Balance/Sustainability — Reassess the dirty reputation of city rodents
The city’s wildlife — like New York’s much-hated brown rat — may have an unfair reputation as disease carriers, according to a new study.
The study, published Tuesday in Nature Ecology and Evolution, found that species such as rats, raccoons and rabbits “don’t hide as many important new pathogens as one might think,” the study said. lead author Greg Albery in a statement.
These species are often suspected of being “hyper-reservoirs” of new diseases, but this is a misleading result of “sampling bias”, according to Albery, who noted that there are “more than 100 times” as many studies on their parasites as less familiar. species.
To find the next pandemic threat, Albery said, scientists will have to go deeper.
“Sampling needs to be more concentrated in wild areas of the world, but also in urban areas in less well-studied places,” he added.
welcome to balance, a newsletter that follows the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We are Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Send us tips and feedback. Subscribe here.
Today we will look at a nationwide effort by members of both parties to fight a “boycott” of oil and gas in the United States. Next, we’ll look at a potential breakthrough in Europe‘s efforts to cut dependence on Russian energy, further isolating Moscow.
Oklahoma joins fight against ‘woke capitalism’
Oklahoma’s legislature is set to pass a bipartisan bill that would ban the state from doing business with financial firms that don’t invest in oil and gas, The Oklahoman reported.
The bill, which now returns to the Oklahoma House, marks the latest leg of a nationwide campaign by national and state Republican leaders against the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement, which they accuse of ‘boycotting’ fossil fuel companies.
What the authors said: The Energy Discrimination Elimination Act ‘would ensure that the state of Oklahoma is free from discrimination against the fossil fuel industry,’ Sen. Mark Allen (right) told reporters at a conference news story covered by The Oklahoman.
Join the pack: Oklahoma’s bill follows a June 2021 law that prohibits Texas from doing business with “certain companies that boycott energy companies.”
Some Dems support the effort: While the rollback of skeptical fossil fuel financial companies is often described as a Republican initiative, in many states such efforts have crossed the aisle, according to vote tracker LegiScan.
For example, more state Democrats in the West Virginia and Texas legislatures and in the Oklahoma Senate joined Republicans in passing these bills than opposed them, according to LegiScan data.
On the other hand, the entire Oklahoma State House Democratic delegation voted against them, as did the majority of Democrats in the Kentucky State Legislature.
Republicans leading the campaign: Certainly, the Republicans are leading the effort. Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar last week sent letters to 140 financial firms demanding they disclose their climate policies, Bloomberg reported.
In a March statement, Hegar accused these companies of “selling hope for a ‘green’ future with promises to divest or reduce their exposure to fossil fuels.”
Then there is Utah: The entire state congressional delegation, all of whom are Republicans, signed a letter last week demanding that S&P Global Ratings stop using ESG factors to determine “state and subdivision credit ratings.” ‘state’, which they claim unfairly penalizes the state.
A CULTURAL WAR OFFENSIVE IS GAINING STEAM
The use of words like “discrimination” is part of a larger culture war campaign by conservative politicians to express the investment decisions of financial institutions in the language of social justice, the site noted on Sunday. Gizmodo technology information.
Back to basics: In December, for example, state officials and industry lobbyists at the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) drafted the model Energy Discrimination and Elimination Act – whose bill ‘Oklahoma got its name, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.
A cover letter obtained by the Center encouraged states to “fight against woke capitalism.”
“A bit like Israel”: ALEC’s letter explicitly bases its “anti-discrimination” language on similar legislation aimed at penalizing companies that sanction Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jewish Currents reported.
In its alleged difficulty in accessing capital, the oil and gas industry is being “treated a bit like the state of Israel,” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (right) said in 2021, according to Gizmodo.
Is there a boycott? Not really. Last week, shareholders of Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup rejected a proposal to limit bank investment in new fossil fuels.
But expect to hear more of this language: Republicans plan to take that campaign national this winter if they win Congress back. They plan to specifically target the Securities and Exchange Commission’s climate disclosure rules, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) told Roll Call.
EU moves closer to bloc-wide Russian oil embargo
The European Union (EU) is close to reaching a deal on a bloc-wide phase-out of Russian oil imports, but objections from two EU countries are delaying a final consensus, the Washington reported. Post.
In order to move the deal forward, the EU is considering granting exemptions to Hungary and Slovakia, two European diplomats and an EU official told the Post.
- If the oil ban moves forward, it will do so as part of the European Commission’s sixth round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the Post reported.
- A draft of these sanctions is expected to be circulated to member states on Tuesday.
The story so far on the West’s use of Russian energy: Last month, Congress passed a law banning energy imports from Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. But the EU, which is more heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas, has had a harder time getting rid of Moscow’s resources.
The EU has already enacted a ban on Russian coal in its previous round of sanctions, but an embargo on oil is much more difficult – and on gas even more so.
Germany has said it could turn off the tap for Russian oil within weeks, but doing so for gas would be more difficult because supplies are much less readily available, the Wall Street Journal reported. Germany may not be able to get enough gas from the United States, Qatar or Algeria until 2024, the Journal reported.
Overcome an obstacle : Talks over an EU-wide ban on Russian oil overcame a significant hurdle last week, when Germany dropped previous objections and announced it would support an embargo, according to the Post.
Germany has significantly turned away from Russian oil and continues to do so.
Climate Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday that the country could be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by the end of the summer, German broadcaster DW reported.
Such measures are essential, Habeck said, if the Germans “no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia”, according to DW.
Quick discounts: Germany was able to reduce its share of Russian energy imports to 12% for oil, 8% for coal and 35% for natural gas, DW reported, citing a Habeck statement.
That compares to 35% for oil before the war, 45% for coal and 55% for natural gas, according to Barron’s.
“Keep it up” for years, if necessary: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has also signaled that Berlin is ready to support a gradual embargo on such imports – and is prepared to “maintain it over the next few years” if necessary, DW reported.
HUNGARY AND SLOVAKIA MAIN RESISTANCES
Despite progress with Germany, Hungary and Slovakia have signaled they do not support an embargo on Russian oil, EU diplomats and officials told the Post.
Both countries remain heavily dependent on Russian oil and have said they need more time and money to adjust, the Post reported.
But Hungary’s objections worry officials in Brussels, not least because of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s well-known ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Post.
Hungary has already agitated the EU: Last month, Orbán said Hungary would continue to pay for natural gas shipments in rubles if asked by Russia, contrary to EU objections, as we previously reported.
In response, the EU froze Hungary’s pandemic recovery funds last week, citing “violations of the rule of law”, according to the Post.
“Objectively, [Hungary is] in a more difficult position than others. At the same time, they would still like to get their hands on the stimulus money,” an EU diplomat told the Post.
Moving forward, with gaps: Regardless of opposition from Hungary and Slovakia, the bloc could go ahead with the oil embargo by granting the countries “an exemption or a long transition period”, the Daily Mail reported.
This could be more convenient for these countries than a sudden ban, as the proposed oil embargo would likely happen in a phased manner and not take full effect until early 2023, according to the Mail.
America’s carbon capital is building a fortress against climate change, New York is wrangling climate law, and California is enjoying a fossil-free Saturday.
Fossil-powered fortress takes shape amid rising seas
- As Texas battles ‘fossil fuel discrimination’, the city of Houston, which accounts for 42% of the country’s oil and gas capacity, is the site of the largest defensive works in the history of the United States. Army Corps of Engineers: A $29 billion fortress to protect “the nation’s carbon-energy capital…from a sea and sky roasted by its own making,” Bloomberg reported.
Environmental group urges New York lawmakers to meet climate goals set three years ago
The Alaska Trail ready to connect city and wilderness
Please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. Well see you tomorrow.
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