New York state is divesting its $226 billion pension fund — the third largest in the United States — from fossil fuels by 2025.

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New York State Just Set a New Standard for Fossil Fuel Divestment

By Brian Kahn, Gizmodo, December 9, 2020

  • New York state announced a plan to divest its $226 billion pension fund from fossil fuels by 2025. That’s in addition to the state’s plan to “decarbonize the fund by 2040” — 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
  • The state will analyze the companies in its portfolio to see if they are making meaningful efforts to address climate change. If not, they will withdraw their funds and invest in “a more profitable and civilization-friendly industry.”
  • The New York state pension fund includes $300 million in Exxon stock alone.
  • The Money Quote: “With the state of New York and New York City now ready to divest, it puts enormous pressure on polluting companies. As the beating heart of capital, the city and state’s pension funds—which together total around $500 billion—no longer going to fossil fuels sends a huge signal to Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry. But it also turns up the heat on other institutional investors, notably California’s pension funds, which are the largest in the nation, to catch up. This is, essentially, an East Coast vs. West Coast rap battle for pension funds and climate nerds, and frankly, I am here for it.”

Why it matters: So far, pressure from climate groups has led to nearly $14.5 trillion in fossil fuel divestment. New York states announcement is among the largest, and could set off a domino effect for other state pension funds.

Georgia gets first solar roadway in the US

By Stephen Edelstein, Green Car Reports, December 6, 2020

  • The city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia — located in Atalanta’s metropolitan area — installed the “the first solar roadway within a city in the United States.”
  • By applying textured Wattway panels directly to the pavement, the solar road is expected to generate over 1,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. That electricity will power Level 2 electric-car chargers, which resident EV drivers can use for free.
  • Solar road technology has a ways to go, but may prove effective on driveways to power home EV charging stations.

Why it matters: Admittedly, I don’t see America’s highways being covered in solar panels any time soon. But solar driveways that power home charging stations? Yes, please! Where do I sign up?

No-kill, lab-grown meat to go on sale for first time

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Dec 1, 2020

  • US company Eat Just has been approved to sell its “cultured meat” — lab-grown slaughter-free meat — in Singapore. The approval marks the first time a cultured meat has hit the open market.
  • Cultured meat is produced by taking tissue from live animals, combining it with plant-based ingredients, and growing it in a bioreactor. The product is limited only to Singapore and will be more expensive that conventional meat until Eat Just and its competitors can scale to much larger sizes.
  • The Money Quote: Josh Tetrick, of Eat Just, said: “I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades. It’s an open door and it’s up to us and other companies to take that opportunity. My hope is this leads to a world in the next handful of years where the majority of meat doesn’t require killing a single animal or tearing down a single tree.”

Why it matters: Cultured meat is another tool we may soon have to reduce our food-based environmental impacts. In fact, a report from AT Kearney — a global consultancy — “predicted that most meat in 2040 would not come from dead animals.”

That’s only 20 years from now!

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Feature photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash.