International negotiations for a U.N. treaty on the high seas (another big chunk of biodiversity management) should have started this week but are also postponed.
The U.K. government is resisting any decision to postpone the COP26 climate conference scheduled for November 9-20, but pressure is growing. The next key COP26 planning meeting is set for Bonn in May but Germany has a travel ban against non-EU residents, and the following planning meeting is due to take place in Italy. U.N. consultants Felix Dodds and Michael Strauss lay out the case for postponing COP26.
The Climate Group has written openly about the current frustration in green circles. Despite the NGO’s staff being used to remote work, they have never “truly believed in the power of the virtual world to provide the same outcomes as physical attendance at intimate stakeholder meetings, diplomatic discussions or international events.”
It’s possible that we all bring a generational bias to that discussion. As digital town halls replace sit-ins and student strikes, it may simply be that a generational shift started by Greta Thunberg will now accelerate. Dana Fisher, a University of Maryland sociology professor who has studied social movements for 20 years, told POLITICO that young climate activists are well suited to the current moment because they are far less reliant on in-person meetings than activists in earlier generations. “They just all go on Zoom,” she said.
Deep down, most of us know that students would rather be on the streets and conference organizers would rather stick to their plans. Whatever the convenience and light footprint of a video meeting, virtual connection is not equal to real-life connection.
LEVERAGE SUCKS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week accused Democrats of delaying emergency coronavirus relief legislation over their insistence on including green conditions and incentives. “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal,” McConnell declared on the Senate floor, before voting for some of the provisions including money for struggling transit agencies and $1 billion to help airlines replace high-polluting planes. Here is POLITICO’s guide to who got special deals in the package, and why they got them.
BIGGEST BROWN BANKS NAMED: A coalition of green NGOs published a league table of brown banks (those that are invested in fossil fuels). The top five are all North American. “JPMorgan Chase became the first bank to blow past the quarter-trillion dollar mark in post-Paris fossil financing, with $269 billion in 2016-2019,” the report states. Next in line are Wells Fargo ($197.91 billion), Citi ($187.67 billion), Bank of America ($156.92 billion) and RBC ($140.68 billion). China supplies the banks that do the most coal financing: ICBC and Bank of China. In terms of stated policies, the 11 banks most committed to avoiding fossil fuel financing are all from Europe, with Goldman Sachs in 12th place.
PLASTIC ROLL-BACK? Plastic bag proponents see an opportunity in the pandemic. With nearly every American becoming a hand sanitizing germaphobe. POLITICO obtained a copy of a letter that the Plastics Industry Association sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week requesting a public statement from the department endorsing the idea that single-use plastics are the safest choice amid the pandemic.
CORONAVIRUS AIR POLLUTION EFFECTS: This satellite image from the European Space Agency shows the drastic reduction in air pollution across France and Italy. Nitrogen pollution has fallen, according to new data from the European Environmental Agency out Wednesday, by up to 56 percent in the case of Madrid. In Paris, local data show confinement measures led to a 60 percent drop. Premature deaths due to air pollution in China could fall by 50,000-100,000 during a prolonged global recession, a study by Oslo-based Center for International Climate Research estimated.
WATER AND SANITATION — BY THE NUMBERS: Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the U.N. World Water Development Report, told POLITICO that his report found 2.2 billion people have no access to safely managed drinking water, while 4.2 billion (55 percent of the world’s population) lack safely managed sanitation.
GREEN THOUGHT OF THE WEEK: The prevailing consumer mindset in advanced economies that “I can have anything at anytime,” at least for now, is going to return to seasonal thinking when it comes to food, said Sara Menker, founder and CEO at Gro Intelligence.
EU CARBON PRICE STARTS TO COLLAPSE: The price of an emissions permit fell to $16.22 on Monday down from $28.06 a month before, according to Refinitiv, before recovering to $18.95 Thursday. Ingvild Sørhus, lead EU carbon analyst with Refinitiv, said the price drop reminded her of a rapidly melting ice cream.