Energy & Environment

Why it matters: Ominous forecasts about the impact of climate change serve as the backdrop for the world — led by U.S. lawmakers and companies — to debate big action on the problem, which could upend energy systems and our way of life.

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Southwest drought is worst on record, NOAA finds

In a stark new report, a team of NOAA and independent researchers found the 2020-2021 drought across the Southwest is the worst in the instrumental record, which dates to 1895.

Why it matters: They also concluded that global warming is making it far more severe, primarily by increasing average temperatures, which boosts evaporation.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
12 hours ago - Energy & Environment

White House moves against "super-pollutant" in climate fight

Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

The EPA is finalizing rules today that cut powerful greenhouse gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration, part of a wider new White House strategy to deter these "super-pollutants" and boost manufacturing of substitutes.

Why it matters: The EPA regulation is the U.S. part of a planned global phase-down of chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons. The global phaseout can prevent up 0.5 °C of global warming by 2100, the White House said.

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The road to COP26 gets slightly easier

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly.

Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.

The carbon toll of summer blazes

The widespread wildfires that stretched across the Northern Hemisphere this summer set records for their carbon dioxide emissions, particularly in Siberia, according to data released Tuesday.

Why it matters: The severe fire season in Siberia is tied in part to unusually warm conditions with low soil moisture, which studies have linked to human-caused climate change.

EV batteries will live forever in Ford's closed-loop factories

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Ford is partnering with battery recycling company Redwood Materials to lay the groundwork for a domestic supply chain for electric vehicle batteries that relies on closed-loop recycling.

The big picture: The long-term vision would ensure that critical battery materials like lithium, nickel, copper and cobalt are re-used in new batteries, reducing the need for imports and avoiding further environmental damage through mining.

Chicago's Baker Miller experiments with returnable takeout containers

Monica’s lunch in a reusable container. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Like a lot of restaurants operating through the pandemic, Baker Miller in Lincoln Square has seen takeout orders go through the roof in the last 18 months.

But that also meant the bakery-focused eatery was sending a lot more plastic containers into the world.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: Leonardo DiCaprio invests in cultivated-meat startups

DiCaprio addresses the UN at the signing of the Paris Agreement for Climate Change in 2016. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is investing in a pair of cultivated meat startups and joining their advisory boards, Axios can report first.

Why it matters: Cultivated meat — which is grown from animal cells — is still in early stages and has garnered criticism from some greens, but DiCaprio's involvement provides a boost from one of the world's most prominent climate activists.

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