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Supply Chain Risk

What Donald Trump Taught the Electric-Car Industry

I’m never sure what to call the set of industries we need to fight climate change—the sector that encompasses solar panels, wind turbines, electric stove tops, and electric cars. Some people call it “clean tech,” but that reminds me alternately of Mr. Scrubbing Bubbles, the anthropomorphic brush, and of Apple computers from the early 2010s, gleaming unnaturally white. I prefer climate tech, but it isn’t perfect. A coal-fired power plant is climate tech in a sort of roundabout way. When geoengineering goes awry in a movie… that’s climate tech too.

Anyway, this sector—the climate-tech-but-not-in-a-geoengineering-way sector—is consolidating power in Washington. In September, some of the country’s largest energy companies merged with a wind-energy-advocacy group to found a new lobbying shop devoted to renewables: the American Clean Power Association.

The two new groups are “a classic example of what policy folks would call policy feedback,” Matto Mildenberger, a political-science professor at UC Santa Barbara, told me. “You create a new industry that creates a new set of interests that creates new bedfellows, and as that industry becomes more successful, it feeds back and increases the strength of the policy.”

Mildenberger, who favors aggressive climate action, said that ZETA’s establishment should encourage environmentalists. “It is always a good thing when powerful corporations come together to push for things that are objectively necessary.”

Yet the arrival of climate-friendly trade groups marks a new moment in the fight against climate change. For the past three decades, trade groups—the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute, even the Association of American Railroads—have almost always pushed to block aggressive climate policy.

One of ZETA’s big aspirations is to build support for EVs in a bipartisan way. Britton has worked for moderate Democrats throughout his career—he was most recently the chief of staff for Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico—but ZETA’s small staff includes members of both parties. And ZETA has an inherent advantage when appealing to Republicans, Britton said: Many GOP lawmakers drive Teslas, and love them.


Someone Else’s Weather

Rui Coelho

Today’s photo comes from Rui Coelho, on Guincho Beach, Portugal. He notes that this stretch of coastline, near Lisbon, “changes its scenery every day depending on the weather, winds, and … difference of temperature in the water and on land.”

Every week, I hope to feature a weather photo from a reader or professional in this part of the newsletter, because the climate is someone else’s weather. If you would like to submit one, please email weeklyplanet@theatlantic.com.


When We Last Spoke…

Two weeks ago, I reported that Jeff Bezos had started doling out grants from his $10 billion Earth Fund. The Amazon chief executive had selected five mainstream environmental nonprofits, such as the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund, to receive gifts of $100 million each. Four smaller groups would receive smaller gifts, I reported.

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