TWITE 09.14.17

Posted September 13, 2017

The reality of climate change is difficult to live with, especially when it is as deadly, destructive, and obvious as the recent catastrophes gripping the planet. Clearly, those dealing directly with these disasters are hardest hit, but there are very real emotional and intellectual impacts on those of us watching these events unfold. Even so, the human story of climate change is not just tragedy and disgrace. We also have victory, innovation, perseverance, love, and hope. As animals with a strong instinct for self-preservation, we tend to prioritize and react strongest to threats, but it would be a mistake to disregard the positive steps our human family is taking toward a sustainable future. With that in mind, this week I’ve selected articles that highlight the good work of people around the world as they try to create a liveable planet for their children and grandchildren. As you read these stories of successful climate action, you might ask yourself: What is my contribution?

—Jon Conway, Ph.D., Greenpower Research Director

5. China Plans To Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles CleanTechnica

China, as the most populated country in the world, faces a major dilemma. How does it move its billion-plus citizens into the modern age while maintaining a healthy environment for itself and the planet? Fossil fuels, in addition to heavily impacting climate change, have created a deadly miasma that chokes China’s major cities and cuts years or decades off residents’ lives. The Chinese government has taken serious measures to create what is probably the world’s largest renewables manufacturing sector, and now they have announced they are taking the next step. They’re getting rid of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. China is not the first to announce such a move, but considering that it represents the largest single car market, this is an extremely ambitious and impactful goal that could be a tipping point toward a fully electric automotive future.

4. Low UK Offshore Wind Prices Rattle Incumbents: ‘People Are Trying to Put Their Jaws Back in Place’ Greentech Media

Offshore wind, one of the most promising renewable resources currently available, is gaining more traction by the year. In places with a shallow ocean shelf, like much of the Atlantic, offshore wind farms have the potential to provide majority shares of regional electricity demand. Once fully mature, floating offshore wind turbine technology could theoretically generate enough inexpensive renewable electricity to power the world. We’re still in a relatively early stage, but offshore wind farms are already cost competitive with any other form of energy—and prices are falling rapidly. The UK has begun pitting nuclear against wind, and finding wind cheaper, even before considering the astronomical costs of dealing with nuclear waste. Here’s to a windy tomorrow!

"We’ve placed clean growth at the heart of the industrial strategy to unlock opportunities across the country, while cutting carbon emissions. The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5 billion [$23.23 billion] in the U.K. up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced today." Richard Harrington, Minister for Energy and Industry

3. Obama’s Solar Goal Has Been Met, Trump’s Energy Department Brags Bloomberg

In a fine example of “They said what?!!” news, the Energy Department (headed by fossil fuel enthusiast Rick Perry) has proudly announced that the federal solar initiative SunShot has met its goal to cut solar costs ahead of schedule. The announcement has been met with criticism from both left and right, since the Trump administration has a stated preference for fossil fuels and has released a draft budget that would cut funding for programs like this by nearly two-thirds. Supporters of the SunShot initiative point out that the program was started by the Obama administration in 2011 and has survived in spite of the Trump administration. Opponents don’t want the current administration promoting government programs (and likely those that could reinforce the reality of anthropogenic climate change in particular). Regardless of any absurd claims for credit, our country has cleaner, cheaper electricity and is well on its way to a renewable future.

"I don’t know why they are touting it. I think it should be abolished right away as should all government subsidies." Jack Spencer, vice president of the far right-wing Heritage Foundation and former member of Trump’s Energy Department transition team

2. General Motors, Disney, Shell and 1,200 Other Companies are Taking Steps to Fight Climate Change, Report Says The Washington Post

Capitalism is one of the most powerful inventions of the human race, as it gives us the power to both create and destroy a highly advanced civilization. Like other human inventions, it required intelligence to create but also requires wisdom to use. Unfortunately, we have too often failed to live up to the name we gave ourselves—Homo sapiens sapiens, wisest of the wise—and reckless capitalism now threatens our future and the future of most other life on this planet. Like any tool, it can be used for good or ill, and now more than one thousand major corporations have pledged to step to the right side of history and take a stand against climate change. They’re now working to establish a cost for carbon pollution so that emissions can be properly accounted for, a key step in making businesses responsible for the pollution they emit. Putting a price on carbon is something that has been debated for years, but is strongly opposed by the Trump administration.

1. Jerry Brown's Western Grid Plan is Dead in Sacramento, at Least for Now Desert Sun

A brief but frantic battle was just fought over California’s—and maybe the nation’s—energy future. AB 726 and the nearly-identical AB 813, as well as proposed amendments to the groundbreaking climate action bill SB 100, would have reversed the trend toward local control over clean energy choices in favor of consolidating power in the hands of a few private corporations, threatening what may be the best chance the state has at actually going 100% renewable. Thanks to rapid organizing by clean energy advocacy groups, however, enough public outcry swayed senators to shelve the bills for the time being. That said, the idea of a western grid expansion isn’t dead and advocates for locally-controlled clean energy projects should continue to stand at the ready to ensure these very successful programs continue apace. Climate change, private business interests, and California’s energy history have created a Gordian knot not easily untangled in a satisfactory way for all concerned parties. One thing is for certain, however: cutting last-second backroom deals with a private company to decide California’s multi-billion-dollar energy market is unethical, undemocratic, and unacceptable. Thanks to all those who contacted their representatives to get this reckless legislation stopped!

"This idea of trying to jam it through now, in the last five days of the legislative session, is repulsive, simply repulsive. This is the kind of thing we wouldn't tolerate if Donald Trump were governor. Why should we tolerate it with Jerry Brown as governor?" Kathryn Phillips, Director, Sierra Club California

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