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Young Republicans think their party is on the wrong side of the climate debate

Establishment Republicans will probably never authorize sweeping action on climate change. The Fox News crowd is twice as likely as other Republicans to say climate change isn’t caused by humans.

 

But that’s not true for young Republicans (as well as most of the GOP under the age of 38). Pew Research Center recently polled to gauge their opinion on climate change, and the results show a generational divide in the GOP getting wider with every generation.

Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, from protecting water or air quality to reducing the effects of climate change. And most believe the United States should focus on developing alternative sources of energy over expansion of fossil fuel sources, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

While only 31% of boomers (1946-64) say the federal government does too little to reduce the effects of climate change, 52% of millennials (born after 1980) say the same thing. Overall, two-thirds of US adults (67%) agree the US government does too little. And don’t expect change anytime soon. The average age of the Congress is among the highest in American history: 57.8 years old for House members, and 61.8 for senators.

While it’s unlikely enough GOP incumbents (or older conservative voters) will change their mind on climate to break a congressional stalemate, movement is unlikely to depend on convincing opponents of climate policy.

As German physicist Max Planck once said about progress in science, it advances one funeral (or retirement) at a time. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it,” he wrote in his 1968 autobiography. When it comes the politics of climate change, the axiom may apply to Congress as well.

Battery Vs. Hydrogen: There’s Room For Both Technologies

Last week Anheuser-Busch brewery made its first zero-emissions delivery of beer, and both hydrogen-powered and battery-powered trucks were involved to demonstrate how the two technologies can work together. The beverage company used a hydrogen-electric truck to pick up a load of beer from its distillery and deliver it to local wholesaler partner. The wholesaler partner in turn used a battery-electric powered truck to make the delivery to customers, marking the first zero-emissions delivery.

There is a something of a mild war between Tesla and the rest of the world when it comes to the debate on the future of vehicle propulsion technology. Although there are multiple power sources available on the market today–including natural gas, diesel, hydrogen, and petroleum gasoline–some automotive industry leaders feel that there should only be one: battery-electric.

Most large and intermediate-sized automotive manufacturers disagree with this narrow position, and are exploring multiple alternative-fuel systems, including fuel-cell technology.

Hydrogen is more efficient for powering large vehicles, such as full-size SUVs and trucks, for long distances while carrying heavy payloads. Batteries are large, heavy, and expensive, and quickly reach a point of diminishing returns as vehicle size and weight increases, which is why many transportation giants are placing heavy bets on hydrogen technology and start-ups.

Last year Anheuser-Busch placed an order for up to 800 hydrogen-electric powered semi-trucks from the Phoenix, Arizona-based Nikola Motor Company to make good on its plan to reduce its carbon emissions across their supply chain by 25% by 2025. These trucks can travel between 500 and 1,200 miles before a 20-minute refueling is required. But even when all of the 800 long-haul hydrogen-powered trucks are on the road, the new fleet will reduce the brewer’s logistics-related carbon footprint by only 18%.

Additional reductions will be found in part by working with battery-electric vehicle manufacturers. The beer producer will be deploying 21 electric battery-electric trucks powered by a 958.5 kW solar array in efforts to reduce emissions generated by its distribution centers in southern California.

The Federal Reserve develops digital currency for the US

US central bankers have explored the possibility of developing a digital currency that would be directly available to businesses and households, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell confirmed to lawmakers this week.

"While we are not currently developing a central bank digital currency, we have assessed and we continue to carefully analyze the costs and benefits of pursuing such an initiative in the U.S.," Powell wrote in a letter to lawmakers dated Tuesday.

A digital currency backed by the central bank in the largest economy would be unprecedented and raise a host of legal and operational questions. Powell said it would be closely considered by policymakers but added that the US could be in some ways better positioned than other countries that have looked into such a proposal.

"We are carefully monitoring the activities of other central banks to identify potential benefits that may be relevant in the U.S. context," he wrote. "To date, our observation is that many of the challenges they hope to address do not apply to the U.S."

The letter was a response to questions raised in September that said the central bank should consider a US-backed cryptocurrency to remain competitive.

"We are concerned that the primacy of the U.S. Dollar could be in long-term jeopardy from wide adoption of digital fiat currencies," the lawmakers wrote in the initial letter to Powell, adding that "it may become increasingly imperative that the Federal Reserve take up the project of developing a U.S. dollar digital currency."

Toronto garbage trucks soon powered by biogas from the waste they collect

All of the garbage trucks in Toronto will soon be powered by the biogas produced from the very trash they collect. Toronto is set to be one of the first cities in North America to launch such an initiative, thanks to the their newly-constructed Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility.

Starting in March 2020, the city’s fleet of garbage trucks will collect all of the organic waste and flood scraps from the Toronto Green Bins and bring them to the facility for processing. The facility will then use anaerobic digesters to capture all of the biogas produced by the waste and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG).

After the scraps are dropped off at the facility, the city’s 170 garbage trucks can then immediately fill up their fuel tanks with RNG before heading out to collect more trash.

According to city officials, “RNG is also less expensive and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels such as diesel. Once injected into the natural gas pipeline, it can be used to fuel vehicles or provide electricity or heat to homes and businesses.

"RNG generated from food waste is actually considered carbon-negative, because the reduction in emissions by not extracting and burning petroleum-based fuel, and the emissions avoided by not sending organics to landfill, exceed the direct emissions associated with the production and use of RNG.”

10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto are generated by garbage, primarily food waste. Now, estimates suggest that the Dufferin facility will produce approximately 3.2 million cubic meters of RNG per year, which will save roughly 9,000 tonnes of CO2 from ending up in the atmosphere.

This closed-loop system is just one of the city’s four pre-planned waste-to-RNG production schemes for the coming years.

The U.S. central bank takes climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability

Severe weather carries economic and financial stability risks and major central banks have already made climate change an explicit part of their financial stability remits. Despite the fact that President Donald Trump’s administration still denies climate change exist, the U.S. central bank now also consider taking climate change risk into its assessments of financial stability, and may even take it into account when setting monetary policy.

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore. Scientists all over the world are in broad agreement that carbon dioxide from cars, power plants and other human sources are behind the climate change that’s already making powerful hurricanes, severe drought, and other weather extremes more frequent.

“To fulfill our core responsibilities, it will be important for the Federal Reserve to study the implications of climate change for the economy and the financial system and to adapt our work accordingly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in remarks released at the start of the Fed’s first-ever conference on climate change and economics in San Francisco, Reuters reports.

The Fed, she said, will need to look at how to keep banks and the financial system resilient amid risks from extreme weather, higher temperatures, rising sea levels and other effects of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The attention for the San Francisco conference was so big that it was oversubscribed. Due to this a webcast was created to meet demand. Papers presented at the conference showed how climate change has crimped growth and presented ideas on how policy, including monetary policy, can be used to mitigate harm.

Ms. Brainard said the central bank now discuss how it might participate in a network of about 40 global central banks that was created in 2017 to promote climate-related financial and macroeconomic issues. The goal of becoming more active with the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System, she said, would be to “learn from our international colleagues’ approaches to measuring and managing climate risks in the financial system.”

As social norms have shifted, the Fed has talked about inequality more openly and regularly without a backlash. A similar evolution seems to be underway when it comes to the climate.

“Climate change is an issue we can’t afford to ignore,” San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said at the start of the conference. “This is not a hypothetical risk of the future...the risks are here, we have to deal with them.”

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