Climate 411

EDF experts weigh in: President Biden’s executive actions on climate

Professional worker installing solar panels. Shutterstock.

President Joe Biden is taking executive action to combat climate change while creating high quality American jobs, building on the steps he took on his first day in office. EDF is providing this analysis of some of the actions the President took on January 20th and is taking today.

Wednesday, Jan. 27 Climate actions

Omnibus Domestic and International Climate Executive Order

If there was any doubt before today that the Biden administration was making climate change central to policy across the administration, today’s major action erased it. The Omnibus Executive Order clearly implements a “whole of government” approach to climate change:

  • A new White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy under the leadership of National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.
  • A new post of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, filled by John Kerry, charged with the development of U.S. international climate policy.
  • A National Climate Task Force, led by McCarthy and Kerry, that will coordinate climate policy across the administration and ensure that climate is integrated into every aspect of domestic and international policy.

The administration clearly intends today’s major announcements to be the start of a historic push to reduce climate pollution. That vision should include 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 together with 100% clean cars by 2035 and all new zero emitting trucks and buses no later than 2040. Eliminating the extensive climate and air pollution from these sources together with the administration’s commitment to slash methane from new and existing oil and gas extraction activities are among the single most important steps we can take immediately as a nation to address the climate crisis.

These actions will save tens of thousands of lives each year as smokestacks, tailpipes and oil and gas discharge deadly particle pollution, smog-forming contaminants and air toxics. For far too long, too many communities and neighborhoods have been disproportionately afflicted by the heavy and unjust burden of industrial air pollution.

The race to deploy clean solutions will also create new American jobs, strengthening American manufacturing now and for years to come, and create economic opportunities in urban and rural communities alike to build 21st Century infrastructure. As shown by two new EDF reports, eliminating pollution from new cars by 2035 will bring extensive health, climate, cost saving benefits of eliminating pollution from new cars by 2035.

Climate Leaders’ Summit

The White House also confirmed that it will host the online Climate Leaders’ Summit on April 22, Earth Day. The summit, which fulfills one of President Biden’s campaign pledges, will bring together world leaders to discuss pressing climate issues ahead of COP 26. It will mark the next key step in the U.S. government’s engagement on international climate.

Pausing federal oil and gas leasing

After years of giving away oil and gas leases at fire-sale prices, tapping the brakes is a sensible and necessary step. It will give the administration time to determine whether oil and gas leasing on public lands can be reconciled with the need to rapidly transition to a clean energy economy. It will allow permanent protections to be put in place for the Arctic, parks and monuments, lands that are culturally significant to Native American communities and coastal areas that have long been off-limits. Critically, it will also allow time for EPA and BLM to reinstate and strengthen methane and waste prevention rules rescinded by the previous administration. With industry already sitting on more than 13 million acres of idle oil and gas leases, claims that a pause on leasing will cause economic harm stretch all credulity.

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It’s time to power up, America

America has been living through particularly difficult times. As our leaders consider how to contain the coronavirus, create jobs and address environmental injustice, they have a chance to make some big changes that are long overdue.

We can power up the economy and reduce air and climate pollution by building more clean trucks, buses, cars and clean energyAll of this will move us toward a healthier and more prosperous future.

It starts with building more electric trucks, buses and cars – right here in America

  • Transitioning to a zero-emission transportation sector will put over one million people to work, save thousands of lives, build up our domestic manufacturing base and make American businesses more competitive.
  • A clean transportation system has the potential to bring good jobs as well as significant health benefits to communities of color and lower-income communities, who are more likely to live near highways and be directly exposed to harmful soot and smog pollution.
  • The goal of all new cars to be zero polluting by 2035, and all new trucks and buses to be zero polluting by 2040 is achievable: every major truck, bus and car manufacturer is already developing or investing in all-electric, zero-emission vehicles.

To achieve the scale needed to transform the transportation sector, we need Congress to: 

  • Support domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles, batteries and component parts.
  • Expand tax incentives and point-of-sale vouchers for zero-emissions cars and trucks.
  • Provide grants to school districts to purchase zero-emissions, electric school buses.
  • Fund state and local agencies developing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Ensure low-income communities, communities of color and others hit hardest by climate change and air pollution are first in line to benefit.

We must also transition to clean electric power to run our homes, farms, businesses and vehicles

  • Transitioning to clean energy will help boost our economy: Before the coronavirus recession, the sector was producing jobs 70% faster than the economy as a whole.
  • Dirty power plants are a major source of air, water and climate pollution and often located in communities of color and low-income communities. By investing in clean energy and energy efficiency we can protect these communities, clean up our air and guarantee everyone access to reliable
    and affordable energy.
  • Over 87 million Americans are already getting service from an electric utility that’s moving to net zero emissions, but we need smart policies to reach our nationwide goal of 100% clean electric power by 2035.

To accelerate progress, we need Congress to:

  • Extend and expand clean energy tax credits for wind, solar, energy efficiency, and storage.
  • Implement an ambitious Clean Electricity Standard – a program that limits how much climate pollution electric utilities can emit – that will reduce emissions at least 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.
  • Invest in new transmission & distribution infrastructure, and grid-scale energy storage.
  • Ensure that a significant percentage of investments are directed to frontline communities and areas that are losing fossil fuel industry jobs to ensure a just transition for workers.
  • Double funding for clean energy research and development, including significant increases to the budget of ARPA-E, a government agency that helps companies commercialize promising breakthrough energy technologies.

American innovation makes these ambitious goals achievable. We have a long history of entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers tackling big challenges, and this is no different.

Let’s get to work creating healthier communities by building clean trucks, buses, cars and clean energy. It’s time to Power Up, America!

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Energy justice is racial justice

Guest blog by Reverend Michael Malcom 

I was born into a working-class family in Decatur, Georgia. My mother and father were both in the home and worked full time jobs. I can remember times going without water, gas, or lights. I can recall a time when I was out with friends and one of them joked on my nails being dirty.

I was ashamed to say that we were without gas at that time and I could barely boil enough water on a hot plate to wash up. It was not that my parents were not working. It was that the utility bill was more than their family could afford. They were making the hard decision of ensuring we had a meal or if we had gas. That month, they decided on the latter.

Many years later, I found myself still unable to escape that same vicious cycle. Like my parents, my wife and I both work, yet we still make brutal decisions between adequately feeding our family and paying utility bills that are typically over $500 per month.

Our story is all too common: Energy insecurity is among the most persistent injustices impacting Black and brown people.

According to a recent report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), 25% of Americans pay more than 6% of their income on energy bills even before COVID-19 hit. Of those people, 13% pay more than 10% of their income on their energy bills. Nationally, 67% of low-income households face a high energy burden. And of those households, 60% have severe energy burdens. Read More »

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Hurricanes are getting stronger, more dangerous and forming earlier. Here’s how we can prepare.

(This post originally appeared on EDF’s Growing Returns. It was written by

Last week, Tropical Storm Arthur skirted North Carolina’s coast before veering into the Atlantic. While damage was minimal, this marked the sixth straight year that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.

Experts are predicting this year to be a very active hurricane season, and even more concerning, researchers from NOAA and the University of Wisconsin at Madison just released a study that found climate change is causing more intense and dangerous hurricanes. Their research indicates that the likelihood of a tropical cyclone becoming a Category 3 or stronger storm has increased 8% per decade as a result of climate change.

This news comes on the heels of several record-breaking hurricane seasons. It is a reminder of the urgent need to curb emissions to limit the worst impacts of climate change, while also working to build resilience to the changes we know are coming.

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What the Coronavirus pandemic means for China’s national carbon market

This post is written by Hongming Liu, Project Manager for Carbon Pricing, and Xiaolu Zhao, Project Manager, both from EDF’s China program

Photo by form PxHere

Electricity transmission towers in China. Photo from PxHere.

COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global economy and peoples’ lives. The crisis has caused China’s central government to shift policy priorities to better address the health and economic fallout of the epidemic. It’s the right move and expected.

Prior to tragic spread of the coronavirus epidemic, China was preparing to roll out its national emission trading system (ETS) this year, according to The National Carbon Emission Trading Market Establishment Work plan (Power Generation Industry). Although initially covering only the power sector, which includes around 1,700 companies, the ETS will be the world’s largest carbon market. It will eventually cover 7,000 companies from heavy industries, like cement and steel. Its successful operation is key to China meeting its commitment under the Paris Agreement.

The pandemic will clearly have an impact on the pace and timing of the rollout, but the strong work done before the country shut down has put the ETS in a good position to avoid a prolonged delay.

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This isn’t your parents’ Earth Day: Talking unlikely paths to environmentalism with EDF’s Diverse Partners team    

This year we have reached Earth Day not only as the country continues to face unimaginable death tolls, but especially as there is an increasing understanding of the ways the coronavirus is compounding existing injustices in our country. 

EDF and EDF Action are very fortunate to have recently hired two amazing women, Elise Nelson Leary and Esther Sosa, to lead our engagement work with Latino, African American and other diverse community partners. We recently had a remote conversation with them to reflect on their current work and past experiences with Earth Day and the environmental movement.

“I would never have categorized my family as environmentalists…but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the earth and its resources

Question: What were your first memories of Earth Day? Are your families environmentalists?  Read More »

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Latino partnerships / Comments are closed