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Weekly Climate Headlines - 6/18/21

Here's what's happening in the Climate World.

Federal Judge Puts an End to Biden Pause on Oil & Gas Leasing (AP, Reuters)

  • Judge Terry Doughty blocked the Biden administration’s pause on leasing of public lands for the drilling of oil and gas after thirteen states sued the administration.

  • The 13 states that sued argued that the administration bypassed bureaucratic steps, including public comments, when they placed the moratorium.

  • This decision will remain in place until there is a final resolution of the case or there are orders from a higher court.

US Solar Industry has its Largest First Quarter Ever is 2021 Q1 (Axios, SPW, Reuters, Electrek)

  • The US solar industry added 5 GW of new solar generating capacity in the first quarter of 2021, up 46% from the first quarter of 2020.

  • Solar accounted for 58% of all new electricity additions in the United States in Q1, while renewable energy accounted for nearly 100% of all new electric capacity.

  • The Q1 report, released by SEIA and Wood Mackenzie on 6/15, also detailed how supply chain stresses could lead to rising costs in Q2.

G7 Summit leaders pledge to step up climate change action but activists call for more (BBC, NYT, DemocracyNow)

  • Having failed to meet a 2009 goal to contribute $100bn in climate finance to poorer nations, G7 nations reaffirm their commitment through 2025.

  • G7 nations agree to stop funding international coal projects by 2022, but made no solid promises to end coal usage domestically.

  • Activists say these commitments do not meet the urgency required to properly address the climate crisis.

Heat Wave in American West to Shatter Records, Fuel Wildfires (AP, Axios, E&E)

  • On the back of a record breaking heat wave in Minnesota, the current heat wave in the western US is expected to break daily heat records and add to the ongoing extreme drought.

  • There are already dozens of large wildfires burning throughout Arizona, California, Montana and other parts of the West.

  • High winds have complicated attempts to contain fires currently burning in the extreme heat.

A Visualization of the Western US Drought (CNN)

  • 25 percent of the West is experiencing exceptional drought conditions (the most severe classification used by the US Drought Monitor), with little to no rain coming in the near future

  • More than half of monitoring stations have reported below average stream and river flows

EU Considers Tighter Standards on Classifying Wood Burning as Renewable Energy (Reuters, Energy Monitor)

  • The European Union is considering tightening the standards that have classified the burning of biomass for energy, primarily wood and wood pellets, as renewable energy.

  • Currently, wood burning is considered carbon neutral since trees grow back, but this straightforward interpretation is now being questioned.

  • Twenty percent of the energy used by the EU today is considered renewable, but roughly two-thirds of this is produced by biomass.

Volvo to Slash Carbon Emissions from Car Manufacturing by 2026 (The Guardian, Reuters, Carscoops)

  • Roughly 35% of the carbon emissions from Volvo’s vehicle manufacturing comes from the steel that makes up the majority of the car body.

  • Volvo now has a deal in place to test steel made by tech company SSAB, which is made using hydrogen and electricity and reduces the high emission output of traditional steel.

  • The car manufacturer hopes to fully replace current steel with the SSAB carbon neutral steel by 2026.

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