climate action alerts
A regional resource for Cape & Islands climate activists
March 5, 2021
Special Issue: Climate & Oceans

In the Atlantic Ocean, Subtle Shifts Hint at Dramatic Dangers
The warming atmosphere is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken, some scientists fear.
By Moises Velasquez-Manoff and Jeremy White, The New York Times, March 2, 2021

IT’S ONE OF THE MIGHTIEST RIVERS you will never see, carrying some 30 times more water than all the world’s freshwater rivers combined. In the North Atlantic, one arm of the Gulf Stream breaks toward Iceland, transporting vast amounts of warmth far northward, by one estimate supplying Scandinavia with heat equivalent to 78,000 times its current energy use. Without this current — a heat pump on a planetary scale — scientists believe that great swathes of the world might look quite different.

Now, a spate of studies, including one published last week, suggests this northern portion of the Gulf Stream and the deep ocean currents it’s connected to may be slowing. Read more.
QUOTE OF THE DAY

 “We’re all wishing it’s not true,” Peter de Menocal, a paleoceanographer and president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said of the changing ocean currents. “Because if that happens, it’s just a monstrous change.”

News, Opinion...& Mental Health
The Inter-/National Stage
The Interior nominee would be the first Native American cabinet secretary if she wins Senate confirmation following hearings that began Tuesday.
By Judy Fahys, Inside Climate News, February 22, 2021

Public lands are set to play a pivotal role in the Biden administration’s ambitious climate change agenda. The national parks, wildlife refuges and national recreation areas overseen by the U.S. Department of the Interior have been little-appreciated as climate solutions, even though they’re crucial sinks for greenhouse gas emissions. But Interior lands are also part of the nation’s climate problem, since they hold vast reserves of fossil fuels that, when extracted and burned, generate climate pollution. Read more.
New Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has advice for Texas — and for the oil industry
A Q&A with the new secretary of energy, who’s taking office as the Biden administration pushes to transform energy
By Will Englund, The Washington Post, Feb. 27, 2021

Jennifer Granholm, who was confirmed as secretary of energy by the Senate on Thursday, takes over a department with a $35 billion budget for an administration that has enthusiastically promoted the further development of clean energy. Even as the Senate vote was tallied, state legislators in Texas were holding hearings on the colossal power failures there of the week before. In a Friday interview with The Washington Post, Granholm had some advice for Texas. But with General Motors vowing to build only electric vehicles by 2035, the former governor of Michigan comes to office on the cusp of national transition. Read more. Watch the interview.
The Commonwealth
Environmental Firm Wants Massachusetts Utilities to Take a Lesson From Texas Outages
By Eve Zuckoff, CAI, March 5, 2021

In the wake of the Texas energy crisis, local environmentalists warn that higher temperatures, rising seas, and more intense storms are threatening the safety and reliability of Massachusetts’ power grid and other utilities.

The Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation has filed a petition with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities— which oversees private, investor-owned companies like Eversource and National Grid— to assure the readiness of these critical systems. The petition asks the state to require water, gas, and electric companies to demonstrate that they’re considering the effects of climate change and extreme weather on their infrastructure.

“It really is on the state to make sure that we’re appropriately regulating these companies and make sure that … we will have safe and reliable service into the future,” said Deana Moran, director of environmental planning at CLF. Read more.
Municipalities
MassDEP Offers Open Grant Program for EV Fast-Charging Stations
Applications due by March 19, 2021

MassEVIP Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging is a competitive MassDEP open grant program aimed at making electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations more widely available across Massachusetts. The program provides incentives for property owners with publicly accessible parking and educational campuses with at least 15 students on-site to acquire DC fast-charging stations.

There are three tracks for funding with funding amounts varying for each category:
  1. government-owned locations with publicly accessible parking
  2. non-government-owned locations with publicly accessible parking; and
  3. educational campuses

 MassDEP will accept applications for these competitive awards through March 19, 2021. 
MAPC Issues Municipal
Net Zero Playbook
A strategic guide for municipal action to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)* has issued its Municipal Net Zero Playbook (“the Playbook”), which provides guidance and tools to equip cities and towns with the resources to tackle their climate goals in an efficient and equitable manner.

The Playbook is an interdisciplinary tool for municipal planners, energy/sustainability staff, and volunteers that seeks to empower cities and towns to implement net zero actions within their communities. These resources will help local net zero action implementers understand their role in advancing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and advocating for critical local and state level policy changes. It covers:
  • Zero Emissions Mobility
  • Net Zero Buildings
  • Climate Smart Zoning & Permitting (coming Winter 2021)
  • Clean Energy Supply (coming Winter 2021)


*The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) is the regional planning agency serving the people who live and work in the 101 cities and towns of Metropolitan Boston. 
Getting Down to Business
Net Zero Gaining Momentum Like Never Before Among Investor And Business Community
Mindy Lubber*, Contributor, Forbes, Jan 5, 2021

2020 can't get behind us fast enough. But the shocking realization we've all faced about how vulnerable our society and global economy is also one of the reasons we've seen the remarkable embrace of ‘net zero’ by the business community this year.

When the pandemic hit in the spring, those of us leading the fight against the climate crisis thought that business momentum towards net zero would slow down. But, the opposite happened. The lessons of the pandemic—which scientists had been warning about for years—made major institutional investors and corporations realize they had to increase their own climate ambitions. 

This year, the number of the world’s largest companies committing to net-zero emissions targets, meaning they will eliminate as much of the greenhouse gases as they produce, tripled to 1,500 from the start of the year. Read more.

*Mindy Lubber is the CEO of Ceres, Inc. a global consultancy on sustainability; she delivered the keynote address for the Climate Collaborative's Net Zero 2020 conference.
Act Now. If Not Now, When?
Climate Activists Meet With Lawmakers As Part of Mass Power Forward Lobby Day
By Tim Cronin, Climate XChange, March 5, 2021

Climate activists from across the state hosted meetings with lawmakers as part of the first Mass Power Forward lobby day of the new legislative session. Mass Power Forward (MPF) is a coalition of 200 environmental and community leaders working for "healthy, clean, affordable, reliable energy and a thriving economy." According to the Sierra Club's Jacob Stern, a member of the MPF planning team, "we scheduled 75+ meetings with legislators, about 280 people signed up, and more than 100 people participated in at least one of our lobby leader training sessions." Their priorities included the nextgen climate bill, environmental justice, the 100% clean act, and legislation to prevent evictions and foreclosures caused by Covid-19 [read more about the MPF priorities].
Faith in Action
Energy & The Built Environment
A Clean Energy Milestone: Renewables Pulled Ahead of Coal in 2020
Low costs of wind and solar power helped renewables pass coal in electricity generation; gas remains the leader.
By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News, February 26, 2021

In a year of pandemic illness and chaotic politics, there also was a major milestone in the transition to clean energy: U.S. renewable energy sources for the first time generated more electricity than coal.

The continuing rise of wind and solar power, combined with the steady performance of hydroelectric power, was enough for renewable energy sources to surge ahead of coal, according to 2020 figures released this week by the Energy Information Administration.  
“It’s very significant that renewables have overtaken coal,” said Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at the think tank Energy Innovation. “It’s not a surprise. It was trending that way for years. But it’s a milestone in terms of tracking progress.” Read more.
Hearth & Home
Events & Webinars
Plymouth & Barnstable Senate District Town Virtual Town Hall with Congressman Keating

Monday, March 15
5:00 - 6:00 pm

and include a question or comment (If your question relates to the machine gun range project, please send a copy of your question to 350Cape@gmail.com.)
Congressman Bill Keating is holding a virtual town hall meeting for Cape & Islands residents to discuss the many pressing issues facing our communities and our country. The meeting will be moderated by State Senator Su Moran and all are welcome.

Among other issues, the proposed Machine Gun Range project at Camp Edwards, Joint Base Cape Cod, will be addressed. The Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative, Association to Preserve Cape Cod, 350 Cape Cod and other allies are opposed to this project and urge the preparation of a full Environmental Impact assessment addressing climate, environmental and other impacts and establishing a transparent communication and public engagement process.
Mass Save Virtual Energy Workshops for Educators

Register below:
Mass Save Virtual Energy Workshops for K-12 teachers, CTE teachers and afterschool program leaders These free workshops for K-12 teachers, CTE amd after school program leaders use NEED Project teacher-tested educational materials, providing comprehensive, objective information about the scientific concepts, sources and uses of energy – and their impact on the environment, economy and society. Please register at least one week prior to workshop in order to receive materials.
Ceres 2021 Conference

March 22 - 25
Ceres 2021 Transform Tomorrow Today virtual conference will explore climate policy at the state, regional, federal and global levels. With fresh momentum building for bold climate policy at all levels of government, learn how policy makers, investors, and corporate voices can move the needle toward creating real change at the federal and state level.
The Future of Net Metering

March 24
11:00am - 12:30pm
NECEC'*s Emerging Trend Series event on Northeast net metering policy will discuss how net metering has helped support clean energy development across the Northeast and U.S. and how policymakers can drive the adoption of zero-emission distributed energy resources to help our region meet clean energy and climate targets.
*New England Clean Energy Connect
Did You Know?
Volvo is the latest carmaker to go all-electric. The Swedish company, a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Geely, announced it will produce only EVs by 2030. Read more.
More batteries were powered up in the last three months of 2020 than in 2013 through 2019 combined, according to data collected by Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm, and the U.S. Energy Storage Association. Read more.
Why renewable energy was not to blame for the Texas blackouts. A new video explains what really caused the outages, and why they could get worse in the future. Read more.

The city of Heidleberg, German is trying to get rid of all autos, a move that is fortifying its reputation as a pioneer in environmentally conscious urban planning. Read more.
MISSED NET ZERO 2020?
Check out the session recordings below.

Watch 30+ videos and learn from experts around the region, state and country. Join the conversation and get involved!

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We are an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to reach carbon neutrality or net zero on Cape Cod and the Islands of Massachusetts by enhancing communication, collaboration, and activism among organizations, programs, and individuals committed to mitigating the climate crisis. We depend upon the generosity of our stakeholders to conduct our work. All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

The Climate Action Alerts newsletter is compiled and crafted by Fran Schofield. If you've got a climate story from your home, school, workplace, town or organization, please be in touch!
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