Climate 411

The lame-duck Trump EPA is rushing to finish its health-harming agenda. Here’s what’s in danger.

On Election Day, Americans rejected the Trump administration and its relentless assault on our health and environment. But now Trump’s EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is rushing to finish a flurry of rules before Inauguration Day – rules that are a threat to the health of the American people, and rules that EDF is prepared to fight in court.

Wheeler is resuming his playbook from earlier this year, when EPA unleashed a barrage of health-harming policies just as Covid-19 was first spreading across the nation. As Americans grappled with sudden and unprecedented health, financial, and childcare challenges, Wheeler exploited the chaos by advancing a series of policies that put the health of our communities in even greater danger. Some of Wheeler’s anticipated moves now would finalize policies that were proposed during the first Covid-19 surge last spring, meaning that both ends of the rulemaking process will face reduced public scrutiny. That would hardly be surprising considering that secrecy and a disregard for public accountability have been hallmarks of the Trump administration’s health and environmental policy.

As EDF and others have repeatedly emphasized, EPA’s actions will cause the greatest harm in low-income communities and communities of color — areas that have long suffered from a disproportionate and unjust share of health-harming pollution. Many of the same communities have suffered the highest rates of Covid-19 impacts, and have struggled against voter suppression in this election season.

At EDF, we are not letting our guard down just because the Trump administration’s days are numbered. We have repeatedly prevailed in court against Wheeler’s attacks on our health and environment, and we are prepared to fight against dangerous policies that the administration finalizes during its waning weeks.

Here are a few of Wheeler’s threats to the nation’s climate and air quality that we are tracking:

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Also posted in Clean Air Act, EPA litgation, Health, Policy, Smog / 3 Responses

Pueblos Indígenas enfrentan desafíos para una participación efectiva en foros internacionales de política climática

Esta publicación fue corredactada por Bärbel Henneberger. 

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Apertura de la reunión del LCIPP en el marco de la COP25 en Madrid, España, diciembre de 2019. UNclimatechange/Flickr

Los impactos negativos de COVID-19 van más allá de los efectos directos en la salud, particularmente entre los Pueblos Indígenas, que han estado entre los más afectados por la pandemia. Las violaciones de derechos humanos junto con los conflictos ambientales se han intensificado, lo que ha obligado a las comunidades indígenas a lidiar con estas circunstancias y lo que significan para su capacidad para continuar participando en procesos políticos que son parte integral de la defensa de sus derechos e igualdad.

COVID-19 ha impedido que los Pueblos Indígenas participen en persona en las negociaciones internacionales sobre cambio climático convocadas por la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático (CMNUCC), ya que estas se han pospuesto o se están realizando de manera virtual. La presencia de los Pueblos Indígenas en estas negociaciones asegura que los derechos humanos sean centrales en todas las discusiones y también ayuda a reducir los posibles impactos ambientales y sociales negativos de las nuevas políticas internacionales. Sus perspectivas son clave para pintar una imagen precisa de lo que está sucediendo en sus territorios y cómo el cambio climático ya está teniendo un impacto significativo en su forma de vida.

La Plataforma de las Comunidades Locales y los Pueblos Indígenas (Plataforma CLPI)

Asegurar la participación efectiva y activa de los Pueblos Indígenas, tanto de manera presencial como virtualmente, para que puedan plantear sus inquietudes y contribuir a este proceso, es una de las principales prioridades del movimiento indígena. Una vía primordial a través de la cual los Pueblos Indígenas pueden participar en el proceso de la CMNUCC es la Plataforma de las Comunidades Locales y los Pueblos Indígenas (Plataforma CLPI).

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Also posted in Indigenous People, United Nations / Comments are closed

The path to zero-emission trucks and a 100% clean energy future

The transportation sector is at a crossroads: zero-emission trucks have the potential to cut pollution that causes climate change and harms human health. However, a transition away from diesel pollution will require strong leadership from policymakers and private sector executives alike.

That opportunity was front and center last week, when EDF hosted a Climate Week 2020 panel discussion on new initiatives that will spur electrification in the transportation sector. So, too, was the urgent need to act: The transportation sector accounts for one-quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. And urban cargo trucks burning dirty diesel are fouling the air, causing the deaths of nearly 10,000 people annually in the U.S. alone.

Here are four major takeaways from the panel, which included representatives from Air Alliance Houston, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, and Ryder trucks.

Truck pollution hits vulnerable communities hardest

“On-road sources of air pollution disproportionately burden communities of color and low-income neighborhoods due to their proximity to roads and vehicular traffic,” Dr. Bakeyah Nelson, executive director of Air Alliance Houston, noted in her presentation. Read More »

Posted in News / Comments are closed

Is the media making the connection between wildfires and climate change?

With entire towns in Oregon and Washington razed, ash raining down on Denver and the skies over San Francisco an apocalyptic orange, the unprecedented wildfire season in the Western U.S. is getting plenty of coverage. But much of it seems to ignore a central fact: This devastation — more frequent, bigger wildfires, and a longer fire season — is largely a consequence of climate pollution produced by burning fossil fuels.

The way it works is easy to understand. Rising temperatures, a key component of climate change, evaporate more moisture from the ground, drying out the soil and making vegetation more flammable. At the same time, winter snow-packs are melting about a month earlier, meaning that the forests are drier for longer periods of time. Meanwhile, shifting meteorological patterns can drive rain away from wildfire-prone regions, a phenomenon scientists previously discovered in California and have linked in certain cases to human-made climate change.

Even before this year’s devastating season, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the damage caused by wildfires. The average wildfire season in the West is three and a half months longer than it was a few decades back, and the number of annual large fires has tripled — burning six times as many acres. Read More »

Posted in News / Read 1 Response

Our new report shows the importance of “accelerating to 100% clean” vehicles

Drone photo of busy highways over Denver’s Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods and schools. Credit: Chance Multimedia

Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world. In the U.S. almost half of all people live in communities with unhealthy levels of air pollution. More than 20,000 Americans die prematurely every year as a result of the motor vehicle pollution on our roads and highways, according to a new peer reviewed study by EPA  experts. Pollution from our roadways disproportionately harms people of color and lower income communities. Transportation sector pollution is now also the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S.

A new EDF report includes these facts and other comprehensive information about the dangers of transportation sector pollution and about strategies to address it. The report, Accelerating to 100% Clean: Zero Emitting Vehicles Save Lives, Advance Justice, Create Jobs, compiles the best and most recent information on the issue.

Here are a few key findings. Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Green Jobs, Health, Jobs, Policy / Comments are closed

What you need to know about hurricanes and climate change

Photo: NOAA

This post was co-authored by EDF Postdoctoral Climate Science Fellow Tianyi Sun

Today Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, causing death and destruction. Louisianans and Texans in its path are now mourning and looking ahead to a long and painful recovery.

Laura had winds up to 150 miles per hour, making it one of the strongest hurricanes on record to ever hit the Gulf Coast in the United States. It tied the record for how quickly it intensified, driving questions about the role of climate change in creating and fueling this monster storm.

A look at the latest science

Scientists have been actively studying how climate change affects hurricanes for decades, and the evidence that it can influence several aspects of hurricanes continues to grow.

Overall, climate change is making these already dangerous weather events even more perilous. They are stronger, wetter, slower, and intensify more rapidly. Major storms are occurring more often and piling on heavier rainfall, and scientists anticipate the strongest storms will continue to increase in frequency. Sea level rise, along with stronger winds, are also worsening storm surges, causing more coastal flooding.

All aspects of hurricanes – from formation to track to strength to damages – can be influenced to some degree by climate change, through warmer waters, more moisture in the atmosphere, changing air patterns, and sea level rise.

For some connections, such as how climate change affects hurricane strength and its damages, the science is simple and robust. For other connections, such as how climate change affects hurricane formation and track, the science is more complicated and nuanced.

Here we break down what we know about how climate change affects four key aspects of hurricanes


1. Hurricane formation – competing factors at play
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Also posted in Basic Science of Global Warming, Extreme Weather, Oceans, Science / Comments are closed