Climate 411

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 »

Posted in Cities and states, Economics, Energy, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Leave a comment

The key to reaching Biden’s new climate goal: An enforceable clean electricity standard that slashes pollution

A female engineer standing beside the solar panel.

At the Leaders Summit on Climate in April, President Biden pledged to go all-in to beat the climate crisis, setting an ambitious and credible target to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. Now the administration and federal law makers must roll up their sleeves and work to achieve this target. The question is: What policies will they adopt that can secure the necessary cuts in pollution in less than 10 years?

While there are multiple pathways to meeting the target, a wide range of analyses agree on one core theme: The power sector is a critical linchpin to success. We need to cut emissions from electricity generation by at least 80% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Read More »

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Western Climate Initiative recovering from COVID-19, and the new climate kid in town

The results of the latest Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade auction were released today and all current and future allowances sold. This generates substantial revenue for California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund but could also indicate that greenhouse gas emissions are rebounding as the economy recovers from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Auction quick takes:

  • All 71,647,138 current vintage allowances offered were sold; this is the third consecutive sold out auction. There were almost 17 million more allowances offered in May as in February, largely due to the return of previously unsold allowances.
  • Current vintage allowances cleared at $18.80, $1.09 above the floor price of $17.71. This is one dollar above the February 2021 settlement price of $17.80.
  • All of the 8,306,250 future vintage allowances offered for sale sold, just as 100% sold in the previous two auctions. These allowances may not be used for compliance until 2024.
  • Future vintage allowances sold at $19.04, $1.33 above the floor price of $17.71, and $1.03 cents above the $18.01 settlement price from February 2021.
  • California raised almost $ 916 million for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which will continue to help support essential climate programs through the California Climate Investment
  • Quebec raised almost $210 million (just under $253 million CAD) to invest in their own climate priorities.

Read More »

Posted in News / Comments are closed

Governor Inslee is leading the race against climate change. Other governors should keep up.

This post was co-authored by Katelyn Roedner Sutter, Senior Manager, U.S. Climate at EDF

Washington state just officially became the country’s frontrunner on climate action. On Monday, Governor Inslee signed a landmark cap-and-invest bill, called the Climate Commitment Act, which sets the most ambitious limit on climate pollution of any state in the nation. The bill will rapidly drive down emissions in line with Washington’s science-based, climate goals: 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 95% by 2050. And in addition to putting the state on the path to a safer climate, the Climate Commitment Act makes crucial steps toward improving local air quality.

Washington’s game-changing legislation arrives at a critical moment for the climate crisis. President Biden has just pledged to cut national emissions 50-52% by 2030, recapturing U.S. climate leadership on the global stage ahead of a major UN climate convening at the end of the year. But it will take serious work to meet this national commitment — a sharp and unwavering focus on putting a policy framework in place that is capable of fully ensuring that pollution declines at the pace and scale required. Washington state is showing exactly how that is done.

The role of state-led action on climate remains vital in meeting this collective challenge too. While Washington state is one of many states to make climate pledges over the past four years, it is one of the few states that is actually delivering policy action to meet them. With the Climate Commitment Act now signed into law, this legislation should serve as a model for other states and for federal policymakers in crafting strong climate policy that 1) meets the urgency of the climate crisis and 2) is designed to make progress in addressing the disproportionate burden of pollution.

Read More »

Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 1 Response

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 »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, News / Read 1 Response

Pennsylvania just reached a critical milestone on the path to a clean energy future

Somerset Wind Farm

Four of the wind turbines on the Somerset Wind Farm, in Somerset, Pennsylvania. PC: Jeff Kubina.

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released its final rule to link the state with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce carbon pollution from the state’s power plants starting in 2022. This is a momentous step, not only for Pennsylvania, but for the country’s fight against climate change: The Keystone state has the fourth dirtiest power sector in the nation in terms of carbon pollution. With this action, Governor Tom Wolf is showing much-needed leadership on cutting carbon pollution from the power sector, which is a critical piece of achieving the state’s climate goals along with a strong and comprehensive rule to cut methane emissions from existing sources of oil and gas infrastructure in the state.

The final rule stems from a 2019 Executive Order issued by Governor Wolf that came after years of inaction by the legislature to address the substantial air pollution coming from the state’s power sector. The next major step is for the rule to be approved by the Environmental Quality Board in the third quarter of this year and it will then move through the final steps necessary before publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Despite misleading criticisms levied at the program, there is strong support in Pennsylvania for moving forward with limits on carbon, with 79% of Pennsylvanians supporting strict limits on carbon pollution.

Read More »

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