Data Visualization Course

10 June, 2021

Are you a student interested in data analysis and sustainability? Or maybe you know some students interested in these things?

Then check this out: my former student Nina Otter, who now teaches at UCLA and Leipzig, is offering a short course on how to analyze and present data using modern methods like topological data analysis—with sustainable fishing as an example!

Students who apply before June 15 have a chance to learn a lot of cool stuff and get paid for it!

Call for Applications

We are advertising the following bootcamp, which will take place remotely on 22-25 June 2021.

If you are interested in participating, please apply here:

FishEthoBase data visualisation bootcamp: this is a 4-day bootcamp, organised by the DeMoS Institute, whose aim is to study ways to visualise scores and criteria from a fish ethology database. The database (http://fishethobase.net/) is an initiative led by the non-profits fair-fish international (http://www.fair-fish.net/what/) and FishEthoGroup (https://fishethogroup.net/). The database is publicly accessible, it stores all currently available ethological knowledge on fish, with a specific focus on species farmed in aquacultures, with the goal of improving the welfare of fish.

The bootcamp will take place virtually on 22-25 June 2021, and will involve a maximum of eight students selected through an open call during the first half of June. The students will be guided by researchers in statistics and topological data analysis. During the first day of the bootcamp there will be talks given by researchers from FishEthoBase, as well as from the mentors. The next three days will be devoted to focused work in groups, with each day starting and ending with short presentations given by students about the progress of their work; after the presentations there will also be time for feedback and discussions from FishEthoBase researchers, and the mentors. Towards the end of August there will be a 2-hour follow-up meeting to discuss the implementation of the results from the bootcamp.

Target audience: we encourage applications from advanced undergraduate, master, and PhD students from a variety of backgrounds, including, but not limited to, computer science, mathematics, statistics, data analysis, computational biology, maritime sciences, and zoology.

Inclusivity: we encourage especially students from underrepresented groups to apply to this bootcamp.

Remuneration: The students who will be selected to participate in the bootcamp will be remunerated with a salary of 1400 euros.

When: 22-25 June 2021, approximately 11-18 CET each day

Where: remotely, on Zoom

I think it’s really cool that Nina Otter has started the DeMoS Institute. Here is the basic idea:

The institute carries out research on topics related to anti-democratic tendencies in our society, as well as on meta-scientific questions on how to make the scientific system more democratic. We believe that research must be done in the presence of those who bear their consequences. Therefore, we perform our research while at the same time implementing directly practices that promote inclusivity, interdisciplinarity, and in active engagement with society at large.


Offshore Wind Power in the US

30 March, 2021

More good news about wind power! Earlier this month I mentioned progress on Vineyard Wind, a planned offshore wind farm that should generate 800 megawatts when it’s finally running. Now the Biden adminstration has begun a broader initiative. They want to get sixteen construction plans for offshore wind worked out by 2025, for 19 gigawatts of wind power. And their bigger goal is 30 gigawatts of wind power by 2030.

• Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Biden administration launches major push to expand offshore wind power, Washington Post, 29 March 2021.

The White House on Monday detailed an ambitious plan to expand wind farms along the East Coast and jump-start the country’s nascent offshore wind industry, saying it hoped to trigger a massive clean-energy effort in the fight against climate change.

The plan would generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade — enough to power more than 10 million American homes and cut 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. To accomplish that, the Biden administration said, it would speed permitting for projects off the East Coast, invest in research and development, provide low-interest loans to industry and fund changes to U.S. ports.

“We are ready to rock-and-roll,” national climate adviser Gina McCarthy told reporters in a phone call Monday. She framed the effort as being as much about jobs as about clean energy. Offshore wind power will generate “thousands of good-paying union jobs. This is all about creating great jobs in the ocean and in our port cities and in our heartland,” she said.

The initiative represents a major stretch for the United States. The country has only one offshore wind project online at this time, generating 30 megawatts, off Rhode Island.

Administration officials said they would speed up offshore wind development by setting concrete deadlines for reviewing and approving permit applications; establish a new wind energy area in the waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast; invest $230 million to upgrade U.S. ports; and provide $3 billion in potential loans for the offshore wind industry through the Energy Department.

The program also instructs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to share data with Orsted, a Danish offshore wind development firm, about the U.S. waters where it holds leases. NOAA will grant $1 million to help study the impact of offshore wind operations on fishing operators as well as coastal communities.

The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, a joint project of the Energy Department and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, will give $8 million in research grants to 15 offshore wind research and development projects.

[….]

Although offshore wind represents the fastest-growing sector in renewable power, the country remains far behind Europe.

Europe already has 24 gigawatts of operational capacity, and Britain alone aims to have 40 gigawatts online by 2030, said Vegard Wiik Vollset, vice president of renewable energy at Rystad Energy, which analyzes the energy sector.

“Compared to Europe, the U.S. is very much in its infancy,” he said.

But wind power is poised to take off along the East Coast, with recent commitments from several states — Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia — to buy at least 25,000 megawatts of offshore electricity by 2035, according to the American Clean Power Association.

As part of Monday’s announcement, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will start preparing an environmental-impact statement for Ocean Wind, a New Jersey project that has 1,100 megawatts of capacity.


Mathematics in the 21st Century

16 March, 2021

I’m giving a talk in the Topos Institute Colloquium on Thursday March 25, 2021 at 18:00 UTC. That’s 11:00 am Pacific Time.

I’ll say a bit about the developments we might expect if mathematicians could live happily in an ivory tower and never come down for the rest of the century. But my real focus will be on how math will interact with the world outside mathematics.

Mathematics in the 21st Century

Abstract. The climate crisis is part of a bigger transformation in which humanity realizes that the Earth is a finite system and that no physical quantity can grow exponentially forever. This transformation may affect mathematics—and be affected by it—just as dramatically as the agricultural and industrial revolutions. After a review of the problems, we discuss how mathematicians can help make this transformation a bit easier, and some ways in which mathematics may change.

You can see my slides here, and click on links in dark brown for more information. You can watch the talk on YouTube here, either live or recorded later:

You can also watch the talk live on Zoom. Only Zoom lets you ask questions. The password for Zoom can be found on the Topos Institute Colloquium website.


Theoretical Physics in the 21st Century

1 March, 2021

I gave a talk at the Zürich Theoretical Physics Colloquium for Sustainability Week 2021. I was excited to get a chance to speak both about the future of theoretical physics and the climate crisis.

You can see a video of my talk, and also my slides: links in blue on my slides lead to more information.

Title: Theoretical Physics in the 21st Century.

Time: Monday, 8 March 2021, 15:45 UTC (that is, Greenwich Mean Time).

Abstract: The 20th century was the century of physics. What about the 21st? Though progress on some old problems is frustratingly slow, exciting new questions are emerging in condensed matter physics, nonequilibrium thermodynamics and other fields. And most of all, the 21st century is the dawn of the Anthropocene, in which we will adapt to the realities of life on a finite-​sized planet. How can physicists help here?

Hosts: Niklas Beisert, Anna Knörr.


The Economics of Biodiversity

24 February, 2021

 

One problem with the Anthropocene is that our economic systems undervalue forms of “natural capital” for which there are no markets, or poorly developed markets. I’m talking about things like clean air, forests, wetlands, oceans… and biodiversity. For many of these things the price is zero or even negative, due to government subsidies.

So, we’ll burn through these things recklessly until the ensuing disasters wake us up. We’re like a family trying to earn more cash by selling off the windows and doors of our house. It may work for a while. But winter is coming.

Partha Dasgupta, an economist at the the University of Cambridge, has been studying this. In 2019, the UK government commissioned him to lead an independent, global review of the economics of biodiversity. It came out this month at an event hosted by the Royal Society and attended by the Prince of Wales, Boris Johnson and David Attenborough. Here it is:

The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review.

The full report is 610 pages long. It’s very clear; I’m reading it and will say more about it here. There’s also a 103-page version and a 10-page ‘headline’ version, but the headlines leave out the really fun stuff: the economic analyses, the differential equations, and so on.

This came out at a good time for me, because I’ve recently been asked to give a talk about the economics of the Anthropocene. I seem to have reached the age where people ask me to give talks about practically anything I’ve ever blogged about. I need a lot of help on the economics, since I have intuitions but no framework to organize them. The Dasgupta Review provides a framework, and since I don’t have a lot of time before my talk, I plan to lean on it rather heavily.

Here’s the introduction, by David Attenborough. It’s easy to read. But it does not get into any of the economics, so please don’t judge the cake by its frosting.

We are facing a global crisis. We are totally dependent upon the natural world. It supplies us with every oxygen-laden breath we take and every mouthful of food we eat. But we are currently damaging it so profoundly that many of its natural systems are now on the verge of breakdown.

Every other animal living on this planet, of course, is similarly dependent. But in one crucial way, we are different. We can change not just the numbers, but the very anatomy of the animals and plants that live around us. We acquired that ability, doubtless almost unconsciously, some ten thousand years ago, when we had ceased wandering and built settlements for ourselves. It was then that we started to modify other animals and plants.

At first, doubtless, we did so unintentionally. We collected the kinds of seeds that we wanted to eat and took them back to our houses. Some doubtless fell to the ground and sprouted the following season. So over generations, we became farmers. We domesticated animals in a similar way. We brought back the young of those we had hunted, reared them in our settlements and ultimately bred them there. Over many generations, this changed both the bodies and ultimately the characters of the animals on which we depend.

We are now so mechanically ingenious that we are able to destroy a rainforest, the most species-rich ecosystem that has ever existed, and replace it with plantations of a single species in order to feed burgeoning human populations on the other side of the world. No single species in the whole history of life has ever been so successful or so dominant.

Now we are plundering every corner of the world, apparently neither knowing or caring what the consequences might be. Each nation is doing so within its own territories. Those with lands bordering the sea fish not only in their offshore waters but in parts of the ocean so far from land that no single nation can claim them. So now we are stripping every part of both the land and the sea in order to feed our ever-increasing numbers.

How has the natural world managed to survive this unrelenting ever-increasing onslaught by a single species? The answer of course, is that many animals have not been able to do so. When Europeans first arrived in southern Africa they found immense herds of antelope and zebra. These are now gone and vast cities stand in their stead. In North America, the passenger pigeon once flourished in such vast flocks that when they migrated, they darkened the skies from horizon to horizon and took days to pass. So they were hunted without restraint. Today, that species is extinct. Many others that lived in less dramatic and visible ways simply disappeared without the knowledge of most people worldwide and were mourned only by a few naturalists.

Nonetheless, in spite of these assaults, the biodiversity of the world is still immense. And therein lies the strength that has enabled much of its wildlife to survive until now. Economists understand the wisdom of spreading their investments across a wide range of activities. It enables them to withstand disasters that may strike any one particular asset. The same is true in the natural world. If conditions change, either climatically or as a consequence of a new development in the never-ending competition between species, the ecosystem as a whole is able to maintain its vigour.

But consider the following facts. Today, we ourselves, together with the livestock we rear for food, constitute 96% of the mass of all mammals on the planet. Only 4% is everything else – from elephants to badgers, from moose to monkeys. And 70% of all birds alive at this moment are poultry – mostly chickens for us to eat. We are destroying biodiversity, the very characteristic that until recently enabled the natural world to flourish so abundantly. If we continue this damage, whole ecosystems will collapse. That is now a real risk.

Putting things right will take collaborative action by every nation on earth. It will require international agreements to change our ways. Each ecosystem has its own vulnerabilities and requires its own solutions. There has to be a universally shared understanding of how these systems work, and how those that have been damaged can be brought back to health.

This comprehensive, detailed and immensely important report is grounded in that understanding. It explains how we have come to create these problems and the actions we must take to solve them. It then provides a map for navigating a path towards the restoration of our planet’s biodiversity.
Economics is a discipline that shapes decisions of the utmost consequence, and so matters to us all. The Dasgupta Review at last puts biodiversity at its core and provides the compass that we urgently need. In doing so, it shows us how, by bringing economics and ecology together, we can help save the natural world at what may be the last minute – and in doing so, save ourselves.


US Environmental Policy (Part 4)

28 January, 2021

Biden’s executive orders are now going beyond revoking those of the previous president. He may really take climate change seriously. It’s starting to scare some people.

• Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, As Biden vows monumental action on climate change, a fight with the fossil fuel industry has only begun, Washington Post, 27 January 2021.

Joe Biden had long promised to become the climate president, and on Wednesday he detailed far-ranging plans to shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels, create millions of jobs in renewable energy, and conserve vast swaths of public lands and water.

“This is not a time for small measures,” Biden said at the White House, adding that the nation had already wasted precious years as it delayed in dealing with the climate crisis.

But as he detailed his plans, the gas, oil and coal industries were already mobilizing on all fronts. From an oil patch in Alaska to state capitals to the halls of Congress, the industries and their allies are aiming to slow Biden’s unprecedented push for climate action and keep profits from fossil fuels flowing. Republican attorneys general from six states wrote to the new president, warning him not to overstep his authority. GOP lawmakers attacked his executive orders as “job killers.” And the petroleum industry revived television ads promoting drilling on federal lands.

Industry executives expressed dismay at the scope, speed and direction in which Biden is heading, saying he is going much further than President Barack Obama ever did, while environmentalists said the danger that Earth faces is far more dire now than it appeared during Obama’s tenure and requires an extraordinary response. Last year essentially tied with 2016 as the hottest year ever recorded, and scientists say the planet is speeding toward irreversible damage.

In barely a week in office, Biden has moved to rejoin the Paris climate accord, halt the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, impose new limits on oil and gas production, and mandate climate change as a priority across every federal agency.

This article spells out the forthcoming battle in a bit more detail:

• Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, The battle lines are forming in Biden’s climate push, New York Times, 26 January, 2020.

As President Biden prepares on Wednesday to open an ambitious effort to confront climate change, powerful and surprising forces are arrayed at his back.

Automakers are coming to accept that much higher fuel economy standards are their future; large oil and gas companies have said some curbs on greenhouse pollution lifted by former President Donald J. Trump should be reimposed; shareholders are demanding corporations acknowledge and prepare for a warmer, more volatile future, and a youth movement is driving the Democratic Party to go big to confront the issue.

But what may well stand in the president’s way is political intransigence from senators from fossil-fuel states in both parties. An evenly divided Senate has given enormous power to any single senator, and one in particular, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who will lead the Senate Energy Committee and who came to the Senate as a defender of his state’s coal industry.

Today’s executive order raises the stakes:

Executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis.  We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents.  Domestic action must go hand in hand with United States international leadership, aimed at significantly enhancing global action.  Together, we must listen to science and meet the moment.

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

PART I — PUTTING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT THE CENTER OF UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Section 101.  Policy.  United States international engagement to address climate change — which has become a climate crisis — is more necessary and urgent than ever.  The scientific community has made clear that the scale and speed of necessary action is greater than previously believed.  There is little time left to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory.  Responding to the climate crisis will require both significant short-term global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and net-zero global emissions by mid-century or before.

It is the policy of my Administration that climate considerations shall be an essential element of United States foreign policy and national security.  The United States will work with other countries and partners, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.  The United States will also move quickly to build resilience, both at home and abroad, against the impacts of climate change that are already manifest and will continue to intensify according to current trajectories.

Sec. 102.  Purpose.  This order builds on and reaffirms actions my Administration has already taken to place the climate crisis at the forefront of this Nation’s foreign policy and national security planning, including submitting the United States instrument of acceptance to rejoin the Paris Agreement.  In implementing — and building upon — the Paris Agreement’s three overarching objectives (a safe global temperature, increased climate resilience, and financial flows aligned with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate‑resilient development), the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global climate ambition to meet the climate challenge.  In this regard:

(a)  I will host an early Leaders’ Climate Summit aimed at raising climate ambition and making a positive contribution to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) and beyond. 

(b)  The United States will reconvene the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, beginning with the Leaders’ Climate Summit.  In cooperation with the members of that Forum, as well as with other partners as appropriate, the United States will pursue green recovery efforts, initiatives to advance the clean energy transition, sectoral decarbonization, and alignment of financial flows with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including with respect to coal financing, nature-based solutions, and solutions to other climate-related challenges.

(c)  I have created a new Presidentially appointed position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, to elevate the issue of climate change and underscore the commitment my Administration will make toward addressing it.  

(d)  Recognizing that climate change affects a wide range of subjects, it will be a United States priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora, including the Group of Seven (G7), the Group of Twenty (G20), and fora that address clean energy, aviation, shipping, the Arctic, the ocean, sustainable development, migration, and other relevant topics.  The Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and others, as appropriate, are encouraged to promote innovative approaches, including international multi-stakeholder initiatives.  In addition, my Administration will work in partnership with States, localities, Tribes, territories, and other United States stakeholders to advance United States climate diplomacy.

(e)  The United States will immediately begin the process of developing its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement.  The process will include analysis and input from relevant executive departments and agencies (agencies), as well as appropriate outreach to domestic stakeholders.  The United States will aim to submit its nationally determined contribution in advance of the Leaders’ Climate Summit.

(f)  The United States will also immediately begin to develop a climate finance plan, making strategic use of multilateral and bilateral channels and institutions, to assist developing countries in implementing ambitious emissions reduction measures, protecting critical ecosystems, building resilience against the impacts of climate change, and promoting the flow of capital toward climate-aligned investments and away from high-carbon investments.  The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, shall lead a process to develop this plan, with the participation of the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the head of any other agency providing foreign assistance and development financing, as appropriate.  The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury shall submit the plan to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, within 90 days of the date of this order.

(g)  The Secretary of the Treasury shall:

(i)    ensure that the United States is present and engaged in relevant international fora and institutions that are working on the management of climate-related financial risks;

(ii)   develop a strategy for how the voice and vote of the United States can be used in international financial institutions, including the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, to promote financing programs, economic stimulus packages, and debt relief initiatives that are aligned with and support the goals of the Paris Agreement; and

(iii)  develop, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, the Administrator of USAID, and the Chief Executive Officer of the DFC, a plan for promoting the protection of the Amazon rainforest and other critical ecosystems that serve as global carbon sinks, including through market-based mechanisms.

(h)  The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Energy shall work together and with the Export–Import Bank of the United States, the Chief Executive Officer of the DFC, and the heads of other agencies and partners, as appropriate, to identify steps through which the United States can promote ending international financing of carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy while simultaneously advancing sustainable development and a green recovery, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

(i)  The Secretary of Energy, in cooperation with the Secretary of State and the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, shall identify steps through which the United States can intensify international collaborations to drive innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies, which are critical for climate protection.

(j)  The Secretary of State shall prepare, within 60 days of the date of this order, a transmittal package seeking the Senate’s advice and consent to ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, regarding the phasedown of the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons.

Sec. 103.  Prioritizing Climate in Foreign Policy and National Security.  To ensure that climate change considerations are central to United States foreign policy and national security:

(a)  Agencies that engage in extensive international work shall develop, in coordination with the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, within 90 days of the date of this order, strategies and implementation plans for integrating climate considerations into their international work, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.  These strategies and plans should include an assessment of:

(i)    climate impacts relevant to broad agency strategies in particular countries or regions;

(ii)   climate impacts on their agency-managed infrastructure abroad (e.g., embassies, military installations), without prejudice to existing requirements regarding assessment of such infrastructure;

(iii)  how the agency intends to manage such impacts or incorporate risk mitigation into its installation master plans; and

(iv)   how the agency’s international work, including partner engagement, can contribute to addressing the climate crisis.

(b)  The Director of National Intelligence shall prepare, within 120 days of the date of this order, a National Intelligence Estimate on the national and economic security impacts of climate change.

(c)  The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the  Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the heads of other agencies as appropriate, shall develop and submit to the President, within 120 days of the date of this order, an analysis of the security implications of climate change (Climate Risk Analysis) that can be incorporated into modeling, simulation, war-gaming, and other analyses.

(d)  The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall consider the security implications of climate change, including any relevant information from the Climate Risk Analysis described in subsection (c) of this section, in developing the National Defense Strategy, Defense Planning Guidance, Chairman’s Risk Assessment, and other relevant strategy, planning, and programming documents and processes.  Starting in January 2022, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall provide an annual update, through the National Security Council, on the progress made in incorporating the security implications of climate change into these documents and processes.

(e)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall consider the implications of climate change in the Arctic, along our Nation’s borders, and to National Critical Functions, including any relevant information from the Climate Risk Analysis described in subsection (c) of this section, in developing relevant strategy, planning, and programming documents and processes.  Starting in January 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide an annual update, through the National Security Council, on the progress made in incorporating the homeland security implications of climate change into these documents and processes.

Sec. 104.  Reinstatement.  The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security), is hereby reinstated. 

PART II — TAKING A GOVERNMENT-WIDE APPROACH TO THE CLIMATE CRISIS

Sec. 201.  Policy.  Even as our Nation emerges from profound public health and economic crises borne of a pandemic, we face a climate crisis that threatens our people and communities, public health and economy, and, starkly, our ability to live on planet Earth.  Despite the peril that is already evident, there is promise in the solutions — opportunities to create well-paying union jobs to build a modern and sustainable infrastructure, deliver an equitable, clean energy future, and put the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050.

We must listen to science — and act.  We must strengthen our clean air and water protections.  We must hold polluters accountable for their actions.  We must deliver environmental justice in communities all across America.  The Federal Government must drive assessment, disclosure, and mitigation of climate pollution and climate-related risks in every sector of our economy, marshaling the creativity, courage, and capital necessary to make our Nation resilient in the face of this threat.  Together, we must combat the climate crisis with bold, progressive action that combines the full capacity of the Federal Government with efforts from every corner of our Nation, every level of government, and every sector of our economy. 

It is the policy of my Administration to organize and deploy the full capacity of its agencies to combat the climate crisis to implement a Government-wide approach that reduces climate pollution in every sector of the economy; increases resilience to the impacts of climate change; protects public health; conserves our lands, waters, and biodiversity; delivers environmental justice; and spurs well-paying union jobs and economic growth, especially through innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure.  Successfully meeting these challenges will require the Federal Government to pursue such a coordinated approach from planning to implementation, coupled with substantive engagement by stakeholders, including State, local, and Tribal governments.

Sec. 202.  White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.  There is hereby established the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy (Climate Policy Office) within the Executive Office of the President, which shall coordinate the policy-making process with respect to domestic climate-policy issues; coordinate domestic climate-policy advice to the President; ensure that domestic climate-policy decisions and programs are consistent with the President’s stated goals and that those goals are being effectively pursued; and monitor implementation of the President’s domestic climate-policy agenda.  The Climate Policy Office shall have a staff headed by the Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor (National Climate Advisor) and shall include the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Climate Advisor.  The Climate Policy Office shall have such staff and other assistance as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this order, subject to the availability of appropriations, and may work with established or ad hoc committees or interagency groups.  All agencies shall cooperate with the Climate Policy Office and provide such information, support, and assistance to the Climate Policy Office as it may request, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

Sec.203.  National Climate Task Force.  There is hereby established a National Climate Task Force (Task Force).  The Task Force shall be chaired by the National Climate Advisor.

(a)  Membership.  The Task Force shall consist of the following additional members:

(i)      the Secretary of the Treasury;

(ii)     the Secretary of Defense;

(iii)    the Attorney General;

(iv)     the Secretary of the Interior;

(v)      the Secretary of Agriculture;

(vi)     the Secretary of Commerce;

(vii)    the Secretary of Labor;

(viii)   the Secretary of Health and Human Services;

(ix)     the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;

(x)      the Secretary of Transportation;

(xi)     the Secretary of Energy;

(xii)    the Secretary of Homeland Security;

(xiii)   the Administrator of General Services;

(xiv)    the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality;

(xv)     the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;

(xvi)    the Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

(xvii)   the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy;

(xviii)  the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy;

(xix)    the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs;

(xx)     the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and

(xxi)    the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

(b)  Mission and Work.  The Task Force shall facilitate the organization and deployment of a Government-wide approach to combat the climate crisis.  This Task Force shall facilitate planning and implementation of key Federal actions to reduce climate pollution; increase resilience to the impacts of climate change; protect public health; conserve our lands, waters, oceans, and biodiversity; deliver environmental justice; and spur well-paying union jobs and economic growth.  As necessary and appropriate, members of the Task Force will engage on these matters with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; workers and communities; and leaders across the various sectors of our economy. 

(c)  Prioritizing Actions.  To the extent permitted by law, Task Force members shall prioritize action on climate change in their policy-making and budget processes, in their contracting and procurement, and in their engagement with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; workers and communities; and leaders across all the sectors of our economy.

USE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S BUYING POWER AND REAL PROPERTY AND ASSET MANAGEMENT

Sec. 204.  Policy.  It is the policy of my Administration to lead the Nation’s effort to combat the climate crisis by example — specifically, by aligning the management of Federal procurement and real property, public lands and waters, and financial programs to support robust climate action.  By providing an immediate, clear, and stable source of product demand, increased transparency and data, and robust standards for the market, my Administration will help to catalyze private sector investment into, and accelerate the advancement of America’s industrial capacity to supply, domestic clean energy, buildings, vehicles, and other necessary products and materials.

Sec. 205.  Federal Clean Electricity and Vehicle Procurement Strategy.  (a)  The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Administrator of General Services, and the Director of the Office and Management and Budget, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Energy, and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall assist the National Climate Advisor, through the Task Force established in section 203 of this order, in developing a comprehensive plan to create good jobs and stimulate clean energy industries by revitalizing the Federal Government’s sustainability efforts.

(b)  The plan shall aim to use, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, all available procurement authorities to achieve or facilitate:

(i)   a carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035; and

(ii)  clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets, including vehicles of the United States Postal Service.

(c)  If necessary, the plan shall recommend any additional legislation needed to accomplish these objectives.

(d)  The plan shall also aim to ensure that the United States retains the union jobs integral to and involved in running and maintaining clean and zero-emission fleets, while spurring the creation of union jobs in the manufacture of those new vehicles.  The plan shall be submitted to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order.

Sec. 206.  Procurement Standards.  Consistent with the Executive Order of January 25, 2021, entitled, “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers,” agencies shall adhere to the requirements of the Made in America Laws in making clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean energy procurement decisions.  Agencies shall, consistent with applicable law, apply and enforce the Davis-Bacon Act and prevailing wage and benefit requirements.  The Secretary of Labor shall take steps to update prevailing wage requirements.  The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall consider additional administrative steps and guidance to assist the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council in developing regulatory amendments to promote increased contractor attention on reduced carbon emission and Federal sustainability.  

Sec. 207.  Renewable Energy on Public Lands and in Offshore Waters.  The Secretary of the Interior shall review siting and permitting processes on public lands and in offshore waters to identify to the Task Force steps that can be taken, consistent with applicable law, to increase renewable energy production on those lands and in those waters, with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030 while ensuring robust protection for our lands, waters, and biodiversity and creating good jobs.  In conducting this review, the Secretary of the Interior shall consult, as appropriate, with the heads of relevant agencies, including the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Secretary of Energy, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, State and Tribal authorities, project developers, and other interested parties.  The Secretary of the Interior shall engage with Tribal authorities regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources on Tribal lands.

Sec. 208.  Oil and Natural Gas Development on Public Lands and in Offshore Waters.  To the extent consistent with applicable law,the Secretary of the Interior shall pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices in light of the Secretary of the Interior’s broad stewardship responsibilities over the public lands and in offshore waters, including potential climate and other impacts associated with oil and gas activities on public lands or in offshore waters.  The Secretary of the Interior shall complete that review in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Secretary of Energy.  In conducting this analysis, and to the extent consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of the Interior shall consider whether to adjust royalties associated with coal, oil, and gas resources extracted from public lands and offshore waters, or take other appropriate action, to account for corresponding climate costs.

Sec. 209.  Fossil Fuel Subsidies.  The heads of agencies shall identify for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the National Climate Advisor any fossil fuel subsidies provided by their respective agencies, and then take steps to ensure that, to the extent consistent with applicable law, Federal funding is not directly subsidizing fossil fuels.  The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall seek, in coordination with the heads of agencies and the National Climate Advisor, to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from the budget request for Fiscal Year 2022 and thereafter.

Sec. 210.  Clean Energy in Financial Management.  The heads of agencies shall identify opportunities for Federal funding to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the National Climate Advisor, and then take steps to ensure that, to the extent consistent with applicable law, Federal funding is used to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure.  The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with agency heads and the National Climate Advisor, shall seek to prioritize such investments in the President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2022 and thereafter.

     Sec. 211.  Climate Action Plans and Data and Information Products to Improve Adaptation and Increase Resilience.  (a)  The head of each agency shall submit a draft action plan to the Task Force and the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer within 120 days of the date of this order that describes steps the agency can take with regard to its facilities and operations to bolster adaptation and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change.  Action plans should, among other things, describe the agency’s climate vulnerabilities and describe the agency’s plan to use the power of procurement to increase the energy and water efficiency of United States Government installations, buildings, and facilities and ensure they are climate-ready.  Agencies shall consider the feasibility of using the purchasing power of the Federal Government to drive innovation, and shall seek to increase the Federal Government’s resilience against supply chain disruptions.  Such disruptions put the Nation’s manufacturing sector at risk, as well as consumer access to critical goods and services.  Agencies shall make their action plans public, and post them on the agency website, to the extent consistent with applicable law.

(b)  Within 30 days of an agency’s submission of an action plan, the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, shall review the plan to assess its consistency with the policy set forth in section 204 of this order and the priorities issued by the Office of Management and Budget.

(c)  After submitting an initial action plan, the head of each agency shall submit to the Task Force and Federal Chief Sustainability Officer progress reports annually on the status of implementation efforts.  Agencies shall make progress reports public and post them on the agency website, to the extent consistent with applicable law.  The heads of agencies shall assign their respective agency Chief Sustainability Officer the authority to perform duties relating to implementation of this order within the agency, to the extent consistent with applicable law.

(d)  To assist agencies and State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in coordination with the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, shall provide to the Task Force a report on ways to expand and improve climate forecast capabilities and information products for the public.  In addition, the Secretary of the Interior and the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, in their capacities as the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, shall assess and provide to the Task Force a report on the potential development of a consolidated Federal geographic mapping service that can facilitate public access to climate-related information that will assist Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments in climate planning and resilience activities.

EMPOWERING WORKERS THROUGH REBUILDING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE FOR A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY

     Sec. 212.  Policy.  This Nation needs millions of construction, manufacturing, engineering, and skilled-trades workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy.  These jobs will create opportunities for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and communities.  Such jobs will bring opportunity to communities too often left behind — places that have suffered as a result of economic shifts and places that have suffered the most from persistent pollution, including low-income rural and urban communities, communities of color, and Native communities. 

     Sec. 213.  Sustainable Infrastructure.  (a)  The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall take steps, consistent with applicable law, to ensure that Federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution, and to require that Federal permitting decisions consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  In addition, they shall review, and report to the National Climate Advisor on, siting and permitting processes, including those in progress under the auspices of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, and identify steps that can be taken, consistent with applicable law, to accelerate the deployment of clean energy and transmission projects in an environmentally stable manner.

     (b)  Agency heads conducting infrastructure reviews shall, as appropriate, consult from an early stage with State, local, and Tribal officials involved in permitting or authorizing proposed infrastructure projects to develop efficient timelines for decision-making that are appropriate given the complexities of proposed projects.

EMPOWERING WORKERS BY ADVANCING CONSERVATION, AGRICULTURE, AND REFORESTATION

     Sec. 214.  Policy.  It is the policy of my Administration to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving our public lands and waters.  The Federal Government must protect America’s natural treasures, increase reforestation, improve access to recreation, and increase resilience to wildfires and storms, while creating well-paying union jobs for more Americans, including more opportunities for women and people of color in occupations where they are underrepresented.  America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels.  Coastal communities have an essential role to play in mitigating climate change and strengthening resilience by protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, seagrasses, coral and oyster reefs, and mangrove and kelp forests, to protect vulnerable coastlines, sequester carbon, and support biodiversity and fisheries.

     Sec. 215.  Civilian Climate Corps.  In furtherance of the policy set forth in section 214 of this order, the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the Secretary of Agriculture and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit a strategy to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order for creating a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative, within existing appropriations, to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.  The initiative shall aim to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.

     Sec. 216.  Conserving Our Nation’s Lands and Waters.  (a)  The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit a report to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order recommending steps that the United States should take, working with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders, to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.

(i)   The Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall, as appropriate, solicit input from State, local, Tribal, and territorial officials, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders in identifying strategies that will encourage broad participation in the goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.

(ii)  The report shall propose guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation, and it also shall establish mechanisms to measure progress toward the 30-percent goal.  The Secretary of the Interior shall subsequently submit annual reports to the Task Force to monitor progress.

(b)  The Secretary of Agriculture shall:

(i)   initiate efforts in the first 60 days from the date of this order to collect input from Tribes, farmers, ranchers, forest owners, conservation groups, firefighters, and other stakeholders on how to best use Department of Agriculture programs, funding and financing capacities, and other authorities, and how to encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices that decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change and result in additional, measurable, and verifiable carbon reductions and sequestration and that source sustainable bioproducts and fuels; and

(ii)  submit to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order a report making recommendations for an agricultural and forestry climate strategy.

     (c)  The Secretary of Commerce, through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shall initiate efforts in the first 60 days from the date of this order to collect input from fishermen, regional ocean councils, fishery management councils, scientists, and other stakeholders on how to make fisheries and protected resources more resilient to climate change, including changes in management and conservation measures, and improvements in science, monitoring, and cooperative research.

EMPOWERING WORKERS THROUGH REVITALIZING ENERGY COMMUNITIES

     Sec. 217.  Policy.  It is the policy of my Administration to improve air and water quality and to create well-paying union jobs and more opportunities for women and people of color in hard-hit communities, including rural communities, while reducing methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.  Mining and power plant workers drove the industrial revolution and the economic growth that followed, and have been essential to the growth of the United States.  As the Nation shifts to a clean energy economy, Federal leadership is essential to foster economic revitalization of and investment in these communities, ensure the creation of good jobs that provide a choice to join a union, and secure the benefits that have been earned by workers.

     Such work should include projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety.  Plugging leaks in oil and gas wells and reclaiming abandoned mine land can create well-paying union jobs in coal, oil, and gas communities while restoring natural assets, revitalizing recreation economies, and curbing methane emissions.  In addition, such work should include efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, such as brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.  Federal agencies should therefore coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities, and achieve substantial reductions of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector as quickly as possible.

     Sec. 218.  Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic RevitalizationThere is hereby established an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Interagency Working Group).  The National Climate Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy shall serve as Co-Chairs of the Interagency Working Group.

(a)   Membership.  The Interagency Working Group shall consist of the following additional members:

(i)     the Secretary of the Treasury;

(ii)    the Secretary of the Interior;

(iii)   the Secretary of Agriculture;

(iv)    the Secretary of Commerce;

(v)     the Secretary of Labor;

(vi)    the Secretary of Health and Human Services;

(vii)   the Secretary of Transportation;

(viii)  the Secretary of Energy;

(ix)    the Secretary of Education;

(x)     the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;

(xi)    the Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

(xii)   the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Director of the Domestic Policy Council; and

(xiii)  the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

(b)  Mission and Work. 

(i)   The Interagency Working Group shall coordinate the identification and delivery of Federal resources to revitalize the economies of coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities; develop strategies to implement the policy set forth in section 217 of this order and for economic and social recovery; assess opportunities to ensure benefits and protections for coal and power plant workers; and submit reports to the National Climate Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy on a regular basis on the progress of the revitalization effort.

(ii)  As part of this effort, within 60 days of the date of this order, the Interagency Working Group shall submit a report to the President describing all mechanisms, consistent with applicable law, to prioritize grantmaking, Federal loan programs, technical assistance, financing, procurement, or other existing programs to support and revitalize the economies of coal and power plant communities, and providing recommendations for action consistent with the goals of the Interagency Working Group.

(c)  Consultation.  Consistent with the objectives set out in this order and in accordance with applicable law, the Interagency Working Group shall seek the views of State, local, and Tribal officials; unions; environmental justice organizations; community groups; and other persons it identifies who may have perspectives on the mission of the Interagency Working Group.

(d)  Administration.  The Interagency Working Group shall be housed within the Department of Energy.  The Chairs shall convene regular meetings of the Interagency Working Group, determine its agenda, and direct its work.  The Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Chairs, shall designate an Executive Director of the Interagency Working Group, who shall coordinate the work of the Interagency Working Group and head any staff assigned to the Interagency Working Group.

(e)  Officers.  To facilitate the work of the Interagency Working Group, the head of each agency listed in subsection (a) of this section shall assign a designated official within the agency the authority to represent the agency on the Interagency Working Group and perform such other duties relating to the implementation of this order within the agency as the head of the agency deems appropriate.

SECURING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND SPURRING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

     Sec. 219.  Policy.  To secure an equitable economic future, the United States must ensure that environmental and economic justice are key considerations in how we govern.  That means investing and building a clean energy economy that creates well‑paying union jobs, turning disadvantaged communities — historically marginalized and overburdened — into healthy, thriving communities, and undertaking robust actions to mitigate climate change while preparing for the impacts of climate change across rural, urban, and Tribal areas.  Agencies shall make achieving environmental justice part of their missions by developing programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse human health, environmental, climate-related and other cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities, as well as the accompanying economic challenges of such impacts.  It is therefore the policy of my Administration to secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment in housing, transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, and health care. 

     Sec. 220.  White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council.  (a)  Section 1-102 of Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994 (Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations), is hereby amended to read as follows:

“(a)  There is hereby created within the Executive Office of the President a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (Interagency Council).  The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall serve as Chair of the Interagency Council.

“(b)  Membership.  The Interagency Council shall consist of the following additional members:

(i)      the Secretary of Defense;

(ii)     the Attorney General;

(iii)    the Secretary of the Interior;

(iv)     the Secretary of Agriculture;

(v)      the Secretary of Commerce;

(vi)     the Secretary of Labor;

(vii)    the Secretary of Health and Human Services;

(viii)   the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;

(ix)     the Secretary of Transportation;

(x)      the Secretary of Energy;

(xi)     the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers;

(xii)    the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;

(xiii)   the Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

(xiv)    the Executive Director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council;

(xv)     the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy;

(xvi)    the National Climate Advisor;

(xvii)   the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; and

(xviii)  the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

“(c)  At the direction of the Chair, the Interagency Council may establish subgroups consisting exclusively of Interagency Council members or their designees under this section, as appropriate.

“(d)  Mission and Work.  The Interagency Council shall develop a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice by consulting with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and with local environmental justice leaders.  The Interagency Council shall also develop clear performance metrics to ensure accountability, and publish an annual public performance scorecard on its implementation.

“(e)  Administration.  The Office of Administration within the Executive Office of the President shall provide funding and administrative support for the Interagency Council, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.  To the extent permitted by law, including the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535), and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency shall provide administrative support as necessary.

“(f)  Meetings and Staff.  The Chair shall convene regular meetings of the Council, determine its agenda, and direct its work.  The Chair shall designate an Executive Director of the Council, who shall coordinate the work of the Interagency Council and head any staff assigned to the Council.

“(g)  Officers.  To facilitate the work of the Interagency Council, the head of each agency listed in subsection (b) shall assign a designated official within the agency to be an Environmental Justice Officer, with the authority to represent the agency on the Interagency Council and perform such other duties relating to the implementation of this order within the agency as the head of the agency deems appropriate.”

(b)  The Interagency Council shall, within 120 days of the date of this order, submit to the President, through the National Climate Advisor, a set of recommendations for further updating Executive Order 12898.

     Sec. 221.  White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.  There is hereby established, within the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (Advisory Council), which shall advise the Interagency Council and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

     (a)  Membership.  Members shall be appointed by the President, shall be drawn from across the political spectrum, and may include those with knowledge about or experience in environmental justice, climate change, disaster preparedness, racial inequity, or any other area determined by the President to be of value to the Advisory Council.

     (b)  Mission and Work.  The Advisory Council shall be solely advisory.  It shall provide recommendations to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council established in section 220 of this order on how to increase the Federal Government’s efforts to address current and historic environmental injustice, including recommendations for updating Executive Order 12898.

     (c)  Administration.  The Environmental Protection Agency shall provide funding and administrative support for the Advisory Council to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.  Members of the Advisory Council shall serve without either compensation or reimbursement of expenses.

     (d)  Federal Advisory Committee Act.  Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), may apply to the Advisory Council, any functions of the President under the Act, except for those in section 6 of the Act, shall be performed by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by the Administrator of General Services.

     Sec. 222.  Agency Responsibilities.  In furtherance of the policy set forth in section 219:

     (a)  The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall, within 6 months of the date of this order, create a geospatial Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool and shall annually publish interactive maps highlighting disadvantaged communities.

     (b)  The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall, within existing appropriations and consistent with applicable law:

(i)   strengthen enforcement of environmental violations with disproportionate impact on underserved communities through the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance; and

(ii)  create a community notification program to monitor and provide real-time data to the public on current environmental pollution, including emissions, criteria pollutants, and toxins, in frontline and fenceline communities — places with the most significant exposure to such pollution.

     (c)  The Attorney General shall, within existing appropriations and consistent with applicable law:

(i)    consider renaming the Environment and Natural Resources Division the Environmental Justice and Natural Resources Division;

(ii)   direct that division to coordinate with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, through the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, as well as with other client agencies as appropriate, to develop a comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy, which shall seek to provide timely remedies for systemic environmental violations and contaminations, and injury to natural resources; and

(iii)  ensure comprehensive attention to environmental justice throughout the Department of Justice, including by considering creating an Office of Environmental Justice within the Department to coordinate environmental justice activities among Department of Justice components and United States Attorneys’ Offices nationwide.

(d)  The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, consistent with applicable law and within existing appropriations: 

(i)   establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity to address the impact of climate change on the health of the American people; and

(ii)  establish an Interagency Working Group to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable as well as a biennial Health Care System Readiness Advisory Council, both of which shall report their progress and findings regularly to the Task Force.

(e)  The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall, in consultation with the National Climate Advisor, within existing appropriations, and within 100 days of the date of this order, publish a report identifying the climate strategies and technologies that will result in the most air and water quality improvements, which shall be made public to the maximum extent possible and published on the Office’s website.

     Sec. 223.  Justice40 Initiative.  (a)  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Climate Advisor, in consultation with the Advisory Council, shall jointly publish recommendations on how certain Federal investments might be made toward a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits flow to disadvantaged communities.  The recommendations shall focus on investments in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and the development of critical clean water infrastructure.  The recommendations shall reflect existing authorities the agencies may possess for achieving the 40-percent goal as well as recommendations on any legislation needed to achieve the 40‑percent goal. 

     (b)  In developing the recommendations, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Climate Advisor shall consult with affected disadvantaged communities.

     (c)  Within 60 days of the recommendations described in subsection (a) of this section, agency heads shall identify applicable program investment funds based on the recommendations and consider interim investment guidance to relevant program staff, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

     (d)  By February 2022, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Administrator of the United States Digital Service, and other relevant agency heads, shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, publish on a public website an annual Environmental Justice Scorecard detailing agency environmental justice performance measures.

PART III — GENERAL PROVISIONS

     Sec. 301.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

THE WHITE HOUSE,

January 27, 2021.


US Environmental Policy (Part 3)

21 January, 2021

It’s begun! When it comes to global warming we’re in a race for time, and the US has spent the last four years with its ankles zip-tied together. On his first day in office, the new president of the US signed this executive order:

ACCEPTANCE ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.

Done at Washington this 20th day of January, 2021.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

He also signed this order connected to the climate crisis and other environmental issues:

Executive order on protecting public health and the environment and restoring science to tackle the climate crisis.

It undoes many actions of the previous president.

• It revokes previous executive orders so as to:

  • reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector,
  • establish new fuel economy standards,
  • establish new efficiency standards for buildings, and
  • restore protection to a number of park lands and undersea protected areas (“national monuments”).

• It instantly puts a temporary halt to leasing lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the purposes of oil and gas drilling, so this program can be reviewed.

• It prevents offshore oil and gas drilling in certain Arctic waters and the Bering Sea.

• It revokes the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

• It revives the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, to properly account for the full cost of these emissions.

• It revokes many other executive orders listed in section 7 below.

Here are the details:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. Our Nation has an abiding commitment to empower our workers and communities; promote and protect our public health and the environment; and conserve our national treasures and monuments, places that secure our national memory. Where the Federal Government has failed to meet that commitment in the past, it must advance environmental justice. In carrying out this charge, the Federal Government must be guided by the best science and be protected by processes that ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making. It is, therefore, the policy of my Administration to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.

To that end, this order directs all executive departments and agencies (agencies) to immediately review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations and other actions during the last 4 years that conflict with these important national objectives, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis.

Sec. 2. Immediate Review of Agency Actions Taken Between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021. (a) The heads of all agencies shall immediately review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions (agency actions) promulgated, issued, or adopted between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, that are or may be inconsistent with, or present obstacles to, the policy set forth in section 1 of this order. For any such actions identified by the agencies, the heads of agencies shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, consider suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency actions. In addition, for the agency actions in the 4 categories set forth in subsections (i) through (iv) of this section, the head of the relevant agency, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, shall consider publishing for notice and comment a proposed rule suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency action within the time frame specified.

(i)    Reducing Methane Emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector:  “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration,” 85 Fed. Reg. 57398 (September 15, 2020), by September 2021. 

(ii)   Establishing Ambitious, Job-Creating Fuel Economy Standards:  “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Program,” 84 Fed. Reg. 51310 (September 27, 2019), by April 2021; and “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks,” 85 Fed. Reg. 24174 (April 30, 2020), by July 2021.  In considering whether to propose suspending, revising, or rescinding the latter rule, the agency should consider the views of representatives from labor unions, States, and industry.

(iii)  Job-Creating Appliance- and Building-Efficiency Standards:  “Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards: Procedures for Use in New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment,” 85 Fed. Reg. 8626 (February 14, 2020), with major revisions proposed by March 2021 and any remaining revisions proposed by June 2021; “Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards: Procedures for Evaluating Statutory Factors for Use in New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards,” 85 Fed. Reg. 50937 (August 19, 2020), with major revisions proposed by March 2021 and any remaining revisions proposed by June 2021; “Final Determination Regarding Energy Efficiency Improvements in the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC),” 84 Fed. Reg. 67435 (December 10, 2019), by May 2021; “Final Determination Regarding Energy Efficiency Improvements in ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2016: Energy Standard for Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” 83 Fed. Reg. 8463 (February 27, 2018), by May 2021.

(iv)   Protecting Our Air from Harmful Pollution:  “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units—Reconsideration of Supplemental Finding and Residual Risk and Technology Review,” 85 Fed. Reg. 31286 (May 22, 2020), by August 2021; “Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Benefits and Costs in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process,” 85 Fed. Reg. 84130 (December 23, 2020), as soon as possible; “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information,” 86 Fed. Reg. 469 (January 6, 2021), as soon as possible.

(b)  Within 30 days of the date of this order, heads of agencies shall submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a preliminary list of any actions being considered pursuant to section (2)(a) of this order that would be completed by December 31, 2021, and that would be subject to OMB review.  Within 90 days of the date of this order, heads of agencies shall submit to the Director of OMB an updated list of any actions being considered pursuant to section (2)(a) of this order that would be completed by December 31, 2025, and that would be subject to OMB review.  At the time of submission to the Director of OMB, heads of agencies shall also send each list to the National Climate Advisor.  In addition, and at the same time, heads of agencies shall send to the National Climate Advisor a list of additional actions being considered pursuant to section (2)(a) of this order that would not be subject to OMB review.

(c)  Heads of agencies shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, consider whether to take any additional agency actions to fully enforce the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.  With respect to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the following specific actions should be considered:

(i)   proposing new regulations to establish comprehensive standards of performance and emission guidelines for methane and volatile organic compound emissions from existing operations in the oil and gas sector, including the exploration and production, transmission, processing, and storage segments, by September 2021; and

(ii)  proposing a Federal Implementation Plan in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Findings of Failure To Submit State Implementation Plan Revisions in Response to the 2016 Oil and Natural Gas Industry Control Techniques Guidelines for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and for States in the Ozone Transport Region,” 85 Fed. Reg. 72963 (November 16, 2020), for California, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas by January 2022. 

(d)  The Attorney General may, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, provide notice of this order and any actions taken pursuant to section 2(a) of this order to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to those agency actions identified pursuant to section (2)(a) of this order, and may, in his discretion, request that the court stay or otherwise dispose of litigation, or seek other appropriate relief consistent with this order, until the completion of the processes described in this order.

(e)  In carrying out the actions directed in this section, heads of agencies shall seek input from the public and stakeholders, including State local, Tribal, and territorial officials, scientists, labor unions, environmental advocates, and environmental justice organizations.

Sec. 3. Restoring National Monuments. (a) The Secretary of the Interior, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including the Antiquities Act, 54 U.S.C. 320301 et seq., shall, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Tribal governments, conduct a review of the monument boundaries and conditions that were established by Proclamation 9681 of December 4, 2017 (Modifying the Bears Ears National Monument); Proclamation 9682 of December 4, 2017 (Modifying the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument); and Proclamation 10049 of June 5, 2020 (Modifying the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument), to determine whether restoration of the monument boundaries and conditions that existed as of January 20, 2017, would be appropriate.

(b)  Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Interior shall submit a report to the President summarizing the findings of the review conducted pursuant to subsection (a), which shall include recommendations for such Presidential actions or other actions consistent with law as the Secretary may consider appropriate to carry out the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.

(c)  The Attorney General may, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, provide notice of this order to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments, and may, in his discretion, request that the court stay the litigation or otherwise delay further litigation, or seek other appropriate relief consistent with this order, pending the completion of the actions described in subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 4. Arctic Refuge. (a) In light of the alleged legal deficiencies underlying the program, including the inadequacy of the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, place a temporary moratorium on all activities of the Federal Government relating to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, as established by the Record of Decision signed August 17, 2020, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Secretary shall review the program and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, conduct a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program.

(b)  In Executive Order 13754 of December 9, 2016 (Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience), and in the Presidential Memorandum of December 20, 2016 (Withdrawal of Certain Portions of the United States Arctic Outer Continental Shelf From Mineral Leasing), President Obama withdrew areas in Arctic waters and the Bering Sea from oil and gas drilling and established the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.  Subsequently, the order was revoked and the memorandum was amended in Executive Order 13795 of April 28, 2017 (Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy).  Pursuant to section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a), Executive Order 13754 and the Presidential Memorandum of December 20, 2016, are hereby reinstated in their original form, thereby restoring the original withdrawal of certain offshore areas in Arctic waters and the Bering Sea from oil and gas drilling.

(c)  The Attorney General may, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, provide notice of this order to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other related programs, and may, in his discretion, request that the court stay the litigation or otherwise delay further litigation, or seek other appropriate relief consistent with this order, pending the completion of the actions described in subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 5. Accounting for the Benefits of Reducing Climate Pollution. (a) It is essential that agencies capture the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions as accurately as possible, including by taking global damages into account. Doing so facilitates sound decision-making, recognizes the breadth of climate impacts, and supports the international leadership of the United States on climate issues. The “social cost of carbon” (SCC), “social cost of nitrous oxide” (SCN), and “social cost of methane” (SCM) are estimates of the monetized damages associated with incremental increases in greenhouse gas emissions. They are intended to include changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damage from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services. An accurate social cost is essential for agencies to accurately determine the social benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions when conducting cost-benefit analyses of regulatory and other actions.

(b)  There is hereby established an Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (the “Working Group”).  The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Director of OMB, and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy  shall serve as Co-Chairs of the Working Group. 

(i)    Membership.  The Working Group shall also include the following other officers, or their designees:  the Secretary of the Treasury; the Secretary of the Interior; the Secretary of Agriculture; the Secretary of Commerce; the Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Secretary of Transportation; the Secretary of Energy; the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor; and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council.

(ii)   Mission and Work.  The Working Group shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law: 

(A)  publish an interim SCC, SCN, and SCM within 30 days of the date of this order, which agencies shall use when monetizing the value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations and other relevant agency actions until final values are published;

(B)  publish a final SCC, SCN, and SCM by no later than January 2022;

(C)  provide recommendations to the President, by no later than September 1, 2021, regarding areas of decision-making, budgeting, and procurement by the Federal Government where the SCC, SCN, and SCM should be applied; 

(D)  provide recommendations, by no later than June 1, 2022, regarding a process for reviewing, and, as appropriate, updating, the SCC, SCN, and SCM to ensure that these costs are based on the best available economics and science; and

(E)  provide recommendations, to be published with the final SCC, SCN, and SCM under subparagraph (A) if feasible, and in any event by no later than June 1, 2022, to revise methodologies for calculating the SCC, SCN, and SCM, to the extent that current methodologies do not adequately take account of climate risk, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity.

(iii)  Methodology.  In carrying out its activities, the Working Group shall consider the recommendations of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine as reported in Valuing Climate Damages: Updating Estimation of the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide (2017) and other pertinent scientific literature; solicit public comment; engage with the public and stakeholders; seek the advice of ethics experts; and ensure that the SCC, SCN, and SCM reflect the interests of future generations in avoiding threats posed by climate change.

Sec. 6. Revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. (a) On March 29, 2019, the President granted to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. a Presidential permit (the “Permit”) to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada (the “Keystone XL pipeline”), subject to express conditions and potential revocation in the President’s sole discretion. The Permit is hereby revoked in accordance with Article 1(1) of the Permit.

(b)  In 2015, following an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest.  That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs.  The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action.

(c)  Climate change has had a growing effect on the U.S. economy, with climate-related costs increasing over the last 4 years.  Extreme weather events and other climate-related effects have harmed the health, safety, and security of the American people and have increased the urgency for combatting climate change and accelerating the transition toward a clean energy economy.  The world must be put on a sustainable climate pathway to protect Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts, and to create well-paying union jobs as part of the climate solution. 

(d)  The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest.  The United States and the world face a climate crisis.  That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory.  At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs.  Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement.  Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever.  The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.  Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.

Sec. 7. Other Revocations. (a) Executive Order 13766 of January 24, 2017 (Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects), Executive Order 13778 of February 28, 2017 (Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule), Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017 (Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth), Executive Order 13792 of April 26, 2017 (Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act), Executive Order 13795 of April 28, 2017 (Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy), Executive Order 13868 of April 10, 2019 (Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth), and Executive Order 13927 of June 4, 2020 (Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities), are hereby revoked. Executive Order 13834 of May 17, 2018 (Efficient Federal Operations), is hereby revoked except for sections 6, 7, and 11.

(b)  Executive Order 13807 of August 15, 2017 (Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects), is hereby revoked.  The Director of OMB and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality shall jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued.

(c)  Executive Order 13920 of May 1, 2020 (Securing the United States Bulk-Power System), is hereby suspended for 90 days.  The Secretary of Energy and the Director of OMB shall jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued.

(d)  The Presidential Memorandum of April 12, 2018 (Promoting Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation Policies and Procedures Relating to Implementation of Air Quality Standards), the Presidential Memorandum of October 19, 2018 (Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West), and the Presidential Memorandum of February 19, 2020 (Developing and Delivering More Water Supplies in California), are hereby revoked. 

(e)  The Council on Environmental Quality shall rescind its draft guidance entitled, “Draft National Environmental Policy Act Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” 84 Fed. Reg. 30097 (June 26, 2019).  The Council, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, shall review, revise, and update its final guidance entitled, “Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews,” 81 Fed. Reg. 51866 (August 5, 2016).

(f)  The Director of OMB and the heads of agencies shall promptly take steps to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies, or portions thereof, including, if necessary, by proposing such rescissions through notice-and-comment rulemaking, implementing or enforcing the Executive Orders, Presidential Memoranda, and draft guidance identified in this section, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 20, 2021.


Sustainability Week

22 December, 2020

In 2021, March 8–13 will be “Sustainability Week” in Switzerland. During this week, students at all Swiss universities will come together to present their current work, promote a sustainable lifestyle and draw extra attention to changes that must be made at the institutional level. Anna Knörr, a third year Physics Bachelor student at ETH Zürich, is president of the Student Sustainability Commission. She and Professor Niklas Beisert invited me to give the Zürich Theoretical Physics Colloquium on Monday the 8th of March.

She proposed the modest title “Theoretical Physics in the 21st Century”. I like this idea because it would give me a chance to think about the ways in which theoretical physics is stuck, the ways it’s not, and the ways theoretical physics can help us adapt to the Anthropocene. So, I could blend ideas from these two talks:

Unsolved mysteries in fundamental physics, Cambridge University Physics Society, October 3, 2018.

Energy and the environment—what physicists can do, Perimeter Institute, April 17, 2013.

but update and improve the second one. I think it’ll be pretty easy for me to explain that the Anthropocene is about much more than global warming. The hard part is giving suggestions for “what physicists can do”.

Of course we can all resolve to fly less, etc.—but none of those suggestions take advantage of special skills that physicists have. Anna Knörr correctly noted that many theoretical physicists have trouble seeing what they can do to help our civilization adapt to the Anthropocene, since many of them are not good at designing better batteries, solar cells, fission or fusion reactors comes easily. To the extent that I’m a theoretical physicist I fit into this unhappy class. But I think there are more theoretical activities that can still be helpful! And I have more to say about this now than in 2013.

One lesson I may offer is this:

If something is not working, try something different.

This applies to the Anthropocene as a whole, all the social problems that afflict us, and also fundamental physics. I just ran into a talk that the famous particle physicist Sheldon Glashow gave 40 years ago, called “The New Frontier”. He said:

Important discoveries await the next generation of accelerators. QCD and the electroweak theory need further confirmation. We need to know how b quarks decay. The weak interaction intermediaries must be seen to be believed. The top quark (or the perversions needed by topless theories) lurks just out of range. Higgs may wait to be found. There could well be a fourth family of quarks and leptons. There may even be unanticipated surprises. We need the new machines.

That was in 1980. The ‘weak interaction intermediaries’—the W and Z—were found three years later, in 1982. The top quark was found in 1995. The Higgs boson was found in 2012. No fourth generation of quarks and leptons, and we now have good evidence that none exists. To the great sorrow of all physcists, particle accelerators have found no unanticipated surprises!

On the other hand, we have for the first time an apparently correct theory of elementary particle physics. It may be, in a sense, phenomenologically complete. It suggests the possibility that there are no more surprises at higher energies, at least at energies that are remotely accessible.

He’s proved right on this, so far.

Proton decay, if it is found, will reinforce belief in the great desert extending from 100 GeV to the unification mass of 1014 GeV. Perhaps the desert is a blessing in disguise. Ever larger and more costly machines conflict with dwindling finances and energy reserves. All frontiers come to an end.

You may like this scenario or not; it may be true or false. But, it is neither impossible, implausible, nor unlikely. And, do not despair nor prematurely lament the death of particle physics. We have a ways to go to reach the desert, with exotic fauna along the way, and even the desolation of a desert can be interesting.

Proton decay has not been found despite a huge amount of effort. So, that piece of evidence for grand unified theories is missing, and with it a strong piece of evidence that there should be a “desert” of new phenomena between the electroweak unification energy scale and the GUT energy scale.

But, we’re not seeing anything beyond the Standard Model: no “exotic fauna”.

Glashow’s “new frontier” was the “passive frontier”: non-accelerator experiments like neutrino measurements, and this is indeed where the progress came since 1980: we now know neutrinos are massive and oscillate, and there is still some mystery here and room for surprises—though frankly I suspect that neutrino masses will work very much like quark masses, via coupling to the Higgs. (This is in a sense the most conservative, least truly exciting scenario.)

So, very little dramatic progress has happened in particle physics since 1980—except for a profusion of new theories that haven’t made any verified predictions. I’ll argue that physicists should turn elsewhere! There are other things for them to do, that are much more exciting.


Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

22 December, 2020

You may not have noticed, but the US Congress just passed the biggest climate-related bill in long time, with measures to help save the ozone layer and speed progress on solar, wind and nuclear energy, battery storage and carbon capture. It’s big news, though it’s been overshadowed by the pandemic and resulting economic disaster. Everyone is focused on another portion of the 5593-page Consolidated Appropriations Act: namely, Division M, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

This is important. We’ll get through this pandemic, though the US at least has been doing a bad job so far. Global warming will be a much tougher test of our resolve. So it’s good to see this step toward recognizing its gravity.

• Sarah Kaplan and Dino Grandoni, Stimulus deal includes raft of provisions to fight climate change, Washington Post, 21 December 2020.

In one of the biggest victories for U.S. climate action in a decade, Congress has moved to phase out a class of potent planet-warming chemicals and provide billions of dollars for renewable energy and efforts to suck carbon from the atmosphere as part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

The legislation […] wraps together several bills with bipartisan backing and support from an unusual coalition of environmentalists and industry groups.

It will cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals used in air conditioners and refrigerators that are hundreds of times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. It authorizes a sweeping set of new renewable energy measures, including tax credit extensions and new research and development programs for solar, wind and energy storage; funding for energy efficiency projects; upgrades to the electric grid and a new commitment to research on removing carbon from the atmosphere. And it reauthorizes an Environmental Protection Agency program to curb emissions from diesel engines.

The legislation also includes key language on the “sense of Congress” that the Energy Department must prioritize funding for research to power the United States with 100 percent “clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources” — a rare declaration that the nation should be striving toward net-zero carbon emissions.

“This is perhaps the most significant climate legislation Congress has ever passed,” said Grant Carlisle, a senior policy adviser at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The HFC measure, which empowers the EPA to cut the production and use of HFCs by 85 percent over the next 15 years, is expected to save as much as half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century. Scientists say the world needs to constrain the increase in the average global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial times to avoid catastrophic, irreversible damage to the planet. Some places around the globe are already experiencing an average temperature rise beyond that threshold.

Advocates say the $35 billion of new funding for renewable technology and energy efficiency in the legislation will also help reduce pollution that is driving global warming and provide a much-needed boost to federal energy programs that haven’t been updated since 2007.

“It doesn’t have regulations or mandates in it,” Sasha Mackler, director of the energy project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said of the energy package. “But from the bottom up it’s advancing the technology that’s needed. … This is definitely a bill that creates the enabling conditions for decarbonization.”

Support among lawmakers for the package suggests that tax incentives and research funding may be a rare area of common ground between two parties that have been divided on climate change.

Despite President Trump’s numerous efforts to roll back climate regulations, leading Republicans backed the package, which has been a top priority for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for years. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) helped craft the bipartisan agreement to scale down polluting refrigerants.

“These measures will protect our air while keeping costs down for the American people,” Barrasso, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement Monday.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), an ally of President-elect Joe Biden and co-sponsor of the HFC provision, called it “a watershed moment” that bodes well for lawmakers interested in working with the incoming administration on climate change.

“The debate on whether climate change is real is over. It is real. It’s not getting better,” Carper said in a recent interview. “Our Republican colleagues, they get it, for the most part.”

The agreement comes on the heels of a major United Nations climate report, which found that nations’ current plans to reduce greenhouse gasses are just one-fifth of what’s needed to avoid catastrophic warming.

If leaders invest heavily in green infrastructure and renewable energy as part of coronavirus stimulus spending, the world could trim as much as 25 percent from its expected 2030 emissions, the U.N. report said.

Democrats and environmental groups say the legislation is not quite the sweeping “green stimulus” that’s needed. Though it meets Biden’s call to extend tax incentives for solar and wind generation and provide more money for clean energy research, it falls short of his requests for aggressive subsidies for electric vehicles and new requirements that utilities eliminate their contributions to global warming by 2035.

It also excludes a provision from earlier versions of the bill that would have set voluntary standards for energy efficiency in buildings — something that could significantly curb emissions from cities.

“Let’s be clear: Are these provisions enough to meet the demands of the science? No,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y). “But are they a significant step in the right direction? Yes.”

The HFC rule lays the groundwork for the United States to sign onto the Kigali Amendment, an international agreement in which more than 100 nations committed to replacing the chemicals with refrigerants that have a smaller climate impact. Signed in the final days of the Obama administration, the treaty was never submitted by Trump for ratification by the Senate. By voting to curb the climate pollutant now, Congress has eased the path for approval once Biden takes office.

Included in the energy package are roughly $4 billion for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal research and development; $1.7 billion to help low-income families install renewable energy sources in their homes; $2.6 billion for the Energy Department’s sustainable transportation program; and $500 million for research on reducing industrial emissions.

It also authorizes $2.9 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a program that funds high-risk, high-reward research and that Trump has sought to eliminate multiple times.

The increased funding is expected to make emerging clean-energy technology cheaper and more widespread. This is especially significant for ideas that have proved effective but are struggling to make the jump to commercial viability.

“This is an opportunity to not only make significant advances in climate action and reducing HFCs, but to help maintain leadership of U.S. technology and our competitiveness in that global market,” said Marty Durbin, an energy lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest corporate lobbying group in Washington.

In a boon for renewable energy companies, Congress extended tax credits for wind and solar and introduced a new credit for offshore wind projects, which Heather Zichal, chief executive of the American Clean Power Association, called “America’s largest untapped clean energy source.” One Department of Energy analysis suggested that developing just 4 percent of the total U.S. offshore wind capacity could power some 25 million homes and reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by almost 2 percent.

But many green groups were critical of provisions dedicating more than $6 billion to efforts to remove carbon from the air and store it, as well as funding for enhanced oil recovery projects, which reuse carbon dioxide to flush residual oil from existing wells.

“It just perpetuates the fossil fuel system,” said Jean Su, an attorney and director of the energy justice program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If you pass something like this, you’re not doing the best we can do in terms of transforming our energy system.”

Others see carbon capture as a necessary tool for mitigating emissions from sources that aren’t easily decarbonized, such as air travel. The bill directs the energy secretary to estimate “the magnitude of excess carbon dioxide” that needs to be removed from the air to stabilize the climate.

The legislation includes more than $11 billion for nuclear energy [….]


The Swinomish

25 November, 2020

The Swimonish are Native Americans who live in the southeastern part of Fidalgo Island in northern Puget Sound, about 110 kilometers north of Seattle.

They’ve been doing interesting things about climate change and ecosystem restoration. So have other tribes:

• Jim Morrison, An ancient people with a modern climate plan, The New York Times, 24 November 2020.

For 10,000 years, the Swinomish tribe has fished the waters of northwestern Washington, relying on the bounty of salmon and shellfish not only as a staple of its diet but as a centerpiece of its culture. At the beginning of the fishing season, the tribe gathers on the beach for a First Salmon ceremony, a feast honoring the return of the migratory fish that binds the generations of a tribe that calls itself the People of the Salmon.

At the ceremony’s conclusion, single salmon are ferried by boat in four directions — north to Padilla Bay, east to the Skagit River, south to Skagit Bay and west to Deception Pass — and eased into the water with a prayer that they will tell other salmon how well they were treated.

In recent years, though, the tribe’s harvest, diminished by vanishing habitat and warming waters fueled by climate change, hasn’t been sufficient to feed the hundreds of people who come to pay homage to their ancestors and to the fish that sustained them.

“We don’t have that abundance anymore,” said Lorraine Loomis, an elder who has managed the tribal fishery for 40 years. “To get ceremonial fish, we buy it and freeze it.”

[….]

The tribe has responded with an ambitious, multipronged strategy to battle climate change and improve the health of the land and the water and the plants, animals and people who thrived in harmony for generations. In 2010, the Swinomish became one of the first communities to assess the problems posed by a warming planet and enact a climate action plan. An additional 50 Native American tribes have followed, creating climate strategies to protect their lands and cultures, ahead of most U.S. communities.

The Swinomish see the tasks beyond addressing shoreline risk and restoring habitats. They look at climate adaptation and resilience with the eyes of countless generations. They recognize that the endangered “first foods” — clams, oysters, elk, traditional plants and salmon — are not mere resources to be consumed. They are central to their values, beliefs and practices and, therefore, to their spiritual, cultural and community well-being.

In recent years, the tribe has fostered salmon recovery through a variety of projects. It has restored tidelands and channels, planted trees along streambeds to cool warming waters, and collaborated with farmers to increase stream setbacks to improve water quality.

Restoring salmon populations is just part of an ambitious climate action plan to blunt the effects of increased flooding, ocean acidification, rising river temperatures, more-destructive storms and habitat loss.

The Swinomish are rebuilding oyster reefs for the native Olympia oyster. They’re planning the first modern clam garden in the United States on the reservation’s tidelands, reviving an ancient practice. They’re monitoring deer and elk populations through camera traps to understand the climate change pressures and to inform hunting limits. And they have ongoing wetland restoration projects to explore preserving native plants and to help naturally manage coastal flooding.

“They’re doing really innovative climate adaptation,” said Meade Krosby, a senior scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. “They were way ahead of the curve. And that really shouldn’t be surprising, because the tribes have shown tremendous leadership in climate adaptation and mitigation.”

The Tulalip tribes, neighbors to the south, are relocating nuisance beavers from urban areas to streams with salmon to improve water quality and lower the temperature, reduce sediment flowing into streams and mitigate the effects of increasingly intense storms. The Karuk tribe of Northern California has a 232-page plan that calls for prescribed burning to reduce increasing wildfires and removing dams to help decreasing salmon and eel populations.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes of Montana have a resilience plan that calls for prescribed burns and restoring whitebark pine, a key part of tribal culture. They plan to identify trees resilient to blister rust — a fungus exacerbated by climate change — collect their seeds and eventually plant 100,000 seedlings on their lands.

And in Alaska, a partnership of 11 tribes has formed to identify harmful algae blooms so that it’s clear when shellfish can be safely harvested.

Native Americans acutely feel the effects of the changing climate because they were forced onto the most vulnerable lands, places that were of little use to others, said Nikki Cooley, co-manager of the Tribes and Climate Change Program for the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals.

“There’s that big push to address climate change because we’re feeling the effects more so than other places,” said Cooley, 40, who grew up without electricity or running water, herding sheep in the sprawling Navajo Nation reservations of the Arizona desert.