What 2023 Holds for the Fight Against Climate Change


This is what the first 20 episodes of Bloomberg Green’s Zero podcast tell us about the future of climate action.

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(Bloomberg) — A lot happened in 2022, with Russia’s war on Ukraine throwing a spanner into a global economic machine that was just getting back into gear. And, as has become a recurrent theme on our warming planet, climate news—both good and bad—kept up its relentless pace.

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At Bloomberg Green, we captured the ups and downs in a new format with the launch of the Zero podcast, which I’m fortunate to host and compile alongside producers Oscar Boyd and Christine Driscoll. So for my first newsletter of 2023, I’m going to look back at what we’ve learned from the podcast — and try to glean what kind of year the planet has in store. (Subscribe on Apple, Spotify or Google.)Climate’s Coming to the Ballot Box

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Early last year, Australians voted in what was billed as the “climate election.” And they chose to boot out a government that had been in power for nearly a decade and barely paid lip service to reducing planet-warming emissions. Handing power to the opposition, Australians elected a large group of independent lawmakers who will likely push the Labor party to be greener than it promised. What happened in Australia holds lessons for major economies, including the US, India, the UK, and Indonesia, all of which will be gearing up this year for elections in 2024.

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The Race to Green BeginsDespite the energy crisis and high inflation, or perhaps because of it, the European Union continued its process of formalizing the Green Deal. It’s a set of large-scale regulations and subsidies that will incentivize all 27 member countries to clean up energy sources and reduce energy use. However, the biggest climate news of the year came over the summer, when a surprise reversal by US senator Joe Manchin enabled the Biden administration to pass the most ambitions climate bill in American history.

The immense amount of state support for green technologies, which Bill Gates and others had long called for, has pushed climate policy from the collaboration stage to the competition stage. Already this year, France has announced a green industry bill to stop businesses from being lured away by US climate incentives. We can expect more such moves as 2023 progresses.

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New Kinds of Green Tech Will Go MainstreamThose government incentives and tax breaks will speed up the development of green technologies like never before — and encourage existing companies to transition to more sustainable business practices. Last year, we heard from Electra, a startup coming out of stealth mode, that’s able to make carbon-free iron at temperatures cooler than your coffee. Electra will be building a facility in 2023 aiming to prove its financial viability. Scaling up new technologies is hard enough, but doing it to deadline adds further stress and forces more creative solutions. Expect to hear about more breakthroughs in 2023 and see more climate tech startups grow into mature companies.

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Offsetting PitfallsDespite rising interest rates, falling stock prices, and persistent inflation, major companies doubled down on their climate goals. However, as a Bloomberg Green investigation showed, those pressures meant many turned to cheap offsets and creative tricks to meet their targets. On Zero we got Mark Trexler, who was involved in the very first offset project developed in 1988, to talk through the history of carbon offsets and why they keep failing. There is no doubt 2023 will bring more money and more people to offsets, and perhaps there will be more efforts to avoid the pitfalls.

Whither the Climate Rebellion?Outside economic and policy forces, there will no doubt be increasing political pressure in the form of protests to do more. But 2022 saw governments crack down on activists harder than before, with the UK bringing in stricter punishments and Egypt hosting a COP meeting almost devoid of activism. What will 2023 bring? Some are calling for more radical action, but the UK chapter of Extinction Rebellion, the largest of the radical groups, has said it will abandon protests that disrupt public life.

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That’s only five of 20 Zero episodes from 2022 that took listeners from Australia to Canada and the US to Egypt, ending with stories from the Bahamas to the Antarctic’s Ross Sea. For 2023, we’ll broadcast from the Swiss Alps in Davos to the urban heart of New York City. We’ll show you what cutting-edge startups in Silicon Valley have cooking and what the history of colonialism can teach us about fighting climate change.

Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple, Spotify or Google. If you have ideas about what Zero should feature next, please get in touch at zeropod@bloomberg.net.

—With assistance from Oscar Boyd and Christine Driscoll.



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