[Editor's note: President Trump signed another executive order on Friday aimed at eliminating regulations.]
The rumored targets—the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Water Rule and the federal coal leasing moratorium—protect our air and water, save lives and take action to stop climate disruption. By the numbers, here's what's at stake if Trump attacks these vital safeguards and reforms.
The Clean Power Plan
First Ever: On June 2, 2014, as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the Clean Power Plan, our nation's first-ever protections from carbon pollution from power plants. The plan puts states in the driver's seat to hasten their shift to clean energy and reduce carbon pollution. It will also help reduce other forms of dangerous air pollution, helping to keep our children healthier.
Three Times: The Clean Power Plan has a solid legal foundation in the Clean Air Act. On three separate occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the EPA's authority and responsibility under the Clean Air Act to protect human health and welfare by limiting carbon pollution.
Up to 6,600: The Clean Power Plan will lead to significant climate and public health benefits for all. The EPA has estimated that, by 2030, the Clean Power Plan will prevent 150,000 asthma attacks and up to 6,600 premature deaths annually.
$93 Billion: The Clean Power Plan also provides great opportunities for economic growth and sustainable development. Investing in clean energy will create jobs and fuel economic growth in our country. The EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan will deliver annual benefits of up to $93 billion by 2030.
37 Percent: Fossil-fuel fired power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and therefore a major contributor to climate change. Carbon emissions from power plants represent 37 percent of the total CO2 emissions emitted in the U.S.
The Clean Water Rule
In March 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a long-overdue Clean Water Act rule to end the confusion over which streams and wetlands are protected by the law.
The health of our nation's rivers, lakes and bays depends on the network of small streams and wetlands that flow into them. Here's what's at stake:
117 Million: The Clean Water rule provides protections for the drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans. One in three Americans get drinking water from public systems that rely on headwater and seasonal streams.
20 million: The Clean Water rule also safeguards 20 million acres of wetlands that provide flood protection, recharge groundwater supplies, filter pollution and provide essential wildlife habitat.
Coal Leasing Moratorium: The Cost of Coal Under a Broken System
President Obama initiated a coal leasing moratorium on federal lands while the Department of the Interior reviewed the outdated coal leasing program, which has been shortchanging taxpayers while benefiting coal executives for decades.
Say Goodbye to Coal-Free Streams https://t.co/Om1Wsb3WIl @ukycc @FoEAustralia @ZeroCarbonWorld— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487508605.0
Sorely in need of reform, under the outdated program the Department of the Interior has been issuing leases to coal companies on the cheap for coal on lands belonging to the American people, giving them a sweetheart deal that has flooded the market with subsidized coal at below-market prices, while damaging our climate and our public lands.
41 cents: 40 percent of all coal burned in the U.S. comes from our federal leases on public lands. Under the existing system, up to 90 percent of bids in the Powder River Basin received only a single bidder, resulting in sales far below what companies typically paid for on private lands. You could buy one ton of federal coal for less than a packet of M&Ms—just 41 cents.
~$28.9 billion: Local taxpayers are not getting a fair return for the use of their public lands with royalty rates set unreasonably low. Under this system, American taxpayers are losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year, totaling an estimated $28.9 billion in revenues in the Powder River Basin alone over the 30 years since the federal government last overhauled its coal leasing program.
11 percent: Mining and burning coal from public lands accounts for approximately 11 percent of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump is rolling back critical public health and environmental standards so his buddies in the fossil fuel industry can continue to pad their pockets at our expense. The Sierra Club will be fighting these rollbacks every step of the way and Americans nationwide will continue to resist—join us.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a sweeping climate bill on Thursday that would have put the commonwealth on a path to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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