People in Brazil can’t believe their eyes as freak snow blankets 40 cities

Snow in Brazil at night.
Some Brazilians are seeing snow for the first time.

  • Parts of Brazil have seen snow for the first time in 64 years due to an uncharacteristic cold spell.
  • In Rio Grande do Sul, the snow has threatened agriculture, with sugar and coffee prices rising.
  • The snowfall is exciting for many Brazilians who have never experienced it before.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Brazilians are marveling upon seeing snow for the first time in their lives, with rare low temperatures hitting the country and causing a rise in coffee prices.

Snow fell overnight on Thursday for the first time in 64 years due to a polar air mass traveling towards the country’s sub-tropical center-south, blanketing the streets.

Snow in Brazil.
Rare snowfall in Brazil.

More than 40 cities found themselves facing icy conditions, and at least 33 municipalities saw snow, according to the meteorology company Somar Meteorologia.

In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the snow has threatened agriculture, with coffee, sugarcane, and orange crops all potentially at risk.

Coffee and sugar prices have already risen across the world following Brazil’s uncharacteristic cold spell.

For some Brazilians, the novelty was an exciting opportunity to take pictures and make snowmen, with some expressing their disbelief on social media.

“I am 62 years old and had never seen the snow, you know? To see nature’s beauty is something indescribable,” said truck driver Iodor Goncalves Marques in Cambara do Sul, a municipality of Rio Grande do Sul state, speaking to TV Globo network.

Brazilians braced themselves for the coldest day of the year on Friday, with freezing temperatures and strong winds of up to 80 km/h (49 mph) across the country.

“It was worth it. Actually, you almost do not feel the cold because of how exciting the snow is. It is marvelous, it is marvelous!” Brazilian Joselaine da Silva Marques told TV Globo while enjoying the snow in Cambara do Sul.

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30 million people are under extreme heat alerts as parts of the West see record high temperatures

Extreme heat warning sign California
The Western US has seen extreme temperatures so far this year

  • More than 30 million people are under excessive heat warnings in the US.
  • Parts of the West have been facing record-breaking high temperatures for weeks.
  • June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in the US, according to the NOAA.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than 30 million people are under excessive heat warnings or heat advisories as record temperatures are experienced in the West, according to the National Weather Service.

Death Valley in Eastern California reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, one of the hottest recorded temperatures on earth. Forecasters warned temperatures on Sunday could be just as high, encouraging people to heed warnings and not put themselves or first responders in danger in the extreme heat.

An all-time high temperature of 117 degrees was recorded Saturday evening at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, causing flights to be canceled or delayed.

Read more: The Biden administration has named a secretive private equity mogul with significant investment interests in climate-related businesses to help shape the US’s response to the climate crisis

Some cities in California experienced record high temperatures on Saturday, including 120 degrees in Palm Springs, The Los Angeles Times reported. Officials in the state asked residents to conserve electricity due to the toll on state’s power grid and threats from wildfires.

Areas of the Western US have been experiencing dangerously high temperatures for weeks. Hundreds of deaths and more than 1,100 hospitalizations were linked to a brutal heat wave in the Pacific Northwest late last month.

Some Northwest cities experienced multiple days in a row of triple-digit temperatures. The heatwaves and accompanying power outages forced some people out of their homes and into cooling centers.

June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in the US, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Almost half of all global assets under management are now geared towards net-zero goals, according to a group of fund managers

Students protest in Auckland's Aotea Square over climate change on March 15, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Students protest in Auckland’s Aotea Square over climate change on March 15, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand.

  • $43 trillion worth of assets under management globally are now linked to net zero emissions goals via the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative.
  • 41 firms have joined the initiative, raising the amount of funds managed with an ESG focus.
  • Asset managers are aiming to bring client portfolios to net zero by 2050 under the initiative.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Almost half of all global assets under management are now geared towards net zero goals after 41 more firms joined the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative – a group of fund managers that aim to lower the carbon footprint of their clients’ portfolios and reach net zero by 2050.

The group said on Tuesday it now had 128 signatories that manage $43 trillion of the $100 trillion strong asset management industry, saying that this moved the sector closer to a “net zero tipping point”.

“This marks a fundamental tipping point across the investment sector and a significant boost in efforts to tackle climate change and decarbonize the global economy. There’s a lot more to achieve, but the sector is increasingly on a path to a net zero future.” Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change – one of the founding members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative – said.

The initiative, which was founded in December 2020 and is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Race to Zero campaign, sees asset management firms committed to supporting emissions reductions in the real economy, developing investment products that are geared towards net zero and encouraging clients to invest in a climate friendly way.

Signatories report their progress annually according to guidelines set by the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

In May, the International Energy Agency published a special report that concluded that in order to achieve net zero by 2050, there should be no new investments in fossil-fuel supply projects as well as a series of other limitations, including on the funding for coal-fired power plants.

Amundi and HSBC Asset Management are among those that joined competitors including BlackRock, Vanguard, UBS, Fidelity, State Street and Allianz. Other major investment banks such as JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and BNY Mellon have however not signed up to the net-zero plans so far.

Earlier this year, HSBC narrowly avoided a shareholder revolt over its continued fossil fuel investments. It later committed to end funding for the coal industry.

“As the world moves to a net zero carbon future, we are committed to playing our part in addressing climate change, both as a business and as stewards of our clients’ assets.” Nicolas Moreau, the CEO of its asset management unit said about the move to now join the net zero initiative.

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Exxon lobbyist pressured lawmakers to remove climate measures from Biden’s initial $2 trillion infrastructure plan, report says

exxonmobil refinery oil
A view of the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown, Texas September 15, 2008.

  • An Exxon lobbyist reportedly pushed for Congress to cut climate measures from the infrastructure plan.
  • He said in a recording he lobbied key senators to take climate provisions out of Biden’s $2 trillion plan.
  • Biden has since reached an agreement with a bipartisan group that cut out many climate provisions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Whether to include climate provisions in an infrastructure plan has been a major point of contention between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. But new recordings reveal outside influences may have also had a hand at determining the role climate should play.

The UK’s Channel 4 News obtained recordings from Unearthed, Greenpeace UK’s investigative platform, that showed a lobbyist for oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, Keith McCoy, saying the company had fought legislative action on climate change. He was talking on a Zoom call in which Unearthed investigators posed as headhunters looking to hire a lobbyist for their client.

McCoy said he had lobbied key senators to remove or diminish climate change measures from President Joe Biden’s original $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, and he added that ExxonMobil had joined “shadow groups” to pursue climate change denial.

“Why would you put in something on emissions reductions on climate change to oil refineries in a highway bill?” McCoy said in the recording. “So, people say, ‘Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense,’ so then you get to the germane of saying that shouldn’t be in this bill.”

In a lengthy statement to Channel 4 News, ExxonMobil said that Greenpeace has waged a “multi-decade campaign” against the company, which has included “false claims and unlawful actions” at the company’s facilities.

“We have supported climate science for decades,” ExxonMobil said in the statement. “Greenpeace and others have distorted our position on climate science and our support for effective policy solutions.”

McCoy also said that ExxonMobil’s public support for a carbon tax lies under the assumption that the carbon tax will never happen, allowing the company to support the tax to appear green. The company responded to that claim in its statement by saying it has been “clear in supporting an efficient, economy-wide price on carbon.”

These recordings come after Biden reached an agreement with a bipartisan group of senators on a new infrastructure plan that is more than half of his initial proposal, with many climate-related measures cut out. For example, as Insider previously reported, $213 billion for affordable, green housing was cut from the plan, along with $35 billion in climate research.

That’s why many Democrats are calling for the bipartisan deal to be passed alongside a reconciliation bill that would include the care-economy measures cut, like affordable housing and free community college, along with substantial climate-related measures.

“I’ve said all along: no climate, no deal,” Democratic Sen. Ed Markey wrote on Twitter last week. “The bipartisan framework doesn’t get us there. So I agree with our leadership that this must be resolved in reconciliation. Until then, I’m still no climate, no deal – let’s get this done.”

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Biden seizes on extreme weather to tout infrastructure: ‘We gotta make lemonades out of lemons here’

President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden.

  • Extreme heat is hitting the west coast as experts see increased wildfire potential for the region.
  • Biden met with western governors to tout his infrastructure plan as a remedy to the climate crisis.
  • “We gotta make lemonades out of lemons here,” he told lawmakers about climate change.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Extreme heat is hitting the west coast just as wildfire season is approaching, and experts predict above-normal fire potential for much of the region, which could have devastating impacts.

The record heat wave has melted power cables in Portland and hospitals in the west are seeing an influx of patients due to heat, prompting President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to meet with western governors to discuss best methods for wildfire preparation and prevention.

Biden said his bipartisan infrastructure deal could be part of the solution.

“We gotta make lemonades out of lemons here,” Biden said during a Wednesday roundtable with Western governors. “We have a chance to do something that not only deals with the problem today, but allows us to be in a position to move forward – and create real good jobs, by the way, generate economic growth.”

Last week, Biden reached an agreement with a bipartisan group of senators on a near $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, including $579 billion in new spending largely focused on rebuilding physical infrastructure. But as Biden noted during the roundtable, the plan also includes $50 billion to build resilience to extreme weather events, like wildfires, along with increasing firefighter pay to $15 an hour to ensure they are “fairly paid for the grueling work they are willing to take on,” according to a White House fact sheet.

Although Biden is promoting the bipartisan deal as a climate remedy, Democratic lawmakers have criticized the plan for cutting many climate-related elements out of the president’s initial proposal. For example, as Insider previously reported, $213 billion for affordable, green housing was cut from the plan, along with $35 billion in climate research.

That’s why many Democrats are calling for the bipartisan deal to be passed alongside a reconciliation bill that would include the care-economy measures cut, like affordable housing and free community college, along with substantial climate-related measures.

“I’ve said all along: no climate, no deal,” Democratic Sen. Ed Markey wrote on Twitter last week. “The bipartisan framework doesn’t get us there. So I agree with our leadership that this must be resolved in reconciliation. Until then, I’m still no climate, no deal – let’s get this done.”

The White House’s domestic climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said during a forum held by Punchbowl News on Wednesday that the reconciliation bill should include robust climate investments, saying that they “do have some bottom lines in this.”

A memo written by McCarthy and White House senior adviser Anita Dunn said that Biden remains committed to “using all the tools at his disposal” to fight the climate crisis.

They wrote: “As we work to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, we will also continue to advance the full suite of proposals in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan through additional congressional action, including budget reconciliation, to ensure we build back our economy and country better.”

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Biden says he’ll increase the ‘ridiculously low’ pay of federal firefighters, who can sometimes make $20,000 less than state firefighters

california fires
Members of firefighters walk in line during a wildfire in Yucaipa, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

President Joe Biden promised on Tuesday to increase the wages of federal firefighters across the country, who he said make “ridiculously low” wages while fighting deadly fires.

“The last few days alone, we’ve seen droughts and wildfires in the West,” said Biden. “I didn’t realize this, I have to admit – that federal firefighters get paid $13 an hour. That’s going to end in my administration.”

Federal firefighters are paid according to the Federal General Schedule payscale. Entry-level pay is determined by “the level of difficulty, responsibility, and qualifications required” by the job.

Starting salaries may take education level, military experience, and location into consideration, ranging from $19,738 to $48,978. New Jersey, California, Washington, New York, and Hawaii are the top-paying states for firefighters.

Nationwide, the average yearly salary for federal firefighters is approximately $55,000, with local firefighters making slightly more at around $57,500. In 2019, the U.S. median household income was $68,703.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a Forest Service firefighter’s starting salary is more than $20,000 less than the starting salary for Cal Fire firefighters, Senators wrote in a letter to Congress on Tuesday. This is despite the fact that the federal government manages a majority of California’s forest land.

In the letter, Senators wrote that while the annual wildfire season grows longer and more intense, agencies are struggling to hire and retain federal firefighters due to low pay. The proposed bill language would restructure the federal firefighter pay grade to be comparable to wildland firefighters employed by state and local governments.

In 2020, 70% of the nationwide acreage burned by wildfires was on federal lands.

The federal budget to pay firefighters comes through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI). Their combined wildfire management budget has nearly doubled over the past ten years, with a budget of $6.11 billion appropriated in 2020.

The 2021 wildfire season is estimated to exceed last year’s record number of fires. Biden will hold a meeting next week to discuss preparing the nation for heat, wildfires, and drought.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some Senate Democrats say they will oppose infrastructure deal with GOP if climate measures are dropped, potentially derailing package

Ron Wyden
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asks questions to a panel of pharmaceutical company CEOs during a hearing held by the Senate Finance Committee on “Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II” February 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from a panel of pharmaceutical company CEOs on the reasons for rising costs of prescription drugs.

  • Some Democratic senators say they will oppose a bipartisan infrastructure deal that doesn’t address climate crisis.
  • “On a big infrastructure bill, to pass on climate altogether? No way,” Sen. Ron Wyden told Insider on Thursday.
  • Biden’s willingness to pursue a deal may produce a watered-down plan with Republicans that may cost him Democratic support.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A group of Senate Democrats are ratcheting up their criticism of ongoing infrastructure negotiations with Republicans – and a few are warning they would derail a deal that omits climate change measures.

At least six Democratic senators have publicly raised concern that a bill negotiated with Republicans would produce a watered-down package inadequate to meet the scale of the climate crisis over the past week. They include Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; Martin Heinrich of New Mexico; and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

But a pair of Democrats are going further. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Ed Markey of Massachusetts have both said in recent days that they would oppose a package that didn’t include provisions to aggressively combat climate change. That’s been a top priority for the Biden administration

“On a big infrastructure bill, to pass on climate altogether? No way,” Wyden told Insider on Thursday. “Think I’m blunt enough? No way.”

Markey was similarly stark.

“We can’t have an infrastructure bill in 2021 that doesn’t have climate at its center,” Markey said in an MSNBC interview on the same day. “No climate, no deal.”

The increasing tempo of criticism represents a major challenge for President Joe Biden as he continues pursuing a bipartisan infrastructure deal. He laid out a sprawling proposal to accelerate the nation’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy with measures like federal support to build a network of electric-vehicle charging stations.

Other provisions include green-energy tax incentives and money to retrofit homes into energy-efficient ones. But Republicans have dismissed the climate plans as measures going far beyond their infrastructure definition, which is confined to roads, bridges, and broadband.

Biden has expressed a willingness to cut his initial proposal, a move that could cost him Democratic support in both the Senate and House and derail the plan. Still, some GOP senators argue that Democrats should be satisfied with a focus on shoring up the country’s ability to endure the worsening catastrophes.

“If they’re looking for a line item that says ‘climate,’ they’re not going to see that. As we know, climate initiatives can be incorporated in so much,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters on Thursday. “If you have support for dealing with the threats of erosion and flooding and the superstorms – that is climate-related.”

Murkowski added: “We kind of capture so much of it in the resiliency area. If people look to the specifics, they’ll see that there is plenty there.”

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Daily Mail and Fox News pushed misleading claims about Biden limiting meat consumption. Conservatives like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene lashed out at the president anyway.

lauren boebert
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) attends the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 27, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

  • False claims spread this week about Biden limiting Americans’ meat consumption.
  • Biden has not released any plans related to meat consumption.
  • Prominent conservatives amplified the misleading claims online with widely shared tweets.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

False claims about President Joe Biden’s plans for addressing the climate crisis spread online this week, but the lack of truth over the claims didn’t stop Republican lawmakers from responding to or repeating them.

The Daily Mail published a story Thursday with a headline that began: “How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH.” It included unsubstantiated claims that in order to meet Biden’s plan Americans would need to “cut 90% of red meat out of diet” and “only eat 4lbs a year.”

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shared a screenshot from Fox News that echoed the claims, labeled as “Biden climate requirements,” along with the limit of “one burger per month.”

Read more: Republicans keep denying evidence they don’t like – as a former Republican and polar bear scientist, I know exactly how dangerous this can be

Fox News show host Larry Kudlow said: “Speaking of stupid, there’s a study coming out of the University of Michigan which says that to meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat, stop eating poultry and fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, and animal-based fats.”

In fact, the University of Michigan study cited by the Daily Mail and Fox was published in January 2020 and is not related to Biden or his climate plan. According to the authors, the study analyzes “hypothetical reduction in the consumption of animal-based foods in the US diet” and relies on “a number of simplifying assumptions.” It is not a policy proposal or suggestion.

When reached by CNN’s Daniel Dale, one of the authors said: “I, admittedly, have no idea what Biden’s plan has to say about our diets.”

Biden announced on Thursday that the US will aim to cut carbon emission 50% by 2030, but he has released few details on how his administration plans to meet that goal. During the announcement, Biden made no mention of Americans’ meat consumption.

The Daily Mail and Fox News did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The claims about Biden’s plan were amplified by conservatives on Twitter, including members of Congress.

GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted the false claims, saying “Joe Biden’s climate plan includes cutting 90% of red meat from our diets by 2030. They want to limit us to about four pounds a year. Why doesn’t Joe stay out of my kitchen?”

Fellow freshman GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted an apparent reference to the false claims, writing “The Hamburglar,” alongside a photo of Biden eating a burger. She added in quotes: “No burgers for thee, but just for me.”

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the Fox News screenshot, saying: “I’m pretty sure I ate 4 pounds of red meat yesterday. That’s going to be a hard NO from me.”

Representatives for Boebert and Greene did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. Representatives for Abbott and Trump Jr. could not be reached.

All of the tweets mentioned above that spread the false or misleading claims were liked and shared thousands of times on Twitter.

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Act to Impact: Klaus Schwab and Marguerite Ward Fireside
Ahead of the newsletter launch, Insider senior reporter Marguerite Ward interviewed Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman and founder of the World Economic Forum.

Just over three years ago, Insider launched Better Capitalism, a section focused on how companies are moving beyond financial targets and actively contributing to a better world for their employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Sustainability has been a key topic we’ve covered along the way, and it’s only gaining momentum in the conversation around stakeholder capitalism. Last year, Microsoft, Apple, Ford, Starbucks, and other major corporations made big pledges to reduce, eliminate, or offset their carbon emissions. In January of this year, GM announced it would only sell electric vehicles by 2035 and pledged to be completely carbon neutral by 2040.

At the same time, the demand for ESG investing – which integrates environmental, social, and governance goals with investment – has skyrocketed, while more companies have agreed to report on their progress on ESG criteria.

Helping to lead this movement is Klaus Schwab, executive chairman and founder of the World Economic Forum, who convenes economic and political leaders annually to discuss innovative ways to reshape and advance industries. During Insider’s climate-focused virtual event, Act to Impact, on April 20, Schwab said the surge in interest in ESG means customers, investors, and leaders are focused on accountability. He also noted that there are over 300 ESG proxy issues headed to vote this spring.

“Leaders have a new mindset,” Schwab told Insider. “We have a new social consciousness.”

He also spoke about how the pandemic has only increased people’s alertness and sensitivity to corporate social responsibility, which includes how companies treat the environment.

The event also featured insight from David Sproul, the Global Deputy Chief Executive of Deloitte; Rebecca Marmot, the Chief Sustainability Officer of Unilever; Ruth Davis, the Director of IBM’s Call for Code initiative; Alice Sharp, the Artistic Director of Invisible Dust; and more.

Insider is investing more into our sustainability coverage by launching our newsletter, Insider Sustainability. With our new sustainability reporter, Karen K. Ho (who previously wrote for Quartz), at the helm, we’re highlighting the ways in which government, businesses, and society are coalescing responsible climate choice with their practices.

We look forward to sharing these stories with you. Subscribe to Insider Sustainability.

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SIGN UP NOW: Leaders and climate activists from the World Economic Forum and more discuss sustainable solutions

Klaus Schwab
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive director of The World Economic Forum and author of “Stakeholder Capitalism.”

  • For businesses, taking action on climate change requires moving from strategy to action.
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  • On April 20, 2021, Insider is hosting a free virtual event at noon ET, featuring speakers from the World Economic Forum and Deloitte.
  • Click here to register for this free virtual event.

There’s work to be done in the fight against climate change.

Insider’s virtual event “Act to Impact: Keeping our Promises to the Planet,” presented by Deloitte, takes place Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at noon ET, and includes live conversations with Insider editors and leaders from large corporations in the finance and CPG sectors, climate activists and experts, artists and scholars, as well as climate tech changemakers.

Session will discuss actionable and measurable outcomes, advanced sustainable solutions across sectors, how transformative technologies can help take action forward and what part art and society at large play in the climate change movement.

Speakers include:

  • Punit Renjen, CEO, Deloitte Global
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