The Federal Reserve directed the six largest banks in the U.S. to disclose the vulnerability of assets in their portfolios to climate change.
By the end of July, major financial institutions will have to study how anticipated droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves could impact commercial real estate holdings and loans under their management.
The analysis will look at two components. First, banks will have to assess the “physical risks” to people and property and the costs those risks will incur. Then they will have to estimate the “transition risk”, or the cost of implementing appropriate measures to adapt to those climate events.
This appears to be the first policy response to a growing concern among economists of a “carbon bubble” stemming from climate change.
In case 2008 is a distant memory, an economic “bubble” is when any asset has an artificially high value that exceeds its intrinsic, or ‘true’, value. Climate change has the potential to create bubbles in several sectors, with real estate at the top of the list.
Beachside properties that haven’t yet priced in impending sea level rise or the upgrades necessary to weatherize them are already overvalued. Once the reality of climate chaos sets in, those valuations are bound to crater, as they already have in Florida. The response from policymakers there has so far been to let taxpayers pick up the bill.
The metric assigns a price tag to every metric ton of carbon pollution that comes from a proposed energy source. The policy’s first iteration actually came from the end of the Obama Administration, which was subsequently watered down by Trump. Biden has since restored the measure and increased the cost from $51 per ton of emitted carbon to $190.
There’s just one hitch: accounting for the cost of an energy project won’t account for the damage a project might do to natural carbon sinks like forests or wetlands during its construction.
For example, a proposed solar farm producing extremely low carbon emissions would garner a low social cost of carbon. But let’s say the transmission lines connecting that solar farm to the grid will cut through a forest to get there, thereby disrupting a powerful carbon sink. Those carbon impacts won’t be counted yet.
The U.S. government has based its social cost of carbon calculations on more than a decade of data and modelling. Unfortunately, federal agencies are further behind in making those calculations for the benefits of natural ecosystems, although they are expected in the coming months.
The first of a new generation of small nuclear reactors got its first formal approval in the United States this week. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave the green light to NuScale Power’s innovative nuclear reactors.
NuScale’s reactors take up about a third of the area of a traditional nuclear plant and employ a significantly more efficient water cycle. That marks a big improvement over existing nuclear facilities that depend on large adjacent bodies of cool water, something that is becoming increasingly rare across the planet.
The announcement has been nearly a decade in the making. The DOE provided nearly $600 million to the development of NuScale’s VOYGR small reactors since 2014. The project still has a ways to go before plugging into the grid, however, as it is estimated to be operational in 2029 with full scale operation starting in 2023.
This week’s technical and financial innovations were exciting, but it's just as important as keeping the best old-fashioned carbon sinks we have left.
Brazilian President Lula da Silva sent anti-deforestation agents into action this week in the rainforest states of Roraima, Acre and Para. Agents from Ibama, the Brazilian environmental enforcement agency, used satellites to identify several areas in the Cachoeira Seca indigenous reserve where illegal loggers had set up shop and begun conducting burns and clear-cutting operations.
The raids represent a badly needed rebound for rainforest protection efforts in Brazil. Under Bolsonaro, an area larger than Denmark was deforested in just four years. That’s a galling 60% increase over the already concerning rate of deforestation before he took office.
Ibama became the focus of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s ire during his one term as President. In addition to slashing funding and drastically cutting Ibama’s staff, Bolsonaro attacked the agency in the media for handing out fines to illegal miners and farmers.
The machete-wielding forest protectors have already seen their authority restored under Lula, and this week’s raids will hopefully have a chilling effect on illegal deforestation.
Check out some of the latest featured jobs below. If you don't see anything that speaks to you, you can always go to Climatebase to explore thousands of other opportunities.
"We are the premier provider of integrated fleet electrification solutions, backed by NextEra Energy Resources. The fusion of both entities allows us to offer uniquely comprehensive and adaptable EV fleet services. Our team delivers insights on EV ..."
"Sesame Solar is decarbonizing disaster response. We design and make Mobile Nanogrids powered by solar, green hydrogen, (optional small wind turbines) and battery storage with Essential Services Inside such as communications, clean water, refrigeration, medical assistance and more. ..."
"Active Impact Investments is a Certified BCorp based in Vancouver, BC, whose mission is to support environmental sustainability through profitable investment. ..."
"BioLite is a for-profit social enterprise that develops, manufactures, and markets distributed energy solutions for off-grid communities around the world. Our business serves two distinct markets, 1) developing-world families living in energy poverty and 2) outdoor enthusiasts seeking fuel-independent cooking and electricity. ..."
"WattCarbon is a platform for procuring 24/7 carbon-free energy. Buyers are companies and other organizations with net zero commitments that want the ability to source carbon free energy on a time and locational basis. Sellers are companies capable of delivering carbon-free energy, including by deploying new clean energy resources, dispatching demand response, and developing electrification projects. ..."
"Vesta is on a mission to remove billions of tons of excess atmospheric carbon dioxide through Coastal Carbon Capture (CCC). CCC is a nature-based carbon dioxide removal method that accelerates the weathering rate of a naturally occurring magnesium iron silicate, olivine, using coastal wave energy. CCC is the practical application of the process known in the scientific literature as Coastal ..."
"Scale Microgrid Solutions (“Scale”) is a fully integrated distributed energy platform focused on designing, implementing and financing innovative distributed clean energy solutions. ..."
"The Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) encourages research and education about the environment and its many interactions with human society. ..."
"Powerhouse is an innovation firm that works with leading global corporations to help them find, partner with, invest in, and acquire the most innovative startups in clean energy, mobility, and climate. Powerhouse Ventures is a venture fund that backs seed-stage startups building innovative software to rapidly decarbonize our global energy and mobility systems. ..."
"Lumen Energy 's mission is realizing a carbon-free future where buildings and people thrive. We leverage software and data science to uncover the economically ideal “clean energy stack” for every building. We’re committed to powering our world with clean energy, and we’re looking for individuals who share our passion. ..."
"Rewiring America is a growing nonprofit, working to launch a movement that electrifies everything, starting with our 121 million households. Through accurate, accessible, and actionable data and storytelling tools that power smart, inclusive advocacy and market-transforming partnerships, ..."
"The Center for Transportation and the Environment is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to improve the health of our climate and communities by bringing people together to develop and commercialize clean, efficient, and sustainable transportation technologies. ..."
Wildlife Works' mission is to create market-based solutions for wildlife and ecosystem conservation that drives direct financing and self governance for local communities. ..."
"Circuit’s ultimate goal is to reduce congestion and its harmful effects on the environment and our quality of life. We do this by getting people out of their cars for short trips, encouraging visitors to park once, and by making connections to existing mass transit hubs. We work with innovative cities and forward-thinking advertising partners to offer electric shuttles that ..."
"We are looking for world-class talent to tackle challenging projects that will rapidly power the planet with 100% clean energy. First, the good news: Humans have installed a little over 1 TW of cumulative solar capacity over the last 20 years - solar is now the cheapest source of energy generation around the globe. Now, the challenge: Humans have to build 1+ ..."
"Climate Robotics is a venture-backed startup based in Houston, TX. We are building the next generation of agricultural machinery to produce biochar, a powerful soil amendment that improves soil health and sequesters atmospheric carbon. ..."
"Pyka’s goal is to provide society with a new form of fast, environmentally friendly, and accessible transportation enabled by autonomous electric aviation. To get there, we’re taking a different approach than most. We're applying our technologies to every industry where electric aircraft can be useful, starting with the highest value and most dangerous jobs. In doing so, we're building useful, game-changing ..."
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