Consisting of admirable highlights, noteworthy inclusions, and some blatant omissions, democratic nominee Joe Biden’s new climate plan accelerates and modernizes his original proposal.

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Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Steven Senne

On Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee announced his updated climate plan where he intends to focus on creating sustainable jobs, building modern infrastructure, addressing environmental justice and combatting climate change. His plan has already garnered praise from environmental leaders like Governor Jay Inslee of Washington and activists across the country. However, despite its improvements from before, some have already pointed out flaws and unaddressed issues.

Highlights


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Photo courtesy of Pexels Royalty-Free Photos

On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule which would weaken Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, permitting more carbon emissions and reducing the nation’s fight against climate change. Originally, the Obama administration required automakers to produce vehicles which average nearly 55 mpg by 2025, but the new Trump rule would lower that number down to 40 mpg by 2026. Essentially, the rule would relax the push for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Surprisingly, this rule is already a compromise from an original version that would have required automakers to make zero changes to fuel efficiency. However, even automakers balked at the aggressive rollback, citing that even without regulations, they could create more fuel-efficient vehicles. …


The films will be available from March 17–31 on the D.C. Environmental Film Festival website and other platforms.

5. Artifishal

Director: Josh Murphy, Running time: 79 mins

In a dramatic conflict between technocentrists, who believe nature is meant to serve humans, and ecocentrists, who believe nature requires our attention, Artifishal explores how hatcheries, fish farms, and negligent humans are contributing to the extinction of wild salmon. As a staple of the American diet, salmon has wavered between its role as an icon of wildness and our natural supply of omega-3. …


The films will be available from March 17–31 on the D.C. Environmental Film Festival website and other platforms.

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Photo by Washington.org

The film festival, which is now postponed until fall due to the coronavirus, has decided to release most of its films either for free or through third-party platforms for a limited amount of time. These are Part 1 (#6–10) of my top picks to watch (My Part 2 (#1–5) picks will be released on Saturday, March 21):

10. 80° North

Director: Brandon Holmes, Running time: 15 mins

Password: ice

In this short documentary, a group of artists from across the world travel to the Arctic island chain of Svalbard and express their emotions through a variety of mediums. My favorite part of this 15-minute film is the eloquence of the artists and the strikingly beautiful footage of melting ice. …


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Photo by Electrek

On Sunday, a German court ordered Tesla to stop halt its process of clearing 92 hectares of forest near its capital Berlin where CEO Elon Musk planned to build his first European Gigafactory. The decisions comes as a small victory for Gruene Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg), a group of local environmental activists, who claim the construction would have a significant detrimental effect on local wildlife and water quality.


Climate change was the star of the show at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where activist Greta Thunberg rebuked global financial leaders for their inaction.

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For years, climate change has been viewed as a secondary priority for businesses concerned with short-term earnings and government officials who sided with the skeptics. Yet, with the widespread climate disasters like the bushfires in Australia or the heatwaves in Europe, and the growing climate activism movement, political and corporate leaders are now forced to pay attention.

It is undeniable that climate change impacts a wide variety of sections. According to Morgan Stanley, climate disasters have cost North America $415 billion in the last three years, mostly due to wildfires and hurricanes. Meanwhile, extreme rainfall events have caused billions of dollars in losses for farmers and ranchers in the Midwest. As a result of climate change impacts, the Midwest is projected to lose up to 25 percent of its current corn and soybean yield by 2050. Furthermore, but according to a 2011 National Academy of Sciences report, for every degree Celsius the global thermostat rises, there will be a 5 to 15 percent decrease in overall crop production. …


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Australia Bushfires map as of January 5

At the moment, around 130 fires are burning across Australia, heightened by scorching temperatures beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit and dry conditions. At least 23,000 square miles have been torched, and twenty people have lost their lives. The reality is that there are not enough local firefighting forces to combat all the bushfires, and there have been catastrophic environmental, human, and economic impacts. On Sunday, the Australia Defence Force said it had called 3,000 army reserve forces and others with specialist capabilities to help fight the flames.

With this website by FireWatch, you can track the spread of the wildfires in live time. Although there is some forecast for rain, there is expected to be little relief to the fires’ spread. …


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Photo by ABCNews

This updated guide will feature the seven candidates who have made it to the December 19 Democratic Debate. The criteria for the debate were contributions from 200,000 unique donors, and either two polls at least 6 percent in the four early nominating states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina) or four polls at 4 percent or more in early nominating states or national surveys. These are likely the candidates we will see at the next Democratic Debate as well.

Joe Biden, former vice president


The world is not on track, and that’s a bad thing.

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Four years ago, countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement, each promising to do their part in reducing carbon emissions and avoiding the worst effects of climate change. On Tuesday, the U.N. released essentially a progress report, examining the difference between actual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions versus what countries agreed to in Paris. The U.N. calls it an “annual gauge of the disconnect between where we are and where we need to be.” The goal from the Paris Climate Agreement was for the global temperature to increase below 2°C with many scientists also arguing that 1.5°C would be the safest target. Unfortunately, the U.N.’s …


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Photo by Verite

At the moment, fires burning across Indonesia since July have destroyed over burned 8,578 square kilometers (3,304 square miles and around the size of Puerto Rico) as of the end of September, blanketing the islands in thick toxic smoke which has turned the sky a violent red. Although the government has not directly admitted so, reports claim the fires are due to slash and burn techniques to clear forests for agriculture—namely palm oil plantations.

About

Emily Zhao

The Climate Reporter Editor-in-Chief | Earth Optimist | Filmmaker | Based in Maryland

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