VOL#4 / FEB 22, 2019


Climate's Best Defense 

Climate litigation is getting its “you can’t handle the truth!” moment as communities use it to force government to uphold emission targets and keep corporations accountable for damages.

In Australia, a proposed coal mine was scuttled when the court factored both local and global emission targets into their decision, weighing not just the toll of extraction at home, but carbon release in the countries where the coal would eventually burn. In the Netherlands, the high court recently upheld a lower court’s decision that forces the government to double their proposed emission cuts. And in the U.S., 21 teenagers are suing the government on behalf of future generations over their right to a stable climate system. Globally, more than 1k cases have been filed—begging the question: why now?

While courts may be increasingly sympathetic to the cause, and case law makes the next case less irregular, it’s the understanding of the science—and its availability to communities—that can undermine what was once a previously solid industry defense. 

+ Up next: Ireland, where a citizen movement is looking for a bigger carbon tax, electric vehicle incentives, and the expansion of public transport.

+ Forget winter. Litigation is coming. There’s going to be billions of dollars on the table.” 

+ Lunch with Chief Justice Brian Preston, a pioneer in climate litigation.  

+ A map of climate litigation (free carbon credits if you can guess the origin of 60% of the cases). 


Rigs to Reefs

California is wrestling with a tricky issue: what to do with the underwater substructures that support not only the massive oil rigs they were built for, but the diverse marine life they’ve attracted over the years. These human-made reefs have become the most productive habitats in the world, giving decision-makers pause on whether they should simply donate the below-surface portions to the ocean, or insist the oil companies complete their obligations and fully remove them. Say yes to wildlife and you appear to cave to oil barons. Insist on removal and you wipe out an ecological wonderland. 

+ 99% Invisible wrangles the story into a compelling podcast. 


“The first time in history that growth in energy demand and economic growth are decoupled.”


McKinsey estimates demand for fossil fuels could stop growing as soon as 2030. #



Sweden's Newest Export

Forget Spotify. Ignore IKEA. Sweden’s hottest export is Greta Thunberg, the pint-sized activist that inspired hundreds of thousands of kids around the world to strike for climate change. Once depressed and despondent, a single act of rebellion has rewired her existence: “All my life I’ve been invisible, the invisible girl in the back who doesn’t say anything. From one day to another, people listen to me. That’s a weird contrast. It’s hard.” 


The $32 Trillion Female Fight Club

Behind the headlines that one of the world’s biggest coal miners will cap their output is Climate Action 100+, a $32T female-led shareholder network with enough muscle to strong-arm the biggest players in the dirtiest industries to meet the targets of the Paris accord. They’re targeting the “systemically important emitters” and pushing for better governance, lower emissions, and less opaque climate-related financial disclosures. 


Black Russian

The Russian coal-mining town of Kiselyovsk that sprayed white paint over their ash-covered snow is back in the news with equally appalling footage: terrain so covered in soot it could double as the backlot for a Hollywood disaster film. But the real disaster, according to local activists, is lack of action from the UK, which imports 50% of their coal from Russia and to which 90% of the town’s exports arrive. “The best way to put pressure on [Kiselyovsk] is to stop buying coal until they improve the situation.”


Blowing in the Wind

A short, stunning video of the world’s largest wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, featuring an invigorating comment from the project lead: “People love to work in this industry. They love the sense of doing something positive. The sense of tackling one of the major challenges of our age. Doing a job where you…have a real sense of legacy.”

Our World in Data

Need data on carbon emissions? A chart on plastic in our oceans? Our World in Data, a Y-Combinator alum, organizes data on the world’s most pressing issues.

Hometown Heat Map

See how hot your hometown will be by 2080. (Hint: hot)


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