B.C. introduces law to require cars, trucks sold by 2040 be zero emission

by The Canadian Press

All light-duty cars and trucks sold in British Columbia would have to be zero-emission by 2040 under legislation tabled Wednesday.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall says the Zero Emission Vehicles Act aims to fight climate change by phasing out gas-powered vehicles.

She says the legislation would set target dates of 10 per cent zero-emission sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040.

The legislation would apply to new vehicles for sale or lease.

Mungall says zero-emission vehicles are part of the government’s $902 million CleanBC program to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 based on 2007 pollution levels.

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Oregon clean energy jobs bill: An economic engine and a decarbonization catalyst

by Silvio Marcacci, Forbes

2018’s “Green Wave” election has set the stage for Oregon to lead the United States on climate action in 2019 by enacting statewide cap-and-trade legislation and accelerating complementary policy in its biggest energy-consuming sectors.

Governor Kate Brown focused on climate action in her re-election campaign, and legislative leaders have added momentum to pass the state’s most significant climate policy opportunity – the Clean Energy Jobs Bill would cut emissions while generating hundreds of millions for statewide investments.

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With Democratic majority, climate change is back on U.S. House agenda

By Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News

With their win of control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats will now have the numbers to put climate change issues back on the Congressional agenda.But the Republicans reinforced their firewall against any legislative efforts in the Senate by gaining at least two new members with poor records on confronting the climate crisis. That bolsters the power of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to block any measures unfavorable to the fossil fuel industries.

In the states, a pair of ballot initiatives that would have cut climate pollution—in Colorado and Washington—appeared to be headed for defeat after heavy spending by fossil fuel interests that opposed them. But some incoming governors have pledged more aggressive support for clean energy.


The power of public outrage: spending plan passes after GOP drops anti-environment riders

By Marianne Lavelle, InsideClimate News

Congress passed a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill early Friday following negotiations in which Republicans, in order to garner needed Democratic support, agreed to remove a slew of provisions that would have gutted environmental and campaign finance laws.

The congressional negotiators also agreed not to impose the draconian spending cuts President Donald Trump wanted in a variety of clean energy and environmental enforcement programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In fact, the latter saw an increase.

Because the so-called “omnibus” spending package includes partial funding for a wall on the Mexican border and a steep increase in Pentagon spending, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was able to declare it a compromise that fulfilled Trump’s agenda. With a deadline looming to avoid a government shutdown, Trump signed the bill on Friday, a few hours after he suggested on Twitter that he might decide to veto it.

Environmental, health and public interest advocates said the deal demonstrated the power of public outrage over dozens of riders the GOP sought to attach to the must-pass bill to fund the government through the remainder of this fiscal year.

“What is crystal clear is that the outrage from the public is breaking through to Congress,” said the Sierra Club’s legislative director, Melinda Pierce. “While the omnibus is far from perfect, it is unmistakable that the public’s clear message made all the difference.”

More than 80 anti-environmental-policy riders had been included in either the original House-passed version of the appropriations bill or in the Senate drafts as Congressional leaders entered into closed-door negotiations. Just as troubling to climate advocates and other public interest groups were provisions they feared would increase the flow of dark money into campaigns and elections.

But Democrats, while in the minority, had bargaining power. GOP leaders feared they would lose the votes of Republican Freedom Caucus members and deficit hawks like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who might balk at the prospect of passing a bill more than 2,200 pages long only hours after it was unveiled.

The omnibus package—which the House passed on Thursday and the Senate approved early Friday—keeps funding for the EPA at the current $8.1 billion, a rejection of the 31 percent funding cut that Trump had sought.

Funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which the White House proposed to cut by 70 percent, will actually see an increase of 12.5 percent to $2.32 billion.

Most of the anti-environmental-policy riders, like those that would have blocked implementation of the Interior Department’s methane venting and flaring rule and endangered species protections, were eliminated.

Also jettisoned was a proposal to open the door to campaign spending by churches—a change in long-standing federal election law that public interest advocates feared would be expanded to other non-profit foundations, paving the way for a new flow of tax-deductible dark money donations to candidates.

What’s Still in the Budget Bill?

But a few provisions to benefit special interests and to fend off campaign finance regulation survived in the final bill.

The legislation does contain a rider that the wood products industry has long sought to encourage the burning of biomass for electricity; advocates for renewable energy have feared such a change could disadvantage solar and wind energy. The final bill also includes a provision barring the EPA from enforcing protections against particulate matter, lead, carbon monoxide and mercury from certain incinerators.

“These riders are especially concerning because children and people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are among the most vulnerable to the health impacts of air pollution emitted from incinerators and biomass burning,” Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Association, said in a statement.

Dark Money and Other Campaign Finance Issues

The spending bill also would prevent, for the time being, further federal regulation of campaign finance rules. The final omnibus included provisions barring the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring public companies to disclose their political spending, and stopping the Internal Revenue Service from further defining nonprofit political activity.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs at the watchdog group Public Citizen and co-chair of the Clean Budget Coalition, a coalition of 260 groups that were lobbying against the riders, said she was disappointed that Congress aimed to block what she saw as “critically important”

campaign finance disclosure rules. But she praised the package overall, including the decision to allot $307 million more than the Trump administration requested to combat midterm election cyber-meddling, and an additional $380 million for election security grants.

She said the fight over better campaign finance disclosure would be put off for another day. “Toxic riders that hurt our campaign finance system, our environmental safeguards and our financial regulations are inappropriate for an appropriations package,” she said, “and we hope to build on today’s momentum and remove the remaining campaign finance poison pills in the next package.”

Last Big Bill Before Midterm Elections?

That may take some time. Although the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, many political observers believe that the current omnibus appropriations bill will be the last major legislation that Congress considers before the midterm elections this fall.

Congressional leaders negotiating the package faced two competing pressures: include wish-list items that likely would not have another chance for a vote this year, or avoid a government shutdown in a tension-fraught election year.

They dropped the riders and went for the deal.


The Forks in the Road after the Paris Agreement

By Mike Sandler


Pictured above (from left to right): Mike Sandler (co-founder of CCP), and members of the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA)

Erik-Jan van Oosten of the Netherlands, Robert Hutchison from the UK, Caroline Whyte originally from Ireland now living in France, and Laurence Matthews from the UK. They attended the Paris climate talks to promote CapGlobalCarbon.

Without a doubt, the Paris Agreement is historic. It provides
some much-needed relief to the UN process and the leaders of the world who
suffered a major setback after the UN’s Copenhagen breakdown in 2009. It lets a
term-limited President of the United States claim to have set laudably
ambitious goals, and it lets him enjoy his retirement, sipping margaritas on a
beach somewhere while others try to implement actual actions to meet the goals.
It gives the protesters something to support (the 1.5 degree goal), and it
gives the business community quite a bit of wiggle room (for example, nobody is
in charge of enforcement, and there are no consequences for missing targets).
The fossil fuel lobby seemed to have the least to show for itself. It looks
like it will be out of business sometime in the second half of the 21st
century. And in the meantime, oil prices are very low, and (at least in the
U.S.) coal companies are feeling the pinch.

Many of the big environmental organizations have issued
statements of general support for the Agreement. In some cases this is meant to
influence low-information readers and isolate opponents of climate action,
something along the lines of, “Look, the
whole world has come together, is taking the issue seriously, and is on record
to phase out fossil fuels in a few decades
.” Other environmentalists have
been somewhat ambivalent because the only thing missing from the Agreement is
who, what, and how.

Like a zen koan, the Agreement is a riddle that just leads to
more questions. The signatories recognize that 1.5 degrees Celsius is a better
target than 2 degrees, but countries’ current commitments would result in 3.7
degrees, so the rest of us reading the Agreement are meant to take the good
feelings at face value and cheer them on:
“Sure! Let’s all be ambitious! Why not?”

Even so, cynicism is not a viable path forward. Tackling this problem
will take centuries of effort, so for the countries of the world to unite
behind a vision of 100% renewable energy and complete phase out of fossil fuels
within just a few decades is actually pretty inspiring. On the other hand,
inspiration alone will not reduce emissions. It will take real action. In this
regard, there are a few paths we can choose:

Business as usual: This is the preferred
mode for many fossil fuel companies. And it is preferred by the Republican Party
and its funders, with the exception of former California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger, former Congressman Bob Ingliss, and perhaps a few others who
are in conversation behind the scenes with the Citizen’s Climate Lobby. The
INDCs (national commitments to reducing carbon) presented in Paris are
predicted to lead to warming of 3.7°C by 2100. India’s Center for Science and Environment
review of the US’s INDC blasts through the win-win rhetoric and lays bare some
inconvenient truths. The possibility that this pathway will prevail counteracts
all the feel good emotions around the Paris Agreement.

as usual cloaked in green:
mode was promoted at various expos and side events in Paris including Solutions 21 (which was derided by
activists as “False Solutions 21”). The French utility EDF promoted nuclear
power as low-carbon, and numerous banks signed on to future commitments to fund
renewables, while their current balance sheets overflowed with fossil fuel
companies. Proponents of this view might respond to a protester, “Divestment, sure…some day. We’ll let you
know when it works for us.”
 If you
squint one eye tight enough, you might be able to see a slight transition
occurring, but it seems unlikely to result in an economic transformation that
addresses global poverty, clean development, inequality, decoupling of
emissions and economy, and degrowth in the developed world.

wishful thinking:
One might think this is just an add-on to the above category, except
that in this case the messengers at COP21 were several big non-governmental
organizations, including Greenpeace. Here’s how the presentation played out: “We’d prefer a carbon price, but
unfortunately it is politically infeasible. But not to worry, renewables are
falling in price so rapidly that we don’t even need a carbon price! A little divestment here, a little investment there, maybe a
little bit stronger INDC in 2020, and viola: 100% clean energy!”
 Once again, if you squint one eye tight
enough, it is appealing, politically feasible, and being promoted by well-known
groups. “Let’s let the titans of industry
and the tech geniuses of Silicon Valley take us where we want to go! Tomorrowland,
here we come!”
So much optimism made me feel like a Debbie Downer.

A rising
carbon price under a declining global carbon budget:
Christina Figueres, head of the UNFCCC, the international body overseeing the climate
process, stated ahead of the talks, a carbon price was not really on the table for
the Paris Agreement. Neither were the words “global carbon budget.” Ms.
Figueres and others would say that could come later, starting at the national
or subnational level, and later incorporated into future INDC’s.

Rather than waiting around another 10 years, a delegation from
the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA), including me, attended COP-21 and
presented CapGlobalCarbon, a proposed
citizen’s movement to demand the creation of a Global Climate Commons Trust to
set a global carbon cap, auction production permits to upstream fossil fuel
companies, and return the revenues to people. This was presented at a side
event in the Blue Zone at COP-21. Similar concepts were noted at other climate
justice-oriented side events, including: The The Carbon Levy
the Civil Society Equity
remarks by former NASA scientist James Hansen (though he would say he support a
price but not a cap), James Glynn of University College Cork, the Mary Robinson
Foundation’s “Zero
Carbon Zero Poverty
” project, and by numerous Global South advocates.

To the extent that the Paris Agreement empowers activists to
investigate this pathway, then COP-21 can be considered a success. To the
extent that the Agreement promotes the other approaches or provides cover for
business as usual, well, let’s take to the streets!

Two final
The first goes back to an early mantra of the Center for
Climate Protection that was borrowed from ICLEI: “Local Action Moves the World.” Cities and regions were
well-represented at the Paris talks, and in many cases had the best stories to
tell of actual implementation of the transition off fossil fuel-dependent
economics. California was well-represented, and Sonoma Clean Power’s story was
told at several events featuring Community Choice Energy. Attending the Paris
climate talks was a high emissions, high effort endeavor. For example, it may
have cost attendees $200 or more per day to participate (which excludes the world’s
populations that subsist on a dollar or two a day). This trip reinforced the
idea that in general, it is more cost-effective, and in many cases more
rewarding, to “Think globally, act locally.”  

Second, it is important to mention the shadow cast over Paris by
the terrorist attacks that occurred a few weeks prior to the Paris climate
talks. Following the attacks, France more or less banned civil society,
cancelled the climate protests, and invoked emergency powers that subjected
citizens to something like a police state. During the climate talks, France’s
National Front, an anti-immigrant political party, won several regional
elections. Concurrently, here in the U.S., Republican presidential candidate
Donald Trump took the opportunity to propose banning Muslims from entering the
country. And this is in a world with less than a degree of greenhouse

Climate change is a huge injustice waiting in the wings. It has
the potential to cause suffering on the poorest people, with scientific proof
pointing back to the tailpipes of the wealthiest 1%. The implications for a
future cycle of terror and right-wing reactionary backlash are obvious. It is
yet another scary fork in the road.

Let’s hope the Paris Agreement points us toward a peaceful, just,
and climate-protected world, and let’s work together to make that happen.


Mike Sandler is co-founder of The Climate Center Campaign and   former program manager at the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority. He advocates for cap and dividend and currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family.

News Release: Governor Brown signs SB 790 supporting local clean power


For Immediate Release                                                                        Contact: Woody Hastings

Climate Protection Campaign

October 10, 2011                                                                                (707) 525-1665 x117



A Boost for Local Clean Power from Sacramento

Governor Brown signs SB 790 supporting community-based energy programs


On Oct. 8 Governor Brown signed legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 790, that will significantly improve the ability of local governments to establish their own local clean power programs. The timing could not be better given that Sonoma County is in the midst of planning its own “Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)” program, commonly referred to as Sonoma Clean Power. The Sonoma County Water Agency Board will consider the issue on October 18th.


Programs like Sonoma Clean Power were made possible by the 2002 CCA law designed to give electricity customers a choice about their power. SB 790 is designed to fix some of the problems that have emerged since passage of the original CCA law.


The first such program, Marin Clean Energy, began operations in May of 2010 in Marin County. It serves every city in Marin County except for Corte Madera, which is set to vote whether to join on November 1st. Marin Clean Energy has already won numerous awards for its clean power mix of 27% for its basic service and its option for 100% certified renewable energy at a premium of only one cent per kilowatt-hour more than the basic service. PG&E’s mix is 17%.


At its October 18th Board Meeting, the Water Agency will receive the results of a six-month Feasibility Study of a CCA for Sonoma County. Early indications are that the report finds that significant economic benefits and greenhouse gas emissions reductions can be achieved via Sonoma Clean Power.


The passage of SB 790 marks another in a series of events that have “cleared the path” for communities like Sonoma County to embark on their own local clean power systems, said Ann Hancock, Executive Director of the Climate Protection Campaign. “Marin Clean Energy succeeded in becoming the first successful CCA in the state, then we defeated Prop 16, then PG&E announced that it will no longer fight CCAs, now SB 790 has been enacted. It’s a dream scenario.” She added, “We’ve studied CCA since 2005. It is the most powerful local tool for significant greenhouse gas reductions. Plus it will create green jobs and boost our local economy.”


Efren Carrillo, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Water Agency points to the passage of SB 790 as a helpful development. “Sonoma Clean Power is more than just feasible in Sonoma County, it’s an imperative. We would be able to establish a program even without SB 790, but there’s no doubt that many of the safeguards and provisions it offers will be very helpful to our efforts.”



SB 790 does several key things:

  • Establishes a “code of conduct” for investor owned electric utilities to follow regarding their relationship with CCAs to strengthen existing law that requires them to cooperate fully with CCAs
  • Allows CCAs to administer energy efficiency program funds
  • Speeds up California Public Utilities Commission action when complaints are filed by CCAs pursuant to the law requiring cooperation from electric utilities
  • Provides for fair and equitable distribution of costs
  • Expands the entities that can become CCAs and includes the Sonoma County Water Agency