And then there’s Texas….We look to Texas for any signs of positive climate action in the midst of the recent humanitarian crisis. And, President Biden celebrates his 30th day in office by having America rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Also, a 300 megawatt lithium ion battery system–the world’s largest– has been built in California. Plus, Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park gets a $60 million makeover as a World Heritage Site.
Signs of Positive Climate Action in Texas? The First 300-Megawatt Lithium Ion Battery, America Rejoins the Paris Agreement, Canada Funds Makeover of World Heritage Site
AND THEN THERE’S TEXAS...
We at The Climate Daily scoured the Texas situation for positive climate action, because that’s what we do. I also spent the better part of last week in a marathon text exchange with my twin brother, who lives in Dallas, TX. He and his fiancé were two of the millions of Texans who were without power—and heat—for more than four days. For much of that time, the temperature in their home was in the 30s.
Recently, The Climate Daily profiled TX state representative Rafael Anchia. His legislation successfully brought wind turbines to west Texas and the TX panhandle. So we reached out to his office. We are awaiting a reply. So, there isn’t any positive action climate news out of Texas, yet But have we learned anything? We learned there’s a well-known meteorological saying: “There’s nothing separating Texas from the Arctic except a few barbed wire fences.”
What that means is there aren’t any geographical influences like the Rockies to break up or re-direct cold air crashing down from the North Pole. So when it descends south, it’s like a runaway freight train.
Climate change is real, and it’s warming the Arctic. Why this matters is because as the Arctic continues to warm, particularly in the winter, that warming weakens the northern jet stream, allowing frigid polar air to escape the Arctic Circle and careen south straight through the heart of Texas. So despite what ERCOT CEO Bill Magness and Texas governor Gregg Abbott said about this Texas-sized catastrophe being a once in a hundred year event, it isn’t. Expect to see polar vortexes target Texas a lot more this century. It’s too bad Texas didn’t bother to take positive climate action and winterize their wind turbines like Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Washington and so many other states did, to keep them operational regardless of the weather.
GRID SCALE BATTERY STORAGE: THE FIRST 300 MEGAWATT LITHIUM ION BATTERY
Big news on renewable energy: Yale Environment 360 reports a boost for renewable, grid-scale battery storage, much of which is attributed to technological advances. Right now, a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery is being prepared for usage, while another 100 megawatt battery is being built to come in 2021. Together the megawatt batteries will be able to power roughly 300,000 California homes sustainably for four hours during evenings, heatwaves, and other times when energy demand outruns supply, according to Vistra Energy.
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, the executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association said energy storage is the bridge to a clean-energy future. As of 2020, California is the global leader in developing high-capacity batteries.
DEEPER DIVE: Yale Environment 360
AMERICA REJOINS THE PARIS AGREEMENT
Last Friday, the Biden administration celebrated its 30th day in power by officially rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, commonly known as the Paris Agreement. What is the Paris Agreement, anyway? And why does it matter to us?
The Paris Agreement is a landmark international accord that was adopted by nearly every nation in 2015 to address climate change and its negative impacts. Signers of the Paris Agreement acknowledge that:
Human-generated emissions cause global warming.
Global warming threatens climate systems.
Climate change endangers human health.
197 countries—nearly every nation on earth have endorsed the Paris Agreement. The only major emitting countries that have yet to formally join the agreement are Iran, Turkey, and Iraq.
The agreement aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, while pursuing the means to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Furthermore, the Paris Agreement creates a clear framework for all countries to make emissions reduction commitments and strengthen those actions over time.
DEEPER DIVE: Scientific American, CNN, US State Dept.
WOOD BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK GETS MAKEOVER
The Canadian government announced a roughly $60 million plan to help save Wood Buffalo National Park’s status as a world heritage site over the next three years. In collaboration with Indigenous partners, the federal plan will fund enhanced research, monitoring and management of the park. The plan also includes 142 actions, the majority of which focuses on environmental flows, hydrology, science, and monitoring.
Reported by Cabin Radio, in 2018, the Canadian government made efforts to protect the national park from being listed as endangered with a $27.5 million fund. However, United Nations officials said their efforts would fall short without an “adequately funded” plan to protect the Wood Buffalo.
Looking towards the future, the new $60 million plan will be published on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Centre website and will be considered by the committee at its next meeting in 2021.
A Deeper Dive: Cabin Radio