Climate 411

Rhetoric to reality: U.S. states must turn climate commitments into policies that deliver

With an incoming Biden-Harris administration, many Americans are hopeful for a complete reversal of the Trump administration’s assault on climate and environmental progress at the federal level. While that change in federal leadership will be game-changing for the U.S., we cannot forget about the progress that state leaders have made on climate these last four years. It is imperative for our health, economies and ecosystems that we continue to hold them to it.

To curb the most catastrophic impacts of climate change — from species collapse to financial breakdown — we must meet an incredibly ambitious timeline for reducing emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reducing global emissions to around 45% below what they were in 2010 by 2030 and continuing to reduce emissions dramatically through 2050 is consistent with a path that can avert devastating impacts of climate change.

Meeting those targets will require strong action at every level of government and from every sector of the economy.

A new report by Environmental Defense Fund using emission projections data from Rhodium Group’s U.S. Climate Service shows that, collectively, states that have made climate commitments are not on track to bring their emissions down consistent with science-based trajectories for 2030. They are also off track for achieving the original U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement for 2025. This report also reveals key insights about these states’ progress, as well as recommendations for turning goals into policies that can get the job done.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 2 Responses

New Mexico election results and state report point to strong path forward on climate

New Mexico state capitol in Santa Fe, NM.

New Mexico state capitol in Santa Fe, NM.

This has been a busy election season in New Mexico with a ballot that included every seat in the state legislature, an important constitutional amendment and a critical presidential contest.

On top of that, the state released its second annual interim climate report, with the key findings highlighting the need for further emissions-cutting action to achieve Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s climate goals.

All in all, it’s a lot to process.

Here are the key takeaways from this busy season that will shape the climate and environmental agenda in the months to come, including a new legislative session.

New Mexicans reward climate champions at the ballot box

The state legislature just got friendlier on critical issues like reducing pollution and protecting the health of local communities. New Mexicans understand how climate change has the state in its crosshairs with increased droughts and wildfires becoming a too common occurrence.

An August 2019 poll found that two-thirds of New Mexico voters want strong limits on statewide carbon emissions, zeroing out such pollution by 2050. This cycle, polling in key, targeted legislative districts found that voters strongly support by a two to one margin action to place limits on carbon emissions and are willing to support candidates that will address climate change through a limit on carbon pollution that declines over time. Voters in these districts delivered, sending key new conservation allies like Katy Duhigg, Carrie Hamblen and Brenda McKenna to the State Senate and Kristina Ortez to the House while protecting champs like Representatives Melanie Stansbury and Matthew McQueen as well.

In all, more than 80% of candidates for the state legislature endorsed by Conservation Voters New Mexico won, which is great news for Governor Lujan Grisham and legislative leadership as they look to go big on codifying climate limits in the next session beginning in January.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

Pennsylvanians, make your voice heard on a major climate rulemaking

Pennsylvania state capitol building in Harrisburg.

As the third-largest greenhouse gas polluter in the U.S., Pennsylvania’s efforts to tackle climate change could be game changing. Now, Pennsylvanians have a major opportunity to weigh in on a policy program that can significantly curb climate-warming pollution in the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has now launched the public comment period for its draft rule to reduce carbon pollution from Pennsylvania’s power plants, by linking with a proven multi-state program: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This critical rulemaking will reduce pollution from one of Pennsylvania’s biggest sources of carbon emissions – and the public’s support can help push it past the finish line.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

New Mexico’s opportunity to deliver on its bold climate goals

In southeastern New Mexico, farmers saw temperatures that averaged seven degrees above normal in July. In Santa Fe, a wildfire charred five square miles on the outskirts of town and darkened skies for weeks. And currently, nearly three-fourths of the state is experiencing severe drought, as state officials grapple with plans to ensure critical water supply for cities, farmers, ranchers and more.

This year has been unusually hot and dry for New Mexico. And these grueling conditions put even more strain on New Mexicans, particularly disproportionately impacted populations like Black, Hispanic and tribal communities already reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Heat and drought are becoming more severe and frequent in New Mexico as climate change accelerates. Without strong action to curb climate-warming emissions, the state could see twice as many dangerous heat days and a 70% increase in drought severity.

It is very encouraging then that New Mexico leaders like Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and House Speaker Brian Egolf are moving to confront the crisis head on. In August, Speaker Egolf recognized these threats in a webinar on public health and climate change where he said the NM House of Representatives would make a “comprehensive climate package” that will “set emissions limits” a priority for the next legislative session in 2021.

This legislative package could deliver meaningful climate action in New Mexico, if it includes key elements to codify pollution reduction targets, empower environmental regulators to meet them and protect environmental justice communities.

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Posted in Cities and states / Read 2 Responses

Analysis: North Carolina can curb emissions and reduce costs through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

As North Carolina Governor Cooper considers policies to reach the state’s climate goals, analysis from EDF and M.J. Bradley & Associates shows that joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) can help get the job done. RGGI would significantly reduce climate-warming pollution in North Carolina by capping and reducing power sector carbon emissions.

The analysis underscores that North Carolina will not reach its emission reduction targets under a business-as-usual scenario, though a strong cap on emissions can deliver the reductions necessary while driving investment in zero emitting resources. We also found that RGGI can help North Carolina reduce emissions while lowering overall system costs, reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, and improving public health through reduced air pollution.

EDF and M.J. Bradley & Associates modeled the potential impacts of placing a cap on power sector emissions that declines at a rate consistent with the cap trajectory adopted by the 10 other states participating in the regional program. This analysis looked at several different scenarios, which evaluated a range of fuel prices and different options regarding whether surrounding states capped power sector emissions and found substantial benefits from participation in RGGI. The analysis was completed prior to availability of data related to potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on carbon emissions, electricity demand, and economic recovery, though COVID-19 considerations are addressed below.

By modeling a range of fuel price and policy scenarios, we can draw useful insights about expected trends in emissions, electricity generation sources, and power sector costs based on a number of different factors. Energy models, like the one used in this analysis, are not crystal balls that predict exactly what emissions or costs will be in the future, but they provide useful insights about the directional impacts of climate policies compared to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario with no carbon limit.

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Also posted in Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 1 Response

Creating a cleaner and more affordable power sector in North Carolina

For more than a year, dozens of advocates and stakeholders – including the electric utilities – have been working together on North Carolina’s Clean Energy Plan development process, which calls for creating a 21st century energy system that is clean, affordable, reliable and equitable. As discussions have progressed in ongoing working groups to explore policy pathways for climate action and systemic utility regulatory reform of North Carolina’s power sector, we recently learned that over the past several months, the major electric utilities across the southeast have been engaged in a separate dialogue on a proposal to create an automated market for trading among the utilities.

We must not let these conversations distract from real opportunities to achieve Governor Cooper’s ultimate goal of moving North Carolina to a clean energy future. The electric power sector is the largest source of climate-warming pollution in North Carolina, making up 35% of the state’s emissions. Gov Cooper has committed the state to doing its part to address pollution from this sector, and both the state and Duke Energy have set goals to achieve net zero carbon emission from the power sector by 2050.

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Also posted in Energy / Comments are closed