climate action alerts
A regional resource for Cape & Islands climate activists
July 23, 2021
News & Opinion
Hydrogen Is One Answer to Climate Change. Getting It Is the Hard Part.
Hydrogen is one of the most plentiful elements in the universe, but producing it in a way that is emission-free is costly. Pioneering companies are working to change that.
By Stanley Reed and Jack Ewing, The New York Times, July 13, 2021

SHEFFIELD, England — Rachel Smith has lived through green hydrogen’s bumpy journey from scientists’ dream to an industry that may be on the verge of a commercial breakthrough. An engineer, she started out two decades ago working in a converted barn on early devices for making the clean-burning gas.

Now she is part of a team racing to build giant machines that will use electricity to separate hydrogen from water for major companies like Royal Dutch Shell and Orsted, the Danish offshore wind developer.

“We have gone through those toddler years,” said Ms. Smith, an executive director at ITM Power, which is run out of an expansive new factory in Sheffield, a faded center for steel mills and coal mining. “We are playing in the grown-up world rather than in research labs.” A consensus is forming among governments, environmentalists and energy companies that deep cuts in carbon emissions will require large amounts of a clean fuel like hydrogen. Read more.
National
No red lines, just green lines: Ed Markey takes key role in Senate climate fight
By Jess Bidgood and Jim Puzzanghera The Boston Globe, July 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — With the climate crisis looming, Ed Markey devised a plan to tackle it with sweeping legislation that would have established new energy standards, cut carbon emissions, and seeded a greener economy.

That was 2009, and the bill he pushed through the House as a congressman went on to wither on the vine in the Senate.
Markey has since moved up to the Senate, where more than a decade later and with the climate threat graver than ever, the Massachusetts Democrat is seizing his best opportunity yet to get global warming provisions passed, maneuvering them into the infrastructure package slogging its way through a divided Congress. Read more.
Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps
By Rachel Frazin, The Hill, July 20, 2021
A group of more than 80 House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday laid out their vision for a climate jobs program called the Civilian Climate Corps that is expected to be part of a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill filled with Democratic priorities.

A new letter from Democrats spanning the ideological spectrum pushed for the program to prioritize natural climate solutions, clean energy, climate resilience and addressing environmental justice. The lawmakers also called for “ambitious” labor standards, including a living wage and an award to help participants pay for college or pay back student loans. The letter did not specify how much money should be provided for that program. Read more.
State & Region
Support Renewable Energy & Vineyard Wind!
BOEM Scoping Session/Virtual Meeting

Monday, July 26
6:30pm

If you'd like to take quick, immediate action to support Vineyard Wind and renewable wind energy in our region, join the BOEM meeting next Monday. While this scoping session is geared toward a Connecticut project and yet-to-be determined New England project, your support will help expand the industry and supply chain overall, enabling development policies that are responsible and equitable to all who live in our region. Click here for background info and talking points.
Cape & Islands Local
Chatham Is Leading Climate Change Mitigation On The Lower Cape
By Judith Holt, The Sandwich Enterprise, April 23, 2021

This is the second article in a series on towns that are doing treat work to stop climate change. These towns are Mashpee on the Upper Cape, Yarmouth on the Mid-Cape, Chatham on the Lower Cape, and Wellfleet on the Outer Cape.

In Chatham, all you have to do is look at the town website to see that they are abuzz with efforts to save energy and utilize renewable energy. The Chatham main webpage sends the website visitor to useful sites such as the Cape Light Compact’s (CLC) excellent services for home energy savings, and commercial energy savings. There is a summary sheet that (as of this date) states:

  • There are 8,400 electric accounts in Chatham;
  • That 424 accounts saved $188,000 in electric costs;
  • Some $73,500 of energy efficiency funds went for improvements at the airport, the police station, the high school and the elementary school;
  • That solar at Chatham Middle School saved over $2,300 in electric costs, which was paid through the CLC’s solarize project since 2006; and
  • A 2013 project to change 556 municipal streetlights to LEDs saved $19,004 in a year.

The town is organized with an energy and climate committee. Bob Wirtshafter is head of this committee and he is the treasurer of the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative. Read more.
Stepping Up: Cape Businesses Go Green
Lower Cape TV Releases 2nd video in 3-part series: Climate Change on Cape Cod
By Angela McInerney, LCTV, June 10, 2021

In the second installment of its Climate Change on Cape Cod series, Lower Cape TV looks at local businesses, nonprofits and municipalities proactively fighting the effects of climate change.

The Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative works as a resource hub connecting stakeholders and providing vital information as waters warm and sea levels rise. Watch the video.
"THREE SECONDS"
#Film4Climate 1st Prize Short Film Winner

Partner Spotlight
Cape Cod Commission
The Cape Cod Commission is pleased to announce its seventh annual OneCape Summit to be held August 23-24, 2021 at the Wequassett Resort in Harwich, MA. It includes both in-person and virtual components. 
 
This year, OneCape will focus on the critical challenges of water quality, climate change, and housing. Over the course of two days, sessions will cover strategies to address marine and freshwater quality, work to mitigate and adapt to climate-related impacts in the region, local and regional strategies to support housing needs, and building resilience within our natural, built, and community systems in a post-COVID economy. 
 
Join the Commission this year, in person or online, to continue collaborating on solutions for our greatest regional challenges. Registration will open in July. Find updates at onecape.capecodcommission.org.
Energy & Built Environment
More Power Lines or Rooftop Solar Panels: The Fight Over Energy’s Future
The president and energy companies want new transmission lines to carry electricity from solar and wind farms. Some environmentalists and home- owners are pushing for smaller, more local systems.
By Ivan Penn and Clifford Krauss, The New York Times, July 11, 2021 (photo credit: NYT)

The nation is facing once in a generation choices about how energy ought to be delivered to homes, businesses and electric cars — decisions that could shape the course of climate change and determine how the United States copes with wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather linked to global warming.

On one side, large electric utilities and President Biden want to build thousands of miles of power lines to move electricity created by distant wind turbines and solar farms to cities and suburbs. On the other, some environmental organizations and community groups are pushing for greater investment in rooftop solar panels, batteries and local wind turbines.

There is an intense policy struggle taking place in Washington and state capitals about the choices that lawmakers, energy businesses and individuals make in the next few years, which could lock in an energy system that lasts for decades. Read more.
Should I Go Solar Now? Here’s What Homeowners Should Consider
Should you lease or buy? That’s one of the main questions homeowners need to answer before installing a solar-energy system.
By Ken Wells, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2021

Residential solar is now a fact of life in all 50 states. Growing awareness of solar’s role in addressing climate change is one reason; rapidly falling prices for solar panels are another. Over 2.8 million U.S. households have already gone solar, according to the Solar Energy Industries Assoc., or SEIA, a trade group.

Acquiring solar these days is much like acquiring a car or a home. Consumers can buy a system outright with cash or a loan or take out a lease. Read more.
Transportation
As car-centric Cape Cod tries to cut emissions, transportation is a challenge
The Massachusetts region’s unique geography and seasonality — and decades of car-centric development — present a challenge for local leaders trying to reduce climate emissions, more than 55% of which comes from transportation.
By Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network, June 28, 2021 (Photo credit: Sarah Shemkus)

As Cape Cod launches its first strategic plan to slash its greenhouse gas output, the need to rein in transportation emissions is emerging as a substantial challenge for the sprawling, car-centric region.

In April, the Cape Cod Commission regional planning authority released a draft climate action plan that finds transportation is responsible for more than 55% of greenhouse gas emissions in the region. That’s significantly higher than the statewide average of 42%. Read more.
Martha's Vineyard develops solar charging infrastructure for bus fleet
The island of Martha’s Vineyard is launching its very own electricity grid, which will use solar power to charge the island’s electric bus fleet.
Intelligent Transport, May 20, 2021

Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) in celebrating the launch of the VTA’s microgrid, which uses on-site solar power and battery energy storage to provide sustainable energy for its growing fleet of electric buses.

The combined system supports a more reliable and sustainable public transportation network for Martha’s Vineyard Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. The microgrid establishes a resilient independent energy source while significantly reducing carbon emissions – according to the VTA, the all-electric bus fleet will eliminate 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide over ten years of driving 1.4 million miles annually. Read more.
Imagine what your neighborhood (yes, YOURS!) would look like if 1 in 4 households were solar-powered.
It could happen within 5 years! Use this map to see what 30 Million Solar Homes would mean for your community.

1 in 4 homes in the U.S. could be powered by solar within 5 years. Sound ambitious? See how it’s not only possible, it’s necessary to fight #climatechange, #createjobs, and close the solar gap in marginalized communities.

Visit the interactive map at 30millionsolarhomes.org to see the impacts of 30 million solar homes in your community, and find and contact your members of Congress. State-specific fact sheets are embedded within the map and organized by congressional district. Learn more about the impact of this plan and help build momentum the #30MillionSolarHomes campaign by sharing this new report which outlines the real-life impacts that 30 million solar homes will have on our economy, our environment, and our communities. Read more.
Faith in Action
Positive Action for the Climate Emergency and Eco-Justice series
FCEN's popular webinar series continues into Fall

Last Wednesday of the Month
July 28 - October 7
7:00PM-8:30PM
Register here (for 1, 2, 3 or all webinars!)

  • Climate-Friendly Eating (Wednesday, July 28): Plant-based meals, local food sources, and composting presentation led by Bette Hecox-Lea, PhD. with other special guest speakers

  • Eco-Just Financial Investing (Wednesday, August 28): Led by Lew Stern with special guest speaker specializing in portfolios with socially, environmentally, and eco-just investments.

Stay tuned for more info on September's and October's sessions: Bringing Back Outdoor Space; and Kids and Youth for Climate. To view past videos of the first four seminars or for more information on the series, contact Lew Stern at lewstern49@gmail.com or 617-759-7060. 
Business, Finance, Investment
In Fighting Climate Change, What’s an Individual to Do?
Investors can look for companies that reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere. Working from home helps, too, as does rooftop solar.
By Paul Sullivan, The New York Times, July 16, 2021

Climate change can seem like such an enormous problem that individual actions would have little impact. Consider Europe’s wide-ranging proposals this week to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, including eliminating sales of new gas- and diesel-powered cars in the next 14 years.

But people can have an impact, experts say, both by how they spend their money and how they spend their time.

Mary Weathers Case, for instance, chose to offset the carbon cost of a cross-country plane trip for her family through the site Gold Standard. Dr. Case, a psychiatrist who lives in South Salem, N.Y., with her husband and two children, said she had been reading and watching more news about climate change during the pandemic and had been motivated to do her part after hearing about the searing temperatures in the West. Read more.
Land Use & Conservation
Biden administration proposes sweeping protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to end large old-growth sales, bar road construction on 9.3 million acres of forest in a move that would reverse one of Donald Trump’s biggest public land decisions
By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, July 15, 2021

The Biden administration will announce sweeping protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest on Thursday, according to federal officials, including an end to large-scale old-growth logging and a proposal to bar road development on more than 9 million acres. The changes would mark a major shift for a region that has relied on felling massive trees for more than a century. Read more.
Amazon rainforest now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs
Cutting emissions more urgent than ever, say scientists, with forest producing more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, July 14, 2021

The Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb, scientists have confirmed for the first time.

The emissions amount to a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to a study. The giant forest had previously been a carbon sink, absorbing the emissions driving the climate crisis, but is now causing its acceleration, researchers said.

Most of the emissions are caused by fires, many deliberately set to clear land for beef and soy production. Read more.
Hearth & Home
Saving Energy this Summer
Check out Cape Light Compact's tips for keeping cool

Summer is underway, and with higher temperatures, you may be seeing a higher electricity bill. Are you looking for a way to cut that cost while still beating the heat? The team at Cape Light Compact has some tips and programs to help you do just that.
Education, Training & Webinars
The Climate Mobilization presents
Building Power, Building Coalitions Webinar
Tuesday, July 27
8:00 PM ET

If you’re passionate about building the power necessary to mobilize a response to the climate emergency, you don’t want to miss this webinar!

Special guests Alex Easdale and Janet Zahn will lead this insightful webinar. Alex Easdale, the Executive Director of Southeast Climate & Energy Network - SCEN, will talk about coalition building for the Green New Deal for Southern Communities campaign. Janet Zahn will share her experience organizing for Climate Emergency legislation with the GR Climate Resolution Coalition.
Elders Climate Action presents
The Climate Activist Toolkit
Wednesdays
July 28, August 11, August 25 
6:00 – 7:30 PM (ET)
 
The Climate Activist Toolkit is a 3-part summer workshop series designed to build our strengths as climate advocates. These facilitated workshops will cover a range of topics including:

  • Tools for Meeting with Elected Officials
  • The Power of Our Personal Stories
  • Writing for Change:How to Influence the Decisions that Matter Without Leaving Your Desk 
2021 Massachusetts Energy Conference for Educators

Sunday-Wednesday,August 1-4
(Virtual conference is free.)

Educators from across Massachusetts will come together for four days of engaging and fun energy education training with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project. The conference provides you with the most up-to-date information on all aspects of energy. You will receive the training and materials to implement innovative hands-on energy units in their classrooms, multi-disciplinary teams, and after-school programs. Download the flyer to learn more here.
Have You Heard the News?

Our annual conference — Net Zero 2021 — is coming back bigger, better, badder...and virtually! Mark your calendars for Friday, October 29, 2021.


____________


______________
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! And don't forget to share this action alert with your friends and suggest they subscribe here.