Climate, Health and Equity Brief
U.S. elections, loss and damage, and hope for climate action
November 17, 2022
The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.
Hot Topic: A path forward. With Democrats picking up key Governor’s seats in Tuesday’s elections, Republicans expected to emerge with a modest House majority and the balance of the U.S. Senate still undecided, the much-discussed “red wave” at the ballot box failed to materialize this week—and some observations can already be made about the role of climate change in this year’s elections.
In a year characterized by inflation, high gas prices and voter angst over issues like abortion, analysts agree that climate change did not play a significant role in most congressional campaigns. According to a Wesleyan Media Project analysis, just 15% of political ads in September— and 18% in October—mentioned energy or the environment.
Observers say this signals that climate change is no longer the controversial issue it once was among American voters, and there is plenty of data to back that up: Among other such studies, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 58 percent of the country thought the government should do more to address the climate emergency, including 47 percent of Republicans ages 18 to 29.
Beyond the U.S. House and Senate, climate champions won contested gubernatorial races in several states—and in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota, Democrats gained control of state houses and the governor’s mansion, making climate action much more likely in their coming legislative sessions. These and other 2022 Democratic gubernatorial victories are critical because states will be responsible for funneling much of the Inflation Reduction Act’s $370 billion in climate funding into emissions reduction plans across the country.
At COP27, attendees report that global colleagues expressed relief at better-than-expected U.S. election results, which can have a sizable impact on the world meeting its emission reduction goals. Talks at the conference focused heavily on wealthy nations’ duty to help those in the Global South contend with the climate crisis, and on that front, some glimmers of hope emerged. Several European nations pledged money toward a loss and damage fund to compensate developing countries for catastrophic climate impacts, though billions more are needed, and the U.S. has yet to commit on this front.
Nonetheless, President Biden doubled down on America’s climate commitment at COP27 on Friday, bolstered in part by U.S. election results. “My commitment to this issue has been unwavering,” he said. “The United States of America will meet our emission targets by 2030.”
—Matt & Traci, GMMB
Egypt faces food shortages as farmers struggle to adapt to unusually intense heat and record-low temperatures that have caused erosion, flooding and increased pests, threatening food shortages across the country. (The Wall Street Journal)
A sobering new provisional study from the World Meteorology Organization depicts a world of worsening climate impacts, revealing that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to reach record highs; 10% of sea level rise since 1993 has occurred in the last two years alone; and glacier mass loss records in the Swiss Alps were shattered in 2022, with mass losses far beyond the range of historical variability. (Axios)
Scientists are directly linking Hurricane Nicole’s intensity and haywire weather patterns to climate change, resulting from unusually high ocean temperatures and an atypical shift in the hurricane’s jet stream, as storms rarely approach from the east this time of year. (Bloomberg)
At COP27, several European nations pledged money toward a loss and damage fund to compensate developing countries for the catastrophic impacts they face as a result of climate change, which has been overwhelmingly caused by wealthy, high-emitting nations. (The New York Times)
UN experts published a list of $120 billion in projects that investors could back to help poorer countries cut emissions, boost resilience, address damage and restore nature and land, but a recent report found that developing countries actually need $1 trillion a year in external financing by the end of the decade—and to match that with their own funds—to fully address these challenges. (Reuters)
Switzerland’s plan to meet its climate goal of cutting 50% of its greenhouse emissions by 2030 is drawing criticism for funding adaptation projects in poorer nations and counting those emissions reductions towards its own climate goals. (The New York Times)
Politics & Economy
The future of U.S. climate politics remains unclear after Tuesday’s elections, with a likely slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives leaving room for investigations that could stall climate action at the national level even while Democratic gubernatorial gains will advance climate policies in individual states. (Scientific American)
In a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, 18 conservative organizations advocated to end the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis should Republicans officially take control of the House, saying that the committee has no legislative authority and weakens American energy independence. (E&E News)
A new study revealed that only 7 of the 43 banks in the Net Zero Banking Alliance have set clear goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2030, with a majority of institutions failing to put real targets or mechanisms in place to help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. (Bloomberg News)
Life as We Know It
Analysts expect a surge in climate misinformation and greenwashing following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and his promise to revisit all content moderation policies and reduce content restrictions. (Barron’s)
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, and the EU greenlit a plan to provide grants and loans to South Africa to help it transition away from coal, which currently accounts for 80% of its electricity generation. (Barron’s)
A group of 11 European cities has urged the European Commission to set a 2027 deadline for ending the sale of carbon-emitting buses to help the EU meet its emission reduction goals. (Euronews)
New Yorkers passed a $4.2 billion environmental bond to strengthen climate and flooding resilience through water quality improvement, shoreline restoration and green building projects. (Bloomberg)
Rhode Islanders voted to approve a $50 million green bond to help fund a carbon-neutral education center, small-business energy loans, and the restoration of forests, brownfields, and the Narragansett Bay watershed. (Providence Journal
As world leaders convene in Egypt for COP27, check out The Washington Post’s global climate report card that reveals the progress and failures of nations on climate change in the last year.
Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. It is either a climate solidarity pact or a collective suicide pact.”
– UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressing world leaders at COP27
The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB California team— Thomas, Baer, Aaron Benavides, Stefana Hendronetto, Sharde Olabanji and Quincy Tichenor, Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.