Weekend Climate News: Voting and planning for climate resilience

This week we’ve got five pieces of climate news for you - starting with an important proposal up for vote on New York’s midterm ballot. Also, NYC builds better, saving the Amazon, NJ invests in offshore wind, and young workers turn away from oil.

By Kathleen King

November 4, 2022

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Climate initiatives on New York’s midterm ballot call for improved energy efficiency

This year’s midterm ballot in New York includes the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which creates the potential for amassing billions toward four crucial areas of climate action. If approved, the largest sum of these funds would be allocated towards climate change mitigation measures, such as zero-emission school buses and other means of reducing emissions within the state. The next priority is the restoration of ecosystems, including coastal rehabilitation to reduce flood risk for hurricane protection. Following these initiatives, the state aims to fund land conservation and improvement of water quality, as well as infrastructure with increased climate resiliency.

 

A coalition of various environmental advocacy groups, farmers, labor unions, and more have united to support the ballot. The act includes a requirement that 35% of funds be spent in communities that are environmentally and socioeconomically disadvantaged.

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Manhattan’s new flood barrier is in the works

After 10 years of organizing funds and modifying the project, the Big U is finally coming to fruition, signaling a big win for climate adaptation. Proposed by the Obama administration a year after Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effect on New York City, this project proposes to modify Manhattan’s shoreline to ensure the safety of the island from the dangers of extreme weather events. The plan was created by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and entails wrapping Manhattan in artificial shorelines and miles of green space to create a flood barrier. 

We love how multi-faceted this project is. The Bjarke Ingels Group was confronted with a problem that required proactive climate adaptation and took the opportunity to increase green space in the city as well, improving not only the safety but also the quality of life of New Yorkers.

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New Jersey acts on sustainability goals with offshore wind turbines

New Jersey aims to implement 11 megawatts of offshore wind turbines by 2040, which would enable the state to power millions of homes sustainably. Recently, NJ approved $1.1 billion in funding for a group of companies, primarily Jersey Central Power & Light and Mid Atlantic Offshore Development, to develop the majority of the transmission lines that will bring power ashore from a group of wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean. This is an enormous development in New Jersey’s plans to reduce carbon emissions and convert to renewable energy as a state.

Brazil’s new president sets sight on protecting the Amazon

The recent Brazilian presidential election has come to a close, with Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva (commonly referred to as “Lula”) elected as the nation’s new leader. Lula’s platform consisted of policies to alleviate financial strain on low-income citizens, raise the minimum wage, and protect the Amazon forest. The Amazon is crucial for the planet’s health, serving as an enormous carbon sink, holding 25% of the world’s biodiversity, and providing billions of tons of water annually. Lula plans to end deforestation in Brazil and aims to align the country’s emissions targets with the Paris Agreement.

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Younger generations are refusing recruitment efforts by big oil

The oil industry has been receiving warnings for years now from surveys and consulting firms that they will struggle to replace their older workforce with younger generations who stand against climate destruction. Recent statements made by figures in the finance and oil communities confirm this. Grist quoted Bill Gates' recent prediction that in 30 years, oil companies will be “worth very little.” While the solar and wind industries are experiencing an increase in interest from millennials, the oil industry workforce numbers have been in decline since 2015. 

This lack of interest has also affected the educational institutions that fed into the oil industry. Louisiana State University and the University of Houston have both noted a drop in enrollment in their petroleum engineering programs. Three weeks ago, Harvard students protested an ExxonMobil recruiting event being hosted by the university. Schools in Canada and England have stopped programs teaching oil engineering. Grist’s interviews with insiders in the oil industry warn that companies are quickly losing their trained professionals to renewable energy and retirement. These changes explain difficulties within the industry to start new drilling projects, as these cannot be done without employees with degrees and experience in the field.

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