An international movement is emerging in opposition to Net Zero and today we share some of the best of that, including a one-minute video that is a must-view. Let the Governor and the Speaker know you want real solutions and a genuinely thoughtful process, not an ETA-like stampede for Net Zero and its false promises. Speaking points and contact info provided below. Read on.
To follow up on the last two posts, we present two powerful protests against the Glasgow Net Zero stampede. In the 2019 legislative session, we were not proactive enough in expressing concerns about the ETA. We won’t be fooled again.
So today we start with info from a fabulous website — realsolutions-not-netzero.org –that outlines clearly all that is wrong with Net Zero and describes the kind of real solutions needed. Thanks to Heather Karlson who sent me a link to the site.
Also below, an absolutely brilliant, one-minute, must-see video on the many ways in which Net Zero is a roadmap to hell.
We then offer push back about the Governor’s ill-conceived “clean hydrogen” scheme, which is at best a distraction, at worst a devious scheme to justify sustaining continued extraction.
Finally, we offer speaking points and contact info for the Governor and Speaker Egolf, so you can let them know that you are not happy with the rush to Net Zero. We can’t land at the 2022 legislative session with a Net Zero bill with 50 sponsors and 50 organizations supporting a bill that hasn’t even been written or contains no specific commitments and a similarly neatly packaged hydrogen plan. We want a thoughtful process and details to consider, not empty promises. To get started, I offer the Statement of Purpose from Realsolutions-not-netzero.org below.
We don’t want to read about your promises to supposedly balance the emissions budget by mid-century, using techno-fixes, geoengineering, carbon markets, and accounting tricks. We want to know what you are doing today to eliminate the major sources of emissions — fossil fuel production and use, deforestation, and industrial agriculture — which are not only warming the planet, but also poisoning frontline and fenceline communities and polluting our collective environment. And we want to know what you will do from now on, tomorrow, and every year to come, to strengthen resilience, center justice, and support communities in a just and equitable transition to a fossil-free future that secures human rights, livelihoods, work, and a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for present and future generations.
We demand that you put forward real plans to bring emissions and fossil fuel production down to Real Zero. These plans must be based on real transformation, backed by real resources, and implemented with the real urgency demanded by the current crises.
Show us your climate plans, concrete steps, and specific programs that center just transitions, human rights, racial, gender, social, economic and environmental justice, safety and secure livelihoods for workers, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, peasants, women, youth, and vulnerable groups.
Show us how your actions will rapidly cut emissions at source, on a near-term timeline consistent with science and equity, sufficient to keep global warming below 1.5°C, without relying on illusory carbon dioxide removal or other geoengineering technologies that endanger frontline communities or making harmful assumptions about natural sinks.
Show us how you will phase out fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, industrial food systems, plastics, and other polluting industries, and invest in their replacements as needed to transform our energy, food, transport, and industrial systems.
Show us that you recognize that there is no future for fossil fuels in a climate-safe world by prohibiting new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, protecting decision-making from fossil fuel industry lobbyists, banning fossil fuel advertising, and ensuring an equitable and managed phase-out of all oil, gas, and coal, in which polluters pay to properly close down and clean up the toxic legacy of the fossil fuel industry.
Show us how you will protect and restore biodiverse ecosystems — not for the carbon they contain to be traded as so-called “nature-based solutions” in offset markets, but because they are the basis of lives and livelihoods and because we must halt biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
Show us your plans to ensure real food security and food sovereignty in the face of climate threats, including by promoting peasant agroecology and local food systems.
Show us how you will support proven alternatives and practices pioneered by smallholder farmers, women, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities, and respect and protect their rights.
Show us what actions you will take to hold the corporations that have generated the majority of historical global emissions accountable and liable for the harm they cause. Rather than voluntary approaches, real accountability requires legally binding measures, including a global treaty on business and human rights.
Show us you understand that today’s dominant growth-centered economic and development models are defunct and that you will foster new models that treasure sufficiency, well-being, and limits to consumption and growth.
Show us how the countries most responsible for the historic and cumulative emissions heating our planet will do their equitable, fair share by undertaking the most rapid reductions to Real Zero emissions and providing financial support to lower-income nations.
Show us that you will provide your fair share of real, adequate, and additional climate finance that meets the scale of the climate crisis and supports mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage — not through loans that plunge countries deeper into debt or the trickle-down of coins from speculative carbon markets.
The only way to avoid climate catastrophe is to undertake these kinds of deep, systemic, and just transformations of our energy, food, transport, and industrial systems. But Net Zero targets are not a strategy for change. Net Zero targets are being used as a cover-up for business-as-usual.
As many statements and reports have laid bare, Net Zero emissions targets disguise climate inaction and distract from the necessary and urgent work of phasing out fossil fuels at source and localizing sustainable food systems and economies. Polluters’ Net Zero schemes are based on multiple myths and are little more than public relations campaigns. They blithely rely on assumptions that carbon offsets, tree plantations, bioenergy, and dangerous distractions such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage will somehow keep or take emissions out of the air after polluters have done their damage. Unproven technologies that have repeatedly failed, have yet to be realized, and remain non-viable at scale are being imagined as supposed solutions for continued emissions. From carbon capture and storage to direct air capture to burning plastic waste for fuel, these technologies extend and deepen the fossil economy that drives the climate crisis while imposing profound new risks on frontline communities around the world.
Governments and industries are using the “net” in Net Zero to avoid responsibility for past, present, and future emissions and create a false sense of climate progress. These Net Zero plans are premised on the notion of canceling out emissions in the atmosphere rather than eliminating their causes. Instead, “Net Zero by 2050” simply means a pledge that in 30 years’ time, governments will offset that year’s pollution — with no guarantee they will substantially cut emissions in the decades preceding. Mid-century Net Zero pledges do not keep temperature rise below 1.5°C
Frontline and Global South communities did not create the climate crisis but are facing its worst impacts. These same communities will bear the burden of the land grabs, displacement, food insecurity, environmental contamination, and intergenerational injustice that will result from attempts to compensate for big polluters’ business-as-usual operations, replicating old patterns of carbon colonialism. By prolonging the operation of polluting industries, false climate fixes concentrate emissions in marginalized communities and exacerbate the environmental and health harms borne most acutely by those on the fencelines.
As distant Net Zero targets shift the focus to the future, they obscure the responsibilities of those who created the climate crisis in the first place and who are doing too little to address it now. Moreover, in “the big con” that is Net Zero, future emissions are made invisible as well, hiding the continued and increasing emissions from fossil fuel production, plastics production, and agroindustry in a “net” that is rife with loopholes. These Net Zero plans detract from real plans and solutions towards zero emissions that can immediately, truly, and justly address the crisis we face.
Climate leadership will not be measured decades from now, but rather by the pace and scale of concrete, near-term actions taken today to phase out fossil fuels, land-grabbing industrial agriculture, and other polluting industries. “Systems change, not climate change” requires decreasing overconsumption by the Northern and Southern elite while ramping up investment in truly just and clean renewable energy sources, community-based sustainable food systems, and livelihoods. We do not lack real and necessary solutions — only the political will to enact them. To address the current climate emergency, we need real plans, real solutions, real finance, and Real Zero for an urgent just transition. NOW.RealSolutions-not-netzero.org
What We Must Demand from NM Leadership
All that is spelled out by RealSolutions-not-netzero.org is what we should be demanding from our Congress, our Governor, and our legislators, not empty, false promises and techno fixes that promise much without proof that they will work. We need other environmental organizations to wake up and publish similar information and use their relationship with the Governor to advance real climate solutions, not Net Zero hogwash. Note how the statement above explicitly identifies one of the Governor’s pet solutions as particularly heinous (hydrogen). We offer more on the hydrogen issue, as the Governor’s plan for it was featured and roundly criticized in today’ New Mexican. Our critique follows the video below.
Before we get to hydrogen, the video below nails it. If you are f-word intolerant, you may want to pass or simply mentally substitute “screwed” the few times the f-word is used. This would be very funny if it weren’t so very true.
“Clean” Hydrogen is not Clean: Another Very Bad Idea from the Governor
Today’s New Mexican featured the Governor’s intent to make hydrogen a centerpiece of her climate agenda for the 2022 legislative session. MLG is now 0 for 2 on climate ideas for the session. You’d think in an election year, she’d be seeking solutions that excite enthusiasm, not revulsion. From the New Mexican:
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called a proposal that would lay the foundation for a hydrogen fuel economy in New Mexico her administration’s “signature piece of legislation” in the 30-day session that begins in January.
But some lawmakers aren’t ready to sign on just yet.
While the proposed Hydrogen Hub Act is among the governor’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session, a number of lawmakers expressed concern Tuesday at the fast pace at which the effort is moving.
“I have so many questions; I have so many concerns,” Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, said during a discussion about hydrogen at a legislative committee meeting…
Rep. Ortez said Joseph Hernandez [NAVA Education Project organizer] had touched upon the issue very clearly, which is that it feels very fast, feels like we’re making decisions very, very quickly.Santa Fe New Mexican, “New Mexico lawmakers want to hit brakes on hydrogen fuel”
Ortez was not alone in expressing caution about the plan. Please note how she and Hernandez point to the speed with which the Governor is pressing this forward, precisely our concern about Net Zero. This seems a lot like the uncritical rush-to-pass approach used to pass the ETA in 2019. Here we go again. Ortez and Hernandez are not alone in having concerns.
This is something that has come down on us rather quickly,” said Hamblen, who chairs the committee. “In some cases, [it] feels like it might be a little too fast or too rushed and that we have opportunities that we’re not exploring.”Santa Fe New Mexican, “New Mexico lawmakers want to hit brakes on hydrogen fuel”
Sen. Liz Stefanics, D, said New Mexico is “not prepared or at the stage” to begin active hydrogen production and suggested creating a work group to delve into the issue.Santa Fe New Mexican, “New Mexico lawmakers want to hit brakes on hydrogen fuel”
And there is good reason for legislative concerns.
“We simply cannot afford to create new climate pollution,” Camilla Feibelman, director of the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement in October. “Even the more optimistic ‘blue hydrogen’ proposals aspire to only 90 percent carbon capture. When scaled up to the level of production that fossil industries are aiming for, that 10 percent creates a significant climate impact. For electricity, renewable energy and storage can do the job more efficiently and affordably with zero carbon emissions — not 10 percent, but zero.”Santa Fe New Mexican, “New Mexico lawmakers want to hit brakes on hydrogen fuel”
This is the kind of critical thinking we need from the Sierra Club, not the breathless, cheering of the launch of the Gov’s Net Zero plan we critiqued in our recent two-part post on this. Note how within Feibelman’s quote lies the hidden motivation behind the Governor’s plan — “When scaled up.” Recall that it was the Governor who famously noted “I work for you,” when speaking at a NM Oil &Gas (NMOGA) breakfast a few years ago. This hydrogen initiative has NMOGA’s fingerprints all over it. If passed, it would be used to justify sustained fossil fuel extraction.
But the reaction that really exposes the problems with hydrogen came as an online comment below the New Mexican article itself from Greg Mello, head of the Los Alamos Study Group. He begins with detailed, science-based analysis of why this simply won’t work before launching into some of the more unstated reasons why some might want to advance this bad idea.
Blue hydrogen — a technology package which does not exist — provides neither a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over just burning natural gas (as this article points out) NOR ANY NET ENERGY, as the energy in the natural gas will be entirely consumed in the process of a) producing the hydrogen, b) compressing and chilling the hydrogen, c) separating, compressing, and injecting the carbon dioxide in what is hoped will be an intact reservoir at depth, d) transporting the hydrogen, and e) Carnot inefficiencies in using the hydrogen in any engine. So it’s an energy sink, not a transformation, like an unlined ditch for water in the sand. The water will never make it to the garden. So-called “green hydrogen” has many of the same problems, starting with the energy inefficiency of its production. The embodied energy of the equipment, pipelines, new engines and vehicles etc. will be large in both cases — very large, and this will translate into unaffordability, a hint that at the underlying thermodynamic problems. Fuel cells require lots of rare materials (e.g. platinum), despite decades of research aiming at minimizing this.
The upshot is that “green hydrogen,” which requires a huge infrastructure that does not exist and can, in the best case, provide users with only a small fraction of the energy put into the process, implies either a vastly oversized renewable energy infrastructure (with its own embodied energy and pollution along the supply chain) to feed it, or else the hydrogen, and the benefits of it, become available to only a few. If it worked at all, the extreme inefficiencies of hydrogen imply, in the best case, a radically unequal society in which the remaining population in the source regions become the new “energy serfs.” There wouldn’t be enough for all but a few people. Energy, like water, will run steeply uphill to enough money, if the infrastructure were ever created to allow that.
The Governor’s hydrogen plans (which come from DOE and those who might profit from the schemes, including the oil and gas industry, those hungry for DOE grants, and politicians looking to placate oil and gas) would be merely silly, or stupid, if the opportunity costs were not so high for the state. Hydrogen, in any color, is extremely bad public policy. This sketch doesn’t include all the wrong turns in creating such a policy, which start with the assumption we can have a real energy transition with actually changing much. Many will howl, but the future will be simpler than it is now.
Meanwhile the same people who are promoting this scheme are also promoting an $18 billion plutonium warhead factory for LANL this decade. That’s enough money to supply a high-end 4 kW PV kit to every household in NM three times over, just to give an idea of what it could buy. Or 5,000 new teachers at $60K/yr for 10 years — SIX TIMES OVER. All these new corporate schemes, like hydrogen, are in a way distractions from the massive corporate giveaways already underway to predatory segments of our economy, above all so-called “defense.” The $3.7 billion coming to NM under the new infrastructure bill just passed is just 6% of the nuclear weapons budget that will be spent in NM over the coming decade. Wake up, sheeple.Santa Fe New Mexican, “New Mexico lawmakers want to hit brakes on hydrogen fuel”
Wake up indeed. But given the response from the Sierra Club and others, it appears that the Governor will really need to pull all the strings even to get the legislature to devote time to study what is so patently a bad idea. As with Net Zero, the Governor is pushing hard and fast to pass Hydrogen, so we must act quickly to organize and express our concerns.
Retake is organizing our 2022 legislative session planning with a Zoom Huddle in early December. Stay tuned for more info.
Call to Action: Contact the Governor, Speaker Egolf, and Your Legislators
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could count on the Governor and Speaker Egolf to actually lead? Leadership is more than a position, it is a responsibility to bring to your constituents courageous, well-thought-out ideas, appropriate to today’s challenges, not to present half-baked ideas that waste our time and energy. There are many real solutions offered in the Real Solutions statement, but two seem particularly germane to NM.
- Show us how your actions will rapidly cut emissions at source, on a near-term timeline consistent with science and equity, sufficient to keep global warming below 1.5°C, without relying on illusory carbon dioxide removal or other geoengineering technologies that endanger frontline communities or making harmful assumptions about natural sinks.
- Show us how you will phase out fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, industrial food systems, plastics, and other polluting industries, and invest in their replacements as needed to transform our energy, food, transport, and industrial systems
Note that in all of Real Solutions’ policy offerings, they ask for details of how each policy would work. We need the same from our Governor and the Speaker well before legislation of this import is introduced. It will be a very rushed, 30-day session in 2022, so it is imperative we know exactly what is being proposed well before the session begins. An even better idea would be to not mire the 30-day session in time-wasting, contentious battles over terrible ideas like hydrogen.
- Tell the Governor, Speaker Egolf, and your legislators that you are not impressed with the stampede to OK a Net Zero bill and hydrogen initiative.
- Tell them you want to see specific details and science-based support for anything proposed.
- Ask if they will ever entertain the kind of real solutions like those proposed by realsolutions-not-netzero.org, including how and by when we begin to shut down NM extraction. And offer the two solutions identified above and/or pick one or two of your own.
- Tell them you do not want to sustain drilling so we can produce hydrogen or waste time studying a concept that has been so roundly rejected by science.
Send them a link to this post and ask that they begin planning with real solutions.
The Speaker sent out an email about the NM Climate Summit and Net Zero, asking for input. Reference that note and let him have input, lots of it.
- Speaker Brian Egolf: email@example.com
- Governor Lujan Grisham: https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/
While you are it, send an email to Camilla Feibelman, Rio Grande Sierra Club Director, and thank her for her clear rejection of the Governor’s hydrogen plan while also noting you’d like her to use the same critical thinking when it comes to Net Zero.
- Rio Grande Sierra Club Director Camilla Feibelman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, write to Sens. Stefanics and Hamblen and Rep. Ortez to thank them for being cautious and critical and encourage them to remain vigilant. (Per their comments excerpted from The New Mexican above.)
- Sen. Carrie Hamblen: email@example.com
- Sen. Liz Stefanics: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rep. Kristina Ortez: email@example.com
To find your legislators’ contact info, go to this link at nmlegis.gov.
In solidarity and hope,
P.S. Look for another post on the PNM-Avongrid merger (yet another false promise) in afew days with guidance on how to offer input to your PRC Commissioner. We won a battle, but not the war. Stay tuned. And please take action on Net Zero today.
Categories: Climate Justice