• December 10, 2023

Automakers Start to Figure Out the Climate Future

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If you want to meet an expert who understands where the world is going, I can to introduce a bush-bearded Australian miner anonymously featured in a video shared by the Sydney Morning Herald last week. He was behind the wheel of a borrowed Tesla when a man in the back seat asked him to “just plant. As hard as you can. ”The man steps on the gas pedal, is immediately pushed back into his seat and breaks out into a grinning cackle. “Damn it, isn’t it?” Says the man. “It’s only a moment. Shit, ”replies the driver beaming. (Check it out; you’ll feel happier afterwards).

Many of the changes needed to get us on the right climate path will face resistance, but it looks like getting people to embrace electric vehicles may not be one of them. Elon Musk pioneered it, but the Tesla was mostly a niche product – the niche are the early adopters of cool things that live on the coast. (Life in Muskworld is getting a little silly: it started last month advertise a ten rocket engine model that goes from zero to sixty in 1.1 seconds, which sounds like a very bad idea.) However, things got very real when an electric version of the Ford F-150 pickup was announced last month Best-selling vehicle and most popular motor vehicle of all time every year since the Reagan administration. Within seven days, the company had reported seventy thousand pre-orders – and the stock was up eight percent.

Having spent most of my life in rural America, where the F-150 is ubiquitous, I can tell you why this will be successful. It’s not the acceleration; it’s the plugs. The electric version will basically be a battery on wheels. The “Power Frunk” (where the engine used to be) has multiple sockets that are useful for any power tool you may need when you are not near another power source – when building a house, for example – and which are loud. replace, smelly, dangerous gas generators that nobody likes. You say most pickup drivers aren’t home builders? It’s true, most Americans don’t need a pickup at all. But check out every truck advertisement and see who is starring in it. As soon as American workers endorse the electric approach, the suburbs will follow suit. Of course, we need far more than electric cars: buses and bicycles, not to mention routes for these bicycles, are crucial. But since public transport is currently around one percent of the passenger miles driven, the new pickup paradigm seems critical.

And in any case, the car companies seem to be all-in. Last week Ford did announced that it will cut $ 30 billion in new electric vehicle spending; General Motors has already said it will be all electric by 2035. In contrast, the banking sector seems determined to do both, trying to make money on both fossil fuels and a renewable future. At the end of last month, President Biden issued to supreme command on Financial Climate Risk, which begins with the determination that “the failure of financial institutions to adequately and adequately address and measure these physical and transitional risks, the competitiveness of US companies and markets, the life savings and pensions of US workers and families and the ability of US financial institutions to serve the communities. ”That failure has been seen on many fronts in the past few days. Deutsche Bank has a detailed to plan to reduce its CO2 emissions by, for example, “reducing the fuel consumption of its company car fleet in Germany (around 5,400 cars) by 30 percent by 2025”.

That sounds good, but such suggestions, as the activists of the German environmental and human rights organization Urgewald emphasize, “are also embarrassing evidence that the bank’s understanding of sustainability was stuck in the 1990s. The measures are easy to integrate and do not harm anyone. However, they will not have any significant effects either. ” coordinate IPO of the oil and gas company Wintershall, which is planned crank increase its fossil fuel production by thirty percent by 2023. The world’s largest fossil fuel financier, JPMorgan Chase, has announced that it will be closer to home plans not the amount of carbon that your loans raise from the ground, but rather to reduce the “carbon intensity” of your portfolio. This would allow them to continue to lend to companies that want to keep extracting the same amount of oil, and also to hugely increase the amount of natural gas they pump; Gas is a little less carbon-intensive than oil, so this surge would slip right through that loophole. At a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee last week, MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did her best to break that blatant greenwashing, and Chase CEO Jamie Dimon seemed to be saying the bank was also working on reducing absolute emissions in its portfolio – but for now, the plans are secret. If you are wondering how important it is: a new report shows that just the carbon footprint of British bankers’ loans, if they were a country, would make them the world’s ninth largest emitter.

It’s good news that there is suddenly so much in the air: the fail from the various court rulings and shareholder votes from the end of May is less a blueprint for the future than a simple declaration that something has to change. Sticks are stuck in hornet nests, and there is a lot of shouting from the industry and their friends. (Check out the fifteen GOP Treasurers are threatening to withdraw government funds from banks that do not lend to the oil industry.) But at least for now, the delighted laughter of a miner behind the wheel of an electric vehicle drowns out the noise.

Past the microphone

Ana Teresa Fernández, an artist born in Mexico and now living in San Francisco, specializes in what she calls “social sculpture”. I was impressed by your current project “On the Horizon”: clear tubes, erected on the beach and filled with salt water, trying to show passers-by what the sea level rise of two meters predicted by scientists would actually look like. But all their work is fascinating, and I was grateful that she was willing to answer a few questions. (Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.)

Explain these remarkable tubes that you installed on the beach. Where did the thought come from and what was the reaction like?

In 2017 I was invited to speak at the Art + Environment Conference at the Nevada Museum of Art, where I first came across this information: “Sea levels will rise 6 feet in the next 50 years.” That news hit me first in the stomach, then it echoed again and again in me. I know we hear numbers, but often we don’t feel what it means. Here I came up with the idea of ​​suspending six feet of water to create a visceral experience. First of all, how can you suspend so much water? Second, how do you let it rise from the coast? And how do you make people want to know more? This is how “On the Horizon” was born. After I had the initial design of the ten inch wide by six foot tall Plexi tube, I worked with Doniece Sandoval, the founder of LavaMae, to raise the funds to create an interactive experience by making sixteen of these tubes . “On the Horizon” should be mobile and be brought to different banks and endangered coasts.

While we were fine-tuning the design, we only tested one tube on different beaches. Every time, people were immediately drawn to it. When we tested it in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, a group of five little girls whirled, danced and played around for an hour, showering us with questions. When we explained how high our future coastline would be, their mouths gaped wide. When her parents approached us, it was the girls who responded to their requests for the play. We knew then that this piece was cross-generational.

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