Links of the Week for Nov 13-19, 2023
Featuring massive US spending on renewables and climate resilience, Paris’s plans to “pedestrianize,” regenerative farming, more evidence of micromobility's awesomeness, and more.
Hey, you awesome person! I’m finally catching up on the Links of the Week after finishing those massive recaps of my experience at Micromobility America and having a whack-load of client work to take care of as well.
But I’m back in the saddle again and excited to share some of the latest stories I’ve seen about sustainability and the world’s ongoing transition to a clean-energy economy. We’ve got international agreements, massive US spending on renewables and climate resilience, Paris’s plans to “pedestrianize,” regenerative farming, even more evidence of micromobility's awesomeness, and so much more.
Let’s dive into it!
The US and China have agreed to combat global warming by working to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030. I'm guessing they’ll reach that goal no problem – AND that global fossil fuel use won’t have decreased enough by then for us to feel like our efforts have made enough of an impact to get us out of the danger zone. Decarbonization is going to be a decades-long grind, I think.
The Biden Administration's history-making Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) committed $370 billion to the green energy transition – and as part of that initiative last week the administration announced more than $6 billion in investments aimed at strengthening the electrical grid and improving climate resilience. The US Energy Department also announced $3.5 billion to develop the country’s domestic battery industry and supply chain.
I suspect the innovations we’ll be seeing in energy and battery tech over the next 10-20 years are going to be mind-blowing.
Here's a Carbon Brief analysis predicting that China's CO2 emissions could peak this year, thanks to a record surge in green energy investments. The report says that the country’s annual solar and wind installation targets were met by September, months ahead of schedule, and that electric vehicle penetration is well ahead of the country's 20% target for 2025. Of course, China is also continuing to grow its fossil fuel use and develop more coal plants (which it insists will be used only during peak use times) – so only time will tell if/when the country’s massive new renewable energy projects will finally start making a dent in emissions. Here’s hoping it’s sooner as opposed to later!
Michigan’s recently passed clean energy bill sounds like a pretty big deal! It requires the state to achieve 100 percent clean electricity by 2040 – which, according to this Inside Climate News article, is especially ambitious given that the state currently gets two-thirds of its electricity from fossil fuels. I look forward to following their efforts to achieve such a massive transition in such a relatively short period of time.
The city of Paris has revealed plans to create 100 hectares of new pedestrian space by 2030 and transforming car lanes to human-friendly pathways and rain gardens. I love this part of the article: "walking is free, it's emission-free, it's noise-free, it's good for your health and, as we see every time we pedestrianise, it's also good for local businesses."
People-friendly cities for the win!
(I posted about this story on Mastodon and have to say it’s one of my most favourited and boosted posts ever. Apparently people really love the idea of pedestrian-friendly cities!)
Indigenous Australians are suing their federal government for failing to protect them from climate change. According to this Guardian article, Torres Strait Islanders "are seeking orders that require the Australian government to take steps to prevent climate harm to their communities, including by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with climate science.” It will be interesting to see how the Australian courts respond.
Meanwhile, in "sign of the times" news, what used to be the world's largest steel plant is being transformed into a wind turbine factory. The plant is based in Maryland and will be used to build the steel foundations and other turbine components to be used in offshore wind projects off the U.S. east coast.
According to this Ars Technica article, there were 280 million electric ebikes, mopeds, scooters, motorcycles, and three-wheelers on the road in 2022 – and their usage has cut demand for oil by a million barrels of oil a day. That’s about 1 percent of the world’s total oil demand and four times the amount of oil displaced by all of the EVs on the planet.
Just another reason why I believe the future of mobility is micro! 🚴😁
Canada’s House of Commons unanimously passed “Right to Repair” legislation Bill C-244 in October and now the bill is before the Senate. If it passes, Bill C-244 will allow individuals and third-party repair companies to break digital locks and make software fixes. Legislation that makes it easier for people to fix their own devices so they don’t have to replace the entire thing when one small part breaks seems like a good thing to me.
I enjoyed this Fast Company article on "Why Regenerative Farming is Taking Hold in Red America.” (Though I don’t love the somewhat divisive framing in the title.) I especially liked the poll that showed climate-smart agricultural incentives are "the most popular piece of climate policy across constituents of both political parties, with 82% of respondents expressing support for funding of cover crops and other soil carbon-boosting practices."
Bipartisan support for soil health is a wonderful thing to see!
Calling all ocean energy tech companies! The US Department of Energy has launched the Powering the Blue Economy™: Power at Sea Prize that will award up to $1.7 million to develop technologies that use marine energy to power ocean-based activities such as marine research or seafood farming without negatively impacting ecosystems. The technology can use power from ocean energy sources such as waves, tides, and currents and should demonstrate a high potential for eventual deployment at sea.
I hope some innovative companies are able to use the money to create some interesting marine energy solutions!
All right, that’s it for this week. I’m hoping to write some deeper dive articles on urban farming, sustainable fashion, battery tech, and the hubbub over heat pumps in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for more info – and for the next installment of Links of the Week, which should get posted next Sunday or Monday.
In the meantime, keep on being awesome! ✌️