Global Warming Policy 2007: Ten Victories

Sheryl CanterThis post is by Sheryl Canter, an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.

Sometimes it can seem like we’re not making any progress at all on the global warming front, but we are! Here are ten important policy victories from 2007.

  1. Supreme Court victories. We won two Supreme Court cases in 2007, but the notable one from a climate change standpoint was Massachusetts versus EPA. It all started because EPA claimed it didn’t have authority to rule on California’s waiver request. The Supreme Court said that, far from having no authority, EPA has a duty to regulate greenhouse gas pollution.
  2. 18 states ready to adopt Clean Car program. It might seem strange to include this as a victory when EPA just denied California’s waiver request, preventing all 18 states (and counting) from adopting the stricter standards. But it’s not over yet. California is challenging the ruling, and having 18 states agree to the standards is a big victory.
  3. U.S. DOT grants to cut traffic and pollution. Traffic jams mean a lot of idling cars spewing additional greenhouse gases. London achieved a 20 percent decrease in CO2 emissions when it implemented congestion pricing. The U.S. Department of Transportation set aside $1.2 billion for U.S. cities to try it. New York and San Francisco have both received grants.
  4. Big-city sustainability programs. Cities are taking other types of action, as well. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has been particularly active in fighting global warming. His PlaNYC will quadruple bike lanes, convert taxis to hybrids, and impose a congestion fee for driving into Manhattan. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other mayors also have announced climate action plans.
  5. State-wide mandatory caps on emissions. California enacted the first mandatory state-wide cap on global warming pollution, reducing their emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Other states have followed suit. New Jersey and Hawaii have passed emissions caps, and the governors of Minnesota and Florida have announced emissions targets.
  6. Regional climate compacts. States have joined forces to fight global warming in regional initiatives representing more than half the country. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), for example, is a consortium of nine states in the northeast. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is a compact that several western U.S. states, Mexican states, and Canadian provinces have joined or are observing.
  7. TXU coal expansion stopped. This wasn’t strictly a policy victory since it occurred in the business arena, but it was a huge victory nonetheless. Environmental Defense hammered TXU with court suits and a damaging television campaign for its plans to build new dirty coal plants. TXU’s stock price went down and a buyer took them over – contingent on approval by Environmental Defense and the National Resource Defense Council. Among the concessions was agreement to halt construction of eight new coal plants.
  8. US-CAP launches and grows. The United States Climate Action Partnership (US-CAP) is a coalition of businesses and environmental organizations advocating national legislation for mandatory reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The membership list includes the CEOs of General Electric, General Motors, and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies.
  9. Climate bill passed by Senate committee. This year saw the introduction of the most promising climate bill to date, featuring mandatory caps on emissions and a national carbon market. The subcommittee where it was introduced passed the bill in November, and the full committee passed it just a few weeks ago.
  10. International agreement on ‘Bali Roadmap’. For a while it seemed like the U.S. delegation would never give in, but finally they did and international agreement on a roadmap for the future was achieved in Bali. The roadmap lays out a two-year process that hopefully will lead to the next international climate treaty.

We’ve got momentum on the climate change issue – there’s no doubt about it. And we’re seeing promising signs that a climate bill will be passed by the full Senate and House in 2008. Once nationwide mandatory caps are in place, we can really move forward.

Please share this list with anyone you know who feels despair about our chances of stopping global warming!

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  1. Posted December 28, 2007 at 1:12 pm | Permalink


    I’m surprised that this list didn’t include passage of the Energy Bill which improves CAFE standards, makes strides in energy efficient lighting and appliances, and sets the first mandates for cellulosic ethanol. Nathanael Greene of NRDC said that it would provide 13 to 19 percent of the cumulative 2010-2030 reductions that would be required under climate bill that you list as number nine:

  2. Kira
    Posted December 28, 2007 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Nathan, Sheryl is already gone for the holiday, so I’m chiming in with an answer.

    First, we are happy that the Energy Bill passed! (See our comments:

    But it falls short of the national action we need to avoid dangerous climate change. I checked in with one of our analysts, Freda Fung, and her figures match up with Nathanael’s: The Energy Bill cuts are modest, less than one-fifth of what we need to stabilize the climate. She also points out that the Energy Bill is not designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the long term, as major provisions expire in 2022.

    When we were talking about what belonged on this list, our policy staff said loud and clear that Congress isn’t done until they pass a strict national cap on the emissions that cause global warming. That’s why the progress of the Climate Security Act made the list, and the Energy Bill didn’t.

    Hope that helps, and Happy New Year!

  3. IMWright
    Posted December 31, 2007 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Nathan good observation!

    By the way, exactly where has Sheryl gone to for vacation and by what mode of transport. Shouldn’t there also be a cap on the amount of travel each of us may have so that we may save the planet? Every little sacrifice we all make will make the salvation of mother Earth happen that much sooner.

  4. Ayden_K
    Posted January 2, 2008 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    My kids asked me how much energy does it take to keep blogs running 24/7 52/52? I could not answer, can any one?

  5. IMWright
    Posted January 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Ayden good question. Of course it really doesn’t matter the cost if you grub your hands into someone else’s wallet for the money needed. That’s irrelevant. It’s how we all show how much more we care than everyone else. And if course, I care more than anyone else.

  6. fred1
    Posted January 26, 2008 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I am just curious as to how mankind can hope to stablize the climate? Plus isn’t it a bit too cold now anyway? I am totally onboard with protecting the environment but when you start talking about regulating CO2 and methane and all of the other greenhouse gas emissions, many of which occur naturally, I am reminded of my research which showed that 1000 years ago the global temperatures were quite warmer than they are today, and Co2 levels were lower than they are today. i also researched that according to the objective research done with ice core samples from Antarctica and Greenland, they show that increases in CO2 levels in the atmosphere tend to lag global temperature increases by 200 years or more. I want to understand the science more. Can you help me?

  7. Posted January 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    fred1 – you confuse weather and climate. Just because it’s cold today doesn’t mean global warming isn’t happening.

    If you’d like to know more about the science of global warming, start here: