climate action alerts
A regional resource for Cape & Islands climate advocates
December 26, 2021
Feature Story
The Top 15 Climate Developments of 2021
By Laurie Stone RMI, December 20, 2021   

This past year saw many memorable moments from vaccine rollouts to a new Ghostbusters movie to Bernie Sanders’ mittens going viral. But it also saw real progress on climate action. Here we list our top 15 climate developments of 2021, in no particular order.

  1. US Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement - The year started out strong as on January 20, President Biden took steps to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement. On February 19, the country was once again a party to the unprecedented international treaty on climate change.
  2. Renewables Had a Banner Year - This year saw 290 gigawatts of new renewable energy generation capacity around the world, breaking 2020’s record of 260 GW. China installed the most renewables in 2021, and is expected to reach 1,200 GW of wind and solar capacity in 2026, four years earlier than its target of 2030. And in India, renewable energy capacity has grown by 500 percent over the past seven years, and now makes up almost 40 percent of installed capacity.
  3. The Private Sector Goes Green - Non-state actors have stepped up and are setting ambitious climate goals. Nearly half of the largest publicly traded companies have committed to reducing emissions and the latest UN climate conference (COP26) saw more active participation from businesses and financial institutions than any prior climate summit. Read more.
... but don't get too comfortable
Collaborative's Delaney talks Extreme Weather
Extreme Weather: A Boston 25 News In-Depth Special
By Staff. December 20, 2021

Boston 25 Meteorologists take us through the extreme weather patterns in New England in the last year.

From tornadoes and heat waves to downpours and flooding, the team goes in-depth on the impacts to our region this winter and beyond. Watch the video.
The Year in Climate
A summer that really scared scientists.
By Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, December 16, 2021 | Illustration by Nicholas Konrad

This year, a lot of the things we’ve come to expect with the climate crisis happened: there were heavy rains (New York City beat its rainfall record twice in eleven days); there was a big global conference (this one in Glasgow) with modest results; the price of renewable energy fell some more; and a record amount of solar power and wind power was produced, but not at a pace fast enough to catch up with climate change.

Raging wildfires produced plumes of smoke that spread around the world; President Joe Biden tried to free up a lot of money for climate work and, so far, Senator Joe Manchin has prevented him from doing so. But some unexpected things happened, too—such as December tornadoes and windstorms, which have devastated parts of the country, and which are increasingly linked to warming. The most unexpected event by far, though—the thing that was truly off the charts—came in June. Read more.

"Through this [bipartisan infrastructure law],
Massachusetts is set to receive more than $9 billion dollars
over the next five years to invest in modernizing
our infrastructure for the 21st century, create good-paying
jobs, and help spark the region’s economic growth."

— Ed Markey, U.S. Senator for Massachusetts

Across the Centuries
Climate Clues from the Past Prompt a New Look at History
As scientists rapidly improve their ability to decipher past climate upheaval through ice cores and other “proxies,” historians are re-examining previous political and social turmoil and linking it to volcanic eruptions, prolonged droughts, and other disturbances in the natural world.
By Jacques Leslie, Yale School of the Environment, December 20, 2021
  Twitter  Email
Joseph Manning, a Yale University professor of ancient history, likes to recall the moment when he was shown an advance copy of a scholarly paper that pinpointed the timing of major volcanic eruptions over the last 2,500 years. As he read the paper, “I literally fell off my chair,” he said recently⁠. Read more.
To the Here & Now: Local Heroes
Solar set to shine at Captains Course
By Rich Eldred, Cape Codder, December 14, 2021 (photo credit: Rich Eldred)

And CVEC said let there be light.

Next Monday (Dec. 20, according to Brewster Town Administrator Peter Lombardi), the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative's solar projects at Captains Course should clear the final local permitting hurdle. It should begin producing electricity in January. Unlike previous solar projects this is not a net metering arrangement where the power produced is net metered against the electricity consumed by the town.

“We have a lease agreement with the developer that was brokered by CVEC. They will be paying $86,000 a year, that’s net some administrative charges CVEC charges," Lombardi explained. “This is a check to the town....That means Brewster doesn’t have to worry about maintenance costs, fluctuating electric rates or government policies. Read more.
Report Urges Chatham to Consider Climate Change Protections
By Maura MacDonald,, Dec. 20, 2021

CHATHAM – The Chatham Energy and Climate Action Committee revealed research on the potential economic effects of climate change on the Town of Chatham and the larger Cape Cod region.

At a recent meeting of Chatham’s Select Board, a presentation was given by the committee that indicated that the long-term effects of taking no action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will cost the region far more than many different proposed strategies.

Strategies were proposed based on their ability to assist Chatham in adapting and mitigating effects of climate change. Among these items were suggestions to adopt new floodplain bylaws, retrofit existing buildings for flood protection in vulnerable areas, the elevation of vulnerable roads, and potential relocation of buildings and roads. Measures to protect, conserve, and restore natural ecosystems were also recommended. Read more.
In the SPOTLIGHT: Land Trusts of Cape Cod
First Day Hikes Cape Cod is launching on January 1, 2022!
Innovative regional event invites people to explore the great outdoors in the New Year

Sunrise to day's end
Free and open to the public

First Day Hikes Cape Cod is launching on January 1, 2022, with 9 Cape Cod conservation organizations joining together in the first regional collaboration of its kind! Building on the popularity of the national state park program originally launched in Massachusetts, this regional celebration features:

  • 11 free special walks, talks, and hikes in 8 communities across Cape Cod
  • A range of opportunities for families, children, residents, and visitors to get outside and explore on the first day of the new yearn
  • Morning meditations, sunrise salutes, history talks, family activities, and more!

Coordinated by the Barnstable Land Trust, other participating conservation trusts and nonprofits include: Brewster Conservation Trust, Chatham Conservation Foundation, Dennis Conservation Land Trust, 300 Committee Land Trust (Falmouth), Harwich Conservation Trust, Orenda Wildlife Land Trust, Provincetown Conservation Trust, and The Friends of Herring River (Wellfleet and Truro). Learn more by visiting the Barnstable Land Trust website.
Around the Globe
TED Salon: UNICEF | December 2021

The climate crisis has been largely caused by irresponsible adults in developed countries, but it's the children of developing nations -- like Zimbabwean environmental activist Nkosilathi Nyathi -- that suffer from the most disastrous consequences. In a world where climate catastrophe feels almost unstoppable, we must involve everyone in finding solutions -- especially young people, who have the most at stake. "My generation has more to offer than ever before," Nyathi says. "We live climate change in a way our parents' generation did not." Watch video.
In Amsterdam, a community of floating homes shows the world how to live alongside nature
Marjan de Blok has no engineering, architecture or hydrological training — but she’s spearheaded a movement for urban dwellers grappling with rising sea level and the accelerating impacts of climate change
By Shira Rubin, The Washington Post, December 17, 2021

SCHOONSCHIP, Amsterdam — Marjan de Blok readjusts her body weight as she treads across the jetties linking a floating community on the River IJ. Her cheeks and nose are elfin red from the whipping winds. She shouts greetings to many of her neighbors, her voice carried by the water all around. Read more.
"Doomsday" glacier's last-remaining ice shelf could collapse within 5 years, and scientists warn it could rapidly raise sea levels
By Li Cohen, CBS News, December 14, 2021

Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, commonly referred to as the "doomsday glacier," is so massive that it has the power to raise sea levels by several feet if it melts. Now, scientists are warning that its only remaining ice shelf — a brace that helps prevent the glacier's total collapse — may only last a few more years. Watch the video.
Sit back and enjoy!

The Nation
NYC Poised to Ban Gas in New Buildings, Buoying Electrification
The movement to banish natural gas from U.S. homes and buildings is about to claim its biggest prize yet: New York City.
By David R. Baker and Stephen Lee, Bloomberg, December 10, 2021

Next week, city council members are expected to vote to ban gas hookups in new buildings as a way to fight both air pollution and climate change. Gone will be gas furnaces, water heaters and the blue-flame stovetops beloved by cooks and realtors alike in the city of 8 million people. New buildings smaller than seven stories must rely solely on electricity starting at the end of 2023, while larger buildings will have an extra four years to comply. Read more.
Art as Creative Resistance: NDN Collective Joins Youth-led Actions to Defund Climate Chaos in Ohlone and Tongva Lands
By Brandi Douglas, NDN Collective, December 16, 2021

The youth-led global movement utilizes nonviolent direct action as a means of demanding a fossil free future. Spanning 26 countries, participants utilize the power of art to address financial entities across the globe in ceasing their billion dollar investments into fossil fuels.

NDN Collective joined two separate youth-led art actions alongside numerous other climate activists as part of #DefundClimateChaos...  Read more.
Commonwealth & Region
What the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Means for Massachusetts
U.S.Senator Ed Markey, Press Release, December 20, 2022

This November, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law - a historic bipartisan investment in our nation’s physical infrastructure. The infrastruc-ture law includes many of my critical priorities to enhance safety, promote equity, and increase funding for passenger rail, public transit, bridges, roads, clean water, and broadband in Massachusetts.

Through this package, Massachusetts is set to receive more than $9 billion dollars over the next five years to invest in modernizing our infrastructure for the 21st century, create good-paying jobs, and help spark the region’s economic growth. With these investments, we can begin the process of building East-West Rail, expand high-speed internet access from the Berkshires to Boston, and help our communities provide cleaner water for residents. We can repair or replace deficient bridges, such as the Cape Cod Bridges, deploy electric vehicle charging stations, and enhance safety for all users of the road. 

In addition to competitive grant funding, Massachusetts will receive a dedicated:
  • $4.2 billion for road improvements
  • $1.1 billion for bridge replacement and repair
  • $2.5 billion for enhancing public transit systems such as the MBTA
  • $1.1 billion for clean and safe water infrastructure
  • $63 million for deploying electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • At least $100 million – with hundreds of millions more later - to help expand broadband access across the Commonwealth
Education & Events
Massachusetts Virtual
Energy Education Workshop

Saturday, January 15, 2022
8:50am - 3:00pm

The NEED Project designs and delivers teacher-tested educational materials, evaluation techniques and tools, recognition of student achievement, and professional development for educators. The program is designed for K-12th grade teachers, CTE teachers and After School program leaders. Course offerings include:
  • NEED Science of Energy Kit
  • Choice of NEED Energy Management Kit
  • Stipend provided
  • PDP credits
  • Mass. aligned curriculum
BuildingEnergy Boston

Monday, Tuesday
February 28, March 1, 2022
Westin Boston Seaport District

BuildingEnergy Boston is a conference designed by and for practitioners in the fields of high-performance building and design, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

It brings more than 1,000 industry leaders and emerging professionals together to learn from and share ideas with each other. Sessions are curated by a volunteer NESEA-Member content committee to ensure that conference sessions are genuinely useful to attendees.
Learn more.
Energy & The Built Environment
A Landmark Year for Building Electrification
By Abigail Alter, RMI, December 16, 2021
As the climate, health, and financial imperative to eliminate fossil fuels from buildings becomes more urgent, states and cities across the country are stepping up to tackle this challenging sector. This year was an exciting one for the effort to electrify buildings in the United States, from city building codes and appliance regulations all the way up to federal government commitments. Read more.
The Sponsors of Mass Save Submit Three-Year Electric and Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Plan Projected to Provide $13B in Benefits
The Sponsors of Mass Save® have submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) a three-year electric and natural gas energy efficiency plan for 2022 through 2024 that will provide an estimated $13 billion in benefits to the Commonwealth. Read more.
Business, Finance, Economy
The crucial intersection of climate and capital
How investors can help decarbonize the world
Nili Gilbert, TED Countdown Summit, October 2021

The financial sector often talks about decarbonizing investment portfolios, but there's a problem. Even when portfolios are cleaned up, this doesn't necessarily have real impact on addressing the climate crisis, says investment expert Nili Gilbert. In this talk, she unpacks how investors can play a key role in ensuring the climate transition benefits everyone. Watch the TED talk.
Climate Communication
Google calls itself green. But it’s still making ad money from climate-change denial.
Researchers found Google’s ads on at least 50 posts undermining climate science, despite its pledge to ban misinformation
By Cat Zakrzewski, The Washington Post, December 16, 2021

In October, ahead of the U.N. COP 26 climate summit, Google pledged to stop displaying ads on websites and YouTube videos that promoted climate misinformation. But in November and December the company ran ads on at least 50 posts undermining climate science, according to new research. Read more.
Edelman’s dirty PR
The PR giant is breaking its climate promise by creating glowing campaigns for an anti-climate lobbying group.
By Emily Atkin and Connor Gibson, Heated, December 12, 2021

Public relations is in the midst of a climate reckoning. In the last few months, more than 210 advertising agencies and 600 indepen-dent creatives have signed the Clean Creatives pledge, promising to never create marketing for the fossil fuel industry.

But the world’s largest PR agency, Edelman, has refused to sign. Read more.


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.

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