President Obama: “Invest in What Helps, Divest from What Harms.”

This past weekend, President Obama delivered a commencement speech to UC Irvine, in which he urged the graduating class to take challenges related to climate change seriously.  In his address, the President called out members of Congress for resisting efforts to address climate change, asserting that there was no substance behind some peoples’ rejection of the scientific consensus on the issue. The President used his speech to announce a $1 billion dollar fund, the National Disaster Resilience Competition, to be made available to states having endured a  national disaster between 2011 and 2013 for the purpose of rebuilding infrastructure to better withstand shocks from the environment. He also stated that this graduating class’s generation, which includes the largest age group in the country (22), faces many challenges and opportunities in dealing with this issue ahead. “We need scientists to design new fuels.  We need farmers to help grow them.  We need engineers to invent new technologies.  We need entrepreneurs to sell those technologies. We need workers to operate assembly lines that hum with high-tech, zero-carbon components.  We need builders to hammer into place the foundations for a clean energy age.  We need diplomats and businessmen and women, and Peace Corps volunteers to help developing nations skip past the dirty phase of development and transition to sustainable sources of energy…You need to invest in what helps, and divest from what harms.” The President’s address should serve as a reminder that we face the […]

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U.N. Reports on Climate Change Mitigation

The latest installment of the U.N’s fifth Climate Assessment Report explores what we must do in order to lessen the negative impacts of a changing climate.  As our understanding of climate change continues to develop, we hear more and more about a few particularly important numbers: to ensure that average global temperature increase does not exceed 2oC by the year 2100, we mustn’t allow the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to exceed 350 ppm (parts per million). Currently, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is about 400ppm, with an additional 2ppm emitted each year. Accounting for population and economic growth, CO2 concentrations are projected land between 750 and 1,300 ppm by the end of the century. To offset the emissions resulting from this growth, we need to substantially cut emissions by 2050 (by 40-70%), and to completely cease emissions by 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released its third working group summary this weekend in Berlin, Germany, as a part of its fifth Climate Assessment Report. Previous working group summaries have tackled the physical scientific aspects of changing climate systems, as well as impacts, adaptations, and vulnerabilities for people across the globe. The latest installment examines the topic of mitigation: the “human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.” There are currently great efforts underway to achieve both goals of greenhouse gas mitigation. Forests are one of our most valuable carbon sinks; trees […]

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Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014 Introduced by Reps Lofgren & Matsui

Today, US Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Doris Matsui, along with 15 original co-sponsors, introduced the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014. The bill is now before the House of Representatives, and not a moment too soon. The Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014, or CEVB for short, is modeled after one of the most successful fundraising efforts in US history. In World War II, millions of Americans purchased over $185 billion (over $2 trillion in today’s dollars) worth of Victory Bonds issued by the United States Treasury, in order to fund the war effort. The bonds allowed citizens to invest directly in the materials and technologies needed to achieve victory in one of the most destructive wars in human history. Today, however, we face different problems – a rapidly changing climate, rising sea levels, and more intense weather events like Hurricane Sandy put our infrastructure and economy at risk. Our outdated energy systems continue to inefficiently burn fossil fuels, and the extraction of these fuels continues to degrade ecosystems across the planet. Renewable energy and energy efficient technologies are a promising solution to these crises, but a lack of funding makes them unappealing to industrial-scale investors. The United States also risks losing its position as a clean energy leader.  China, Germany and other nations are outspending the US in the clean energy race and are already seeing the benefits of increased jobs and plentiful clean energy. Clean Energy […]

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Green America supports the EPA in regulating power plants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been hosting a listening tour across the country to gain feedback from citizens and organizations about proposed regulations of carbon emissions from existing power plants.  Green America has already supported the EPA’s proposal to regulate emissions from new power plants.  Now, the EPA is proposing to regulate existing power plants — a far greater source of carbon emissions in the US — particularly emissions from coal-fired plants. At a number of listening sessions, the coal industry has presented testimony that EPA regulations of coal-fired power plants will harm the U.S. economy.  However, all of the evidence demonstrates that the opposite is true.The continued reliance on coal as major source of electric power in the U.S. is harming our economy and preventing job growth. On behalf of Green America, I presented the following remarks at the listening session in Washington DC today. Thank you for hosting these listening sessions across the country to receive input from Americans on the important issue of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. My name is Todd Larsen, and I serve as the corporate responsibility director of Green America, a national non-profit organization with 170,000 individual members and 3,500 business members nationwide.  Our green business network is the largest network of certified green business in the United States.  Green America is also a member of the American Sustainable Business Council, which represents over 150,000 businesses nationwide. On behalf […]

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Green America’s Policy Director at White House Climate Change Summit

On Thursday, May 23, Green America’s policy director, Fran Teplitz, will participate in the Women’s Leadership Summit on Climate Change and Energy at the White House.  She’ll be among 100 women leaders invited to share information about their organizations’ climate and energy work, such as Green America’s Clean Energy Victory Bonds proposal. What’s more, we invite YOU to listen in on a live-stream of the opening of the Summit from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM on www.whitehouse.gov/live. Speakers will (tentatively) include: Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Acting Administrator, NOAA Chair Nancy Sutley, Council on Environmental Quality Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate Change Dorothy Robyn, General Services Administration Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy Nancy Pfund, Managing Director, DBL Investors Frances Beinecke, President, NRDC Cecilia Estolano, Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors Reverend Sally Bingham, Regeneration Project We hope you can listen in on the conversation on Thursday, May 23, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM on www.whitehouse.gov/live.

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Clean Energy: States and Cities in the Lead

Wayne Forest Solar 2

Focusing on the big picture can be helpful for analyzing the impacts for clean energy, but just as important is the impact that renewables have on individual states and communities. Localized power sources and incentive programs have transformed areas across the country and turned them into thriving clean energy hotspots. The jobs and revenue from clean energy projects have helped […]

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Obama’s Second Wind on Clean Energy

Wayne Forest Solar 1

                Last night, President Obama laid out an ambitious plan to fix the national economy and stop the ballooning national debt. One area he specifically detailed was the current US energy industry and its many shortcomings. While he touted the benefits of domestic oil and natural gas production, the president also mentioned the burgeoning impact that solar and wind power […]

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Green Banks and Clean Energy Victory Bonds

Green banks are not a new development but they may finally hit the mainstream thanks to a recent endorsement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His proposition would create a one billion dollar “NY Green Bank,” a semi-autonomous entity that would provide funding to clean energy projects that otherwise may struggle to secure startup money. The bank would use public and private funds to create credit enhancements and low-interest loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. Cuomo has expressed his support for the idea in part because it wouldn’t cost New York much money; they would be able to get most of the capital from already existing government funding. He acknowledged that New York is not close to their goal of 30 percent renewable energy by 2015 and stated that creating a green bank would be a good way to boost confidence in the clean energy sector. Wind and solar projects will likely see the biggest gains from the Green Bank initiative because of their relatively strong foothold in the market already. The idea for green banks has already been tried on a smaller scale in the United States. The most recent example can be found in Connecticut, where the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) was created in 2011. The goal of CEFIA is to help transition state clean energy programs away from grants, rebates and one time subsidies and towards low-cost financing. By partnering with Connecticut’s […]

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