Climate 411

Climate change threatens Louisiana’s future, but the state is taking bold action to increase its resilience

Louisiana has lost 2,000 square miles of coastal wetlands in less than a century, threatening communities from sea level rise and more intense hurricanes. Photo: Leslie Von Pless, EDF

Louisiana represents the paradox of a modern state shaped by a history of fossil fuel-supported development and structural racism that is now dealing with the climate-driven and social impacts of those choices.

As it attempts to do so, it has become a center of climate adaptation and resilience practices, and more recently, climate mitigation efforts, while seeking the right balance for its people, economy and environment.

The results so far look like this:

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Also posted in Basic Science of Global Warming, Extreme Weather, News, Science / Comments are closed

This Fourth of July, we have an opportunity for independence from harmful vehicle pollution

Photo by Pixabay

As millions of Americans hit the road this weekend to visit loved ones and celebrate the Fourth of July, there is increasing reason for optimism that our road trips of the future will be in vehicles that do not emit any pollution.

This past week, the Environmental Protection Agency sent proposed motor vehicle emissions standards to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The proposed action will include strengthened pollution standards for new passenger vehicles through model year 2026, which will reduce climate and health-harming pollution and help correct the prior administration’s rollbacks to our nation’s clean car standards.

EPA’s proposed standards will be an important, near-term step forward.

But the Biden administration has an even bigger opportunity in front of it – to clearly articulate a bold, long-term vision to eliminate tailpipe pollution from new motor vehicles, one that ensures at least 60% of new passenger cars and trucks sold in the U.S. by 2030 are zero-emitting and that all new vehicles sold by 2035 are zero-emitting.

Realizing this vision would have enormous benefits for Americans’ health, the climate, and our pocketbooks:

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Also posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Green Jobs, Jobs, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

What Pennsylvania’s move toward a clean energy future means for the region

This blog was co-authored by Taylor Bacon, Analyst with the U.S. Clean Air team at EDF.

Editor’s note: This post was last updated Sept 27, 2021.

As Pennsylvania moves forward with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), questions are being raised about how this will impact Pennsylvania’s neighbors: West Virginia and Ohio. Will coal plant jobs be lost to these states? And will emissions from Pennsylvania shift there too?

While ultimately, to achieve our climate goals, we need power generation across the country covered by a program that reduces carbon pollution, Pennsylvania’s move to tackle carbon pollution now — before states like Ohio and West Virginia — will help the state prepare to be a leader in the zero carbon future and protect the communities that are impacted by the energy transition already underway.

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Posted in Cities and states / Read 3 Responses

What the SEC can do to protect investors, companies, and people from another Texas power crisis

This post was co-authored by David G. Victor of the Brookings Institution and EDF’s Stephanie H. Jones and Michael Panfil. It is also posted here

 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering making important changes in disclosure requirements to reflect the growing recognition that climate change poses significant risks to the U.S. financial system. This week, hundreds of investors, companies, and concerned Americans, including EDF, responded to the SEC’s request for public input on climate change disclosure.

The Brookings Institution’s recent analysis on the intersection of climate change and financial markets has shown that a significant blind spot for financial institutions is how the physical impacts of a warming world affects assets. But, outside of insurance, relatively little has been said about financial vulnerabilities stemming from extreme weather.

The massive storm that hit Texas in February — known as Winter Storm Uri — highlights the dangers of ignoring the physical risks of climate change. Frigid temperatures and ensuing blackouts led to the deaths of more than 150 people and caused billions of dollars in damages. The blackouts also disrupted dozens of public companies, hundreds of small businesses, and millions of lives, raising a slew of questions for public officials.

EDF and Brookings have now released a new report, What Investors and the SEC Can Learn from the Texas Power Crises, in which we focus on one of those questions: what did the financial markets know about the odds and impacts of a storm like this before it happened?  Our report looks at SEC regulatory disclosures made by publicly-traded electric utilities and suppliers in Texas, and offers a clear answer: not much. Read More »

Also posted in Economics, Energy, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed

Governor Inslee is leading the race against climate change. Other governors should keep up.

This post was co-authored by Katelyn Roedner Sutter, Senior Manager, U.S. Climate at EDF

Washington state just officially became the country’s frontrunner on climate action. On Monday, Governor Inslee signed a landmark cap-and-invest bill, called the Climate Commitment Act, which sets the most ambitious limit on climate pollution of any state in the nation. The bill will rapidly drive down emissions in line with Washington’s science-based, climate goals: 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 95% by 2050. And in addition to putting the state on the path to a safer climate, the Climate Commitment Act makes crucial steps toward improving local air quality.

Washington’s game-changing legislation arrives at a critical moment for the climate crisis. President Biden has just pledged to cut national emissions 50-52% by 2030, recapturing U.S. climate leadership on the global stage ahead of a major UN climate convening at the end of the year. But it will take serious work to meet this national commitment — a sharp and unwavering focus on putting a policy framework in place that is capable of fully ensuring that pollution declines at the pace and scale required. Washington state is showing exactly how that is done.

The role of state-led action on climate remains vital in meeting this collective challenge too. While Washington state is one of many states to make climate pledges over the past four years, it is one of the few states that is actually delivering policy action to meet them. With the Climate Commitment Act now signed into law, this legislation should serve as a model for other states and for federal policymakers in crafting strong climate policy that 1) meets the urgency of the climate crisis and 2) is designed to make progress in addressing the disproportionate burden of pollution.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 1 Response

Pennsylvania just reached a critical milestone on the path to a clean energy future

Somerset Wind Farm

Four of the wind turbines on the Somerset Wind Farm, in Somerset, Pennsylvania. PC: Jeff Kubina.

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released its final rule to link the state with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce carbon pollution from the state’s power plants starting in 2022. This is a momentous step, not only for Pennsylvania, but for the country’s fight against climate change: The Keystone state has the fourth dirtiest power sector in the nation in terms of carbon pollution. With this action, Governor Tom Wolf is showing much-needed leadership on cutting carbon pollution from the power sector, which is a critical piece of achieving the state’s climate goals along with a strong and comprehensive rule to cut methane emissions from existing sources of oil and gas infrastructure in the state.

The final rule stems from a 2019 Executive Order issued by Governor Wolf that came after years of inaction by the legislature to address the substantial air pollution coming from the state’s power sector. The next major step is for the rule to be approved by the Environmental Quality Board in the third quarter of this year and it will then move through the final steps necessary before publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Despite misleading criticisms levied at the program, there is strong support in Pennsylvania for moving forward with limits on carbon, with 79% of Pennsylvanians supporting strict limits on carbon pollution.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed