Monthly Archives: August 2022

With one week to act, California needs to pass these policies to drive climate progress and protect communities

This post was co-authored by Caroline Jones, Analyst for U.S. Climate

photo of a wind farm in a western landscape

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The heat is on in Sacramento.

With less than a week left in the California State Legislature’s session (which ends on August 31), a set of potentially game-changing climate policies are on the table. Earlier this month, Governor Newsom released a series of proposals for the legislature, including a more ambitious goal for cutting climate pollution by 2030, codifying a carbon neutrality goal, interim clean electricity targets, safeguards from the health impacts caused by oil and gas drilling and providing direction on the use of carbon capture and sequestration — all of which are now being negotiated in Sacramento.

This push arrives amid a grueling year for climate change-fueled impacts across the state, with wildfires, heat waves and the worst megadrought the West has seen in over 1,000 years all underscoring the urgency for bold action. And with the new, massive down payment on climate and clean energy through the Inflation Reduction Act, California will have even more tools and investments available to drive down climate pollution further and faster.

Here are the key policies that can drive meaningful climate progress and protect communities — and need to pass the finish line by the end of the session.

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Posted in California, Cities and states, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

9 recommendations for getting US hydrogen hubs right from the start

This post was co-authored by Akin Olumoroti, Senior Analyst, Federal Climate Innovation

Photo of hydrogen tanks at sunrise

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Over the last year, hydrogen has gained significant momentum as a pathway to reduce pollution, create jobs and drive economic growth. Billions of dollars of private sector investment and tax credit support have been announced, and hydrogen build-out is already ramping up.

Earlier this summer, the Department of Energy (DOE) outlined its process for allocating $8 billion of investment for regional clean hydrogen hubs (i.e., close-proximity networks of clean hydrogen producers, consumers and connective infrastructure) from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and states and companies across the country are actively developing project plans and proposals.

But before we go all-in on deploying hydrogen, it’s essential we understand – and prepare for – its potential risks. EDF has been conducting research around the environmental and climate impacts of hydrogen and has identified several key considerations, including the indirect climate warming potential of hydrogen leakage, the steep energy requirements associated with hydrogen production, and the impacts that hydrogen build-out may have on local communities’ health and environment.

These considerations will be critical to apply as hydrogen hub planning gets underway, so that we not only support hydrogen deployment – but dedicate just as much energy to getting it right.

As hydrogen hub proposals come together, here are nine initial recommendations for federal and state policymakers and hydrogen hub developers to follow:

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

Charting a Flightpath Toward Cleaner Skies with EDF’s New High-Integrity Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Handbook

This blog post was authored by Pedro Piris-Cabezas, Director of Sustainable International Transport & Lead Senior Economist at Environmental Defense Fund.

The sun rises above the clouds seen from an airplane window

Although humans were biologically not built to take to the skies, innovation, invention and science led us to take flight. Through flight, we are connected to an international community. We can hold our loved ones on another continent. We can help move our global economy. We can build relationships across cultures. 

But there is a price to the power of flight: Aviation is responsible for driving 3.5% of human-related climate change impacts. If it were a country, aviation would be one of the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters in the world. Communities living near airports are also living with the brunt of air pollution from plane and vehicle traffic.  

There is a solution, however, that can clean up the future of flight. By transitioning to high-integrity sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), we have an opportunity to reduce the aviation sector’s climate impact. 

SAF is a fuel that can be produced from a variety of sources, or ‘feedstocks’, and mixed with conventional jet fuel to power planes. It can be produced from biofuels made from waste materials like used cooking oil or agricultural waste or from synthetic e-fuels made from surplus renewable electricity, water and direct air capture carbon monoxide. However, not all SAF is created equal, and only SAF produced with high integrity can help create a more sustainable future.  

When SAF is produced with high integrity—meaning it credibly reduces emissions compared to traditional fossil jet fuel, adheres to strong environmental and social safeguards, and is accurately accounted for to avoid double counting of emissions reductions—it can drastically reduce the climate impact of flying.  

But while high-integrity SAF has immense promise, there are many obstacles that block our journey to net zero aviation. For one, navigating the SAF landscape is complex.  

It can be difficult for individual travelers, companies who rely on air transport, airlines, and policymakers seeking to identify what high integrity SAF is and how to move forward to reduce their emissions from flying. To help these stakeholders take smart, future-proof steps to advance high-integrity SAF, EDF has created a comprehensive guide to the new sustainable fuel. 

After eight years of research and analysis, EDF published the High-Integrity SAF Handbook. The Handbook is a resource that can help fuel producers, airlines, policymakers, investors and companies understand and identify high-integrity SAF, create effective policy to support high-integrity SAF, and invest in and transition to high-integrity SAF. It provides clear guidance and insight on some of the thorniest obstacles that stand in the way of decarbonizing the way we fly.  

Microsoft Corporation is one company serving as a model for how to support the advancement of SAF in its climate strategy. The company has been a longtime leader in advancing SAF and has contributed actively to the thinking behind this handbook through fruitful cooperation with EDF since 2019.  In the Handbook’s preface, Microsoft’s sustainability team leaders outline how the company intends to support high-integrity SAF in its own efforts to become carbon negative by 2030.

There is increased corporate momentum on carbon reduction commitments. But for all that energy to help achieve climate stability effectively and transparently, we need to accelerate the maturation and adoption of industry standards for carbon accounting,” said Lucas Joppa, Chief Environment Officer, and Julia Fidler, Group Sustainability Manager, Procurement, with Microsoft Corporation, in a foreword to the handbook. “This handbook provides a solid foundation to help build a resilient sustainability and accounting framework for sustainable aviation fuels that can guide investment decisions while avoiding stranded assets and unintended consequences on ecosystems and people.

In addition to providing guidance for companies, the Handbook also identifies three key ways that policymakers in particular can chart a course for net zero aviation:  

  • Support the production of high-integrity SAF by ensuring only feedstocks with low indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk are eligible for financial support. A low ILUC risk means that producing the SAF feedstock does not divert edible crops or land used to grow food, and does not contribute to deforestation or habitat destruction. By focusing on SAF produced sustainably, policymakers can ensure we achieve the greatest climate benefit while protecting forests from being cleared for new agricultural land and supporting food security by ensuring food is not being diverted.
     
  • Leverage financial support for high-integrity SAF that offers the highest emissions reductions. Not all SAF has the same potential to deliver strong climate benefits. Policymakers can and should ensure that investments are channeled to SAF that deliver the highest emissions reductions, as these will deliver the most cost-effective way forward.
     
  • Support processes to avoid double counting and make sure emissions reductions from SAF are accurately accounted for. Policymakers can prepare to properly account for SAF use and prevent double counting by supporting the development of robust and transparent registries. 

The obstacles to aviation decarbonization are challenging — but EDF’s new Handbook provides clear direction to benefit from high-integrity SAF’s climate promise. By again channeling our human innovation, invention and science, we can chart a path to cleaner, healthier ways to fly.  

To read the High Integrity SAF Handbook, click here.

Posted in Aviation / Comments are closed

Key climate finance programs in the Inflation Reduction Act could unleash 10 times more private investment

This blog was co-authored by Nicole Buell, Director for Federal Climate Innovation at EDF.

The Inflation Reduction Act puts a nearly $370 billion down payment on clean energy and climate progress, making it the most significant climate action ever taken by Congress. But this federal funding only scratches the surface of the law’s transformative impact on our economy.

A new policy brief from Environmental Defense Fund shows that investment in a few of the law’s key climate finance programs could pack an even greater punch, catalyzing 10 times greater investment from the private sector. Finance programs, including a new federal green bank, a program to reinvest in energy infrastructure and additional support for existing Department of Energy loan programs, could translate $38.7 billion of federal spending into $385 billion of private investment. 

key climate finance programs unlock 10X more private investment

Here are some of the main ways the law can unleash more private dollars.

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Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Innovation / Read 1 Response

The Inflation Reduction Act: A breakthrough for lower energy costs and climate progress

This post was authored by EDF policy experts.clean energy

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin on July 27 announced the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — an agreement that will improve Americans’ lives by fighting inflation, lowering healthcare costs, and making significant down payments on energy security and climate progress.

If passed by both the Senate and the House, this bill will be the largest investment in combating climate change ever passed by Congress — driving down carbon pollution 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. This will bring the U.S. substantially closer to President Biden’s goal of cutting climate pollution in half by 2030 and return the U.S. to a leadership role in the global fight against climate change.

These fiscally responsible investments will create good-paying clean energy and manufacturing jobs and boost U.S. energy security — all while saving families and businesses money. The bill also makes a historic down payment on environmental justice.

While the bill does contain some trade-offs, taken together, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will greatly benefit our economy and our climate fight – now and for generations to come. Here are the key investments you should know and why they matter.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Innovation, Policy / Read 2 Responses