Energy & Environment — Few corporations likely to hit climate goals: report

The vast majority of major companies are unlikely to hit their net-zero emissions goals, according to a new report. Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is reportedly eyeing the NDAA for permitting reform, and the EPA is touting the biggest investment in air pollution monitoring in its history.

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Many corporations won’t reach net-zero goals

More than 90 percent of large companies that have stated commitments to reaching net-zero emissions will miss such goals at their current pace, according to a new report.

Among 2,000 global corporations analyzed by consulting firm Accenture, about a third, 34 percent, have a public net-zero commitment — an increase from last year, the report states. However, 93 percent are on track to miss their goals by midcentury unless they quicken their pace.

Even an “accelerated scenario,” in which the pace of emissions cuts doubles through the end of the decade and quintuples through 2050, still means 40 percent of companies will miss their goals — and a quarter will miss the target by 2050, which climatologists have called the deadline to stave off catastrophic warming.

  • The report found that the average operational emissions cut among companies with net-zero targets between 2011 and 2020 was 18 percent. When controlling for reduced emissions in the early COVID-19 pandemic, researchers also analyzed reductions through 2019, and found that only the companies with net-zero targets made meaningful emissions cuts during that period. 

  • Accenture’s analysis also indicated that multiple emissions targets resulted in broader cuts.

  • Among companies with net-zero targets throughout the supply chain, emissions dropped 18 percent between 2011 and 2020 and 5 percent between 2011 and 2019, according to the report. By comparison, emissions only decreased
    1 percent between 2011 and 2020 for those focused on more direct emissions — known as scope 1 and scope 2 emissions — and increased 3 percent from 2011 to 2019.

Read more about the report here.

MANCHIN EYES NDAA FOR PERMITTING REFORM

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is apparently eyeing a must-pass military funding bill  called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as a vehicle for his energy permitting reform push.

“I’ve tried to put it in the continuing resolution, and I’m working now on getting it in the National Defense Authorization,” he said during an appearance at Stanford’s Global Energy Forum, Politico reported.

Manchin, backed by Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), tried unsuccessfully to pin efforts to speed up the process for approving energy projects to a temporary funding measure. But, amid resistance from both Republicans and progressives, it was dropped.

He was expected previously to continue his permitting reform efforts in the upcoming lame-duck session, though the vehicle for passage was previously unclear.

GOP DELEGATION TO HEADING TO COP27

A group of Republican lawmakers that are part of the Conservative Climate Caucus will head to the COP27 climate conference in Egypt.

The delegation will include Reps. John Curtis (Utah), Greg Murphy (N.C.),  Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.) and “potentially others,” according to a press release sent out late Wednesday.

That release said that the delegation will meet stakeholders, other nations and private businesses during the trip.

  • “Our delegation in Egypt will be the proof that the Republicans are not just at the climate table but leading with solutions,” Curtis, who heads the caucus, said in a statement.  

  • He told The Hill earlier this year that its purpose was not to endorse specific policies, but rather to educate members and give them new strategies to discuss the changing climate.

Both the caucus and the trip come as the party moves away from climate denial, but also remains reluctant to support policies aimed at curbing the use of fossil fuels — which are the main driver of global warming.

EPA touts $53B investment to monitor air pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said that it would be able to fund 132 projects for monitoring air pollution in 37 states after recent legislation passed Congress.

A total of $53 million in funds  from both the Democrats’ COVID-19 stimulus package and their climate, tax and health care bill will cover the grants.

“This is the largest investment in air pollution monitoring in EPA’s history,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters.

  • Communities in 37 states will be assisted in efforts to monitor for pollutants including particle pollution and smog, which both cause lung issues, as well as other substances including a carcinogen called ethylene oxide that’s used to sterilize medical devices.  

  • The monitoring will occur in both major metropolitan areas like Detroit and Miami-Dade County, Fla., as well as smaller areas and tribal reservations. Some are also in places that have become infamous for air pollution, including an area sometimes called “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana.

Read the story here.

Glaciers in Yellowstone, Yosemite likely to disappear

A third of global glaciers located at World Heritage sites will disappear by 2050, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned on Thursday.

Among the glaciers to vanish will be those at Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro, according to UNESCO.

While those glaciers will melt regardless of efforts to limit temperature increases, it is possible to save the remaining two thirds of glaciers at these 50 sites, the organization stressed in a new report.

But to do so, the authors cautioned, global heating must not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels.

“This report is a call to action,” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general, said in a statement.

As delegates prepare to meet in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, next week for COP27, the U.N. climate change conference, Azoulay stressed that the summit will play “a crucial role to help find solutions to this issue.”

The 1.5-degree-Celsius warming threshold is the same bar that countries said they hoped to stay below at the U.N. climate summit in Paris — COP21 — in 2015. At the time, they pledged to adhere to a 2-degree-Celsius, or 3.6-degree Fahrenheit, warming limit.

The big picture:

  • Fifty UNESCO World Heritage sites are home to a total of 18,600 glaciers that cover an area of about 25,500 square miles, the authors found. 

  • That’s equivalent to about 10 percent of the Earth’s total “glacierized” area, according to the report, which was compiled in collaboration with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. 

  • These glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since the turn of the century due to carbon dioxide emissions, which are warming temperatures, the authors explained.

Read more here, from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • As Drought Drops Water Level in the Mississippi, Shipwrecks Surface and Worries Rise (The New York Times)

  • This coral reef resurrected itself — and showed scientists how to replicate it (NPR)

  • It’s unseasonably warm in Europe this fall. Climate researchers are feeling the heat. (NBC News)

  • Why methane emissions are threatening climate stability (Reuters)

🐂 Lighter click: Musk ox cam!

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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