Extreme Temperature Diary- Friday November 27th, 2020/ Main Topic: Why Biden’s Pick Of Janet Yellen At The Department Of Treasury Is Important For Climate

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Why Biden’s Pick Of Janet Yellen At The Department Of Treasury Is Important For Climate

Dear Diary. Elections do have consequences, as we all painfully know by now since 2016. Our climate is affected by many policy facets of a U.S. Presidential Administration, not just from such organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, under control by the President. If oil and coal interests are propped up by finances and deregulation, they will continue to thrive. That’s why it’s important for Biden to pick someone to head the Department of Treasury that is willing to starve the beast, choking off any money to keep our old fossil fuel dinosaurs alive, while also investing in renewables.

Enter Biden’s pick for the Treasury Department, Janet Yellen. Will she be good for our progress towards a green future? The answer to that question is yes reading this latest Washington Post report:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/11/25/energy-202-what-janet-yellen-pick-treasury-means-climate-policy/

The Energy 202: What the Janet Yellen pick for Treasury means for climate policy

By Dino Grandoni

November 25, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. PST

with Alexandra Ellerbeck

Joe Biden just made one of his most important picks when it comes to his climate agenda.

It wasn’t the energy secretary or Environmental Protection Agency chief. It was the head of the Treasury Department.

Janet L. Yellen, the president-elect’s pick to run the treasury at a critical time, may play a crucial role in getting corporations to take global warming seriously if confirmed by the Senate.

Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, has sounded off on the need to address climate change. Climate activists now hope the department will guide the Biden administration’s tax, regulatory and budget policies with that in mind.

Janet L. Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve in 2017. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

Climate change can hit the balance sheets of banks when fires and floods damage indebted homeowners and business — and when regulators take steps to cut emissions that leaves some companies, such as oil drillers, in a lurch.

Governments, Yellen said earlier this month, need to consider those liabilities “as a risk to banking organizations,” too.

“We need public policy oriented toward making a big difference on climate change,” she added during a Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

The choice of Yellen, made public Monday, is both another sign of Biden’s government-wide approach to addressing climate change and the return of another Obama-era figure to the highest levels of government in Washington. This week, Biden also chose former secretary of state John Kerry to be his chief climate envoy.

The treasury secretary probably will be a key figure in addressing both climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

Under President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spearheaded the move to prop up the economy during the coronavirus pandemic by distributing emergency funds. Should Congress pass another economic recovery package, Yellen would oversee the management of new stimulus funds.

As treasury secretary, she would also chair the Financial Stability Oversight Council, where she can play a role in getting banks and other businesses to assess and mitigate the risk that rising temperatures pose to their bottom lines.

That body was set up in the wake of the 2008 housing market crash to coordinate financial regulation and identify emerging market risks. Mindy Lubber, head of the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres, said climate change is one of those new threats to the finance sector.

“If there is anything covid taught us, it’s that you can shock the system,” Lubber said. “We don’t want it to happen again. And climate risk is as great, if not bigger, than the subprime meltdown risk at the end of the 2000s, or covid risk.”

As the country’s chief tax collector, the treasury is also in charge of handing out tax credits to companies that operate solar panels, construct wind turbines and develop projects that capture carbon dioxide emissions. 

Bracken Hendricks, a co-founder and senior policy adviser of the environmental group Evergreen, said he would like Yellen to consider boosting some of those clean energy tax breaks by turning them into direct grants — a move taken by the Obama administration during the Great Recession.

“Treasury can be catalytic in moving recovery funds into hard-hit domestic industries, like clean energy,” he said.

During the campaign, Biden also has promised to end subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies. Yellen would be able to reassess those tax breaks for fossil-fuel firms.

Yellen has been talking about climate change for a long time. 

As an early backer of the Kyoto Protocol, a climate treaty scrapped by President George W. Bush, Yellen saw climate change as a risk to the financial system back in the late 1990s, when she was a top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Since stepping down from the Fed in 2018, Yellen has backed the idea of taxing carbon emissions and returning the proceeds to Americans as a quarterly check — an idea popular with many economists and even with some former Cabinet officials for Republican presidents.

But in a paper published last month with Mark Carney, former head of the Bank of England, she wrote that “carbon prices alone are not enough.” 

Yellen also called for compelling banks to run stress tests on their exposure to climate risk and companies to set targets for reducing emissions from their operations.

Left-leaning Democrats were pleased with the pick — mostly.

Yellen wasn’t the first choice of progressive climate activists. Among their favorites instead were Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former deputy treasury secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin.

But Moira Birss, co-coordinator of policy at Stop the Money Pipeline, said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the Yellen pick. She was among several environmental activists who brought attention to the importance of the Cabinet post for climate policy. 

Birss would like to see the Biden administration take even more aggressive steps, such as putting in place capital requirements on banks lending to oil, gas and coal projects and limits on how much their portfolios can be made up of fossil fuels. 

“The climate movement is going to be pushing really hard to make that happen,” she said. 

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Yes, it’s one thing to have great transitional leadership provided by incoming climate envoy John Kerry but another to back up policy with some real teeth. Kerry cannot implement good climate policy unless those in charge of the purse strings back him up. After all, capitalism will make the world go round for a long time to come. We’ll need to keep a close eye on financial institutions in the next few years to see if indeed necessary incentive is occurring for our climate and our children’s future.

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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