Climate 411

Five things to know about the Texas blackouts

1. Our first priority must be to help Texas families

Millions in Texas were without power and drinkable water for days on end, and families across the state are still working to find food and assess the damage from burst pipes. Helping them must be our first priority.

2. Climate change means all of our infrastructure may be more vulnerable to extreme weather. But Texas’ grid wasn’t ready for extreme cold and winter storms.  

While there will be much finger pointing in the days to come, it’s becoming clear that the biggest problem is that ERCOT, the state’s grid operator, as well as the Texas Public Utility Commission that oversees it, haven’t prepared the state’s electricity grid for more extreme weather, including winter storms which may become more common with climate change.

Leaders at all levels should make sure not only power facilities, but all of our infrastructure, is built with resilience in mind & factor climate change impacts in planning. We need policies from the state to ensure Texas is ready.

As the Texas Tribune said, “Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades.”

3. Fossil fuel lobbyists are trying to spin the truth, but natural gas and coal were the biggest part of the problem.
Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Science / Leave a comment

Eleven facts about clean vehicles to counter gas guzzling lobbyists

The average American household spends about $175 a month on gasoline. That means billions of dollars to oil companies, refiners, and others — and a huge incentive for them to block policies that move America to clean, zero-emissions electric vehicles.

We’re already seeing a coordinated push to stop President Biden and Congress from boosting American clean cars, trucks and buses — even though these policies will create jobs and a more just and equitable economy, clean the air, and are popular with the public.

EDF experts have assembled these facts to counter the lobbyists who want to make sure Americans keep paying at the pump.

1. Moving to clean electric vehicles will help America win the race for good jobs today and tomorrow. 

The question isn’t electric vehicles versus gas-powered vehicles — the global industry is already moving to EVs, and spending at least $257 billion this decade to make the switch. The issue is whether American workers will get these jobs. We can build these vehicles in places like Hamtramck, MI and Spartanburg, SC or have them shipped to us from Hamburg and Shanghai. Switching to zero-emissions electric trucks, buses, and cars will create jobs today and help us compete with Europe and China in this rapidly expanding market. Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Setting the Facts Straight / Comments are closed

EDF experts weigh in: President Biden’s executive actions on climate

Professional worker installing solar panels. Shutterstock.

President Joe Biden is taking executive action to combat climate change while creating high quality American jobs, building on the steps he took on his first day in office. EDF is providing this analysis of some of the actions the President took on January 20th and is taking today.

Wednesday, Jan. 27 Climate actions

Omnibus Domestic and International Climate Executive Order

If there was any doubt before today that the Biden administration was making climate change central to policy across the administration, today’s major action erased it. The Omnibus Executive Order clearly implements a “whole of government” approach to climate change:

  • A new White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy under the leadership of National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.
  • A new post of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, filled by John Kerry, charged with the development of U.S. international climate policy.
  • A National Climate Task Force, led by McCarthy and Kerry, that will coordinate climate policy across the administration and ensure that climate is integrated into every aspect of domestic and international policy.

The administration clearly intends today’s major announcements to be the start of a historic push to reduce climate pollution. That vision should include 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 together with 100% clean cars by 2035 and all new zero emitting trucks and buses no later than 2040. Eliminating the extensive climate and air pollution from these sources together with the administration’s commitment to slash methane from new and existing oil and gas extraction activities are among the single most important steps we can take immediately as a nation to address the climate crisis.

These actions will save tens of thousands of lives each year as smokestacks, tailpipes and oil and gas discharge deadly particle pollution, smog-forming contaminants and air toxics. For far too long, too many communities and neighborhoods have been disproportionately afflicted by the heavy and unjust burden of industrial air pollution.

The race to deploy clean solutions will also create new American jobs, strengthening American manufacturing now and for years to come, and create economic opportunities in urban and rural communities alike to build 21st Century infrastructure. As shown by two new EDF reports, eliminating pollution from new cars by 2035 will bring extensive health, climate, cost saving benefits of eliminating pollution from new cars by 2035.

Climate Leaders’ Summit

The White House also confirmed that it will host the online Climate Leaders’ Summit on April 22, Earth Day. The summit, which fulfills one of President Biden’s campaign pledges, will bring together world leaders to discuss pressing climate issues ahead of COP 26. It will mark the next key step in the U.S. government’s engagement on international climate.

Pausing federal oil and gas leasing

After years of giving away oil and gas leases at fire-sale prices, tapping the brakes is a sensible and necessary step. It will give the administration time to determine whether oil and gas leasing on public lands can be reconciled with the need to rapidly transition to a clean energy economy. It will allow permanent protections to be put in place for the Arctic, parks and monuments, lands that are culturally significant to Native American communities and coastal areas that have long been off-limits. Critically, it will also allow time for EPA and BLM to reinstate and strengthen methane and waste prevention rules rescinded by the previous administration. With industry already sitting on more than 13 million acres of idle oil and gas leases, claims that a pause on leasing will cause economic harm stretch all credulity.

Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Health, Jobs, Science / Comments are closed

The U.S. needs more economic stimulus: Here’s how it can create jobs and tackle climate change

After winning on the strongest climate platform of any major party presidential nominee in history, the Biden-Harris administration has a mandate to confront the existential crisis of climate change. This blog series explores what it will take to restore and strengthen climate leadership both across the country and on the global stage.

Man looks at wind turbines in the sunset

Of the many items on the to-do list for the Biden administration, one of the first priorities must be to work with Congress to accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the year-end stimulus bill recently passed by Congress gave some support to struggling families and businesses, significantly greater economic relief and stimulus investments are needed to ensure an equitable economic recovery.

There is enormous opportunity to “Power Up, America” by rebuilding an economy that is stronger and more equitable than before—one that helps protect current and future generations by investing in solutions that simultaneously address the urgent climate crisis, create good-paying jobs and build healthier communities. While stimulus spending alone will not be enough to meet necessary climate goals – achieving a 100% clean economy in the United States no later than 2050, and cutting emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 to get on that path — well-targeted investments can reduce climate pollution in the near term and help buy down the costs of longer-term reductions.

Congress should take this opportunity to invest in clean energy across the economy, with an emphasis on cleaning up the power sector and electrifying transportation. Investment in these two sectors can create millions of jobs, save thousands of lives through cleaner air and make American businesses more competitive.

The year-end stimulus bill contained several important climate and clean energy provisions, such as a phaseout of the powerful super-pollutants known as HFCs and a temporary extension of key renewable energy incentives, but much more will be needed to meet our long-term climate goals. New policies will also be needed to fill the gaps in the package, including policies to advance equity and accelerate deployment of electric vehicles, both of which were included in earlier versions of the bill but were notably absent from the final deal.

As policymakers consider what to include in an early 2021 economic stimulus package, there are a number of important factors they should take into account: Which clean energy policies can curb the most pollution? Create the most jobs? Improve health and equity? And provide the most bang for the buck? Congress should prioritize policies that will generate the most benefits for economic recovery, health, equity and climate action.

Read More »

Also posted in Jobs / Comments are closed

It’s time to unite behind next-generation clean car standards

The broad coalition defending America’s clean car standards is gaining key allies as Americans unite to build a pollution-free transportation future.

Led by Ford, automakers representing nearly half of the U.S. market have committed to working with California and the incoming Biden-Harris administration to enact ambitious policies that will create high-quality domestic jobs, protect our health, and confront the climate crisis. This is a good start, but we need all automakers to ditch the Trump administration’s clean cars rollback and advocate for next-generation standards that will make new light duty vehicles 100% pollution-free by 2035.

America’s clean car standards are among our most effective policies for reducing pollution exposure, cutting climate emissions, and creating good jobs. By driving innovation and cutting fuel costs, the model year 2017-to-2025 Clean Car Standards were projected to add hundreds of thousands of jobs and save Americans tens of billions of dollars at the gas pump each year. But the Trump administration rolled back the national standards and undermined longstanding state authority to set more protective standards. The Trump administration’s rollback would cost jobs and have devastating public health and environmental impacts, including an additional 18,500 premature deaths, 250,000 asthma attacks, and 1.5 billion tons of climate pollution — as much as running 68 coal plants for five years — by mid-century.

This is not what Americans want. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that 71% of Americans support strengthening vehicle standards, not rolling them back.

EDF has joined a broad coalition of businesses, states, cities, experts, and environmental and public health groups in defending our clean car standards in court. We filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s attack on state authority and a second suit challenging its rollback of the national standards. (You can find all the legal briefs in the clean cars cases on our website.)  Leading transportation companies such as Lyft, Tesla, and Rivian have formed a key part of our coalition. But some automakers, including Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, GM, and Nissan, entered the litigation on the Trump administration’s side.

GM and Nissan have recently withdrawn their support of the administration’s attack on state authority, and GM has expressed its support for President-elect Biden’s vision of a zero emission transportation future. This is a welcome development, but it’s just a start. We need the entire industry to embrace ambitious policies, such as next-generation clean car standards that will create a million jobs and equitably transition the U.S. to 100% pollution-free new cars by 2035. These policies must prioritize eliminating pollution in environmental justice communities, and ensure that pollution-free vehicles and charging infrastructure are available to people of all colors and income levels.

And the automakers who are still backing Trump’s attack on state authority — looking at you, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler — need to follow their peers’ lead, for the sake of the climate, their customers, their employees, and their bottom line. Customer opinions of Toyota have dropped sharply in response to its stance on the clean car standards. This could have a big impact on sales if the company doesn’t shift out of reverse soon. Over 200 state and local officials from 26 states, and over 285,000 petitioners, have called on Toyota and Fiat Chrysler to do just that by investing in clean transport innovation, not litigation trying to prop up the Trump administration’s rollback.

If automakers need an example to follow, they should look no further than Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW, and Volvo, who have been out in front supporting strong clean car standards and states’ authority to adopt them. In August, these five manufacturers entered bilateral agreements with California that recognize the state’s clean car authority and will prevent hundreds of millions of tons of climate pollution. The agreements earned the highest possible rating in EDF’s new Climate Authenticity Meter. One company that has taken its commitment a step further is Ford, which recently supported California’s bold commitment to make all new cars sold in the state zero-emitting by 2035.

As the growing support for transformative clean car standards shows, we face an incredible opportunity. Together, we can put a million Americans to work building the pollution-free cars that will make our air safer to breathe and steer us away from the climate cliff. We hope that all automakers will join us in pursuit of these shared goals.

Also posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Economics, EPA litgation, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, Partners for Change / Read 1 Response

How the Biden-Harris administration can restore and strengthen U.S. climate leadership

After winning on the strongest climate platform of any major party presidential nominee in history, the Biden-Harris administration has a mandate to confront the existential crisis of climate change. This blog series will explore what it will take to restore and strengthen climate leadership both across the country and on the global stage.

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

The leaders that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have selected for key positions send a clear, encouraging and necessary signal that climate action will be an embedded priority across the administration. This is promising news, as the mandate to address the climate crisis demands a “whole-of-government” approach that can improve public health and create jobs in communities from coast-to-coast, and launch a new era of consequential climate diplomacy with partners around the world.

A recent UN report underscores there is not a moment to lose: The world is on a dangerous path, heading toward a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century. This projection comes as Americans have increasingly experienced the rising costs of climate change this year — from a record hurricane season in the Atlantic to wildfires that ravaged the West at an unprecedented scale.

This historic election made it clear that Americans want leadership that can tackle the biggest challenges of our time: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, racial justice and climate change. The new administration can achieve the most transformative progress by championing solutions that address the interconnectedness of these urgent priorities. Ambitious climate solutions are particularly well-suited to also help deliver on critical promises to jumpstart the economy and advance equity and justice. But how exactly should the new administration and new Congress get started? Action in three key areas will be critical to restoring and strengthening climate leadership.

Read More »

Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs / Read 3 Responses