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Amazon drivers' strike over heat heralds work and play climate reboot
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Climate-related stocks have lagged the S&P 500 so far in 2023. The Callaway Climate Index is up about 3% for the first half of the year, vs. double digit percentage gains for the large-cap index, driven by resurgent big-cap tech names. Solar power related companies have had a mixed first half as well, hurt by weakness in Solaredge SEDG 0.00%↑ and Enphase ENPH 0.00%↑ . Some of those declines have been offset by a strong performance for First Solar FSLR 0.00%↑ , up 26.9% in the first half of the year. Here’s a look at the five biggest gainers among solar stocks tracked by the Callaway Climate Index.
The strike by Amazon AMZN 0.00%↑ drivers over extreme heat conditions in their trucks is nothing new to the delivery industry. UPS UPS 0.00%↑ and FedEx FDX 0.00%↑ workers have complained for years about the dangers of riding around in hot trucks on baking days like we’ve seen this summer.
But it does herald a coming change in how we Americans work — and play — especially in outdoor venues.
Recommendations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration stipulate that indoor temps should not exceed 76°F. Imagine how that sounds to a driver assigned to 400 stops a day in 100°F. heat in an un-air conditioned truck?
Already we’ve seen sporting events canceled because of heat, storms and smoke associated with climate change (See our story about Formula 1 racing below). Baseball games from New York City to Washington D.C. were canceled last month after Canadian wildfire smoke raised air quality conditions on the Northeast corridor to dangerous levels. But that’s nothing for the ubiquitous construction workers who labor in New York’s streets throughout the hot summer days.
Expect to see a lot more on heat and working conditions to come, along with attempts to keep workers safe while not losing business. More night work and construction is one way. And more sporting events canceled, or shifted to protect fans and athletes, perhaps even at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, named after an ambitious net-zero effort by big tech, and started by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos himself.
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Zeus: Summer of climate tipping points forcing unusual business deals
. . . . This summer’s extreme heat has raised the conversation about global warming again, and some businesses have responded with unprecedented new strategies, writes David Callaway. From automakers entering the mining business to a major global commodities player considering getting out of the coal business, 2023 is going to be as much about the renewables transformation as it is about climate tipping points. . . .
Start your engines: Formula 1 confronts climate threat to schedule, brand
. . . . Iconic racing sport Formula 1 has weathered many challenges to its survival and business model over the years. But the threat of climate change is forcing new thinking for race series that feature high-speed autos burning fossil fuels for entertainment, writes Calla Kra-Caskey. The Italian Grand Prix was canceled this year because of deadly flooding, and other venues have also been threatened. Here’s what F1 is doing in response.
Thursday’s subscriber insights
What if the rest of the world used AC as much as Americans do?
. . . . It’s becoming a vicious cycle. Heatwaves cause more use of air conditioning; more AC use means more fossil fuels burned to power them; and more pollution means more heatwaves. In addition, rising middle classes in nations such as India are also demanding air conditioning and more Europeans are buying them. It seems the only way to break the cycle is renewables. Read more here. . . .
Big oil deals highlight transition divide between U.S., Europe
. . . . The division in how oil giants in Europe and the U.S. are pursuing the renewables transition continued this week as European fossil fuel firms BP BP 0.00%↑ and Total Energies won a $14 billion auction to develop wind sites in the North Sea, while Exxon XOM 0.00%↑ went the carbon capture route by buying producer and pipeline company Denbury for almost $5 billion.
U.S. oil giants have been much more focused on developing technologies to reduce emissions while still pumping oil, and the Denbury deal gives Exxon 1,300 miles of important pipeline in the Gulf states in the U.S. that would otherwise take years to build. European giants have been more likely to move directly to buying and developing renewable assets.
Different paths to the same ending. It will be interesting to see which strategy works better. But for one Denbury shareholder friend of ours, a carbon capture expert, the issue is a bit more immediate. “Now suddenly I’m an Exxon shareholder,” he said. . . .
Caught short on EVs, these car companies moan and groan instead
. . . . What do you do when you have been left behind in the EV race? In the case of Toyota and Stellantis, you moan and groan about efforts by the White House to boost electric vehicle sales. Read more here. . . .
Editor’s picks: The IRA and the outlook for the EV industry
Watch the video: Dave Callaway tells Yahoo! Finance that the response to the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate initiatives “has been booming. … This has propelled us to the top of the list” as the leader in climate action around the world. He also discusses the outlook for leaders in the EV sector.
Planning the 2030 EV charging network in America
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts there will be between 30 million and 42 million electric vehicles running in the U.S. in 2030. And America will need a fast, widespread buildout of charging infrastructure in houses and multi-family dwellings, the NREL’s new report says. “A cumulative national capital investment of $53 billion to $127 billion in charging infrastructure is needed by 2030 (including private residential charging) to support 33 million PEVs. The large range of potential capital costs found in this study is a result of variable and evolving equipment and installation costs observed within the industry across charging networks, locations, and site designs,” the report says. SmartCitiesDive.com notes the study shows “we’re going to need to continue to work together — both public and private entities — to build the national network that we’ll need,” said Eric Wood, an NREL senior researcher who led the study’s team.
White House to invest $5 million to cope with extreme heat
The White House announced this week that it will invest $5 million to help protect Americans from extreme heat this summer fueled by the climate crisis. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will establish two virtual research centers to help communities manage and improve resilience to extreme heat, using funding from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. In addition, the Biden Administration will set up meetings with mayors and tribal officials to work on heat mitigation strategies; plus, the White House Interagency Working Group on Extreme Heat, together with the NIHHIS, will develop a National Heat Strategy centered on equity and environmental justice. This strategy will align with the forthcoming National Climate Resilience Framework announced by President Biden last month.
Explain that: Extreme heat
. . . . Extreme heat is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “as summertime temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average. Because some places are hotter than others, this depends on what’s considered average for a particular location at that time of year. Humid and muggy conditions can make it seem hotter than it really is.” The agency notes that heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. The CDC reports that each year in the U.S., an average of 9,235 people are hospitalized due to heat; there are 67,512 emergency department visits due to heat, and 702 heat-related deaths.
Words to live by . . . .
“Every day is Earth Day, and I vote we start investing in a secure climate future right now.” — Jackie Speier, U.S. lawyer, politician and former member of Congress.