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Donald Trump’s interview with the New York Times offers hope on climate

In an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, Donald trump provided some hope to climate protection advocates:

“On climate change, Mr. Trump refused to repeat his promise to abandon the international climate accord reached last year in Paris, saying, “I’m looking at it very closely.” Despite the recent appointment to his transition team of a fierce critic of the Paris accords, Mr. Trump said that “I have an open mind to it” and that clean air and “crystal clear water” were vitally important.”

His complete reversal on the issue of torture (he was for it and now he’s against it) illustrates that he is not too proud to change course when he sees a greater truth.

We are grateful today for Trump’s open mind.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/us/politics/donald-trump-visit.html

 

California civic leaders champion climate change

While the national stage is looking rather bleak, in California there’s plenty to be grateful for when it comes to climate protection champions in public service.

  • Governor Jerry Brown has been leading climate protection efforts for several years.  In September of 2016, he signed SB 32, which requires California to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, a much more ambitious target than the previous goal of hitting 1990 levels by 2020
  • Senator Barbara Boxer is a huge proponent of climate protection legislation, and has proposed pricing carbon, protecting communities from fracking, and investing in energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
  • Kamala Harris has indicated that she will also do everything she can to promote climate protection legislation, including protecting Obama’s clean power plan and creating clean energy jobs.

In addition, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) released a statement in response to the recent election of Donald Trump, a climate change denier, in which they said, “We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.”

We are grateful today for these leaders who are protecting this planet for future generations.

 

Transform grief and outrage, but how?

Are you feeling grief, outrage, or both? Please join us and use these feelings as fuel to create something powerful and positive.

How? One word: Solutions.

Let’s spread clean energy solutions that create jobs, stabilize energy prices, and offer an alternative model that gives power to the people.

The Climate Center has solutions that do just this.

Please click on the links below to learn more about the powerful impacts of our solutions. To support these solutions, click here.

Clean Energy  •  Transportation   •  Youth Leadership   •  Business for Clean Energy

Month of unprecedented global cooperation on climate change

October has been a remarkable month for global cooperation on climate change mitigation.  Three landmark agreements illustrate a new willingness to work together to tackle the problem.

  • October 5th: Paris Agreement reached threshold to take effect November 4th
  • October 6th: New accord to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation established
  • October 15th: Deal to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) reached.

On October 5th the European Union pushed the Paris Agreement past the threshold required for it to take effect.  As the most comprehensive international agreement ever to combat man-made climate change, the accord required 55 countries representing 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to join before taking effect. More than 190 countries reached a final deal, which commits participating countries to working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and transparently reporting those results with the goal of keeping global temperature rise from pre-industrial levels below 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100.

On October 6th countries established new rules to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation. The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) CORSIA resolution — Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation — will cap aviation emissions at 2020 levels by 2027. Prior to 2027 the rules are voluntary, and countries can choose to opt in. Most major emitters, including the United States, the European Union and China, have opted in to the voluntary phase, covering about 84 percent of global aviation activity. Russia and India did not opt in.  Critics say the focus on offsets is problematic, but the fact that the world came to an agreement is noteworthy.

On October 15th more than 150 countries reached a deal to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are widely used in fridges, air conditioning and aerosol sprays.  Delegates meeting in Kigali, Rwanda accepted a complex amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will require richer countries to cut back their HFC use.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped forge the deal, said it was a major victory for the Earth.  Experts estimate the agreement will remove the equivalent of about 70 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050.

These global milestones offer plenty of hope on the international stage, and they signal to those of us working at the subnational level that global markets will help support our efforts to tackle climate change.

Election day: 13 days until we keep going

The election is just 13 days away and climate protection has barely been a topic on the national stage.  This year has been the hottest ever recorded, and yet we continue to pour carbon into the atmosphere because the price of fossil fuels do not reflect their true costs – yet.

Four times in the last month, the presidential candidates or their running mates have come together for nationally televised debates. Not once have they been asked about climate change. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, one of the most prominent donors to climate causes in the country, says that lack of attention to such a critical issue represents a “complete failure.”

These four debates, in fact, point to something larger that has been going on for much longer than this election season.  Political lobbying on climate change is an industry unto itself, and it’s one with deep pockets.  According to the Harvard Business Review, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest lobbying organization, spent over $90 million lobbying against climate change legislation in 2014.

For comparison, the renewable energy lobby spent about $23 million in 2015.

So what can we do to mitigate the effects of a mammoth fossil fuel lobbying industry?  We can support organizations such as The Climate Center, that are promoting clean energy and climate protection at the local, state, and federal level.  From advocating for a price on carbon at the national level to incubating model programs such as Community Choice Energy at the local level, we know that we cannot relent while the fossil fuel industry continues to influence national policy.

After November 8th, fossil fuel lobbyists will continue to have the ear of our elected officials at the federal level and they must not be the only ones talking.  The Climate Center is committed to advocating for our climate and we will do so until the true price of carbon is reflected in its price.

McKibben says there’s nothing radical about climate protection

Bill McKibben, a world leader on climate protection, spoke at Sonoma State University on October 19. For me he proved the value of preaching to the choir. I came away completely inspired.

Highlights of what McKibben said:

  • The most important thing an individual can do is not be so much of an individual. It’s not me, it’s us. Movements are what change the systems that now have us emitting greenhouse gas and heating the earth.
  • Four to five per cent of the population, if engaged, are enough to turn things around.
  • There’s nothing radical about what we’re fighting for. Just the opposite. What’s radical is the oil executive willing to forfeit the future for profit.
  • In the Democratic platform is a pledge that if Clinton becomes president there will be an emergency climate summit within the first 100 days of her administration.
  • The top action for California is to stop fracking.

More information with many links to McKibben’s material: http://www.sonoma.edu/sustainablessu/mckibben.html

We Can Do More

By Niki Woodard

Most
of us have read about the oceans rising and acidifying, storms intensifying,
and species dying off. We’ve read statistics like this: The 30-year time period between 1983
and 2012 was the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere within the last 1,400 years
.
And we’ve seen charts like this:

image

Yet, our collective response to the problem does not sync up
with the gravity and urgency of the problem. Perhaps it’s because the prospect
of finding solutions seems so daunting.

But the truth is, we created this crisis in a relatively
short amount of time, and we can also undo the damage.

The solution has layers, and we’re all part of each of them:

Household & community actions: The
The Climate Center was founded on the idea that “local actions power
global change.” Feel the power that you can harvest through your everyday
decisions to compost, carpool, bike, use low-energy, high-efficiency appliances
and fixtures, shop locally, recycle and reuse, and encourage your friends and
family to tread lightly on this singular and human-fatiguing planet. This is the
first layer of action. Meaningful progress requires much more.

Business and economic actions: Sonoma
County is proving that green business solutions make economic sense. Companies
like Enphase, Soiland, The Ratto Group,

Calpine, Redwood Hill Farm,  Sonoma Mountain Village, and many more are
producing greener products, conducting their business in greener ways, and offering
green incentive opportunities to employees, exemplifying the economic benefits
of green business. We applaud the efforts of all those engaged in the Business for Clean Energy.
Business moves change, and each of these businesses is a role model of
progress.

Local/regional policies: Financing
programs such as Windsor’s Pay As You Save (PAYS),
the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and Ygrene
help make it financially feasible to
implement carbon-reducing upgrades to home and business. And our new local
electricity provider, Sonoma Clean Power, now offers a greener electricity
portfolio to reduce greenhouse gases, with an option to go 100%
renewable
. These homegrown solutions are strategic models that can be
replicated to reduce emissions at the speed and scale demanded by the crisis we
face.

State and national policy actions: California is ahead of the curve, nationally, and
Sonoma County is further ahead, still. But the United States is behind the
curve worldwide. As both local and global citizens, we can do more. We can
elect public officials who prioritize climate action and we can lobby for
legislation that truly makes a significant impact on greenhouse gas reduction.
Stay tuned for campaign advocacy opportunities, from us and our partners.  

 

Spotlight on Sonoma
County

Sonoma County is a leader in advancing climate-protecting
strategies and solutions. We were among the first in the nation to develop a
comprehensive Climate
Action Plan
and were recognized by the White House last winter as one of 16
national Climate
Action Champions
for our commitment to cutting carbon pollution and building
regional resilience.  

In 2005, Sonoma County and all nine of its cities pledged to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels, equal to about 2.6
million tons of CO2, by 2015. The aggressive goal aligns with the scientific
imperative for sustaining life, which is a reduction of global carbon levels to
350 parts per million.

In order to monitor progress toward its goal, Sonoma County has
been tracking its carbon emissions. Recently, The Climate Center
issued its Sonoma County Greenhouse Gas Report for 2014, which showed emission
reductions while also indicating an almost sure shortfall of the 2015
goal.  

The report is an important tool for monitoring the county’s
vital signs, and demonstrates Sonoma County’s commitment to doing its part
locally to impact the global problem. Though we have a steep road ahead of us,
we accept the challenge and march forward with hope and optimism to inspire our
own community and others, near and far, to invest their dollars, time, and
effort to aggressively and creatively address climate change.  

Read more about Sonoma County’s GHG Report:

[Niki Woodard is the Communications & Marketing Director for The Climate Center.]

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Went Down in 2014

image

The
The Climate Center just released its Greenhouse
Gas (GHG) Emissions Report
for Sonoma County for 2014. The report
calculates GHG emissions from major sectors to reveal trends that demonstrate
progress toward the County’s goals.

The report shows us that in 2014, Sonoma County produced about 3.6 million tons
of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is a decrease of about 14% from 2007,
when county emissions reached a high of about 4.2 million tons.

“It’s
too soon to tell if this is a trend we can count on, but we believe that we’re
bringing emissions down in a real and hopefully accelerating way,” said Ann
Hancock, Executive Director of The Climate Center. The Center
has been tracking the county’s greenhouse gas emissions since 2003.

The
launch of Sonoma Clean Power in 2014 brings reasons for hope. Sonoma Clean
Power customers receive greener electricity, which promises to play a critical
role going forward.

Mark
Landman, Chair of Sonoma Clean Power Authority and Cotati City Councilmember
reported, “In our first year of operation, Sonoma Clean Power’s electricity
reduced greenhouse gas emissions 48% compared with PG&E’s power mix last
published data from 2013. At the same time, our customers saved a total of
$13.6 million on their bills.”

The
Sonoma County Water Agency, one of the largest energy users in the county,
achieved its goal of operating a carbon-free water system, procuring 100% of
its electricity needs through renewable sources, thanks in part to Sonoma Clean
Power. 

Transportation,
however, is by far the county’s largest culprit of carbon production,
accounting for about 65% of Sonoma County’s total emissions. 

But
there’s hope here, too. According to The Climate Center’s soon-to-be-released draft report on electric vehicles, Sonoma County can
significantly reduce transportation emissions by shifting from gas and
diesel-powered vehicles to those powered by electricity. 

“Expanding
low carbon and zero emission travel is one of our top priorities,” said Suzanne
Wilford Smith, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Transportation
Authority. “We aim to do this by reimagining public transportation,
incentivizing EVs, looking at new policies like user-based road use fees,
launching SMART, and implementing a car share program.” 

Although
Sonoma County is a climate protection leader, this report shows that there’s a
long way to go. 

Sonoma
County is aiming for a 2015 target of reducing emissions 25% below 1990 levels,
equal to about 2.6 million tons ofcarbon dioxide,by
2015. In 2005, Sonoma County and all nine of its cities pledged by resolution
to achieve this goal, which corresponds to what is known scientifically as atmospheric carbon stabilization, the
imperative for a life-sustaining climate. 

“Although
we won’t meet our extremely ambitious 2015 target, we’re moving in the right
direction,” said Hancock. “We have to work a lot harder to move a lot faster.” 

To
meet the goal, emission reduction measures must overcome powerful forces,
particularly increases in population and an economy largely based on fossil
fuels.

Reducing
GHGs is much more than an environmental agenda. It is about public health,
energy security, economic vitality, and ultimately, human survival. In the
words of Pope Francis, “we have a moral imperative” to promote climate action,
and it will require a “bold cultural revolution” to get us on the right track.

Sonoma
County is proving to the world that reducing GHGs and promoting decarbonization
also makes long-term economic sense.

“We
build capital to help move positive change,” said Jason Simon, Director Policy
Strategy at Enphase Energy. “Not only are we expanding access to renewable
energy, but we are making strategic choices at all levels to update the energy
system so that it’s cleaner and more resilient. We want to ensure our own
business success, other green innovators’ success, and a healthier planet.”

“Ultimately,
social change happens through our conversation. The more we talk about this
imperative, the solutions, and each of our roles in correcting this crisis, the
faster we create the context for change and create a positive future for our
children and all life,” said Hancock.