Climate gains military’s attention at an odd time; plus, France’s nuclear plans

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By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

Why, in the face of a new European war with Russia, is the U.S. military talking about fighting climate change?

The U.S. Army’s release last week of a detailed climate strategy for electrifying its fleet and training troops for climate threats to national security took many by surprise by its timing. But it makes sense for several reasons.

It allows the military to push the envelope on new tech solutions to electrifying vehicles and planes; creating protective microgrids for installations around the world, and preparing for coming battles tied to climate migration, or water. It changes the supply chain calculus around the world in a way that makes troops more nimble and less exposed to dangerous and limited fossil fuels.

And a side benefit is that it gives the Biden Administration an important climate win that will be difficult to refute without arguing that spending on upgrading defense equipment is a bad investment. The Army is the largest part of U.S. military forces for the Department of Defense, which represents half of the energy use of the federal government and about half its climate footprint.

At a time when the world is focused on what a modern ground war might look like in Europe, the Army is leading the charge to fight a new war that is coming for us all.

More insights below. . . .

Tuesday’s subscriber insights: Floating charging stations explored in UK

. . . . You see the sign on your gasoline pump every time you fill up: 10% or, sometimes, 15% ethanol. Visions of excess corn being turned into friendly fuel fill your mind. Except that it turns out ethanol is a much bigger contributor to global warming than straight gasoline, according to a new study. Read more here. . . .

. . . . How do floating charging stations float your boat? The UK is reportedly experimenting with using offshore wind farms, or even electrified buoys, to charge electric ferries and ships without having to crowd them into busy ports. The process would speed the transition from fossil fuels of the shipping industry, which is currently responsible for about 3% of global emissions. Read more here. . . .

. . . . EY, the global consulting firm, which has been a supporter of Callaway Climate Insights events, announced plans earlier today to launch a new consulting business in the UK designed to help companies adhere to mandatory new climate disclosure rules by 2023Rob Doepel, who had been running EY’s energy segment, will run the business, which comes with an investment from EY of £100 million ($135 million). The move is the latest by a big financial firm to beef up its climate advisory services amid an expected surge in need on climate disclosures. . . .

. . . . Speaking of nuclear, France’s new plans to build up to 14 more nuclear reactors in the next few decades dramatically highlight how at least one country in Europe hopes to cut its reliance on foreign oil and gas. It’s also putting Europe at even more of a crossroads as Germany proceeds with plans to ditch all its reactors. The U.S. is somewhere in between. Read more here. . . .

. . . . The Beijing Olympics, from a climate change perspective, just keep getting stranger, as the sudden appearance of real snow over the weekend caused havoc with a lot of the ski runs. Meanwhile, Accuweather came out with a cool story that looked at the locations of the last 19 Winter Olympic games and concluded that by 2050 only four of them could reliably promise enough winter to hold the games. Step forward Lake Placid, New York, Lillehammer and Oslo, Norway, and Sapporo, Japan. . . .

. . . . How do you know that electric vehicles have turned the corner from novelty to new normal? When all the auto ads in the Super Bowl are promoting plug-ins, including General Motors (GM), which had a fabulous spot incorporating Dr. Evil into its message. Read more here. . . .

Editor’s picks: The oncoming storms, UN says pollution kills more than Covid

UN expert: Pollution kills more people than Covid

Pollution is contributing to more deaths around the world than the Covid pandemic, says a special report from the UN environmental group, and the organization is calling on companies and states for “immediate and ambitious action” to ban certain toxic chemicals. The report, set to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council, says pollution is contributing to 9 million premature deaths annually, while Covid is blamed for about 6 million deaths around the world. A report from Reuters quotes the author of the report, U.N. Special Rapporteur David Boyd, as saying “Current approaches to managing the risks posed by pollution and toxic substances are clearly failing, resulting in widespread violations of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”

Duke Energy to boost clean energy transition

Duke Energy’s CEO says the company has $63 billion of potential investment over the next five years, 80% of which will be directed toward the clean energy transition. “And we have the potential for that $63 [billion] to grow to $130 billion over the decade,” Lynn Good, Duke’s chair, president and CEO, said in an interview for S&P Global Market Intelligence. Good said a “solid runway of investment” will drive 5% to 7% adjusted earnings growth through 2026 and help meet its carbon reduction targets. On Feb. 9, Duke Energy announced plans to cut coal to less than 5% of its total generation by 2030 and fully exit coal by 2035. Duke Energy owns about 16 GW of coal-fired generating capacity, making up a little more than a quarter of its overall owned portfolio, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.  Duke shares are down more than 5% so far this year. The company, based in Charlotte, N.C., distributes natural gas and energy-related services.

Data driven: Dig 10 billion tons and waddaya get?

. . . . 10.8 billion tons: That’s the amount of resources extracted from the Earth just in 2022 so far, according to The World Counts. Moreover, the data show, each year we extract almost 90 billion tons of biomass, fossil energy, metal and minerals from the earth — “more than 11 tons for every single person on the planet. And for people in the western world this number is much higher.” The data resource site also say that, on average, every person on Earth uses “more than 11 tons of natural resources a year. People in high-income countries consume 10 times more per person than people from low-income countries. In 2017, North America had a ‘material footprint’ of 30 tons of natural resources per capita and Europe one of 20.6 tons per capita. Poor countries have material footprints ten times smaller of 2 to 3 tons.”

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