Quick Climate Links
From permafrost to spodumene to US-EU-China row to the ROW
Some links before I head off for spring break.
The Energy Transition Show is every other week (is that biweekly or bimonthly?). It’s always wonky, but the most recent one lifted the curtain as to how much deep science is going on in global climate models (or is not in them). The overall point is pretty simple: permafrost is NOT a methane bomb tipping point that will kill us all. But listen for details on, among other topics, Dr. Gustaf Hugelius’s claims that carbon uptake estimates in warming scenarios for the polar regions are over-estimated because they ignore nitrogen-cycle / nutrient-based limitations on plant growth.
Catalyst with Shayle Kahn is similarly wonky but from a climate-tech venture/business angle. Switching from the permafrost directly to US Treasury Department guidance on the line between strategic minerals and battery components on my bike commute into the office was a lot. But the details of these legal distinctions are the basis for the big geopolitical/geoeconomic takes that follow.
Tooze. One literally could have a full time job just reading and condensing Adam Tooze’s writings, but the second “Carbon Note” from his substack accompanied an FT column and a separate Foreign Policy column on the US-EU row over clean energy subsidies and protectionism.
I don’t have time to comment on all of the arguments here, and the “narcissism of small differences” is mainly about conflict perceptions of the proper legal regimes for moving forward toward shared climate goals between the US and Europe. But there’s also a bit of acknowledgement that the emissions here, especially in Europe, are small potatoes (intentional analogy to agriculture, which Tooze notes is chronically under-examined as a source of carbon-forcing emissions).
The very sharp Robinson Meyer has a related NYT op-ed with the hook of a #slatepitch: trade wars are maybe good for the climate. But the substance covers similar ground to Tooze and the analysis connects back to excellent political science research, which is always gratifying for this social scientist. What’s missing in this analysis of EU-US-China-East Asia is the rest of the world. The ROW matters because it’s where a lot of people live, work, play, breathe, drive, get married, have children, etc. The global north often overlooks the global south, and the industrial policy discussions/debates between the US and EU in particular do not seem like there is much attention to what Indonesians, Nigerians, or even Brazilians might think. [Also, so much of this fight is about EVs, when EVs are really only a slice of the decarbonization pie, and maybe not even that big of one.]
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