Green Sheet: Greta Thunberg rejects climate-change prize: ‘Climate movement does not need any more awards’

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Evidence of the increasing effects of climate change is building, as are the investing opportunities and changes in consumer habits linked to environmental concerns and resource use. Here are select dispatches about the companies responding to customer demands and climate risk, the ESG investors and their advisers, and the policy-makers, enterprising individuals and scientists preparing for tomorrow.

Keep your prize, says teen activist. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swede behind the millions-strong protests against climate-change inaction, declined an environmental prize worth $52,000 this week. “I want to thank the Nordic Council [including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland] for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “What we need is for our politicians and the people in power (to) start to listen to the current, best available science.”

Thunberg, in California for the Youth Climate Strike in Los Angeles, also criticized Nordic countries, which “have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing,” she said in the post. In September, Thunberg gave an impassioned speech before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here, I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” she said then, in calling out world leaders for not moving quickly enough to combat climate change.

These auto makers side with Trump in emissions fight. General Motors GM, -0.79%   , Fiat Chrysler FCAU, +5.27%   , Toyota TM, +0.25%   and others in the auto industry are newly siding with the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the right to set its own greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards, the Associated Press reported earlier this week, a move earning a “thank-you” tweet from the president “for standing with us for Better, Cheaper, Safer Cars for Americans.”

The three companies, plus lobby group the Association of Global Automakers, plan to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Defense Fund against the administration, which is planning to roll back national pollution and gas mileage standards enacted under the Obama administration. In the past, most of the industry — which needs clarity for design, wants to adapt to changing consumer demands and faces expensive regulation costs if states vary their rules — had taken the stance preferring one standard, and that California, with tougher rules, and the Trump administration work out differences.

A spokesman for the coalition of car companies told the Washington Post that they are hoping that by taking this position they can force California and the other auto companies and the White House to compromise on one standard somewhere in the middle of the two sides’ proposals.

Dark money in climate politics. The Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis held a hearing Tuesday on “Dark Money and Barriers to Climate Action” that explored the fossil fuel money behind years of counter research to climate-change findings.

Groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce have long used their lobbying power to stop climate legislation as well as stymy efforts to spur clean energy, write Monica Medina and Miro Korenha of the Our Daily Planet newsletter. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat of Rhode Island, made it clear in the hearing that he wants Senate Democrats to be given subpoena power to investigate how much money groups like the Chamber receive to fund climate denial as this would be important public information and is part of broader scrutiny of campaign finance.

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Inroads for milk-bottle reuse. Plastic milk bottles are being recycled to make roads in South Africa as potholes cost the country’s road users an estimated $3.4 billion per year in vehicle repairs and injuries, as well as damaged freight, according to the South African Road Federation, CNN reported.

In August, Shisalanga Construction became the first company in South Africa to lay a section of road that’s partly plastic, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province on the east coast. Shisalanga uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a thick plastic typically used for milk bottles. A local recycling plant turns it into pellets, which are heated to 190 degrees Celsius until they dissolve and are mixed with additives, the article detailed. The cost is similar to existing methods, but Shisalanga believes there will be a financial saving as its roads are expected to last longer than the national average of 20 years.

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