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Hawaii became the first state to pass a law committing to the goals and limits of the Paris Climate Accord. The state’s governor, David Y. Ige, signed a bill explicitly geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the landmark goals adopted by world leaders with the Paris Agreement in 2015.
A 100% Just Energy Economy must go beyond simply replacing fossil fuels; in order to be 100% Just, it must include other key elements, such as renewable fuels, an end to sacrifice zones, and good green jobs targeted to the communities that have survived decades of divestment. This guide outlines options policymakers can take to transform the U.S.’ energy economy to not only meet the challenges of climate change, but also to put people and planet before profits.
This report explores a range of national policies to increase energy efficiency, accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies and shift energy use to more efficient power systems while reducing the electricity bills of consumers and businesses. The policies considered for the industrial sector are aimed at utilizing the vast potential for cogeneration of heat and power and improving energy efficiencies through technical assistance, financial incentives and expanded research and development (R&D) programs to encourage cost-effective emissions reductions. The policies for residential and commercial buildings include strengthened codes for building energy consumption, new appliance efficiency standards, and tax incentives. The policies considered for the electric generation sector include a market-oriented “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS) and a cap on pollutant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide.
Community solar, also called “shared solar”, creates local economic value. Residents save money on their monthly bills by subscribing to a “solar garden”––they reserve a share in a solar array located offsite, and the power generated by their solar panels shows up as a credit on their utility bill. Building solar gardens can also create local jobs, promote community climate resilience, and can reduce emissions from carbon-based electricity generation. While the economic, climate, and resilience benefits of community solar are compelling, the extent to which a community solar program drives equitable outcomes depends on its design. This report provides guidance for creating community solar programs that promote racial and economic equity.
A nation of renewable-powered, job-generating, self-reliant states is within reach – and necessary; improved renewable electricity technology would allow nearly every state to produce 100 percent of its electricity needs from local renewable sources. This report includes a series of maps that illustrate nationwide renewable electricity potential from a wide variety of sources, including rooftop solar, offshore wind, onshore wind, geothermal, and small hydro. Additionally, this report also includes maps that demonstrate how decreased energy intensity could offset increased electricity demand from high electrification.
Renewable energy serves as a viable solution to replace fossil fuel generation to create a healthier environment. A number of cities across the United States are pledging to reach community-wide goals of 100 percent renewable energy, in order to combat the social, environmental, and economic impacts of climate change; however, many of these cities are unsure of how to meet these commitments. The goal of this report is to utilize qualitative and quantitative data through a national survey and case studies to help understand the mechanisms that will best enable cities and their decision-makers to equitably transition to 100% renewable energy.
Following the 2020 executive order from California to have all new passenger vehicles be zero-emission by 2035, the paper outlines the ways to expand access to electric vehicles (EV) to low-income Californians. For the state to meet its clean energy goals, it must include these communities in a just and equity-focused transition to widespread use of EVs. This report highlights the buildup to the latest EV goals in California as well as the challenges of deploying such a plan into action. The recommendations to increase access in the state include updating building codes, curbside charging stations, EV sharing programs, and charger rebate programs, among other things, to generate greater access across California.
Water main geothermal combines the efficiency and technical capability of ground-source geothermal in cold climates with costs competitive to fossil gas furnaces. This report shows that water main geothermal could provide a viable, cost-effective alternative to traditional home heating and cooling systems. Through it, homeowners would benefit from lower heating and cooling costs, water utilities would benefit from a new source of income, and cities would benefit from reaching their climate commitments.
Policies to spur increased investment in renewable electricity generation can offer significant public benefits, including economic development and energy security, as well as improved public health and environmental quality owing to air pollution reductions. Congress has attempted to formally recognize these benefits by creating the Conservation and Renewable Energy Reserve (CRER) in the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments, which set aside a portion of the national SO2 allowance budget for renewable energy and energy efficiency. However, the CRER was severely underutilized, and has expired. This study considers modifications to CAA that would increase the number of emission allowances allocated to renewable energy generation to enable renewables to compete fairly in emission trading and clean air compliance markets, and estimates the economic and environmental benefits of these changes.
Given the current pushback on responsible climate policy at the federal level, innovative state and local actions will be critical if we are to achieve a just transition to a sustainable economy. The Institute for Policy Studies surveyed the array of measures that can accelerate the rapid transition from fossil fuels to clean and efficient alternatives in an equitable fashion, and in this study, they focus in on one strategy: Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). RPS require utilities to provide a growing share of electricity from solar and wind energy, and are a particularly promising policy option. This report is the first of an Institute for Policy Studies series highlighting some of the most promising actions taken by state and local governments, identifying best practices for policy design, and sharing lessons for movement building and advocacy.