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The shipping industry is coming to grips with its egregious carbon footprint, as it has an outsized contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and to the dumping of chemicals into open seas. Already, the global shipping industry contributes about 2 percent of global carbon emissions, about the same as Germany, as the BBC reported.
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Discount airline, JetBlue, plans to be the nation's first airline to be carbon neutral when it begins in July to purchase carbon offsets for all of its flights, according to CBS News.
House Democrats on Wednesday introduced a sweeping plan intended to spur the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
By Ajit Niranjan
It's a question that preys on our readers' minds: Can we invent our way out of climate breakdown?
But experts say there is no silver bullet to protect the climate — and that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the surest known way to prevent further warming.
By John Rogers
A new tool from The Solar Foundation breaks down the latest solar jobs numbers by state, metropolitan area, county and congressional district, and looks at who makes up the solar industry. Here's a taste of what those numbers say, and why they matter.
The plan involves installing a 5-kilowatt solar system and a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery on roughly 50,000 homes across the state over the next four years. The setup will be installed at no charge to the households and financed through the sale of electricity.
Clinton has a team of nearly 100 advisers on energy and environmental issues who have spent the past year compiling recommendations. Her entourage sharply contrasts with that of Trump, who relies on a few outside experts.
In her speech Thursday, Clinton said:
And let's build a cleaner, more resilient power grid with enough renewable energy to power every home in our country as well. Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and create millions of jobs and businesses. It's probably going to be either China, Germany or America. I want it to be us! We invent the technology, we should make it and use it and export it, which will help to grow our economy.
For a deeper dive:
The Sierra Club released a new report this week showcasing 10 U.S. cities that have made ambitious commitments to be powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy. This report is the first from Ready for 100, a new Sierra Club campaign launched in 2016 challenging 100 cities in the U.S. to move away from dirty, outdated fossil fuels, step up and commit to 100 percent clean energy. Sixteen cities, including major cities like San Diego, have already made such commitments and a handful have already achieved 100 percent clean energy and are powered today with entirely renewable sources.
"Cities, long the hotbed of innovation, the drivers of change and the incubators of solutions to the world's biggest challenges, are ready for 100 percent clean energy," Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 campaign, said. "Other city leaders should take note from these examples and take the pledge to power their cities by 100 percent clean energy."
Among the cities highlighted in the report is San Francisco, the site of the first-ever North American Renewable Cities Dialogue. In mid-July this year, staff and public officials from more than 20 cities across the U.S. participated in this dialogue to discuss opportunities, challenges and tools available to help them move to 100 percent renewable energy across all energy sectors. Also featured are Aspen, Colorado, the site of the kickoff of the Sierra Club's #Readyfor100 National Tour and San Diego, the eighth-largest city in the country and the largest city to commit to clean energy.
"San Diego is known around the world for our beautiful environment, so it's only fitting that we help set the standard for how to protect it. We're moving in a big way toward renewable energy use because it fuels green jobs and will improve the quality of life for our residents," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "It's about handing down to our children a city that is cleaner than it was when we received it."
"Not only are cities ready for clean energy—it's ready for them. Clean energy keeps money in local government coffers, creates local jobs, saves people money, cuts pollution, and saves lives," added Van Horn. "Other cities would be wise to mirror these commitments coast to coast."
By Noah Long and Kevin Steinberger
Renewable energy is one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against climate change and there is every reason to believe it will succeed. A recent New York Times column seems to imply that renewable energy investments set back efforts to address climate change—nothing could be further from the truth. What's more, renewable technologies can increasingly save customers money as they displace emissions from fossil fuels.
The U.S. must continue—and accelerate—its clean energy growth and the transition to a low-carbon electric grid.
Wind and solar energy have experienced remarkable growth and huge cost improvements over the past decade with no signs of slowing down. Prices are declining rapidly and renewable energy is becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuels all around the country. In some places, new renewable energy is already cheaper than continuing to operate old, inefficient and dirty fossil fuel-fired or nuclear power plants.
In fact, the investment firm Lazard estimates that the cost of generating electricity from wind and solar has declined by 58 percent and 78 percent, respectively, since 2009. Those cost trends are expected to continue and coupled with the recent extension of federal tax credits for renewable energy, wind and solar growth is widely expected to accelerate over the next several years, with capacity projected to double from 2015 levels by 2021. With careful planning, renewable energy and clean energy options like increased energy efficiency and storing energy for use later will help pave the way.
In the longer term, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan to establish the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants will continue to drive renewable energy growth. Wind and solar energy will play a central role in achieving the emissions cuts required and carbon policies like the Clean Power Plan will be critical to ensuring that low-carbon resources are prioritized over higher-emitting power plants.
The Benefits are Huge
In addition to the climate benefits that they will help deliver, renewables already provide a wide range of market and public health benefits that far outweigh their costs. A recent report from the Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National (LBNL) Laboratory found that renewable portfolio standards—state policies that mandate that a specific amount of the state's electricity comes from renewables—provide a wide range of economic, health and climate benefits. The report concluded that in 2013 alone, renewable standards across the country saved customers up to $1.2 billion from reduced wholesale electric prices and $1.3 billion to $3.7 billion from lower natural gas prices (as a result of lower demand for natural gas across the power sector).
The non-market benefits of renewable energy also are considerable. The LBNL researchers estimated that renewables supported nearly 200,000 jobs, provided $5.2 billion worth of health benefits through improved air quality and resulted in global climate benefits of $2.2 billion. At the same time, according to a separate report by DBL Investors, the top 10 leading renewable states experienced lower electricity price increases than the bottom 10 states between 2002 and 2013.
The U.S. must continue—and accelerate—its clean energy growth and the transition to a low-carbon electric grid. There will be technical challenges to completing this transformation, but study after study concludes that integrating high levels of renewables into our electric grid is achievable. This is also being demonstrated in practice, as many states are already incorporating wind and solar, including in Texas, where wind has now supplied more than 45 percent of the state's total energy demand on multiple occasions and in Iowa, as the state now generates 31 percent of its total annual power from wind.
Change is Here
Much is said about the need to adapt the electric grid to the variability associated with integrating renewable energy into our electricity mix. Until recently, the huge costs of maintaining back-up generation and transmission in case they're needed to keep the lights on when large, inflexible resources like coal and nuclear plants suddenly and unexpectedly go offline has too often been ignored. Grid managers and planners are now appropriately as concerned about the need for flexibility and predictability, assets that large fossil and nuclear plants lack. Renewable energy production is variable, but predictable (we mostly know when it will be sunny or windy). However, it can be impossible to predict when large fossil or nuclear plant will have to shut down for critical maintenance.
In a sign of the declining status of large, inflexible base load resources, PG&E recently announced it will close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California and replace it with 100 percent clean energy (NRDC is a signatory), PG&E explains: "California's electric grid is in the midst of a significant shift that creates challenges for the facility in the coming decades. Changes in state policies, the electric generation fleet and market conditions combine to reduce the need for large, inflexible baseload power plants."
As we move forward, there are a number of grid planning practices and technologies that will help facilitate America's transition to higher and higher amounts of renewable energy. For example, as more and more cars on the road become electric, those vehicles can help store electricity and manage peak demand so that supply and demand can be better aligned. Demand response (compensating customers for altering their electricity use at specific periods) and time of use electricity pricing can provide similar support. Leading states are currently contemplating how to design policies and market structures that support a modernized, low-carbon grid. Planning for the future can and must be done in parallel with promoting strong renewables growth in the present.
Renewable energy is already helping address climate change. It's time to put our feet on the accelerator.
Noah Long is the director of the Western Energy Project and Kevin Steinberger is policy analyst for the Climate & Clean Air Program at Natural Resources Defense Council.