In This Episode
This week on Hot Take, Amy & Mary give updates on Hurricane Ian, Manchin’s failed permitting bill, discontent in Europe, and more.
If you want to contribute to relief efforts in Florida, here are a few places to give to:
If you want to contribute to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico, here are a few places to give to:
Proyecto Matria (women’s rights org):
Taller Salud (women’s health org)
Mary Annaise Heglar Hey, hotcakes, it’s Mary. I just wanted to drop in and bring in an update from Hurricane Ian. So we taped our show on Monday before Hurricane and became the monster that we know it as now. At the time, Fiona was the name on everybody’s mind as it just ravaged Puerto Rico and swiped the Dominican Republic and was causing havoc all the way in Nova Scotia. Mind you, as of now, Puerto Ricans are still struggling for clean water and electricity and so absolutely need our help. More than 300,000 people there are still without power today. So those organizations we suggest that you donate to in this week’s episode, please do that if you are able. But on Tuesday, Hurricane Irene made landfall in Cuba as a Category three and left that island in a complete blackout. After Cuba, Ian got even stronger and was nearly a category five storm when he made landfall in western Florida, which is an area that hasn’t seen a major hurricane, meaning Category three or above since 1921. That’s more than a hundred years. There are unconfirmed reports that the death toll may be in the hundreds and the property damage is visually astounding. Millions of people are without power, and roads to remote areas have broken down. And that’s going to have some serious implications for any rescue missions. So the storm has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it remains big and dangerous and it can spur all sorts of tornadoes and everything. We are not out of the woods. Plus this. Now we have to deal with the aftermath. Ian is a historic storm and the likes of it can change communities and regions forever. That is all to say that there’s a whole lot of people who need a whole lot of help right now. So if you can please consider donating to the mutual aid efforts on the ground, you can go to mutual aid, disaster relief, talk to plug in, and we have links in our show notes to an article with some other resources. Thank you all so much and take care.
Amy Westervelt Hey, hot cakes. Welcome to Hot Take. I’m Amy Westervelt.
Mary Annaise Heglar And I’m Mary Annaise Heglar. This week, we’re going to go over some of the headlines and there’s alot of them. We’re going to talk about what’s going on in U.S. climate policy. As I understand it, a very long bill dropped last week. And Amy’s read all of it because that’s the type of stuff she does when she wakes up at night. There have been these climate disinformation hearings that I can’t wait to talk about. Plus, like something is rotten in Europe. And we’re going to talk all about that.
Amy Westervelt Ironically, not just in Denmark, which had some kind of good news this week, but the rest of Europe. Pretty stinky. Pretty, actually stinky.
Mary Annaise Heglar I have no idea what happened in Denmark this week.
Amy Westervelt Oh, well, I’m going to tell you.
Mary Annaise Heglar Very cool, so, without any further ado. You ready?
Amy Westervelt I’m ready. It’s time to talk about climate.
Mary Annaise Heglar Let’s start off talking about this permitting bill. So this is how I understand things and the negotiation of the IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act, the biggest climate bill in U.S. history. We all know the story. It was part of the deal was that mansion. We get to design another bill about permitting and permitting reform. And the other thing that people were saying in the passage of the IRA to environmental justice communities and people of color who were deeply, you know, hurt by the passage of the IRA and worried, understandably so, was that we just have to make sure that it’s equitably implemented. And so last week, Manchin released the Energy Independence and Security Act, basically the permitting reform bill late on Wednesday night. And I hear it was just shy of a thousand pages. Is that right?
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. It’s very long. I hate it when they release things at like, you know, 6 p.m. on weeknights.
Mary Annaise Heglar It’s rude.
Amy Westervelt It’s usually like, you know, we don’t really want people to read this closely.
Mary Annaise Heglar So here’s what I understand is in it. If fast tracked the Mountain Valley pipeline and requires that all the permits for that pipeline be issued within 30 days. I also understand the Mountain Valley pipeline would equal 26 coal mines worth of greenhouse gas emissions.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar So first, did I get all of that right? And then also, can you talk about a little bit more about what the Mountain Valley Pipeline is and why people in Appalachia have fought so hard against it?
Amy Westervelt Yes, you did get all that right. And I would add another element to the whole Mountain Valley pipeline section of this reform in the Air quotes, Bill. Is that it not only fast tracks and says, you know, you can’t you can’t litigate any of this stuff anymore. It also says if litigation like outside of these permitting things does come up, the federal government is going to dictate that this other district court takes that up instead of the one that’s in their region, which is absolutely unheard of.
Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t understand. Can you say that again?
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Instead of being handled by circuit courts in West Virginia, this is saying that the federal government is dictating that the D.C. Circuit Court will take up any future litigation around the Mountain Valley pipeline. That is extremely weird. It’s extremely weird for the federal government to step in and dictate the jurisdiction of a legal argument. Hmm. It’s also weird because the D.C. Circuit has not historically been super friendly to pipe to like pipelines or oil companies. So I don’t really understand why that would be preferable. And it’s also weird because the you know, the West Virginia courts have not just been, you know, 100% against the pipeline company, like as much as as the MVP folks have kind of wined and complained and acted like they’re just being totally victimized by this court. The court has actually ruled in their favor a number of times, too. So, like I just don’t get it. It’s also just like an incredibly weird slippery slope for the federal government to say we’re not going to do any judicial review of any decisions made about this pipeline, meaning like you can’t appeal this to any court. I saw one person online actually point out that like if something like that were to be implemented, that you could then theoretically like do that on, on any number of laws. Like it’s just it is just like the definition of a slippery slope. It’s very, very bizarre. So yeah. And then in terms of like being a slap in the face to Appalachia, I mean, all kinds of communities have been fighting this pipeline. Like it’s it’s really interesting because it’s like a it goes across two states, West Virginia and Virginia, which is why Tim Kaine, like the milquetoast, milquetoast of all centrist Democrats is like you only have Kaine alone is a very nice man. Yeah. You suddenly. Like, found a backbone and is like, I’m going to fight this thing, you know, because it goes it goes across Virginia too. You know, it’s not just Joe Manchin’s call. And the other thing that’s really interesting is, is like actually in a lot of pipeline fights, you kind of have you have like one frontline community, right? That’s like or maybe a couple, but they’re quite similar to each other. The Mountain Valley pipeline crosses so many disparate communities that don’t usually get on the same side of a fight. You know? And they have I mean, you’ve got, like, wealthy suburban white people. You have working class people, you have people of color. You have people of every like. Every social, economic and racial demographic saying no to this pipeline.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt So, like, it’s yeah, it’s like I just.
Mary Annaise Heglar The only people who want it live far, far away from it.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. And then like the people in Appalachia have been going through all of like the state like structures that are available to them to say no to this pipeline. Like they have filed perfectly reasonable legal claims. They have fought the permitting. For good reason. Like, I don’t know. It’s just so it’s it’s so dispiriting to to actually, like, be going through all of the, you know, the the channels that are available to you as a citizen. And then to be told none of that matters, we’re going to ram it down your throats anyway. Yeah. I mean. It’s certainly not unique to them. This, this is happening all over the country. And I think it’s really what is making frontline communities kind of be like, forget it. I’m not even going to try to deal with government. You know, it’s like I just exhausting. It’s exhausting. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Let’s talk a bit about who likes the bill and who doesn’t like the bill. So seems like industry groups from the energy industry kind of love it.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, of course. Yeah, yeah. I have seen the argument that and this is true, we, we absolutely need permitting reform to enable, like, wide scale, larger scale deployment of renewables. However, that does not need to be married to a wish list of items for the fossil fuel industry. I don’t understand why it’s like, like people keep kind of making this like, yeah, you know, lose some to win some kind of argument. You know, like, I don’t. I don’t get it.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, actually, I’m glad you brought that up, because I came across a quote that confused me. It was from Gregory Whetstone, the chief executive of the American Council on Renewable Energy, and he said that it includes provisions that will help streamline the transmission approval process, improving our ability to meet our nation’s decarbonization goals. And I was reading another piece this morning that was kind of like making the case that we need to we need to reform permitting process for the sake of renewables. And it’s just it feels like a distraction. It almost feels like a sleight of hand. Right. So I and I also the other thing I don’t understand is why are fossil fuels and renewables going through the same permitting process any damn way? They’re very different things.
Amy Westervelt Well, it’s because they both plug in to the same grid. And that’s the thing is it’s like this is what we’re talking about when we’re talking about transmission is like how electricity is transmitted from whatever source to people’s homes, businesses, whatever. Right. And everyone agrees that like the transmission approval process in general needs to be improved because it’s very cumbersome and it’s very slow. But I do think there’s a way to potentially streamline that process for renewables without doing a bunch of things like weakening NEPA. That’s one of the things in this bill to the National Environmental Protection Act, like they want to basically make environmental impact reporting period and comment period shorter, while in general that tends to help the fossil fuel industry more than it helps renewables. Like there’s a bunch of stuff that was in other things. Like actually I saw a lot of people saying, well, actually the things that are in here that would erode some of the environmental protections are not the things that are historically obstacles to renewables getting permitted. It’s only the things that are obstacles to fossil fuel projects getting permitted.
Amy Westervelt So I just I don’t know, basically when it comes to permitting reform, I just don’t believe that there’s no way to improve it for renewables without also fast tracking a bunch of pipelines. And I should mention, too, that the other thing in this bill, like Mountain Valley Pipeline isn’t the only pipeline mentioned here. There’s a provision in here that talks about like approving, you know, 25 different pipeline projects and then they’re like, you know, okay, sure. Two of those could be renewable projects instead.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt So it’s just a mess. It’s a mess.
Mary Annaise Heglar The other thing I wanted to ask you about is I keep seeing that for the first five years or so, there’s a certain amount of these projects that go through this permitting build that are required to be fossil fuel projects.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. That’s right.
Mary Annaise Heglar Why would you require a new fossil fuel project?
Amy Westervelt Right. Right. So, yeah, I mean, I think that what I would like to see and I actually am seeing way more of this on this permitting reform bill than I saw on the IRA. Like, I feel like actually even some of the people who, you know, kind of shrugged their shoulders and said, well, sometimes you have to, like, deal with some bad to get a bill passed on the IRA. Right. Are now are on this are saying environmentalists really need to fight like you know and progressives and Democrats and everything like really need to fight for like a positive version of of permitting reform done. Right. Like, yes, we need permitting reform. Everyone agrees this is not it.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt And I’m seeing a lot more people saying that. And I am even seeing people who started out saying. I don’t care what bad things are in it. We need permitting reform so badly for the renewables section of the IRA to even happen that it’s worth that. Who have now kind of been convinced as they’ve we’ve seen more and more on this bill to say, no, actually, we can’t do this. It’s that’s too bad of a precedent. And it locks in too many fossil fuel projects.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt We’ll see.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Now, of course, this was all attached to the budget spending bill. I think that was a strategy to sort of try to force Democrats to vote for it. But not only were Democrats starting to say no thanks, but a bunch of Republicans actually lined up against it. So on Tuesday night, this week. They got ready for a vote and actually Mansion asked Schumer to take the permitting reform stuff out of the spending legislation. So for now, at least, this version is dead in the water. But they’ve already said that, you know, they’re looking to figure out when to bring it back for a vote on its own. And, you know, this is not this isn’t going to just go away. Hopefully, you know, they will be able to negotiate a better version of a permitting reform bill.
Mary Annaise Heglar This will be something to keep an eye on. But I also want to talk about some of the more fun stuff happening in Washington. I understand that there have been hearings.
Amy Westervelt Yes. There’s actually been a lot of hearings on climate recently. So last last week, there were three. Two of them actually happened at the exact same time on the same day, which I was like, can you guys talk to each other? Just talk to each other once in a while. Like, why? Why throw a party?
Mary Annaise Heglar Okay, like us. Both of your birthdays just combined the day of thing.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, I hear you. Yeah. So Jamie Raskin and Katie Porter had hearings on Wednesday last week. Katie Porter’s hearing was about the role of PR firms in climate disinformation. Jamie Raskin’s was about how there was about, like, corporate backed attacks on environmentalists, especially with respect to free speech. So that was super interesting, like really kind of looking at the anti-protest bills and also these lawsuits that fossil fuel companies and other extractive industries have been filing against green groups for organizing protests. And then on Thursday, the House Oversight Committee had its third hearing on climate disinformation in general, which was super interesting because they subpoenaed various documents from the oil companies last year. And this was the first time that they’ve made some of those documents publicly available. And they talked about them in this hearing, and they were quite entertaining.
Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, let’s just go ahead and talk about the one where Shell was visibly or at least verbally upset about getting trolled on Twitter for their little personal responsibility poll. So for someone who aren’t extremely online and freakishly stalking fossil fuel companies on Twitter, basically what happened was that Shell was having some sort of like online and in-person climate summit, which already you kind of know. And they tweeted out a poll basically about what are you going to do to stop climate change? And they did this the day before the U.S. election in 2020. People were on edge, including me, who was very deep in my green trolling bag at the time. And yeah, everybody went after them from AOC to Greta Thunberg. Like, everybody jumped down their throats because we needed a target that day and they decided to be in. They volunteered themselves as tribune, and it was a great time. And these emails show that Shell was shook from the inside.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, there’s actually like quite a few emails running around, including like with the president of Shell. America is like having discussions about the fact that Twitter is erupting, you know, about their poll. And there’s this. There’s what I have to read you on. There’s one from this guy who’s like, I’m an old guy. Help me out. What the heck is gaslighting?
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, I remember that, actually.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. And then another another guy says I’m old, too. But as I understand that, gaslighting is a millennial term for manipulating a person’s emotions, causing them to question themselves instead of you. It is, frankly, a criticism not totally without merit in this case. Though, I would never say that in mixed company.
Mary Annaise Heglar These are emails within Shell.
Amy Westervelt Nothing Shell within Shell, not tweets.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh God. Cause I could of swear somebody tweeted that. What is gaslighting thing?
Amy Westervelt Yeah. And then. And then he says, we are, after all, in a tweet like this, implying others need to sacrifice without focusing on ourselves.
Mary Annaise Heglar Self-awareness right there. A little bit of awareness from from Shell.
Amy Westervelt But yeah, they’re like, you know, the you know, there’s like a Friday night email that’s like, oh, like, heads up. This is this is gaining some steam. And, you know, I don’t recommend that we engage with this. Like, let’s just ignore it for now. And I mean, like there are a few days worth of emails going back and forth. So just, you know, for people that are like, oh the poor intern monitoring Shell’s Twitter account.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my God.
Amy Westervelt Actual president of Shell America is like, what are we doing about all this heat on Twitter?
Mary Annaise Heglar The president of Shell, who makes a shit ton of money and some very powerful decisions and does not deserve your pity? No, there is no intern running the Twitter at Shell, all right. Like an intern doesn’t run the Twitter at most environmental nonprofits. So I guarantee you the fossil fuel companies have a fucking team and some consultants and a very highly paid staff doing this. Trust me, that’s.
Amy Westervelt What I do. That’s right. That’s right. I also want to read you a statement from Shell. This is like their operations people are emailing each other back and forth like this just to me says so much about how much they see various parts of the U.S. as sacrifice zones that they just like don’t have to give a shit about. So they’re talking about like different facilities that they’ve shut down and things that they do or don’t have to disclose greenhouse gas emissions on anymore. So they said Pernice, the site in the Netherlands will be an interesting one to watch. It’s right there in the motherland where we are most sensitive and our reputation is mixed. The other pattern to notice is where we do own high greenhouse gas intensive things. It’s in areas where they aren’t that politically sensitive about such matters. China, Singapore, Malaysia and Louisiana. So I just I’m like, wow. The fact that they’re just like, oh, we need to worry about how people in the Netherlands perceive us, but we don’t really need to worry about it in these Asian countries or in Louisiana.
Mary Annaise Heglar Hmm.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. I just like.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, so they just saying it out loud.
Amy Westervelt They’re totally saying it out loud. Yeah. The other really interesting thing in these documents was Exxon talking. Well, Exxon saying, you know, to other oil companies like, hey, let’s not say too much about how we’re going to, like cut our emissions in line with the Paris climate accord. Because they’re like just because we agree with. Just because we’ve said that we support Paris doesn’t mean, like, we’re going to do anything about it. It was a passive support.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, exactly.
Amy Westervelt And then the other thing is they have all of these things where they’re planning out different advertisements and they’re being really careful about what they can and can’t say in them. Right. And they’re talking about the algae, biofuels and carbon capture and storage. And they’re basically like just repeating over and over and over again, like, these things are not like ready. They won’t be big. These just be careful because like, these things won’t really be, you know, effective for like decades.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Know he’s ish. Ish so, yeah. I also saw in your, your literal climate they had a set of hearings, Jamie Raskin, about what the fossil fuel companies are doing to silence activists. Amy, should I be scared?
Amy Westervelt I mean, I think that, like they are working really hard to just make it harder to to be a climate activist period is actually quite scary. There’s been a real increase in what they call SLAPP suits. It’s strategic litigation against public participation. So basically, like any time a corporation sues an individual or an organization and the intent of the suit is basically to stop them from like criticizing that company. So, for example, in the week of Standing Rock, Energy Transfer Partners tried to sue Greenpeace and a bunch of individual protesters, and they actually used RICO to do it. They invoked the racketeering laws that were created to deal with the mob.
Mary Annaise Heglar The ones that got Al Capone censored.
Amy Westervelt You know, but the very ones. Yes. So they’re basically saying that like organizing a protest is organized crime that are very concerning.
Mary Annaise Heglar Wow. Yeah.
Amy Westervelt So, I mean, that got tossed out. Greenpeace litigated it and, you know, they won. So that’s good. But I fully expect them to try that shit again. And it’s very concerning. Very concerning. And then, you know, there’s there’s been no real slowdown. Until the passage of these critical infrastructure laws where they’re increasing the fines and jail time associated with, you know, trespassing and vandalization and stuff like that. Like specifically around what they define as critical infrastructure, which is pipelines, but also power stations, railroads, highways, like anything. You know, it’s it’s it can be quite vague in some of these laws. So I think these laws could be used to crack down on protests of any kind, really. You know.
Mary Annaise Heglar I think that they can be used to crack down on people, like period. Right. Because like, if I’m near a pipeline, right. If I’m a like a criminalized population, you know, like a black person, for example. Right. Just throw that out. And I happen to be near, you know, a pipeline. And you don’t necessarily know when you’re near a pipeline. You don’t necessarily know where you’re near something called criminal critical infrastructure. And. That’s right. You could just you know, if you’re part of a population that the cops want to lock up, period, these laws can be weaponized against you whether you’re protesting or not. Yeah, that’s honestly was super scary to me.
Amy Westervelt That is absolutely right. Yes. Yes. Yeah, it’s it’s really, really scary. And I, I like I’ve seen, you know, of course, there’s been some good media coverage of this. Aileen Brown, who we had on the show, she was on this like really early back in, I want to say 2017 when like the first of those laws was passed. Steve Horn Smog. Alex Coffman at Huffington Post. I’ve written about it a little bit later than those folks. But.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, The Intercept.
Amy Westervelt Right at The Intercept. Yeah. And so I feel like, you know, there’s definitely been some coverage, but I, I still don’t think people realize just how many of these things are and, and like what the intent is, which is a pretty massive erosion of civil rights.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt I should I should also note that everyone’s favorite reformed environmentalist, Michael Shellenberger, was a witness at the the oversight hearing on climate disinformation. And.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I heard that on your episode of Grilled that he was there.
Amy Westervelt God. Yeah. He’s really something. Yeah. Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Wait, so Raskin wants to introduce Federal anti-SLAPP.
Amy Westervelt That’s right. Right. That’s right.
Mary Annaise Heglar So talk to me about what that is and what that can mean.
Amy Westervelt So that’s actually really good, because right now, anti-SLAPP statutes exist in 31 states. I think it’s 30 states include and then the District of Columbia, so 31 jurisdictions. And these are things that allow for people who are targeted with a slap suit to kind of get them dismissed without too much effort and money spent. Because that’s the thing is like but a lot of like the goal with these things is not just to intimidate but also to really like tie up your time and resources for a significant amount of time. Right? So like if you’re busy fighting a court case, then you can’t be out there protesting or whatever, right? So there are statutes on the books in a bunch of of states that allow you to file, you know, an anti-SLAPP claim and have a fairly quick hearing and get a slap suit dismissed. But it’s very easy for companies to just sort of venue shop and go to a state that doesn’t have one of those. For example, in that case, I mentioned with Energy Transfer Partners and Greenpeace, they filed their suit in federal court because they wanted to use RICO. And when that got tossed, they went and filed a state claim in North Dakota because North Dakota does not have an anti-SLAPP statute. So that litigation is actually ongoing. It doesn’t that version of the case doesn’t invoke RICO because RICO is a federal law. So you can’t really bring those in state court. But but it does make a lot of the same claims and is trying to massively fine Greenpeace and several activists and who knows what will happen in that case. So anyway, Raskin was like, you know, there should at least be a federal anti-SLAPP statute so that everybody has the ability to to quickly deal with these. So that’s been introduced. And I don’t know, I kind of could see it passing because it’s it usually has bipartisan support, in part because companies actually have started to use anti-SLAPP themselves. So. Right.
Mary Annaise Heglar I was reading that in your piece at The Intercept and.
Amy Westervelt Yes. Yes.
Mary Annaise Heglar What just feels like. Okay. So no one else gets to have that protection, but you do?
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Like Exxon actually just used it in Massachusetts. They were. There’s an active fraud case against them there. And the very last appeal they had was this anti slap thing where they they basically tried to make the argument that like the attorney general, like that that the attorney general’s fraud case against them was a slap suit and it didn’t work. But I’m sure that that won’t stop them from trying it again. And and it probably will work at some point, you know?
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I don’t know. It’s just like how they say that, you know, corporations are people. It’s more like their big babies.
Amy Westervelt Yes.
Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. I expected a bigger laugh.
Amy Westervelt Ha ha.
Mary Annaise Heglar They are.
Amy Westervelt You want me to endorse whiny babies?
Mary Annaise Heglar Thank you. You want me to bring back the dad jokes? But then I throw a little lobster out there and you don’t even go for it.
Amy Westervelt Ha! It’s true. It’s true. I failed. I failed. All right. We’re going to talk about what’s happening in the lead up to the next big international climate summit right after this quick break. Heartache is brought to you by Blinkist. Blinkist helps you understand key insights from over 5000 bestselling nonfiction books in just 15 minutes. I like to read novels. I often have to read nonfiction books to get information out of them. And Blinkist is great for when you just want to get the the headlines right. And sometimes I don’t have time to read a thousand pages. Now, they actually have launched a new feature in honor of their ten year anniversary. It’s called Blinkist Connect, and it’s pretty great. It allows premium users to share their account with another person of their choice. So you basically get two premium accounts for the price of one. There’s no extra cost for for adding someone to your account and it lets you easily share blinks and these things called shortcuts that they do, which are basically like blinks for podcasts. And you can add comments and thoughts to your recommendations. So you can kind of interesting conversation going about stuff, which is, yeah, it’s cool. Kind of like I guess sharing articles online too, but but a little bit meatier. I know I have recommended 1619 project and dark money on there to people who I think could use the information in both of those books and won’t read them or don’t read in general, as we know some people don’t like to do.
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Mary Annaise Heglar No. Why? Why are knives out?
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Amy Westervelt Oh, my gosh.
Mary Annaise Heglar So did you hear the one about Climate Week and John Kerry and Farhana Yamin?
Amy Westervelt Oh, my God. John Kerry. Speaking of big babies.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, yep. This was not his finest hour. So John Kerry is the Biden administration’s special climate envoy. Basically, he does the climate policy by at the international scale. And he was speaking at Climate Week. And he was confronted by what? Not confronted. It wasn’t it wasn’t confrontational. A woman in the audience by the name of Farhana Yamin, who’s a very respected climate negotiator, an expert and woman, proud woman of the global south. She’s from Pakistan, spoke up and it didn’t go very well, did it, Amy?
Amy Westervelt No, it did not. And she very reasonably asked him, is the US going to finally. Come through on its commitments to fund loss and damages and stop being an obstacle to loss and damages conversations at the global level which are very valid.
Mary Annaise Heglar Question the up and ones that America or that the US has had a very long time to figure out a good answer to. These are not new questions.
Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right. And let’s just play a clip here of a very annoyed John Kerry answering.
John Kerry Clip Well, in all honesty, the most important thing that we can do is stop, mitigate enough that we prevent loss and damage. And the next most important thing we can do is help people adapt to the damage that’s already there. And we have a limited we know we’re not. You tell me the government in the world that has trillions of dollars, because that’s what it costs. So we’re now trying to mobilize the trillions of dollars. And I’m not going to take a feeling guilty, but I know Tony. I love him. But I’ll tell you, I think I think I’ve talked to enough people who are involved in this battle. And you can’t just set up a facility in six weeks. Let’s be serious about this. We’ve got to talk about how we’re going to do it. How do you measure it? How do you allocate? What do you allocate? Where’s the money coming from? You think this Republican Congress where we couldn’t get one vote for this legislation, is going to step up and do lots of damage? Good luck. So I’m in the zone of reality.
Amy Westervelt So yeah, this was actually like we talked about this with I think I want to say it was David Wallace-Wells and maybe also with Abrahm. This idea that unfortunately, I think as there are more and more extreme weather events. The Global North is going to use those as an excuse to not contribute to last year. You know, I think it’s. I really think that we’re going to see more of this sort of isolationist. Like, you know, we’ve got our own shit to deal with. Like, stop making us feel guilty kind of attitude. And and for him to like honestly, for him to say that we have right now, today, 30 million people in Pakistan still unhoused from flooding. And we have most of Puerto Rico still without power. And, you know, just like this absolute global meltdown of things happening is just very, very disheartening.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yikes. Yeah. And it’s like so the goal of getting the IRA done or some climate legislation done was so that we could go into COP, so the United States could go into cop with some sort of negotiating power. But if this is how you’re going to talk to people on the front lines of the climate crisis, when, you know, Pakistan is a third of the country is under water right now, and if you’re going to say to someone, you know, speaking up from that perspective that you refuse to feel guilty.
Amy Westervelt Hmm. What? Yeah. Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Now is not the time to be defensive.
Amy Westervelt No, exactly. And also the United States and multiple other, you know, global north countries agreed years ago, like 2008, 2009 to put money in this friggin fund. There was supposed to be a $100 billion a year available to go south countries. Yeah. By 2020, there was supposed to be a fund that had $100 billion a year in it available to global south countries for the purposes of adaptation and transitioning away from fossil fuels. Not a single country has actually fulfilled their commitment to doing that. And, you know, then then like, we’re seeing the incredible need for that. And oh, also at some point along the way, Global North countries started saying like, yeah, we know, we said that that was that fund was going to be like for grants, but actually it’s more of like a loan. Fuck you. Like. Go fuck yourselves. You know, I just I just like I don’t know. I had a conversation today with a lawyer in Guyana who’s working on some cases there, and she was like she was talking about Norway and how Norway has $1,000,000,000,000 sovereign wealth fund. Right. And that it’s very proud of. And she said that’s not a wealth fund. That’s a debt that they owe the world because that’s oil money.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt It’s like. Yes. Yes. Like all of this money that is just sitting in people’s accounts from oil is is basically a deferred debt that they owe. You know, like, I just I don’t understand why no single company or country has been required to pay for the damage that they have caused to other countries. It it’s not even like that. It’s not that complicated. Yeah. Instead, Norway goes around the world like picking and choosing little forestry projects that it wants to invest in and then patting itself on the back for being a global leader in sustainability. Go fuck yourselves. Like just this.
Mary Annaise Heglar I am so fucking sick of it.
Amy Westervelt It’s just. It’s like, oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Anyway, that’s how I feel about it.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yep. So, yeah, we’re, what, six weeks away from cop?
Amy Westervelt Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. So I think. I think that the, you know, the idea that we’re going to see progress on a loss and damages conversation at COP seems unlikely.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I mean, I know that a lot of people feel like, you know, cop is really important. It seems to me the most important part of cop is people from the Global South being able to confront people from the global north about, you know, the injustices and the disparities of it. And if this is how John Kerry’s already reacting to those sorts of, you know, that type of accountability, then I don’t know I don’t know what to expect in Egypt.
Amy Westervelt I know. I know. And you know. Oh, I just. Yeah, I mean, honestly, it’s really hard. It’s hard for me to feel like the 27th time is going to do the trick. Either on any of this this sort of like international climate policy stuff. But yeah, I do think it’s important for, for Global South people to have a voice. I, I do think it’s important for these loss and damages conversations to happen. But I just it, it troubles me that, that, you know, I don’t know, it just honestly like it just I’m just like, oh, cool. Another rich white guy who’s like. Stop making me feel guilty. Like, I just I can’t.
Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t.
Amy Westervelt If you feel guilty, it’s because you fucking are guilty. Right. So do something about it.
Mary Annaise Heglar Like, I can’t stop you from feeling guilty if you refuse to actually take control of, you know, take responsibility for your actions.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.
Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t know. And also going into cop is not just going to be about the U.S.. It’s also going to be about Europe. You know, which people often leave out of these conversations, because Europe’s not seen as like the big historical emitter that it absolutely is. And also, Europe has been scrambling to secure more fossil fuel stores rather than focusing on clean energy solutions, especially in light of the war in Ukraine. And, you know, they’re on the outs with Russia and all the the gas. So. Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah, I know. I mean, again, I think that that we’re going to hear a lot of like now’s not the time to worry too much about new fossil fuels developments. You know, and and like the the situation in Europe is going to be used to do that. However, I do have to say that there are individual European countries that are responding to the gas crisis by really quickly investing in renewables. The EU has said that it plans to raise its target for emissions reductions, but it looks like that might not happen in time for COP. But if it happens this year, that’s good. And then Denmark actually just became the first EU country to agree to pay a loss in damages.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh really?
Amy Westervelt So that is a very big deal. However, however, a little bit of a star next to this because they are also currently breaking ground on a massive new fossil fuel project.
Mary Annaise Heglar Are they now where is that project, though?
Amy Westervelt In Denmark. But yeah. So I’m just like like you can’t you can’t say like you’re going to pay into this fund while continuing to do the thing that caused the damage in the first place. That doesn’t work.
Mary Annaise Heglar So something does. Something is rotten in Denmark.
Amy Westervelt Something is rotten in Denmark turns out.
Mary Annaise Heglar The way they use that one all episode.
Amy Westervelt [AD]
Mary Annaise Heglar But there’s also there’s more going on in Europe, correct?
Mary Annaise Heglar Correct.
Mary Annaise Heglar So there’s the queen died and there’s this new prime minister. And she doesn’t think that climate change is real or that we should do anything about it. Liz Truss really just doesn’t seem to be on the right side of history. Or even the present. Or the recent past.
Amy Westervelt Just a terrible, terrible person, the absolute worst possible leader for for the UK at this time. They are focused on increasing, you know, oil drilling, trying to get everything they can out of the North Sea as a response to this, you know, gas crisis in Europe. She has multiple key advisors who are not just like known to be climate skeptics, but are like the big league leaders of the climate skeptics.
Mary Annaise Heglar You know, like they’re just just ridiculous.
Amy Westervelt And then she also I mean, she campaigned on this thing that, like, she was going to cut taxes and she has done that. But she’s basically done it in a way where it only really benefits like the literal, like top, you know, 2500 people in the UK.
Mary Annaise Heglar So yeah. Yeah. She’s awful, awful. Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. So that’s terrible. She’s like, kind of coming from Maggie Thatcher, right?
Amy Westervelt Oh, yeah. She’s definitely cut by the same cloth. She also is like to to help lower people’s household expenses. She has said that she’s going to cap energy prices. So that will help with at least, you know, some of people’s skyrocketing energy bills. Because as we heard from Oakeshott recently, those have been going up by many percent every month. So. Yeah. Yes. Elsewhere in in Europe, of course.
Mary Annaise Heglar We’ve got fascism.
Amy Westervelt Fascism is taking hold in Europe.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, it’s not great. Italy got nostalgic for Mussolini and elected their first fascist prime minister since them. Right?
Amy Westervelt Yeah, they sure did. She is a woman.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, okay. Oh, so it’s a feminine fascism?
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Feminist schism. That’s true.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. She is the leader of the Brothers of Italy party. That is the right wing fascist party in in Italy. And she’s anti-immigrant, anti LGBTQ, anti-abortion. They they had a record low voter turnout. So that’s a giant bummer. The very slight silver lining is that her coalition did not get a super majority. So that means that they can’t just, like, change the Constitution or make massive legal changes.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yes.
Amy Westervelt The way that they could if they did have that. But yeah, it’s it’s scary. It’s very.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I don’t know. I just feel like you don’t put a fascist into office and be like, Yeah, but don’t worry, we’ve got these guardrails in place because as we all know how that goes, that doesn’t go the way you think it’s going to go. You start finding out a whole bunch of shit you thought was a law, was a norm. You know, we’ve been there. We were just there. We’re still. They’re just.
Amy Westervelt There. We’re still there.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, exactly. So. Yeah, that’s concerning. And then also in Sweden, they they went on a hard right. Right.
Amy Westervelt Yeah they did. They did. So erm this was really interesting that, that basically, you know the Social Democrats always win in Sweden and they won this time too and that’s fine. However they only got 40% of the government not, you know, more than 50. And part of that is because there’s a smaller, more liberal party that rejected kind of doing a coalition with the Social Democrats, which opened the door for a government formed by the conservative bloc, which only captured about 20% of the vote. But like because of the way the government is structured, there have suddenly got a lot of of power. These are known as Democrats in Sweden, but they’re Nazis. They are a center right populist party that has run on a platform of being tough on crime and immigration. They have a history of being, you know, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-indigenous. They actually came out of a like fully. You know, loud and proud neo-Nazi group.
Mary Annaise Heglar It’s really.
Amy Westervelt Disturbing. It’s really, really disturbing. Oh, and of course, their slogan is Sweden will be great again.
Mary Annaise Heglar What accent was that? He was my.
Amy Westervelt Attempt at a Swedish person speaking.
Mary Annaise Heglar English. You sounded like the Terminator. You sounded like the Terminator. But I was just going to say it. I’m old enough to remember when everybody on the left idolized everything in Europe, especially Sweden and Switzerland. Well, they have this. Why can’t we have this here? And it’s like, yeah, have you noticed they’re all white? And also, you know, I’m old enough to remember when people thought that all the neo-Nazis and Nazis online were just trolling, they realized that they were real people. And that was very recently the whole idea of Don’t be the troll and nobody really means that. And now they’re over here taken over whole continents. So yeah, maybe should take a serious do.
Amy Westervelt You remember like just a few years ago when like people so didn’t take the Nazi threat seriously. Yeah. Doing articles on like the sartorial choices of Nazis and like the haircuts of, like, the new fascists. You know what I mean? Like, it’s so. Yeah, I.
Mary Annaise Heglar Remember the Nazi next door articles, all of that shit, all of it. And I can’t forgive it. Nope.
Amy Westervelt So cannot.
Mary Annaise Heglar Nope. And, you know, we don’t have time to get into it, but Brazil is about to go through another election and might. You know, Jair Bolsonaro got some really horrible ideas about how to hang on to power.
Amy Westervelt So I know it’ll be very interesting to see both what happens in the vote and then if he how he react. How he reacts. Yeah, yeah, yes.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah. All right. So normally we do a billionaire burn, but we’re actually going to burn this billionaire because I think this billionaire is not a billionaire anymore.
Amy Westervelt Right. He has rejected being a billionaire. Yes.
Mary Annaise Heglar All right. So, yeah, be more of like a billionaire. Blurb billionaire, blah, blah, blah. A billionaire or a billionaire or. Bill, was there a blurb? Yeah. All right. So. So.
Amy Westervelt If you have been living under a rock or just don’t read climate Twitter.
Mary Annaise Heglar Or just didn’t.
Amy Westervelt Have shit to do, that’s true. You might not have heard that the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, decided that he did not want to be a billionaire anymore. He created a new trust and a nonprofit that will ensure that the profits that he would normally make from Patagonia are used to fight climate change. So he basically was like, I don’t want to make any money from this company anymore. I want anything that I would have normally made or my family would normally made to go into this trust for for fighting climate change. So he transferred 98% of shares to this newly formed collective. According to GQ, the Spaniards will pay $17.5 million in gift taxes on those donated shares. However, there’s there’s a slight like, you know, maybe a slight, like.
Mary Annaise Heglar Trapdoor.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, like a slight leg. Hold your praise for a moment. Thing. Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, he is more worthy of praise than these really splashy climate billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. And my my favorite thing about Iran is that he’s kind of become it for the islands and Jeff Bezos of the world for quite some time. So he.
Amy Westervelt Has. He really has. So so basically, Bloomberg reported that his family still keeps control of the company and that Chouinard won’t have to pay capital gains taxes, which he would have had to do had he sold the company. However, he’s also not getting the capital gains from.
Mary Annaise Heglar You know, I’m like, well, yeah.
Amy Westervelt But like, that’s kind of the whole point. Like he’s saying, I don’t want this money, so I don’t know. It’s like I feel like people are so jaded and cynical that they, like, saw this and wanted to be like. But he’s still terrible, you know? And I’m like, okay, look, I’m sure that, like, he is not a perfect person, but like, yeah, still a pretty big deal.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt And it’s still like a path that I would love to see more billionaires go down.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, it will be interesting to see if this influences other billionaires who want to have climate cred. You know, like I will be really interested to see like, well, the best way to be a good billionaire is to stop being a billionaire and to give that money away.
Amy Westervelt That’s right.
Mary Annaise Heglar And so this seems like a very good step in that direction.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, it does. Just to compare Microsoft Microsoft founder Bill Gates this year vowed to drop off the world’s richest list because he’d made a $20 billion donation to his philanthropic fund. However, he’s basically been saying that he’s going to give all of his wealth away to.
Mary Annaise Heglar Charity since 2010.
Amy Westervelt And his net worth has more than doubled since then.
Mary Annaise Heglar So, you know.
Amy Westervelt At least Yvonne Chouinard is putting his money where his mouth is. You know, he did it before he told everybody about it, which is is good. Good thing.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar I hope it sets a precedent and I hope it starts a trend. Me too. Me too. Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Still not going to wear Patagonia vest, though.
Mary Annaise Heglar I, I don’t wear a Patagonia thing.
Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, I can’t.
Mary Annaise Heglar They don’t close. I can’t find one that actually fits. They don’t have enough stretch to them.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt But you know what? That’s okay. I still like that they gave their money away.
Mary Annaise Heglar I love that they gave their money away. I love that. So we’re going to actually end this week on a rare bit of good news.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar We’re going to savor this. Hold on to it, because there’s so much other shitty shit in the world.
Amy Westervelt It’s true. It’s true. All right. That’s a good place to leave.
Mary Annaise Heglar Bye bye.
Mary Annaise Heglar Hot take is a Crooked Media production.
Amy Westervelt It’s produced by Ray Peng and mixed and edited by Juels Bradley. Our music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Thimali Kodakara is our consulting producer and our executive producers are Mary Annaise Heglar, Michael Martinez, and me, Amy Westervelt.
Mary Annaise Heglar Special thanks to Sandy Girard, Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin and Charlotte Landes for production support and to Amelia Montooth for digital support.
Amy Westervelt You can follow the show on Twitter at Real Hot Take. Sign up for our newsletter at Hot Take Pod dot com and subscribe to Crooked Media Video Channel at YouTube.com Slash Crooked Media.