Citizens can act on climate change. Here’s how to get started according to a new book.
For many Americans, climate change can feel like a huge, insurmountable problem. And individual measures to combat the crisis, such as buying an electric car, can look like they would hardly register on a planetary scale.
A new book aims to counter this mindset and empower all Americans to become climate activists. in “The Big Fix: Seven Practical Steps to Saving Our Planet,” energy expert Hal Harvey and the journalist Justin Gillis He argues that we can all become “green citizens” and take grassroots political action that will make a difference to our climate.
They write that some of the most important actions can take place at the state and local levels. In Montgomery County, Maryland, for example, a group of local citizens persuaded the school board to replace all of its diesel buses with electric buses. The move will protect children from diesel fumes, which can trigger asthma, and cut carbon emissions from the transportation sector, the country’s biggest source of pollution from global warming.
The Climate 202 spoke with Harvey, CEO of the think tank Energy innovationand Gillies, formerly freelance writer with Washington Post and the The New York Timesbefore the book was released on Tuesday.
The following questions and answers have been edited slightly and condensed for clarity:
Climate 202: What is the motivation behind this book?
Harvey: With the carbon budget nearing exhaustion, we don’t have time to make choices with either wrong choices or good ideas that cannot be scaled up. So one of our goals has been to make sure that people who are interested in the climate world have very clear paths for action that will scale. It is a sad waste of energy to work on projects that do not bring the desired results. We can’t stand it.
Gillies: For years Hal and I have heard from people, “This problem seems so big, and I am so small. What can I do about it?” People really feel disempowered by the climate problem. So we wanted to open people’s imaginations and help them realize that decisions are being made around them, every day, to perpetuate the fossil fuel economy. There are already plenty of opportunities for intervention.
Climate 202: In the book, plenty of examples of climate activism are given at the state and local levels. Could that have a greater impact than activism at the federal level, such as lobbying members of Congress?
Harvey: States establish the regulations under which utilities operate. So whether your utility bill is going to a coal-fired power plant or an offshore wind turbine, these are the regulations that states make. They are usually appointed by the utility committees. There are 50 of them, and they have tremendous power. They don’t get that much attention. They should, because they are America’s most important decision-making body regarding our climate.
Gillies: Of course, Washington is very important. this is Modern Climate Law very important. But it turns out that a great deal of the political momentum is not necessarily in Washington. Many of the barriers we face now need to be resolved at the state and local levels.
For example, we have to build a huge amount of renewable energy, but we’re already seeing a lot of land use decline from people “not in my backyard”. Land use decisions are local, with significant oversight by the state. If the citizens don’t get involved in this, the naysayers and NIMBY people will win and prevent us from doing what we need to do.
Climate 202: What good example of climate action can an individual take to make a meaningful difference?
Harvey: When the federal government wants to put air quality regulations in place, they have to go through a public hearing. These forums are often opaque as industry representatives say the rules would be too expensive. But people affected by the decision can show up. So when they allow a new natural gas power plant, for example, to have moms and dads of asthmatic children in the room. There must be people from frontline communities who live downwind due to pollution. This can be fantastically powerful.
Hurricane Fiona causes power outages in all Puerto Rico, and creates dangerous conditions
Hurricane Fiona It hit Puerto Rico on Sunday as a Category 1 storm, cutting power to the entire island, bringing winds of up to 100 mph to some areas and causing life-threatening flash floods. Matthew CaptchiAnd the Jacqueline Al Yamani And the Pravena Somasundaram Reporting for The Post.
With wind and rain rising on Sunday, the entire population of 3.2 million people arrived The island was without electricity, according to PowerOutage.usA website that tracks power outages. As of early Monday morning, more than 1.3 million residents had lost power. Lama EnergyThe private power company, which contracted with Puerto Rico to manage the electrical transmission and distribution system, said it could take several days to restore power and asked customers for “patience.”
The National Hurricane Center He warned of “catastrophic flooding” from the storm for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. President Biden He approved the island’s emergency declaration on Sunday, freeing up federal resources to support local disaster relief.
Where Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico was left without electricity for months in 2017, residents called on Local and federal government to improve the region’s disaster response and recovery efforts, as well as its own The besieged power grid.
On Monday morning, Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic, Elizabeth Wolf And the Melissa Alonso CNN report. The storm came ashore at 3:30 a.m. ET with maximum winds of 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Lobbyists on Congress to create a national standard for clean fuels
An initiative representing utilities, renewable fuel producers, environmental scientists, electric vehicle charging companies and other interests is calling for the next Congress to pass legislation creating a national standard for clean fuels.
members drive clean Initiativewhich was launched on Monday, includes the start-up of the EV RivianThe Renewable Fuel Association and the New York Association of Conservation Voters. I employed the initiative Lot sixteenIt is a bipartisan lobbying and communications firm.
California and Oregon have already implemented the Clean Fuel Standard, which requires fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of their products, including gasoline and diesel. In May, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (d) signed legislation to create a clean fuel standard on January 1, 2023, after suffering several defeats in his years-long quest to enact policy.
The DriveClean Initiative argues that a national standard is necessary because Inflation reduction law It will have little impact on reducing carbon emissions from transportation by 2030, according to modeling by rhodium groupwhich is an independent research firm.
Opponents of the clean fuel standard argued that this policy would raise gasoline prices for consumers. But Marie Soleckian advisor to the DriveClean Initiative, in a call Thursday with reporters that California Low carbon fuel standard It has had no “measurable impact on fuel prices” since its release in 2007.
The American Safety Net is built for cold winters. Hot summer threatens her.
For decades, it has been Low Income Energy Assistance Program Help Americans defray the costs of heating their homes during the winter. But now, hot summers and rising cooling costs are driving up people’s energy bills for longer periods of time, straining the federal safety net and showing how the government is struggling to keep up with the ways climate change is affecting some of the most vulnerable Americans, stickers Dino Grandoni And the Anna Phillips Report.
Already, about 85 percent of the $3.8 billion in funding awarded to the program this year went to winter heating bills, leaving very little for those with sweltering summers. While most state and federal lawmakers can agree that a warm home is essential, some still see cooling as a luxury, despite the rapidly rising temperatures associated with human-caused global warming.
Tuesday: The Subcommittee on Home Transport and Infrastructure on Water Resources and the Environment Hearing will be held at Clean Water Act On the fiftieth anniversary of its founding.
- The Subcommittee on Natural Resources in the House of Representatives for Energy and Mineral Resources Will meet to check Climate Leadership in Public Lands and Waters ActPresented by the Chairman of the Committee last week Raoul M (D-Ariz.) The leasing of new fossil fuels will be prohibited and allowed on public lands and waters until Interior Department and the Forest Service Can demonstrate that emissions from additional oil and gas projects are compatible with President Bidennear-term climate goals.
- The House of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology He will hold a hearing on scientific solutions to climate change and the rapidly changing Arctic, which is at least warming four times faster as a global average.
Wednesday: The House Homeland Security Committee He will hold a hearing on the resilience of the nation’s water infrastructure amid a prolonged drought in the American West and increased extreme rainfall events.
- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works A business meeting will be held to consider multiple nominations, including Joseph Goffman to drive Environmental Protection Agency‘s Air and Radiation Office and six candidates to be members of the Board of Directors for Tennessee Valley Authority. Immediately thereafter, the committee will hold a hearing on state and local implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law.
- The Senate National Energy and Resources Subcommittee It will meet to evaluate 16 pieces of legislation to designate new national monuments and historic sites.
Thursday: The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform on Economic and Consumer Policy They will meet to examine whether certain industries – including the fossil fuel sector – have raised prices for consumers and driven inflation.
- The House Natural Resources Committee A hearing will be held on Lama EnergyContract to manage, operate and rebuild Puerto Rico’s power transmission and distribution system. The hearing was due to take place before Hurricane Fiona hit the island.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee It will meet to study the benefits and challenges of deploying new battery and non-battery energy storage technologies.