‘Finally Some Good News Out of Washington’: Nation’s Capital to Go 100% Renewable by 2032
Washington, DC made history Tuesday when its council voted unanimously to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2032, the Huffington Post reported. The commitment is part of the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018, which also includes measures to reduce emissions from buildings and transportation and gives the nation's capital the most comprehensive climate policy of any city in the country.
"This bill should be a boost to advocates nationwide," DC campaign director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund Camila Thorndike said in a statement reported by the Huffington Post. "Finally some good news out of Washington. We did it."
Campaigners and supporters touted the bill as an act of defiance against one of DC's most famous residents, current President Donald Trump, who is infamous for denying climate change and promoting fossil fuels.
"The guy in the house a couple of blocks away has abdicated complete leadership in how we are moving our country and our world forward," Democratic Councilmember Charles Allen told WAMU 88.5. "The folks on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue don't seem to care that much. So the responsibility has fallen to our cities and our states to act."
That rebuke is not merely symbolic. Federal buildings, including the White House, will need to follow the stricter energy efficiency standards that the new law has empowered a task force to draft for all existing DC buildings, the Huffington Post reported. The bill also includes an ambitious transportation goal: all public transportation and private vehicle fleets, including ride-share programs Uber and Lyft, must be carbon free by 2045.
The bill should reduce the city's total greenhouse gas emissions 42 percent by 2032, WAMU 88.5 reported. This brings it close to the recommendation in the latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That report found that to cap warming at 1.5 degrees, global emissions would have to fall to 45 percent of 2010 levels by 2030.
The bill, introduced by Democratic Councilmember Mary Cheh, would have originally reduced total emissions by 50 percent, but that goal was weakened somewhat after compromises with utility companies, which ultimately backed the current version of the bill. Activists said the companies did so in part to avoid a carbon tax, an alternative policy supported by some council members.
"We built such a thunderhead of political pressure for ambitious and comprehensive climate policy that not doing anything was not an option," Thorndike told WAMU 88.5.
The bill also doubled DC's ambitions. Previously, the city had pledged to be 50 percent renewable by 2032.
"This bill is historic," Cheh told WAMU 88.5 before the vote. "It will place the District of Columbia at the national forefront in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve 100 percent renewable electricity."
Currently, 90 cities have pledged to go 100 percent renewable by 2030, but no state has set a goal as ambitious as DC's within as short a timeframe.
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.