Climate 411

Four takeaways from the first hearing of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

Hearing witnesses with Chairwoman Castor

The first hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis marked a positive move toward a meaningful and constructive conversation about climate action.

The Select Committee was created in early 2019 to compile innovative policy solutions to take action on climate change, which will be released next year.

The witness panel for the hearing last week, entitled “Generation Climate: Young Leaders Urge Climate Action Now,” was a notable departure from the norm. Rather than inviting climate science experts with decades of experience in their fields, the four witnesses were climate change leaders and activists all under the age of 24 because, as Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) noted these issues “adversely and disproportionately affect young folks.”

The witnesses drove home four points during the hearing.

  1. Policy solutions should be based on sound science

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Posted in Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy / 2 Responses

Latest EPA climate pollution data shows disturbing lack of progress

Greenhouse gas emission trends since 1990. Click to expand

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday reported that that the US made essentially no progress on climate pollution — an insignificant drop of 0.5% — even as scientists warn that without major reductions in emissions, global temperatures are on a dangerous track to increase well above 2 degrees Celsius.

Other data indicates that since 2017, the last year covered by this report, emissions have actually begun to rise. The Energy Information Agency and Rhodium Group estimate that in 2018 climate pollution from energy combustion rose 2.8 and 3.4%, respectively.

As climate pollution remains stubbornly high, the Trump administration has worked to undermine limits on carbon pollution, roll back rules on highly potent methane emissions and ducked international obligations to deal with climate change. This new report is another sign that without bold action, climate pollution will cause worsening impacts on our economy, health and future.

The dismal national climate pollution numbers contrast with pollution reductions underway in many states that have put in place aggressive policies to limit emissions and move towards clean energy even while the federal government sits on the sidelines. Read More »

Posted in Clean Air Act, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy, Science / Leave a comment

4 of the most dangerous attacks in the Trump admin’s new EPA budget proposal

The Trump administration’s federal budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year reaffirmed the White House’s misguided intent to undercut agencies and programs dedicated to protecting public health, the environment, and our climate. Similar its budget proposals of the last two years, the administration targeted EPA in particular for major reductions. In total, the administration proposed a greater than $2.7-billion-dollar reduction to EPA. That’s a 31% cut—deeper than any other agency—to an agency that is already struggling to function with a bare-bones budget that is at historic lows.

The proposal will hopefully be dead on arrival in Congress, thanks to members who recognize the importance of agencies critical to keeping people safe and healthy. However, it reveals something fundamentally unscrupulous about the administration: they see the protection of our air, water and planet as an area where corners can be cut, rules can be abandoned, and pennies can be pinched.

Nearly every EPA program is facing proposed cuts, but some of the attacks stuck out in particular for how damaging they would be to the American people. Here are 4 of the most dangerous ways the Trump administration’s proposal threatens our families and communities:

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Posted in Health, Policy / Comments are closed

Defending the Amazon, and our planet, from “Trump of the tropics”

DeforestationWithCattle&Forest_19735891_Shutterstock.com_RF

Cattle grazing at a ranch where burned trees and the edge of the rainforest are still visible in Brazil. Shutterstock.

Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro had a lot of common ground to share when they met in Washington last week – racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and contempt for science and journalism (the high quality type). They also converge on an early 1900’s view of development and environment as a zero-sum game. The more you have of one, the less there is of the other.

The economics don’t add up for either of them. Trump crows about “beautiful” coal, but the market says coal is a loser compared to renewables and cleaner fuels. Bolsonaro wants to get out of the Paris climate accord and roll back indigenous land rights in favor of agribusiness and mining. Meanwhile, the executive director of the powerful Brazilian Agribusiness Association says “Whoever wants to leave the Paris Agreement has never exported anything.”

Climate denial is central to Trump’s and Bolsonaro’s mindsets, and here the conspiracy theories really go to town. Trump thinks climate change is a Chinese conspiracy to strangle the US economy. Bolsonaro’s Foreign Minister thinks climate change is part of a “cultural Marxist” plot to keep down western democracies and build up Marxist China (he also thinks the “cultural Marxists” want to criminalize red meat and heterosexual sex). Interestingly, former President Dilma Rousseff’s first Minister of Science and Technology, former Communist Party of Brazil Congressman Aldo Rebelo, thought climate change was a capitalist conspiracy to crush Brazilian development. Why let political differences spoil a good conspiracy theory?

You can really only hold on to that early 20th century dichotomy if you ignore the costs of climate change – and the economic opportunities that arise from fixing the problem.

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Posted in Brazil, California, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, Indigenous People / Comments are closed

Accelerating clean energy innovation is key to solving the climate crisis

Co-authored by Elgie Holstein

Our nation has a history of tackling big challenges and leveraging the ingenuity of American entrepreneurs to develop solutions that have changed the world – from curing diseases to exploring space to launching the internet.

Today, climate change is one of our most urgent global challenges, for which there is little time left to prevent the most destructive impacts. To combat it, we must bring every bit of our nation’s entrepreneurial creativity and scientific excellence to bear. That means accelerating the deployment of existing low-carbon technologies as well as investing in new and emerging innovations that can transform our economy to 100% clean energy. And we have to do it quickly.

Fortunately, there are recent indications that a clean energy innovation agenda can attract bipartisan support in Congress, even as the debate over broader climate policy remains gridlocked. Recently, in the Republican-controlled Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing focused on a bipartisan bill that would invest in research on cutting- edge approaches such as direct air capture (DAC), a “negative emissions technology” (NET) that might someday be able to suck carbon pollution directly out of the air and store it or recycle it into fuel, fertilizer, and concrete. Read More »

Posted in News / Comments are closed

Andrew Wheeler takes the helm at EPA. What’s next for crucial safeguards?

Just last week, the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as EPA administrator. His installation signals a broader pivot point in defending EPA safeguards.

Over the last two years, the Trump administration’s efforts to categorically suspend crucial safeguards without public notice or comment failed across the board.

Looking ahead, Wheeler has almost two years to build on his troubling record by finalizing numerous deeply harmful major rollbacks. These rollbacks, if successful, risk thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, and billions of tons of additional climate-destabilizing pollution.

We need to be making more, faster progress towards a clean energy and transportation future – not tearing down the safeguards we have in place.

Here’s a look at where we stand on three major issues — the opportunities we could seize, as well as the challenges ahead.  Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Economics, Energy, EPA litgation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, News, Policy / Read 2 Responses