Climate 411

Washington and Wall Street must act now to protect Americans’ financial futures from unfolding climate change harms

This piece was co-authored by Stephanie Jones, Attorney, Climate Risk and Financial Regulations, and Gabe Malek, Project Manager, Investor Influence at EDF.

Climate change poses grave risks across society, including “more frequent and intense storms, wildfires, and heatwaves as well as more damaging droughts and more extensive ecosystem losses.” All people face climate harms, today: “this year alone, extreme weather has upended the U.S. economy and affected one in three Americans.” Policymakers must act with urgency to protect all Americans in the face of the unfolding climate crisis, and safeguarding peoples’ financial health and stability is urgent and paramount – no American should face financial jeopardy due to the harms climate change poses to their retirement account or ability to prudently manage personal and home finances.

Importantly, Washington and Wall Street are increasingly taking steps to recognize and manage climate risks. A number of important activities have taken shape in recently weeks, all designed to protect Americans’ financial futures. Measures range from proposed rules that would improve lifelong retirement savings plan selection to report findings that make transparent the harms climate change presents to the foundational stability of our banking system.

Eight of the most significant recent U.S. developments in the last few months of 2021 are highlighted below. It is crucial that we build upon these steps and take concrete, urgent action now to protect families, all people with bank accounts small and large, investors from main street to wall street, retirees, and all who depend on a financial system that is not destabilized by climate change.

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Also posted in Policy / Leave a comment

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.

Oct 22: More than one pathway: Congress can meet the moment on climate action

It’s been all over the news this week: a significant piece of the Democrats’ climate policy agenda has been dropped from the Build Back Better Act. The Clean Electricity Performance Program or CEPP was designed to incentivize utilities to increase the percentage of their electricity generation coming from clean sources through a carrot-and-stick approach: offering rewards for meeting annual growth targets and assessing penalties for failing to meet minimum targets. Now it’s on the cutting room floor. So what does it mean for meeting our climate targets? Can Congress still meet the moment for climate action?  Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Economics, Health, News, Policy / Leave a comment

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.

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Also posted in Jobs, Paris Agreement / 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:

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Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Energy, EPA litgation, News, Partners for Change, Policy / 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 »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Green Jobs, Health, Jobs / Comments are closed

A revamped cost curve showcases the biggest carbon-cutting opportunities

President Biden has raised the bar for U.S. climate ambition, setting targets to cut economy-wide emissions 50-52% by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. As the administration, federal lawmakers and state and local leaders work to make these goals a reality with strong climate policies and investments — including in climate-focused infrastructure and reconciliation packages being negotiated in Congress — they are faced with many questions. What are the cheapest ways to cut carbon right now? How will a particular policy affect emissions? How much should we be investing in new clean technologies that are not widely available yet?

A new and improved ‘cost curve’ tool developed by EDF and Evolved Energy Research shows that the electricity and transportation sectors offer the most impactful carbon-cutting opportunities at the lowest cost right now — with potential to get us nearly halfway to net-zero emissions from energy and industry by 2050. This tool, which offers a new take on what is known as a Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) curve, gives policymakers an economic roadmap to net-zero emissions and beyond by revealing greater insights into the costs, impact and optimal sequencing of different carbon-cutting actions.

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Also posted in Economics, Energy / Comments are closed