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The Climate 202

Germany's climate envoy wasn't thrilled with the G-7 deal on gas projects

The Climate 202

Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! We hope you had a great Fourth of July, even if your dog was spooked by the “sky booms.” But first:

Jennifer Morgan, Germany's climate envoy, criticizes G-7 deal on gas investments

At the Group of Seven summit in Bavaria last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged his counterparts to water down an earlier pledge to end government funding for foreign gas infrastructure by the end of the year.

But his climate envoy, Jennifer Morgan, was unhappy with that language in the G-7 leaders' communique.

“There is the passage in the communique about public funding for fossil fuel projects. I would have wished it to be different,” Morgan said in a phone interview with The Climate 202 on Monday.

Morgan, who ran Greenpeace International for six years before joining the German government in February, spent most of her career as an activist criticizing countries' inaction on climate change. She's now in a position to push those countries to ramp up their climate ambition — but she faces some major hurdles.

Chief among those challenges is the war in Ukraine, which has forced Germany and other European nations to rethink their energy policy, given their heavy reliance on Russian fossil fuels. The head of Germany's energy regulator on Saturday urged residents to prepare for possible gas shortages this winter, citing fears that Russia might cut off supplies.

Morgan, 56, has sought to walk a fine line between shoring up energy security in the short term and halting the climate crisis in the long term. While she criticized the G-7 communique for opening the door to new gas investments overseas, she defended Scholz for expressing interest in gas projects in Senegal.

“We are working to keep our climate goals within sight and working in tremendously challenging circumstances,” Morgan said. “These are not easy times. And I think making sure that the climate crisis stays front and center while also ensuring that our gas reserves are filled for the winter … is a responsible response.”

No 'lock-in effects’

While Morgan was generally critical of the G-7 statement's language on fossil fuel finance, she said it does at least rule out gas investments that are incompatible with the more ambitious goal of the Paris agreement: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

“It needs to be compatible with 1.5,” she said. “It needs to not have any long-term lock-in effects.”

Morgan said her interpretation of the statement is that new gas infrastructure must be “hydrogen-ready,” or capable of being converted to carry green hydrogen in the future. For its part, Germany is already planning to turn several liquefied natural gas terminals into “hydrogen hubs.”

Morgan also defended the G-7's progress on climate policy overall, saying it was “inadequately” reflected in media coverage of the summit.

For instance, leaders reaffirmed an earlier commitment to “achieving a fully or predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035,” according to the communique. And they agreed to establish a “Climate Club” by the end of this year to collaborate on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a stand-alone statement.

Road to COP27

Still, Morgan called on wealthy countries to fulfill a long-overdue promise to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance for developing nations before COP27, this year's United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

The summit is expected to focus on the needs of African nations, which are especially vulnerable to severe drought and other climate disasters, despite generating less than 3 percent of the world's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions.

“Africa is on the front lines of the climate crisis,” Morgan said. “And I think this COP needs to be a turning point for African countries.”

In his budget plan released in March, President Biden requested more than $11 billion to help poor nations adapt to the ravages of climate change and build greener economies. But it's unclear whether Congress will appropriate that amount before COP27.

Morgan, who was born in New Jersey but moved to Germany in 2003, called on America — the world's single largest emitter of greenhouse gases — to show leadership on climate finance on the global stage.

“I certainly hope the United States will come forward in helping to meet that goal,” she said. “There are high expectations.”

On the Hill

Exclusive: League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund endorses 13 non-incumbent candidates

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund on Tuesday will announce endorsements of 13 non-incumbent candidates who the group says have impressive environmental records, according to details shared exclusively with The Climate 202.

The influential group is throwing its weight behind Monica Tranel, who is running for Montana's new House seat. Tranel will face off in November's midterm elections against Ryan Zinke, who won the Republican primary after pushing to expand domestic fossil fuel production as Interior secretary under Donald Trump.

LCV is also backing Kendra Horn, the Democratic nominee in Oklahoma's Senate special election. Scott Pruitt, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump, last week lost the Republican primary for the open Senate seat.

LCV's other endorsements of Democrats running for House seats include:

  • Jevin Hodge in Arizona
  • Kermit Jones in California
  • Will Rollins in California
  • Maxwell Frost in Florida
  • Eric Lynn in Florida
  • Jared Moskowitz in Florida
  • Annette Taddeo in Florida
  • Delia Ramirez in Illinois
  • Morgan McGarvey in Kentucky
  • Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon
  • Chris Deluzio in Pennsylvania

Lawmakers to tour Yosemite, assess threat of climate change to national parks

A group of seven House Democrats and one House Republican will embark on a three-day tour of Yosemite National Park on Tuesday with the Yosemite Conservancy to discuss the threat posed by climate change and other environmental concerns at national parks across the nation. 

The group, led by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), will meet with Yosemite’s head scientists to learn about the changing ecosystems within the park and how Congress can address global warming to preserve national parks for future generations. 

In addition to Quigley, the tour includes:

  • Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), whose district includes Yosemite
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.)
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.)
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.)

In May, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joined Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) in visiting California's giant sequoia trees, which are threatened by wildfires fueled by climate change. The trio introduced the Save our Sequoias Act in late June in an effort to help the Forest Service pursue forest management projects, such as prescribed burning and forest thinning, to reduce wildfire risk.

Extreme events

Summer in America is becoming hotter, longer and more dangerous

Climate change is irreversibly changing the summer months — turning what for many Americans is a time of joy into stretches of extreme heat, dangerously polluted air, wildfire and anxiety, Anna Phillips, Brady Dennis, Jason Samenow, John Muyskens and Naema Ahmed report for The Washington Post. 

Scientists say the recent spate of severe summers is a clear departure from past decades. The average summer temperature in the past five years has been 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.94 degrees Celsius) warmer than it was from 1971 through 2000, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the West coast being hit the hardest. 

Meanwhile, nights are warming at a slightly higher rate than days, impairing people’s ability to cool down. And hospital staffers in the Pacific Northwest, which baked under a historic heat wave last year, are bracing for more and more people to be hospitalized this summer for heat-related injuries.

“We can start saying people are dying because of climate change,” said Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health at the University of Washington. “This is really shifting the kinds of statements we can make.”

Pressure points

Bezos slams Biden's call for gasoline stations to lower prices

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Saturday slammed President Biden's request for companies to lower gasoline prices ahead of the July Fourth weekend, when many Americans took to the roads, Akriti Sharma reports for Reuters.

In a tweet on Friday, Biden urged companies running gas stations to lower prices that have soared to about $5 a gallon in some parts of the country.

“This is a time of war and global peril,” the president said. “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now.” 

Soon after, Bezos joined the ongoing debate over who to blame for the high prices by saying in a tweet, “Ouch. Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this. It’s either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.” (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

In a rebuttal on Sunday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote that “it's not surprising that you think oil and gas companies using market power to reap record profits at the expense of the American people is the way our economy is supposed to work.”

In the atmosphere


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