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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.
Environmental racism and the subsequent chronic exposure to air pollution has been identified as one of the biggest contributing factors to higher rates of severe illness and death from COVID-19 within Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Fossil fuel plants are among the top emitters of pollutants that can cause or worsen respiratory problems and make people more susceptible to COVID-19. This report discusses how the fossil fuel industry contributes to adverse outcomes from COVID-19 within BIPOC communities and how COVID-19 relief packages have prioritized fossil fuel corporations at the expense of communities of color. In addition, it also discusses how the fossil fuel industry has been upheld by the U.S government and financial institutions, and proposes multiple solutions to these problems.
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.
The built environment, climate change, and public health are closely connected; human-generated greenhouse gases derive from aspects of the built environment such as transportation systems and infrastructure, building construction and operation, and land-use planning. Transportation affects human health directly through air pollution and subsequent respiratory effects, as well as indirectly through physical activity behavior. Buildings contribute to climate change, influence transportation, and affect health through the materials utilized, decisions about sites, electricity and water usage, and landscape surroundings. Land use, forestry, and agriculture also contribute to climate change and affect health by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, shaping the infrastructures for both transportation and buildings, and affecting access to green spaces. Working across sectors to incorporate a health promotion approach in the design and development of built environment components may mitigate climate change, promote adaptation, and improve public health.
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.
Fracking is an under-regulated, highly contaminative, and unsustainable practice. Because major decisions about large-scale fracking projects are unaddressed by the federal government (since profitable oil companies have utilized their monetary and political capital to keep fracking legal), the anti-fracking movement relies on local action. This brief outlines cities that have banned fracking by explicit ordinances or through other means, such as rewriting zoning laws, narrowing road-use regulations, setting noise limits, or recognizing “critical environmental areas.”
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.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians have chosen to sacrifice rural communities for the profits of corporate monopolies. In response, this report provides a vision of Relief, Recovery, and Reimagination necessary to positively transform rural communities and small towns. The policies featured in this report provide immediate help to respond to the challenges caused by COVID-19, such as delivering economic relief, protecting the U.S. Postal Service, and offering free testing and vaccines. Additionally, this report outlines policies that need to be implemented once the pandemic ends, such as increasing the minimum wage and investing in rebuilding infrastructure. Lastly, since it is not enough to patch the old system back together, this report also discusses policies needed to build resilient rural communities in the long run.