TWITE 06.01.17

Posted May 31, 2017

Welcome back, dear friend, to our latest edition of This Week in the Environment. It’s been a busy and troubling few days. Our president has now made the historically terrible decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, just days after news that we are 40 (forty!) years ahead of schedule on advances in renewable technology and implementation. Even the VP of a public utility with a vested interest in fossil fuels has admitted we’re already in position to go 100% renewable. Yet our president apparently felt that, rather than support this burgeoning economic demographic, he should keep campaign promises to double down on dirty energy. He’s willing to sacrifice America’s status as a world leader in favor of allegiance to those working in a dying coal industry, his big money donors, and possibly his friends in Russia. After a few weeks where we could spotlight good news, we’re faced today with these sad facts. Thus, it’s more important than ever that we galvanize and make our every voice heard in support of responsible climate action.

At Greenpower, we’re asking Governor Jerry Brown to tell the world that California stands by Paris

Our friends at Daily Kos and other orgs are circulating petitions aimed at changing the president’s mind. We support any and all efforts to combat the short-sighted policies coming from D.C. that threaten to further hinder America’s economy and standing in the world. Thank you for reading and taking whatever action you can. Let’s continue to stand together in this dire hour so that we can hand over a more beautiful world to the generations to come.

5. Renewable Energy Growth: 40 Years Ahead of EIA's Forecast EcoWatch

The phenomenal growth of renewable energy has blown away all forecasts predicting its rise, even those made relatively recently. Only five years ago, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) claimed that the current level of renewable energy generating capacity wouldn’t be reached for another 40 years, but technological and manufacturing advances, global investment, federal and state subsidies, and increasing interest from both private and public sectors have massively accelerated the adoption of clean energy. Where will we be in another five years?

4. Sempra Energy Executive: 100 Percent Renewable Energy Can Be Done Today KPBS

The Vice President of Sempra Energy, a utilities and natural gas company that owns San Diego Gas & Electric, made the surprising announcement that, given the political and economic will, California could transition to a grid powered entirely from renewable energy sources today. This is a major departure from previous comments by California’s investor owned utilities, who have claimed that the intermittency of renewable resources like solar and wind require traditional energy sources like coal, natural gas, or nuclear to provide baseload energy. If the technological barriers to a 100% renewable grid have really been overcome, California—and the rest of the world—have few obstacles remaining to creating a green-powered grid.

"'I’m speaking with confidence that we have a solution now.'" Sempra Vice President Patrick Lee

3. Trump + Russia Chaos Is Tiny Preview Of Carbon Bubble Popping CleanTechnica

Like a wild animal backed into a corner, the global fossil fuel industry is lashing out furiously against its own inevitable decline in attempts to wring the last drops of profit from an unsustainable business model. Whether it is in the form of Trump pulling votes from Ohio by lying to coal miners that he will overturn market forces created by his own party to revive the dying coal industry, the millions of dollars fossil fuel companies spend to buy local, state, and federal elections to promote their own destructive agendas, insidious and widespread climate misinformation crusades funded by oil interests that have stymied public support for climate action, or the massive election disruption campaign waged by Russian agents to elect leaders in the UK, France, and the United States who will continue to promulgate dirty energy to boost the value of Russia’s substantial fossil fuel reserves, the wounds inflicted by this industry on our planet and its inhabitants are grievous and will take many thousands of years to fully heal.

2. How Big Money in Politics Blocked U.S. Action on Climate Change Yale Environment 360

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse traces the pervasive influence of Citizens United and the millions and millions in “dark money” it has allowed to flood US elections. The un-American machinations of the Koch Brothers to sway the Supreme Court to allow unlimited donations to political candidates has all but erased nonpartisan climate action—and moved the US several steps closer to becoming a fascist state.

"[The Koch Brothers] want to be able to pollute without having to pay the externality costs, as an economist would say, of their pollution. They would love to be able to compete against other energy sources and have the public pay for the responsibility of the poisoning of our atmosphere and oceans and all the climate consequences that they cause, and not have that baked in the price of their product, which is lousy economics, but really, really good for their finances." Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D, Rhode Island)

1. Trump Expected to Pull U.S. From Paris Climate Accord New York Times

In a move that is unsurprising but supremely disappointing, the Trump Administration has signaled that it is likely to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement. As our nation is the world’s second most prolific polluter, this decision is a slap in the face to the global community and betrays a serious lack of understanding of the actual language of the accords, which doesn’t require any legal commitments from its signatories. Will the loss of the US start a domino effect that undermines global climate policy action, or will the 194 other countries carry on without us?

"From a foreign policy perspective, it’s a colossal mistake — an abdication of American leadership. The success of our foreign policy — in trade, military, any other kind of negotiation — depends on our credibility. I can’t think of anything more destructive to our credibility than this." R. Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and George W. Bush’s undersecretary of state

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