G7 sets Glasgow climate summit up to fail; plus Lordstown shares collapse

Welcome to Callaway Climate Insights. And especially to our new subscribers. Please share with your colleagues and let us know what you think.

The Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains about 160 trillion tons of ice, which if it melted, would cause about 1.5 feet of sea-level rise around the world. New research shows this glacier is at seriously greater risk of rapid melting than previously thought, due to climate change. The Associated Press describes it: “The floating ice shelf acts like a cork in a bottle for the fast-melting glacier and prevents its much larger ice mass from flowing into the ocean.” Copernicus generated the above record of high-resolution digital elevation models for Pine Island Glacier to help monitor elevation and melt data. 


Having covered a few G7s in my time, and even having vacationed in St. Ives in Cornwall years ago, I didn’t have to attend the big summit at the English seaside village this past weekend to know what would happen.

The only wins these summits ever produce are the Olympian logistical feats of bringing together world leaders in one spot at one time. Everything else is pure fluff. And so few should have been surprised when the leaders failed to come up with set plans to boost the electric vehicle industry, end coal production, or specify how billions would be distributed to poorer countries.

The lack of action now transfers all the climate hopes and goals of the G7 down the calendar to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, which some are already calling the most important international gathering in history. Alas, the same shell game in Scotland is inevitable. That’s just how these summits work. If they were public companies you’d buy the run up and sell the event.

With President Biden’s infrastructure plan looking less and less like a climate strategy each day, the prospects for any concrete climate action in 2021 now look like they will have to come from the private sector, especially new technologies in areas such as battery power and offshore wind.

In the meantime, expect each new global summit to carry greater importance, and to yield corresponding disappointment.

More insights below. . . .

Don’t forget to contact me directly if you have suggestions or ideas at dcallaway@callawayclimateinsights.com.

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Monday’s subscriber insights: Lordstown shares collapse, plus Shell mulls massive asset sale

. . . . The collapse of Lordstown Motors shares on Monday following the ouster of its CEO and CFO is increasingly following the trail of electric vehicle competitor Nikola Corp. last year. Investors should blame the SPAC process. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Swiss voters rejected a proposal for increased carbon taxes, illustrating how real action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not just a challenge for the political will of world leaders. The vote comes as the European Union prepares a controversial plan to levy carbon border taxes. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Shell is reportedly looking to dump its Texas oil assets following a court ruling last month requiring it to reduce its fossil-fuel footprint. The massive sale would set a new benchmark for declining assets in the oil and gas mergers business, but do little to curtain greenhouse gases. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by BP and Exxon to shift two lawsuits from California into federal court from state court, the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the fossil fuel industry. Read more here. . . .

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Editor’s picks: State Street launches green bond funds; your phone case could be biodegradable

Editor’s picks:

State Street launches sustainable bond funds

State Street Global Advisors, part of State Street Corp. (STT) has launched the State Street Sustainable Climate Bond Funds. The initiative seeks to help investors reduce exposure to carbon emissions and fossil fuel, while also re-allocating capital to fund the transition to a low-carbon future. Institutional Asset Manager reports the new fund range enables bond investors to immediately set the direction and ambition for their climate-based investment goals, while also aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Benchmarked to the flagship Bloomberg Barclays US, Euro and Global Corporate Bond Indices, the three funds apply screens and tilts that help mitigate and adapt for climate impact. 

New plastic phone case could biodegrade in two years

Pivet is taking a shot at reducing the amount of discarded and environmentally damaging plastic waste by making phone cases with a material that will decompose in traditional environments like landfills, the company says. “And as opposed to mostly plastics that can take hundreds of years to break down, these cases could be completely decomposed in about two years,” it says The process, which it calls Self-Cycle technology, creates a plastic with materials that speed up the natural biodegradation process by attracting micro-organisms when the case enters microbe-rich environments, like landfills or oceans. CEO Michael Pratt tells Wired, “We don't think that plastic is bad in general. We think what happens to plastic at its end of life is where the problem is. When we’re done with it, we have no idea how to properly dispose of it without harming the planet.”

New energy transition report gets support even from oil unions

Nineteen unions, including two that represent oil workers in California, are supporting a new report on clean energy transition in the state. Sammy Roth writes for the Los Angeles Times According to Roth’s article, the report, titled A Program for Economic Recovery and Clean Energy Transition in California, estimates “the Golden State could create 418,000 clean energy jobs per year through a program to cut climate pollution in half over the next decade. It could create even more jobs — 626,000 per year — through investments in related areas such as water infrastructure, leaky gas pipelines, public parks and roadways, some but not all of which would also reduce emissions.” Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the report’s lead author, says this is the first time California has had those kinds of detailed estimates.

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Data driven: A drop in the ocean

Keeping with the National Ocean Month and World Oceans Day themes, we offer some data points from the UN:

  • The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth.

  • The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world.

  • The ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

  • With 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished.

The UN says: “To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it. We must build a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past.”

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