental regulations rolled back in the last four years. Biden’s Climate team spoke of manufacturing electric vehicles, building a network of fast-charging electric stations, and all we have hoped for.

Climate nightmare

This December 21, 2020, headline tells the story. “DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy Announces $4 Million for Projects to Optimize Safe, Secure, and Verifiable Carbon Storage.”

Did you know we have an office of Fossil Energy?

How can we store something we haven’t been able to capture?

2030 targets

Last month a team of 41 climate experts found the 2015 Paris climate goals are not enough. “Carbon neutrality targets are often not as ambitious as they sound, relying on problematic carbon offsets and unproven technologies.”

Carbon offset accounting is poorly defined. We have reached a point where we need to stop carbon emissions altogether. Net-zero is not enough.

The U.K. has reached a similar conclusion based on the surge of Covid-19 mortality. The Telegraph clearly states, “burning wood pellets for electricity has to stop.” Carbon emissions from wood pellets are higher than coal, and PM 2.5 air pollution is increasing the morbidity and mortality of the Covid-19 pandemic.

All subsidies for wood pellets have to stop.

Dr. Luis Contreras


  1. Burning wood from forests for energy could be worse for the climate than coal

    Duncan Brack, an energy specialist at think tank Chatham House, said chopping down forests for energy was counterproductive.

    “Expanding forest cover is undoubtedly a good thing, if you’re leaving them standing,” said Brack, who was special adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change between 2010 and 2012. Claims that cutting down trees to create energy is carbon neutral are “highly dubious”.

    Biomass production has boomed across Europe and America in recent years. Last year it provided 12 per cent of the UK’s electricity. In 2017 the British biomass industry, run on imported wood pellets, received £1 billion in government subsidies.

    Claims that trees are a carbon neutral source of energy rely on the assumption that the emissions created when they are burned is easily matched by planting new ones. But older trees absorb carbon at a much greater rater, and the delay in replacing that with new forests.

    “You can leave trees standing and they will continue to absorb carbon for decades,” Brack said. “But the biomass industry implicitly assumes that forests at some point stop reach a saturation point for carbon intake and can be harvested and simply replaced.”

  2. 10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted

    Carbon neutrality targets are often not as ambitious as they sound, relying on problematic carbon offsets and unproven technologies. A team of 41 climate experts say the 2015 climate emissions goals are not enough.

    Climate change poses existential threats to people all over the world. Rapid and sustained emissions reductions, starting now are essential for tackling the climate crisis. Net-zero is not enough.

    • We must shift focus from mid-century net-zero targets to immediate, real emissions reductions in our own high-income countries. Reductions of at least 10% per year are needed. This massive transformation of our societies is our only way to fulfil the Paris agreement without relying on risky and unproven, large-scale deployment of negative emission technologies.

    • We in high-income countries, in addition to maximizing emissions reductions at home, must hugely increase climate finance contributions to low-income countries. The countries that are least responsible yet most vulnerable to the climate crisis must be supported in their efforts to adapt and transform to zero carbon societies, as part of the climate debt they are owed.

    • We must reject offsetting between high- and low-income countries and replace it with climate financing based on scientific evidence, a limited carbon budget and global climate justice.

    • We must define separate targets for negative emissions and emissions reductions. It is essential that socially and environmentally appropriate negative emissions are undertaken as climate investments or climate financing, not as carbon offsets.

    • We must stop marketing products as being “climate neutral” or “climate positive”.

    • We must stop extracting and using fossil fuels, the primary cause of the climate crisis. As well as real-zero targets, we need an international treaty for the termination of fossil fuel production.

  3. Biden must be our climate president

    December 23, 2020 – It’s time to make polluters pay for the damages done to our communities’ health, land and wellbeing. This starts with stopping fossil fuel projects and returning land to Indigenous peoples. Ultimately, we must dismantle existing projects and fund a just and equitable transition to a regenerative 100% renewable economy.

    The stakes are higher than ever – economically, socially and politically.

    Biden must show guts in holding coal, oil and gas executives accountable for knowingly bringing climate disasters, pollution, sickness, and death to our doorsteps.

    It’s our time to leap toward a renewable energy revolution that centers Indigenous sovereignty, community health, and a safe, livable future for all.

  4. Biden’s climate A-Team

    December 19, 2020 – President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday introduced key Cabinet nominees and members of his climate team, including New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland for interior secretary and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for energy secretary.

    Biden touted his ambitious climate plan, which seeks to end carbon emissions from power plants by 2035 and proposes broader public investment in green infrastructure, including $2 trillion for clean energy projects. He spoke about creating jobs, modernizing the nation’s water, transportation and energy infrastructures, turning the country toward electric vehicles and lowering the nation’s carbon emissions.

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