Climate 411

Snowstorm of Misinformation: A Consumer’s Guide to Shoveling Out of EV Falsehoods


My Tesla Model Y charging at a public charging station the morning after the recent snowstorm in Virginia.

EV misinformation has reared its head again, but this time it seems to be stuck spinning its wheels in the snow. You may have seen a recent Washington Post editorial that expressed some concern about electric vehicle (EV) performance in cold conditions and falsely claimed that vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) are better. Prompted by a false anti-EV meme that’s been circulating on the internet (about a worried Tesla driver stuck in Virginia’s recent 48-mile snowy traffic jam), the editorial is sadly based on the author’s longtime bias against EVs–rather than on EV facts or science.

Don’t be fooled by skepticism towards unfamiliar tech. Electric vehicles not only keep pace with gas-guzzling cars in the snow–in some ways, they’re even better.

So, here are some key points for consumers to consider when you’re knee-deep in this type of EV misinformation this winter season (from a car guy who grew up dealing with snowy winters in New England, but now lives in Virginia, and drives an EV… even in the snow):

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, News, Policy, Science, Setting the Facts Straight / Leave a comment

What’s next for the LEAF coalition? An outlook for tropical forest protection in 2022 and beyond

This post was authored by Rocio Sanz Cortes, Managing Director of Supply at Emergent. In 2019 EDF set up Emergent, the group facilitating LEAF, because we saw the need for a new, innovative financing facility that could catalyze a high-quality market for forest carbon/jurisdictional REDD+ credits. EDF’s Ruben Lubowski is a senior advisor for Emergent.  

Amazon Canopy. iStock.

Last year’s COP26 UN climate summit was referred to as “Nature COP,” as forests and nature took a protagonist role. Financial pledges to protect forests and reduce deforestation reached unprecedented volumes. In the first major formal deal of COP26, 100 leaders representing 85% of the world’s tropical forests pledged to end deforestation by 2030. This agreement was backed by the Global Forest Finance Pledge with $12 billion in public funds and $7.2 billion in private money. This funding will support actions such as restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and advancing the rights of Indigenous people in tropical forest countries.

Another key success of last year’s global climate summit was the historic $1.7 billion pledge from governments and private funders to support Indigenous peoples and local communities. Direct financing for these groups underscores their essential role in forest stewardship. Other commitments announced at COP26 included the Congo Basin Pledge. Signed by more than 10 countries, the Bezos Earth Fund and the European Union, the pledge seeks to mobilize $1.5 billion to protect forests, peatlands and other critical carbon stores.

Natural climate solutions include conservation, restoration and management of forests, grasslands and wetlands – which could provide at least 20% of the emissions reductions and removals needed for the world to achieve net zero. Not only that, but they could also deliver socio-economic and environmental benefits beyond carbon. We are at a critical point for the future of the planet, and the pledges made at COP26 are game changers in keeping the planet’s temperature increase from reaching catastrophic levels.

LEAF’s breakthrough commitments

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Posted in Carbon Markets, Forest protection, International, News, Paris Agreement, REDD+, United Nations / 1 Response

Safeguarding EPA’s authority at the Supreme Court is a climate imperative

Coal companies and supporting states recently filed opening briefs in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case involving the Trump Administration’s repeal of, and weak replacement for, the 2015 Clean Power Plan regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Although neither regulation is in effect – indeed, EPA has indicated that it plans to adopt a new rule working from a clean slate — Petitioners seek to use this case to effect sweeping changes in longstanding legal doctrine and well-established norms. Petitioners are not only asking the Court to do extraordinary damage to EPA authority, but also set forth their arguments expansively so as to apply to a wide range of vital services and laws – turning this case into one broadly relevant to the ability for expert agencies to protect human health, the environment, and other public values.

These concerns are not theoretical. Petitioners have filed papers with the Supreme Court that argue that tight constrictions should be put around EPA’s efforts to address climate change. What Petitioners seek stands in stark contrast to what this moment demands and ignores the fact that Congress intended EPA, through the Clean Air Act, to address big problems like nationwide air pollution coming from the country’s largest industries.

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Posted in Clean Power Plan, EPA litgation, News, Policy / Comments are closed

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.

Dec. 13: Build Back Better Act moves through the Senate; White House releases new Executive Order building on climate investments

The Build Back Better Act continued its march through the Senate last week, with several key sections of the legislation going through the process of being vetted for final passage. We’re hearing a final vote may be scheduled as soon as December 20. 

But even as we wait for the Build Back Better Act to move through the Senate, the White House is not hesitating to act on the climate crisis. Last Wednesday, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability and released a Federal Sustainability Plan detailing the government’s plan to “walk the talk” on clean energy.  Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

Governor Murphy’s 2030 climate goal demands a new climate game plan for New Jersey

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy elevated New Jersey’s fight against the climate crisis this decade by signing Executive Order No. 274, which commits the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% below 2006 levels by 2030. The Governor’s action is a critical step toward putting New Jersey on a path to do what is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and it aligns the state’s goals with those of the Biden administration. It also arrives at a crucial time, after New Jersey communities were hit with destructive flooding and tornadoes from Hurricane Ida earlier this fall and have been forced to confront the reality of increasingly severe and frequent storms.

But Governor Murphy’s climate legacy will not be secured by this commitment. It will be determined by the action he takes to deliver on it. Now that the goal to halve emissions by 2030 across all sectors of the state’s economy has been established as the formal policy of the state of New Jersey, Murphy will need to develop a policy framework that secures emission reductions in line with the target.

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Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy / Comments are closed

Four ways to reduce climate pollution from shipping in the Belt and Road Initiative

By Catherine Ittner and Hongming Liu

Despite global efforts to address the climate crisis, the shipping sector is on track to increase its global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions up to 10% by 2050 – unless countries take urgent action.

China’s effort to increase investment and economic collaboration by building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road – otherwise known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – is a great opportunity for countries to cooperate on decarbonizing shipping. The sea routes that make up the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which sail through Southeast Asia to South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, are critical to the success of international trade in the region — but the ships that travel these routes are significant sources of greenhouse gases.

Environmental Defense Fund contributed to a new BRI report, which highlights innovative ideas and low-carbon technologies that can cut shipping pollution and help China and other BRI countries meet their climate goals.

Need to decarbonize

Despite an urgent need to reduce GHG emissions in the shipping industry, many countries do not prioritize climate policies for shipping. Twenty-three countries are part of the Maritime Silk Road – but only five of them have incorporated the shipping industry into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), the efforts by each country to reduce national emissions.

The BRI International Green Development Coalition “aims to establish a policy dialogue and communication platform, an environmental knowledge and information platform, and a green technology exchange and transfer platform” to help ensure a green and sustainable BRI, including by decarbonizing shipping. EDF, along with Equitable Maritime Consulting, got the chance to contribute research to the BRI International Green Development Coalition’s new report on maritime connectivity and green development.

Policy recommendations

The report lays out four key policy recommendations to advance green shipping:

  1. Monitoring: Establishing a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) framework for international shipping within BRI. A comprehensive, effective monitoring and evaluation system is critical to ensuring that efforts aimed at reducing GHG pollution achieve results. BRI countries involved in international shipping should jointly implement a framework and data-sharing platform to monitor, report and verify the data related to GHG mitigation programs. Countries could then leverage the data collected to gather support for environmental financing of the most cost-effective green shipping projects.
  1. Research: Setting up technical cooperation and a joint research program for assessing the potentials for zero-carbon alternative fuel production. To decarbonize fast enough, the shipping sector needs low-carbon alternative fuels that are economically viable. A joint research program should undertake a full life-cycle assessment of zero-emission fuels, as well as an analysis of the supply and demand of these fuels, that considers the specific conditions of BRI countries. With the aim to improve the economic viability of zero-emission fuels for BRI countries, further research can serve as a foundation for a long-term and cost-effective decarbonization strategy for maritime transport within BRI.
  1. Ports: Strengthening the research and application of low-carbon port technologies to promote the coordinated development of green port and green shipping. The development of green shipping is impossible without ports. Ports can adopt technology – like onshore power supply and ship-port interface – to reduce GHG emissions. Onshore power supply allows ships to turn off their engines and connect to the electricity grid, with the potential for significant reductions in climate and air pollution. Ship-port interface is a platform for data interconnection and communication that enables ports to improve the efficiency of terminals and reduce the turnaround time of ships at port. BRI countries can accelerate the decarbonization of shipping through the adoption of pollution-cutting port technologies like these.
  1. Incentives and carbon pricing: Develop a green shipping incentive program and explore carbon pricing mechanisms. The BRI can look into new ways to reduce emissions, like rewarding ships that have excellent operational carbon intensity ratings and considering a carbon pricing cooperation mechanism for international shipping. Both tools can promote more efficient and cleaner ships, as well as the use of alternative zero-emission fuels.

Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries need to use every opportunity to collaborate toward decarbonizing shipping as soon as possible.

The well-designed policy suite outlined in BRI International Green Development Coalition’s new report drew a roadmap for BRI countries to spur innovation, deploy proven and cost-effective low-carbon technologies, and lead a green transition for the shipping industry. China and other BRI countries have an opportunity to model climate cooperation while pursuing economic success for the region, as well as having a ripple effect among the international community for facilitating multi-lateral cooperation.

Posted in Shipping / Comments are closed