Based on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s public statements, clean-air advocates fear that federal fuel-economy standards for automobiles are likely to be lowered.
A new bill awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature could use the state’s massive purchasing power as the world’s sixth largest economy to address greenhouse gas emissions far beyond its borders.
The debate may be over in the scientific community about the threat of man-made climate change. But as world leaders continue negotiating in Paris this week at an international climate conference, many questions remain about what it will take to come up with a workable plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid catastrophic warming.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst economist Robert Pollin injects a note of optimism into the discussion with his recently published book, Greening the Global Economy (MIT Press). Pollin estimates that we need to invest about 1.5 percent of global GDP annually in clean energy and energy efficiency in order to slow warming enough to maintain a livable planet. The good news, he argues, is that we can decarbonize our economy without sacrificing economic growth and prosperity. Capital & Main interviewed Pollin while he was in New York on a book tour.
A common refrain among opponents of clean air, water and endangered species is that environmental regulation kills jobs. From some perspectives, they’re occasionally right: Go talk to a coal miner in Kentucky staring down the Obama administration’s new rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, or an Oregon tree-feller on the topic of spotted owls. When rules to protect nature and public health kick in, whole economies sometimes die.
But it’s also true that people living in poverty suffer disproportionately from industrial pollution, and that wealth benefits from the long-term protection of resources — without restraint, after all, one day there’d be no forests to log. So a United Nations’ Brundtland Commission in 1987 proposed another way of looking at the situation, one that wouldn’t pit laudable values against each other, but would instead regard economic and environmental health as inseparable. The Brundtland participants coined the term “sustainable development” and,
This month the U.S. and China reached an historic and unexpected agreement on climate change. As a follow-up, China announced that it will cap its coal consumption by 2020. The U.S. and China are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, and the world’s largest economies. What does this mean for us?
Climate change isn’t something that we can wait 50 or 100 years to deal with – it is happening right now. The U.S. is seeing more severe weather, unprecedented sea level rise, loss of habitat and expanding ranges of pests and diseases.
The primary driver of climate change is the carbon that humans put into the atmosphere and the biggest producers of carbon are coal-fired power plants that generate electricity. China is now the world’s largest user of coal.
In the climate change agreement, China promised to reach its peak emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases,