One of the most important trends in climate change isn’t anything you heard on the campaign trail, but instead something as basic as data — and the technological exploitation of it.
Driving the news: Companies have been disclosing more data on greenhouse gas emissions since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and a new trend cropping up uses that to foster competition for greener energy. Expect far more of this under President-elect Joe Biden.
Last year tied 2016 as the warmest year ever recorded, capping the end of the warmest decade on record, according to data released Friday by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.
By the numbers: "2020 was 0.6°C warmer than the standard 1981-2010 reference period and around 1.25°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial period," Copernicus said in a summary of their data. The last six years are the six warmest on record, they said.
Scientists this year will update how they calculate average temperatures, altering our reference point of a "normal climate."
Why it matters: What we think of as normal in life — whether in climate, politics or society — is always changing due to what's known as the "shifting baselines syndrome." Because we often miss those changes, we end up with a warped image of the present that shapes our policies and our future.
A new working paper from UC Berkeley business professor Lucas Davis charts the share of U.S. homes that use electricity as their main heating source.
By the numbers: It went from 1% in 1950 to almost 40% by 2018. The paper, using Census data, maps it through the decades (two snapshots are above).
From presidential aspirations to oil to corporate positioning, here’s what I’m watching this year.
The big picture: After the year that wasn’t, well, everything we thought it would be, 2021 will be a messy mix of the pandemic (still) and reviving all that it sidelined on all things, including energy and climate change.
In the four years since the U.S. federal government last paid serious attention to climate change, the problem has become a top priority across states and corporations.
Why it matters: Washington, D.C. isn't the only place, or even the most important place, where meaningful climate change action is likely to happen in the coming years.
The COVID-19 relief and spending deal is Capitol Hill's "most significant action on climate and energy in over a decade," according to analysis from the Rhodium Group, an emissions research firm.
Why it matters: The package now heading for President Trump's signature would phase down a potent greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in air conditioning and refrigeration.
Congress is nearing passage of legislation that phases down a powerful planet-warming gas used in air conditioning and refrigeration, while also extending tax credits for renewable power and carbon capture projects.
Driving the news: Those provisions are part of the bipartisan year-end spending and COVID-19 relief deal moving through Capitol Hill this week, after a compromise on a $900 billion package was finally reached Sunday night.
President-elect Joe Biden introduced his energy and environment team on Saturday at an event that emphasized job-creation in low-carbon industries and racial justice, but provided no new policy specifics.
Why it matters: Biden has promised to make climate among his top priorities and his team is planning an approach that draws in agencies government-wide.
A recent novel illustrates the likely consequences of climate change in the decades to come, and offers hope that better technology and politics might help us save the future.
Why it matters: Perhaps no subject as important as climate change has also proven so difficult to effectively and accurately dramatize. "The Ministry for the Future" is the one novel I've read that captures the consequences of warming while offering a realistic blueprint for how we can stop it.