Climate 411

What We’re Watching in Reconciliation: Regular Updates from EDF

Photo Credit: John Williams

Through the process known as budget reconciliation, Congress is now crafting a bill that could include significant investments in climate action that will drive economic and job growth. There are going to be a lot of moving parts over the next few weeks, which is why EDF will be weighing in regularly in this space to help break down what’s happening, and why it matters.

Want a primer on the key issues EDF will be watching? Read all about them here. Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy / Comments are closed

A revamped cost curve showcases the biggest carbon-cutting opportunities

President Biden has raised the bar for U.S. climate ambition, setting targets to cut economy-wide emissions 50-52% by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. As the administration, federal lawmakers and state and local leaders work to make these goals a reality with strong climate policies and investments — including in climate-focused infrastructure and reconciliation packages being negotiated in Congress — they are faced with many questions. What are the cheapest ways to cut carbon right now? How will a particular policy affect emissions? How much should we be investing in new clean technologies that are not widely available yet?

A new and improved ‘cost curve’ tool developed by EDF and Evolved Energy Research shows that the electricity and transportation sectors offer the most impactful carbon-cutting opportunities at the lowest cost right now — with potential to get us nearly halfway to net-zero emissions from energy and industry by 2050. This tool, which offers a new take on what is known as a Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) curve, gives policymakers an economic roadmap to net-zero emissions and beyond by revealing greater insights into the costs, impact and optimal sequencing of different carbon-cutting actions.

Read More »

Also posted in Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

The EU just moved closer to all zero-emission cars. That heightens urgency for the U.S. to act

Electric cars charging in Nice, France

The European Union just released proposed legislation for passenger cars and vans that would move the continent closer to a zero-emission transportation future.

The EU proposal would require a 55% reduction in carbon pollution for new cars and a 50% reduction for new vans by 2030 – and a 100% reduction for both in 2035. That would substantially strengthen standards that the EU adopted in 2019, and would ultimately eliminate harmful tailpipe pollution from new vehicles sold there.

The proposal would save European drivers money on gas while dramatically cutting climate and air pollution from one of the world’s largest fleets of passenger vehicles. It also has profound reverberations around the world – especially here in the U.S.

Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, News, Policy / Read 2 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 Cities and states, Energy, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed

The introduction of Ford’s electric F-150 pickup truck is a big milestone in the race to zero-emission vehicles

We’re about to get a glimpse of what Ford Motor Company envisions for the future.

Ford is planning to reveal its electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck tomorrow. President Biden will visit the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn Michigan ahead of the announcement.

The unveiling of the F-150 Lightning is the latest in a steady drumbeat of announcements about investments in electric vehicle production and new model offerings – by Ford and nearly every other automaker.

Environmental Defense Fund has sponsored the development of an Electric Vehicles Market Report by MJ Bradley and Associates to track the dynamic landscape around vehicle electrification in the U.S. and globally. In the report’s April 2021 update, the authors found that the number of electric models available to U.S. consumers would increase from 64 to 81 between 2021 and 2023, and that globally, automakers had committed to spending $268 billion through 2030 to develop zero-emitting solutions. Announcements in the last month, since the report came out, have further increased those numbers. For instance, at the end of last week Hyundai announced plans to invest $7.4 billion in the U.S. in electric vehicle manufacturing by 2025.

But in this veritable sea of announcements, the electric F-150 Lightning stands out. Ford CEO Jim Farley has compared the significance of the vehicle to the Model T, the Mustang, the Prius and the Tesla Model 3. For good reason. The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for the last 40 years and it has generated more revenue than companies like Nike and Coca-Cola.

And it is a truck. Nothing could more completely shatter any remaining misconceptions about what electric vehicles were in the past, and make clear what they are today:

  • More capable – Ford has said the electric F-150 will be its most powerful in the series and able to power a home during an electrical outage
  • Less costly – EDF analysis shows that someone who purchases a new battery electric vehicle in 2027 will save $5,300 over its lifetime compared to a gasoline vehicle
  • Zero-polluting – These vehicles will eliminate harmful tailpipe emissions that destabilize the climate and harm public health

Ford’s announcement is also an important step toward a future where we have eliminated harmful pollution from cars and trucks. It comes at a pivotal moment when we urgently need ambitious action to protect our climate and public health, to save consumers money, and to safeguard and strengthen the American auto industry.

Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, News / Read 1 Response

How climate change is worsening drought

Spring is in full swing across the U.S. – flowers are blooming, pollen is blowing – and this means that the 2021 heat wave, hurricane, and wildfire seasons are just around the corner.

After the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced a record number of named storms and record-breaking wildfires ravaged the Western U.S., vulnerable communities are bracing for more. However, another extreme weather event linked to climate change has been quietly afflicting the U.S. year-round with no signs of letting up and at risk of becoming permanent – widespread drought.

Drought conditions have been ongoing since early summer 2020 – and have persisted, worsened, and expanded dramatically – across vast portions of the continental U.S. Since October 2020, almost all of the High Plains and Western regions and more than half of the South have been experiencing some level of drought. More than 50% of Western drought conditions are categorized as either extreme or exceptional drought. Even more drastically, extreme and exceptional drought have comprised more than 75% of drought conditions across the Four Corners region (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) since late autumn.

NOAA predicts that these widespread dry conditions are likely to continue and spread throughout the spring, especially in the Southwest. This poses major threats to the region, including increased risks of wildfires, parched rangelands, stressed irrigation systems, and crop failures.

Just as climate change has worsened many extreme weather events, it has also impacted droughts. The excess heat now trapped in the climate system draws out more moisture from soils, thereby worsening drought conditions. Reduced snowpack volumes, earlier snowmelt, and changing precipitation patterns – also linked to climate change – exacerbate the water stress induced by droughts. And for numerous individual events across the world, scientists have attributed the increased likelihood and severity of droughts to human-driven climate change.

Read More »

Also posted in Agriculture, California, Cities and states, Extreme Weather, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Science / Read 2 Responses