Climate 411

These key policies in Biden’s infrastructure plan can deliver big wins on jobs and climate

This blog was co-authored with Danielle Arostegui, Senior Analyst, U.S. Climate.

This week, President Biden unveiled a far-reaching infrastructure package to build back the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, while protecting existing and future generations from the most severe consequences of climate change and addressing historic inequities in access to clean air and water.

This is the kind of strong leadership we need on the economy and on climate.

The American Jobs Plan is packed full of promising investments that can generate millions of new, good-paying union jobs, revitalize our nation’s aging infrastructure, lessen economic and environmental inequalities and drive progress on our urgent climate goals. In fact, the plan declares “every dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden administration will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of the climate crisis.”

While Biden’s plan has no shortage of important policies with massive potential to lift up communities from coast to coast—including policies that deliver clean drinking water, quality housing, broadband internet, and more—the proposals aimed at transforming America’s power and transportation sectors are particularly critical for their ability to simultaneously combat climate change while creating a stronger, more equitable clean economy.

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Also posted in Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

Creating opportunity for fossil fuel workers and communities: Lessons for a fair energy transition

In this culminating report, EDF and Resources for the Future condense lessons across four previous reports that can inform federal policy for supporting U.S. fossil fuel workers and communities in the shift to a clean economy. Wesley Look, Daniel Raimi, Molly Robertson, and Dan Propp of RFF and Jake Higdon of EDF contributed to the report described in this blog post.

The White House is making much-needed moves to take on the climate crisis and shift our economy toward a cleaner future. The majority of Americans are eager for this change and the clean energy and manufacturing jobs that go with it, but there are important questions about how to help fossil fuel workers and communities through this transition.

Many coal communities around the country have been on the frontlines of the energy transition, watching once bustling Main Streets grow quiet as people and businesses leave town along with the coal industry. As renewable energy and natural gas costs have fallen and outcompeted coal over the last decade, workers and communities dependent on coal have been left with few job prospects to support their families and significantly less revenue to keep towns running. The pandemic brought these issues to the fore not only for coal communities, but for oil and gas employment, which fell by more than 100,000 jobs last year.

To deliver on its campaign promise to support workers who have powered America for decades, the Biden-Harris administration must seize this moment to lift up and transform the local and regional economies across the U.S. that have long relied on fossil fuel production. The administration’s new interagency working group to facilitate investment in power plant and coal communities is a big step in the right direction, but much more policy support will be needed.

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Also posted in Energy / Comments are closed

Federal labor policies are critical for ensuring a fair energy transition

This fourth report in a joint research series by Environmental Defense Fund and Resources for the Future examines U.S. federal labor programs and policies that can support fossil fuel workers through the energy transition. Wesley Look, Molly Robertson, and Dan Propp of RFF and Jake Higdon of EDF contributed to the report described in this blog post.

At the core of the energy transition challenge is helping impacted workers find and secure new, family-sustaining job opportunities. Colorado’s efforts to support coal workers in transition provides a key example of the kind of labor policies needed — but are all too often absent. When Colorado passed a landmark climate bill in 2019, which requires the state to cut statewide emissions in half by 2030 and 90% by 2050, it also established the nation’s first Office of Just Transition to support the more than 2,000 workers in coal mines and coal-fired power plants and the communities that rely on them.

Xcel Energy, the largest operator of coal-fired electricity generation in Colorado and a company with its own reduction targets, has contributed to the Office’s early plans. One Xcel power plant, the Hayden Generating Station, will close ahead of schedule, and the company is collaborating with an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local union to provide retraining or retirement for the full workforce at the facility. While there is much more to do to fulfill the promise of the Office of Just Transition, this is an encouraging sign, even as many advocates for energy transition continue to push the utility and the state to move faster.

Unfortunately, across the U.S., workforce development efforts like those at the Hayden Generating Station are more the exception than the rule.

Today, the overwhelming majority of U.S. power plant and mine closures occur with very little proactive planning or training to ensure workers can find new, high-quality, local jobs. It doesn’t have to be that way. As the energy transition accelerates, driven by low-cost clean energy and an urgent need to tackle the climate crisis, federal policy can help fossil fuel workers access workforce development services and can ensure strong labor protections. These policies can guarantee a stronger baseline of support for workers, while complementing locally-tailored solutions that are community-led like those underway in Colorado.

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Posted in Jobs / Comments are closed

The benefits of clean trucks and buses: thousands of lives saved, less pollution, more jobs

Passenger cars have been leading the way, so far, in the development of zero emission technologies. But there’s also a movement underway to develop heavy-duty electric vehicles – like freight trucks and buses – that could have sweeping benefits for the climate, public health, and American jobs.

At EDF, we just released a new report, Clean Trucks, Clean Air, American Jobs, that analyzes the effects of eliminating tailpipe pollution from those medium and heavy-duty vehicles – including buses, semis and other long-haul trucks, and the “last-mile” trucks that deliver packages to American homes.

Our report found that a rapid transition to zero-emitting freight trucks and buses will significantly reduce dangerous air pollution – pollution that disproportionately burdens lower income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Air pollution standards that ensure all new heavy-duty trucks and buses sold for urban and community use are zero-emitting by 2035, and all such vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2040, would:

  • Prevent a sum total of more than 57,000 premature deaths by 2050
  • Eliminate a sum total of more than 4.7 billion metric tons of climate pollution by 2050.
  • Significantly reduce two main components of smog – nitrogen oxides pollution by a sum total of more than 10 million tons by 2050, and particulate pollution by a sum total of almost 200,000 tons by 2050
  • Save $485 billion in health and environmental benefits alone as a result of pollution reductions.

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Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Health, News, Policy / Comments are closed

A bold new commitment to the Paris Agreement is achievable – and essential for U.S. leadership

This blog post was co-authored with Nat Keohane, Senior Vice President for Climate at EDF.
The White House

Now that the United States is officially back in the Paris Agreement, after four years of climate inaction and denial, all eyes are on the Biden administration to see whether it will meet the moment by putting forward a new emissions reduction commitment that is both ambitious and credible. In order to hit both marks, the administration should commit to cut total net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 – a target that is consistent with the science and President Biden’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050, commensurate with commitments of other advanced economies, and one that many state leaders, businesses, advocates and others are already calling for.

This year’s UN climate talks, known as COP26 and set to take place in November, will be a proving ground for the Paris Agreement framework. Countries must come to the table with more ambitious climate targets known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. Collectively, these NDCs must put the world on a path consistent with the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The United States has the chance to regain a position as a global leader on climate – and to galvanize climate action around the world – by setting an ambitious target that meets the scale of the climate crisis. The new U.S. NDC must also be credible – meaning that one or more technically and economically viable policy pathways can be identified to achieve it. Using a range of analyses, a new EDF report demonstrates how a bold new commitment of reducing total net GHG emissions at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 is achievable through multiple policy pathways – and that charting an ambitious path on climate is essential for growing a stronger and more equitable, clean U.S. economy.

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Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, International, Paris Agreement, Policy, United Nations / Comments are closed

How combining a just economic transition and strong climate action equals a safer, healthier and more equitable New Mexico

This post was co-authored by James Povijua, Policy Director at Center for Civic Policy

Group of multiethnic engineers in medical protective mask on background of photovoltaic solar panels.

New legislation making its way through the Roundhouse is providing New Mexico with the opportunity to set national precedent when it comes to how we can create a just economic transition, create high-quality jobs, diversify local economies and protect our frontline communities from the worst impacts of climate change.

The Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) establishes nation-leading carbon pollution reduction targets to benefit current and future generations while ensuring that all New Mexicans will benefit from the job and economic growth provided in a clean energy future..

It is no surprise then that the bill has the support of a strong, diverse coalition spanning community-based, environmental, agricultural and labor organizations. Representatives Angelica Rubio and Melanie Stansbury, and Rep. Nathan Small, as well as House Speaker Brian Egolf as well as Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and Senators Benny Shendo and Carrie Hamblen are sponsoring the bill and championing strong action.

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Also posted in Cities and states / Read 1 Response