The political arena is heating up when it comes to presidential candidates who seem to be increasingly keen on creating climate reform proposals. This phenomenon seemed to have stemmed from Beto O’Rourke‘s $5 trillion climate change reform plan. But since then, Washington Governor Jay Inslee seems to have one-upped O’Rourke with a new $9 trillion climate reform plan. What’s more important than the monetary backing of the proposal, however, are their core ideas.
In what Inslee calls the Evergreen Economy Plan, he proposes five key ideas to move America towards becoming a more sustainable nation.
Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy
Specifically, Inslee’s plan hopes to have America be powered by 100% carbon-neutral electricity by 2030. Further, the proposal strives toward an America with “a fully clean, renewable and zero-emission electricity sector by 2035”. Now, that sounds like an incredibly ambitious goal. But if Inslee is able to pull it off, America will see an additional $600 billion invested into clean energy between 2020 and 2030. That, in turn, by generous estimates, should create millions of jobs.
To accelerate clean energy deployment, Inslee’s plan is comprised of introducing electrification upgrades in both households and businesses, supporting clean energy developments through a new federal financing authority, and improving financial incentives for clean energy deployment.
Building a Climate-Smart Infrastructure
With there being many complaints regarding our crumbling infrastructure, a crucial aspect of it is certainly the pollution it contributes. Under Inslee’s plan, he hopes to invest in sustainable transportation, clean water, affordable housing, among other initiatives. Inslee’s team estimates that the changes he hopes to implement will require an investment of $3 trillion, a hefty investment for sure but one that’s necessary to reach his ambitious goals.
Inslee hopes to have America achieve 100% zero-emission new vehicles by 2030, as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are characteristic of the auto industry. Of course, this means that companies like Tesla are the future. As competition for market share in the EV market continues to grow, legacy companies like Ford Motors, among others, are likely to follow suit as both consumers and the government recognizes the value of electric-powered vehicles.
Smart grids are also a part of Inslee’s plan to improve American infrastructure. Of course, Tesla is innovating in this space too with its Powerpack. Micro-grids and other ways to localize power distribution networks is yet another way to put decision-making, when it comes to energy, in the hands of people.
Clean water needs no real introduction. When cities like Flint are suffering, as their citizens still suffer from the shortage of clean water, everyone loses. Innovations are already happening here, including through Jaden Smith‘s company, Just Water, but more needs to happen, without a doubt, and government action outside of private sector involvement definitely sounds like a must.
The feasibility of such an investment is definitely a question, as disagreements over the urgency of the climate change issue is definitely a point of contention that may prevent such a large amount of spending from happening.
Becoming a Leader In Clean Manufacturing
Inslee believes that it’s imperative to scale up domestic manufacturing and gives domestic manufacturers tax credits to incentivize manufacturing with sustainability goals in mind. Specifically, Inslee is interested in proposing legislation to Congress to increase investments into zero-emission vehicles.
Additional to Inslee’s focus on transportation, he also believes in what his team calls a “Buy Clean” program. Such a program would entail a federal procurement of low-carbon materials. It sounds like he’s interested in having the government become increasingly involved in aiding businesses to reduce their carbon footprints. It’s unclear how keen businesses will be in involving themselves in such a program, especially with party-line disagreements in government involvement in small business.
A less controversial plan is to crack down on companies that emit large amounts of hydrofluorocarbons, commonly referred to as HFCs. Under his plan, he’d use “executive authority to require oil and gas companies and utilities to find and stop methane leaks in pipelines delivering gas to power plants and industry”.
And Inslee hopes to take his proposal beyond the United States too. He believes that as America makes greater strides towards sustainability, that other nations are likely to follow suit, hence move our world towards a greener future. Clearly, that’s a good thing for all parties involved.
Invest in Innovation and Scientific Research
Inslee hopes to invest in STEM and climate science education at the K12 level, as well as at colleges (particularly HBCUs and other colleges that serve minorities) that are currently doing research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Beyond funding research and science, Inslee is keen on making more people aware of the implications and ramifications of climate change. He cites President Trump’s actions “to undermine America’s climate science and its scientific community” as an important reason to make sure Americans are aware of the effects of climate change.
What he doesn’t mention explicitly is Trump‘s affinity towards the coal industry, a key point of contention between the two. But at this point, even Trump realizes he needs to prioritize climate change reform for 2020 as citizens become increasingly keen on sustainability initiatives.
Overall, Inslee hopes that America will continue to innovate in the energy sector, continue to do research into climate science, and continue to move the country towards sustainability.
Ensure Good Jobs
This is a similar idea to what AOC proposed in her Green New Deal. It definitely sounds like Inslee has more specifics in his proposal in terms of how we’re going to get there, though.
First and foremost, he hopes to introduce a G.I. Bill for impacted workers and reinvestments of resources from the coal community. Specifically, Inslee refers to how companies in the coal industry are laying off coal miners and other employees as a result of automation. Specifically, he cites some poor practices that are associated with companies in the coal space. These include reducing their pension obligations for employees, along with insurance benefits, among others. As a result, Inslee believes that America needs to provide greater support to workers working in the energy sector.
Particularly, Inslee believes that we should provide retirement benefits for impacted workers. Although Inslee’s one of the most outspoken politicians about the coal industry, it does seem like he’s interested in making sure that the employees of these industries are taken care of.
Inslee’s plan is likely the most specific of its kind, compared to his Democratic peers in the 2020 field. Like other proposals (e.g. O’Rourke’s), they’re wildly ambitious and so it’ll be interesting to see if they actually play out. Climate change hasn’t really been a huge focus in any other presidential election to date, but as young people continue to engage in activities like climate strikes and the like, it’s starting to look like climate change is definitely an issue young people are looking to vote on in 2020.
Europe’s Ambitious Green Deal: A Plan To Neutralize Its Carbon Footprint By 2050
Through a new Green Deal, the EU plans to neutralize Europe’s carbon footprint by as early as 2050. While the plan is ambitious, it highlights the need for world leaders to work together. After all, it will take extensive collaboration to fight against climate change once and for all.
What Does The Green Deal Encompass?
The Green Deal encompasses everything from plastic bans to tightening restrictions on carbon emitting industries like oil and gas. At the same time, it will limit trade deals with countries that are not part of the Paris Agreement.
Europe is already leading the world in climate change efforts. And the Green Deal will jumpstart its position as one of the greatest initiatives for climate change thus far.
The ultimate goal for the Green Deal is to create a global response, particularly with the looming threat of trade embargo’s and restrictions on trade with countries that are not making an effort to combat climate change.
This turns attention toward places like the United States, which motioned to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2017.
In other countries, particularly in places like Indonesia and throughout the undeveloped world, the needed infrastructure for the level of change has not been set up.
Things like adequate waste management and access to clean drinking water mean that beaches and oceans are often littered with plastics, while carbon emissions are high due to a lack of regulations. (Though these numbers are in-line with emissions from more developed countries as well.)
The Details of the New Green Deal
The new Green Deal unveiled at the annual climate conference in Madrid earlier this month will unite most European countries to neutralize carbon emissions by 2050.
The union hopes to reach this goal by focusing its efforts on investing in industries that want to cut their emissions significantly.
This means new innovations for the steel industries, as well as vehicle and renewable energy.
These new laws could also see tighter restrictions on goods that are imported from places that don’t put heavy restrictions on carbon emissions.
Places like China, which are leading suppliers of consumer goods worldwide, are also one of the biggest carbon emissions culprits in the world.
The EU hopes to leverage its Green Deal restrictions to incentivize other countries to make smarter climate decisions.
What The Green Deal Means For Transportation and Shipping Companies
The reality of this Green Deal is that many transportation and shipping companies will have to acquire special permits in order to operate within the EU.
Maritime shipping companies, for example, will likely need to register their vessels and acquire permits in order to dock.
The EU could limit how many vessels operate in an effort to cut back on carbon emissions.
But the new Green Deal does not stop there. The EU also plans to invest greater efforts into plants and the preservation of nature.
Initiatives to plant more trees and stop deforestation throughout Europe will begin in the near future. Recently, the EU banned all pesticides that could negatively impact native bee populations.
Meanwhile in Germany, the country is working to convert its local train operations to more eco-friendly options than coal burning.
In France, the country’s recent single-use plastic ban will see a significant change in consumer habits over the next couple of decades. By 2025, the country hopes to use at least 60% biodegradable materials instead of plastics.
Hoping To Create a Domino Effect
Europe may be ahead of the curve when it comes to adjustments for climate change. But it has grander visions.
Now, it hopes to begin a domino effect by uniting governments around the world for a greater cause.
Note: This article was originally posted at Grit Daily by Julia Sachs and edited and syndicated with permission.
Climate Inaction: Prime Minister Morrison’s Negligence Sparks Backlash As Bushfires Rage
The smoke blanketing the NSW capital of Sydney has highlighted the severity of the state’s bushfires — and climate inaction isn’t helping.
With the city’s air pollution reaching eleven times the hazardous level, and over 700 homes destroyed in the state, public pressure has mounted on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to link the bushfire emergency and climate change.
The Prime Minister is also facing a barrage of criticism from his ruling party.
NSW Liberal Energy Minister Matt Kean told the Smart Energy Summit that the bushfire tragedy had been foretold by scientists and fire emergency professionals.
In a strong rebuke of his own party’s climate policies, Kean told attendees weather conditions were abnormal. Yet at the same time, climate inaction continues to rage on.
“Not Normal” Weather, Yet No Action Taken By Prime Minister Morrison
“Longer drier periods, resulting in more drought and bushfire,” he said. “If this is not a catalyst for change, then I don’t know what is. This is not normal and doing nothing is not a solution.”
“We need to reduce our carbon emissions immediately, and we need to adapt our practices to deal with this kind of weather becoming the new normal.”
Kean elaborated on his extraordinary broadside on the ABC’s Radio National the next day.
“We’ve got a problem. [The emergency] is not changing my view – before the bushfires, my view was a very strong one… we need to be doing our bit to protect our environment.”
Viral Blog Post Signals Dissatisfaction With Morrison’s Climate Inaction
As well as causing divisions in his own party, Morrison has taken heat from ordinary Australians. It is partially due to climate inaction. But additionally, his refusal to assist volunteer firefighters has struck outrage among Australians.
An example of the outrage was the reaction to a powerful and engaging blog post written by author-educator Meg McGowan. In the post, she criticizes the PM’s statement that volunteer firefighters “want to be there” and therefore wouldn’t receive government assistance.
Meg’s husband Graham King is Deputy Captain in the local Central Coast brigade. He has been fighting fires in the region while making do with poor protective equipment to battle the thick smoke.
Such was the power, elegance, and timing of the article that it went viral with hundreds of thousands of views. This prompted national TV show The Project to ask Meg and Graham to film a segment with them.
Author Meg McGowan Shares That Morrison Adds To List Of Leaders Who Exhibit Climate Action
I asked Meg on behalf of theRising what she thought caused the post’s incredible popularity. Meg conceded that the answer wasn’t straightforward. She added that “Morrison is just the most recent in a long line of leaders that have failed to act”.
“Small changes two decades ago could have had a huge impact by now. The problem is now so severe that we need urgent action on a much larger scale.”
Climate Action Fueled By Governmental Arrogance
She added that people are upset at the government’s arrogance towards firefighters and its inability to enact meaningful climate policies.
“Based on the comments I’m reading his seeming lack of empathy made a lot of people very angry, so I would say it was a major contributor, but you can never really know. It might be that people’s general frustration with the lack of action over climate change was the driver, or their frustrations at [environmental party] The Greens being blamed, or their sudden realization that firefighters are not superheroes but ordinary people doing a tough job,” she told me.
The bushfire crisis will continue as the Bureau of Meteorology predicts more dry weather over the next few months. And climate inaction won’t make that any better.
30 States Cut Their Environmental Budget This Decade. Did Yours?
A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project found that 30 US states have cut their environmental budget since 2008. Another 40 states have also reduced the size of their environmental agency’s staff. These cuts come as a great shock, considering the rising threat of the climate crisis in the past decade. And, with every state that slashes their environmental budget, the consequences sky-rise even more. We encourage you find out if your state is one of the culprits.
The Consequences Of A Reduced Environmental Budget
The consequences of reduced spending on environmental protections seem limitless. These state agencies protect public health, limit the harms of pollution, and even enact pollution control programs. They are vital to the health of both our communities and our planet at large.
And although many states have chosen to limit funding for environmental agencies, the demand for them has only grown. With sea levels on the rise, pollution expanding by the hour, and extreme weather events becoming more and more frequent, environmental protection programs have never been more needed.
Sadly, this trend of reduced funding goes beyond state-wide environmental agencies. In the same decade, Washington cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s work on pollution control and science by 16%. They reduced the EPA’s staff size by 16% as well.
The consequences of inadequate environmental funding go on and on. Understanding these future threats, it becomes even more necessary to know where your state stands.
So without further ado, here are the statistics regarding US environmental agencies between fiscal years 2008 and 2018. (Warning: they’re infuriating.)
The report shows that from 2008 and 2018:
- 31 states cut funding for pollution control programs. In 25 of these states, those cuts amounted to at least 10%. And 16 states imposed cuts above 20%.
- 40 states reduced the workforce of their environmental agency. Of these, 21 states cut their workforce by at least 10%. In 9 states, their environmental agencies lost at least 20% of their workforce.
- Combined, the US lost 4,400 positions at environmental agencies from these budget cuts. (Excluding the 2,700 positions lost at the EPA.)
- Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin cut the most funding from their environmental agencies.
- In terms of cutting their agency workforce, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee did the most damage.
- 3 states in particular cut far deeper into their funding. Texas cut its agency’s funding by a whopping 35%. North Carolina follows closely with 34% cuts and Illinois trails behind with a still alarming 25%. These states ironically cut environmental funding despite allowing general government spending to grow.
- Alaska and Hawai’i were not included in this report.
It goes without saying that apathy towards the environment plagues the United States’ governmental institutions. What’s worse, this chronic lack of concern for our planet within US politics will have disastrous impacts on the whole globe. It’s time to ensure better environmental policies across the US. A good first step? Starting with your own state.
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