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As Scientists Sound Climate Change Alarm, States Lead on Solutions
By Abigail Dillen
This column originally appeared in USA Today.
The world's leading panel of climate experts sounded the alarm this week that we are running out of time to get rising temperatures under control. Its latest report calls for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented" steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, from worsening wildfires and extreme drought to rising sea levels and more powerful storms. It also reminds us what is at stake if we fail to act: our health, our food and water security, our environment and our economy.
These risks are no longer hypothetical. Across the country, we are already seeing the devastating impacts of extreme weather fueled by climate change. As the Carolinas deal with the aftermath of catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Florence and Florida deals with Hurricane Michael, wildfires across the West have burned an area larger than the state of Maryland.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is ignoring the threat of climate change and continuing its assault on critical protections of our air, water, land and wildlife. With a president determined to prop up the fossil fuel industry at the expense of public health and the environment, it is easy to feel discouraged.
But there is reason for hope.
States Are Picking Up the Federal Government's Slack
In the absence of leadership in Washington, DC, states are stepping up to the plate. They are building powerful and diverse coalitions that center the voices of those most directly impacted by pollution. They are standing by our international climate commitments, despite President Trump's pledge to withdraw from the Paris agreement. And they are enacting smart policies that move us towards a clean energy future, even as the Trump administration tries to turn back the clock.
California recently passed SB 100, committing the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2045.
This is no small feat for the fifth largest economy in the world, and one of the nation's largest oil producing states. California is already home to half a million clean energy jobs, and this move accelerates the state's momentum towards a carbon-free grid. With SB 100, California is proving that a healthy environment and a thriving economy can—and must—go hand-in-hand.
California follows Hawaii, which passed a similar measure in 2015 to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. And in Massachusetts, the state Senate recently passed a bill to power the state with 100 percent renewable energy by 2047. As clean energy becomes increasingly affordable, these targets are within our reach.
Inclusivity Is the Key to Smart Climate Policy
This November, voters in Washington state will consider a ballot initiative that would cement the state's leadership on climate change. Initiative 1631 would impose a modest fee on the state's largest climate polluters, generating billions in revenue for clean energy infrastructure, clean transportation options, job training and the local communities most impacted by pollution. The initiative would become the first-of-its-kind to be enacted directly by voters.
Initiative 1631 was crafted through an inclusive process that brought stakeholders together from more than 250 organizations. It is backed by tribal nations, groups representing communities of color, health professionals, businesses, scientists, faith groups and clean energy advocates. The result is a thoughtful approach that will ensure a smooth—and just—transition to clean energy.
Both SB 100 and Initiative 1631 demonstrate how inclusivity and collaboration lead to smart climate policy that benefits all of us. They also underscore the critical role of states in solving our climate crisis, especially at a time when politicians in DC are letting us down.
At Earthjustice, we're fighting the Trump administration's attempts to gut environmental protections with more than 100 lawsuits filed in federal court—many of which attempt to protect communities and the planet from pollution caused by fossil fuels. We're working to ensure that our transition to clean energy advances equity and justice for those communities impacted most by climate change. And we're partnering with states on the frontlines of our climate fight that are setting an example for the country and the world.
Even in the Trump era, progress is possible on climate change—and states must continue to lead the way.
- Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes: Executive ... ›
- State Climate Policy Maps — Center for Climate and Energy Solutions ›
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."