Climate 411

Where the U.S. stands going into COP26

After a year-long delay from the pandemic, COP26 — the next UN meeting aimed at accelerating global action on climate change — is right around the corner. As a newly rejoined Party to the Paris Agreement under the leadership of President Biden, the United States will be arriving under much different circumstances than the last COP. But will other countries see the U.S. participation and its new commitments as credible? Will the United States be positioned to push global ambition to the levels needed to beat the climate crisis? The answers to those critical questions depend on how much policy progress the U.S. can make at home.

In April, the United States renewed its commitment to meeting global climate targets, including through an ambitious new nationally determined contribution (NDC) that pledges to reduce U.S. emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. While highly ambitious, multiple analyses have demonstrated that this goal is also achievable, lending much-needed credibility to the U.S. pledge. Since then, the Biden administration has unveiled a series of actions intended to move the country towards achieving that goal.

Critically, one of the largest and most significant components of the president’s plan to tackle climate change is a piece of legislation that is currently in active stages of negotiation in Congress. Getting this bill and the included climate investments across the finish line will be crucial to meeting our climate goals. On top of that, the U.S. must also ratchet up regulatory climate action at the federal and state level to meet our 2030 pledge, as incentives and investments alone won’t be enough to slash emissions at the pace and scale needed.

So what has the U.S. accomplished since announcing its new NDC in April and what is still on the table? Here is where progress stands.

Read More »

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, Paris Agreement / Comments are closed

Beyond R&D: Climate innovation policy can help the U.S. meet the moment

Together with Third Way, EDF co-hosted a Climate Week 2021 event on how U.S. climate innovation policy can accelerate a cleaner, stronger and more equitable economy. Here are four big takeaways.

(Caption: Speakers included Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor, Wisconsin; Chris Deschene, Board Member, National InterTribal Energy Council; Jason Walsh, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance; Jetta Wong, Senior Fellow, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and President, JLW Advising. The event was moderated by Natasha Vidangos, Senior Director, Climate Innovation and Technology at EDF, and Josh Freed, Senior Vice President, Climate and Energy Program at Third Way.)

Climate innovation is a powerful tool that can create high-quality jobs, improve the quality of life for all communities and catalyze the breakthroughs needed to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. To take advantage of the full opportunity, however, we need strong policies and approaches now that can deliver on all of these challenges, as a recent Climate Week event hosted by Environmental Defense Fund and Third Way made clear.

Innovation in climate technologies includes many stages of development, from research and development through to demonstration and deployment. The U.S. is poised to make major investments in this area to combat climate change: President Biden has pledged to deliver the largest-ever federal investment in clean energy innovation, and the infrastructure and reconciliation packages currently under negotiation in Congress contain large amounts of funding, including specific investments in demonstration and deployment of key technologies. But these investments can feel abstract. What would a strong push for climate innovation mean for U.S. workers and communities, and how can we design these policies to deliver the maximum benefits for all?

Here are four major takeaways from the event, which brought together perspectives from government, labor and advocacy.

Read More »

Posted in Energy, Jobs, News / 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. Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Four Reasons Petitions for Supreme Court Review of Climate Pollution Standards for Power Plants Should Fail

This coming Monday, the Supreme Court will consider hundreds of petitions for review, which ask the Court to take up cases for full consideration during its new term. Among the petitions for review are four from coal companies and states asking the Court to review the D.C. Circuit decision overturning the Trump administration’s rule weakening regulations of carbon pollution from power plants. For multiple reasons the four petitions lack merit.

The Clean Power Plan, adopted in 2015, established the first-ever national limits on climate pollution from existing power plants. In 2019, the Trump administration adopted regulations to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with the “ACE” rule – which did virtually nothing to limit pollution.

This January the D.C. Circuit struck down this attempt, issuing a narrow opinion that explained how ACE misinterpreted specific language in section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

In the months since the D.C. Circuit’s decision, neither the Clean Power Plan nor the Trump administration’s weak replacement rule has been in effect, meaning that no power plants or operators have experienced harm under either rule. Additionally, EPA has been working from a clean slate on new safeguards that will reflect current information about our rapidly changing power sector. Despite this, and the fact that no one is subject to any compliance obligations under the Clean Power Plan or ACE, coal companies and 21 states are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. Circuit opinion and issue a statutory interpretation that limits EPA’s ability under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from climate pollution.

Effectively, they are asking the Court for an “advisory” opinion — a free-floating legal opinion untethered to any current dispute but intended to constrain future behavior. EDF is part of a coalition of environmental organizations that – along with almost two dozen states and cities, power companies and business associations – opposes this challenge.

Rather than take up this case in order to consider legal theories in the abstract, the appropriate course would be for the Court to allow EPA to complete its new rulemaking, which will be subject to judicial review once finalized. At that time, reviewing courts will be able to assess EPA’s actual application of its Clean Air Act authority in the context of real compliance obligations and a factual record that reflects current realities.

Here are four key reasons that the petitioners’ pleas for Supreme Court review should fail:

Read More »

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Energy, EPA litgation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed

We need to go big to solve the climate crisis

Johnny Lye. iStock

The environmental integrity of emissions reductions depends on scale and systemic changes, not on sector of origin of the emissions

We urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions far beyond current climate pledges, even if these were fully attained. But there’s a completely doable way to make major progress, near to hand.

Natural climate solutions can provide 20% of all the emissions reductions we need by 2050 to keep average global warming under 2 C. Stopping tropical deforestation, allowing tropical forests to regenerate and restoring degraded lands are the most important methods, particularly in the next decade. Letting countries or companies that exceed ambitious targets trade their surplus emissions reductions to those who fall short would permit much greater global emissions reductions than not trading. Countries could reach their targets more quickly, and trading would create more incentive to protect and restore land.

Some researchers and policy makers have held that nature-based solutions, such as stopping deforestation, are too risky. A forest you protect today could burn down tomorrow. But in fact, this problem exists with all emissions reductions, not only those based in terrestrial carbon. And nature-based solutions are worth considering as many of the highest quality and highest value emissions reductions that are feasible in the coming years.

A new article in Environmental Research Letters by scientists and economists from the Environmental Defense Fund and Princeton University shows that the best way to execute emissions reductions – whether they are from protecting forests or cutting down on fossil fuel –is to go big.

Read More »

Posted in Brazil, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, International, REDD+ / Comments are closed

What We’re Watching in Reconciliation

Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

Through the process known as budget reconciliation, Congress is now considering significant investments in climate action that could supercharge economic and job growth. With so many moving pieces, it can be difficult to know what to watch for, which is why we’ve homed in on four key questions to ask as the process unfolds.

EDF staff will also be weighing in on key developments as they happen, and you can read those comments in a new, regularly updated blog post you can read here. Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs / Comments are closed