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America Doesn’t Have to Choose Between the Economy and the Climate

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America Doesn’t Have to Choose Between the Economy and the Climate

by Helen Mountford Helen Mountford and Joel Jaeger - March 06, 2017

Solar panels at Curtis H. Stanton Energy Cente

Solar panels at Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center. Photo by OUC Reliable One/Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of WRI’s blog series, The Trump Administration. The series analyzes policies and actions by the administration and their implications for climate change, energy, economics and more.

New EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt recently said “I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs, and pro-environment. We don’t have to choose between the two.” While we don’t always see eye to eye with Mr. Pruitt, on this one we have common ground.

For many years, we’ve heard that economic growth and environmental protection are in conflict. However, there is growing and compelling evidence that this simply is not the case: A strong economy and a healthy environment are not only complementary, but each depends on the other.

The Economic Case for Climate Action

The negative economic impacts of environmental damage are becoming clearer. Risky Business, a project founded by Mike Bloomberg, Hank Paulson and Tom Steyer, has mapped the potential costs of climate change, finding that states like Missouri and Illinois risk up to a 70 percent decline in average annual crop yields by the end of the century due to rising temperatures. Billions of dollars of property in states like Florida and California will likely be underwater by midcentury. And it is not just climate change that poses a cost to our economy and our communities. Nationwide, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to be equivalent to 4 percent of GDP each year. By acting now, we can avoid increasing costs down the road.

But it’s not just about preventing risks. Climate action can actively benefit the economy, according to new work from the New Climate Economy. The key drivers of economic growth – resource efficiency, infrastructure investment and innovation – can be harnessed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a logical connection: a more efficient economy is a more productive economy, and a more efficient economy also emits less carbon.

The economic case for climate action is only becoming stronger as time goes on and the costs of clean energy and other technologies continue to drop. Since 2008, the cost of utility-scale solar energy in the United States has fallen 64 percent and the cost of wind energy has fallen 41 percent, making them increasingly cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuel power, even without subsidies. Even without considering the air pollution and climate benefits, clean energy makes economic sense.

The US Is Decoupling Economic Growth from Carbon Emissions

Many U.S. states are already proving that it is possible to have a strong economy and a strong environment. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia expanded their economies while reducing energy-related carbon emissions from 2000 to 2014, according to Brookings. This includes red states like Kentucky, Alaska and Georgia, as well as blue states like California, New York and Massachusetts. This is an economic issue, not a political one.

As a whole, from 2000 to 2015, the United States grew its GDP by 30 percent while reducing its energy-related emissions by 10 percent.


Source: Brookings
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Can the United States Achieve a Low Carbon Economy by 2050?

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EESI - Environmental and Energy Study Institute

Can the United States Achieve a Low Carbon Economy by 2050?

Thursday, March 9
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Room G11 – Dirksen Senate Office Building
Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE

A live webcast will be streamed at 2:00 PM EST at www.eesi.org/livecast (wireless connection permitting)

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing showcasing two new reports on how to transition the United States toward a low carbon economy. The reports, From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy and the United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, present a range of pathways that can achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2050. These pathways involve mixtures of: energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, increased carbon sequestration in U.S. lands, and reductions in non-CO2 emissions. These pathways rely on commercial or near-commercial technologies that American companies are adopting and developing. The briefing will explore how deeper investment in clean energy can yield long-term dividends for the American economy.

In a low carbon economy, total electricity generation could double between now and 2050, presenting a prime opportunity to reap the benefits of investing in clean energy. An average of $320 billion a year in additional private sector investment would be needed between now and mid-century to reduce total energy sector CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This bold step forward could in turn yield an average of over $360 billion in annual savings from reduced spending on fossil fuels.

Karl Hausker has worked for 30 years in the fields of climate change, energy, and environment in a career that has spanned the federal government, research institutions, NGOs, and consulting. Much of his work has focused on the energy and transportation sectors and on low carbon, resilient development strategies.

At WRI's U.S. Climate Initiative, Noah Kaufman focuses on carbon pricing and other market-based climate solutions. He has previously served as Deputy Associate Director of Energy & Climate Change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as a Senior Consultant at NERA Economic Consulting.

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to expedite check-in.

 

EPA enforcement office may be next on the Trump team’s hit list

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EPA enforcement office may be next on the Trump team’s hit list

By Kate Sheppard and Nick Visser on Feb 9, 2017 1:57 pm

This story was originally published by the Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Trump administration is considering closing down the enforcement division of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a report Wednesday evening from Inside EPA.

The new administration is reportedly looking to close the Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance, or OECA, and instead let individual program offices (such as the air program, the water program, and others) handle enforcement. The outlet Inside EPA quoted “a source familiar with the plan” who says the Trump administration intends to “disassemble the enforcement office … take it, break it up, and move it back into the program offices.”

In a statement emailed to the Huffington Post, the agency’s press office said the “EPA does not have a confirmed administrator and we cannot speculate on future plans for the agency.”

Closing the office would almost certainly mean less enforcement work happens at the agency. OECA handles both civil and criminal enforcement of the country’s core environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The office is an independent body with about 3,000 employees who “work to advance environmental justice by protecting communities most vulnerable to pollution.”

“Dissolving OECA would have a disastrous effect on EPA’s ability to do its job,” said Nicholas Conger, who served as communications director for OECA from July 2013 through March 2016 and later worked in the EPA administrator’s public affairs office. Conger is now the press secretary of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Americans depend on a strong federal enforcement presence, and that depends on having a program that is directly focused on holding polluters accountable and ensuring they fix their problems.”

Myron Ebell, a climate change denier who led the Trump administration’s transition at the EPA before returning to the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted in an email with HuffPost that most environmental enforcement efforts were largely the responsibility of individual offices before the creation of the OECA in the 1990s. Ebell has previously recommended the agency slash its workforce by two-thirds, from about 15,000 to 5,000 employees, and cut the EPA budget in half.

Environmental advocates were quick to point out that Scott Pruitt — the Oklahoma attorney general Trump picked to lead the EPA — made almost the same move back home. Pruitt closed his office’s Environmental Protection Unit not long after he took office in 2011.

Pruitt’s online biography describes him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” and says he “established Oklahoma’s first federalism unit to combat unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government.” Republicans voted Pruitt’s nomination out of committee last week over a Democratic boycott; he is expected to go up for a vote in the full Senate, though a date for the vote has not been scheduled.

“Scott Pruitt endangered the health and welfare of Oklahomans when he closed his own environmental enforcement unit there, and now it looks like he wants to do the exact same thing at the EPA, imperiling families across America,” Liz Perera, climate policy director at the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

Republican-led efforts in Congress have already begun to roll back much of the environmental progress made under the administration of President Barack Obama. Last week, leaders in the House voted to overturn a rule meant to protect waterways from coal mining operations and another that requires energy companies to disclose payments from foreign governments.

Source: http://grist.org/article/epa-enforcement-office-may-be-next-on-the-trump-teams-hit-list/?utm_content=bufferc5b43&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Climate finance: resources for low-carbon, climate-resilient Europe

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Climate finance: resources for low-carbon, climate-resilient Europe

Article Published 15 Dec 2016 Last modified 15 Dec 2016, 05:38 PM
Our climate is changing. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the rate of climate change, and at the same time, take measures that help us prepare for current and future impacts. Both of these strands of action require unprecedented redirection of investments. This was acknowledged by the climate conferences in Paris and recently in Marrakesh. The finance sector can and will play an instrumental role in supporting Europe’s transition towards a low- carbon, climate-resilient society.

Image © Giulia Soriente, My City/EEA

Europe needs to invest substantially in climate change mitigation and adaptation.  The finance sector can and will play an instrumental role in supporting Europe’s transition towards a low- carbon, climate-resilient society.  Public sector investments will not be enough for financing the transition but can help mobilise and leverage private capital, which is indispensable for redirecting investment at the scale needed.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

 

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Climate Change Threats and Solutions

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Climate Change Threats and Solutions

What Can We Do to Make a Difference?

Climate change is already beginning to transform life on Earth.  Without action, the impacts of climate change threaten to catastrophically damage our world. But by rallying people around the world to be a part of the solution, together we have the power to limit the effects of climate change.

Learn more from TNC's leaders about how we're meeting the challenges of a changing planet

Read our Science Blog to find out what's emerging in the world of conservation science around climate change.

soy production 640x400

Higher Temperatures

Earth’s temperatures in 2015 were the hottest ever recorded (source: NASA). Why does this matter? Because a change of even 1 degree Fahrenheit – which may sound small – can upset the delicate balance of ecosystems, and affect plants and animals that inhabit them. 

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