As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows America’s power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the air any other country’s entire economy except China. Environment America Research & Policy Center pointed to the report as evidence for why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in the international fight against global warming.
America’s progress on solar has helped fuel a tripling of solar energy nationwide between 2011 and 2013. This report ranks states by solar growth in 2013 and cumulatively, and emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy to help capture the virtually unlimited and pollution-free energy from the sun.
America’s dependence on gasoline as a transportation fuel worsens global warming and threatens public health. Increasing the use of electric vehicles – especially those powered by clean, renewable sources of electricity – can protect the climate and help America get off oil.
More than 220,000 electric vehicles are already on the road in the United States, producing far less global warming pollution per mile than their internal combustion-engine counterparts. By 2025, widespread use of electric vehicles, coupled with a cleaner electricity grid, could reduce global warming pollution by 18.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, compared to conventional vehicles. That is equal to saving more than 2 billion gallons of gasoline per year or the annual emissions from 3.8 million of today’s cars and trucks.
Solar power is on the rise across America—increasing 200-fold in the United States since 2002—and major cities are helping to lead this clean energy revolution. Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution shows that cities from every region of the U.S. are driving solar development with strong public policies – reaping important benefits for the environment, public health, and the economy. By building local solar power, cities can keep more of their energy budget at home and create good local jobs.
American leadership in the fight against global warming is crucial. America is the world’s largest economy, the second-largest emitter of global warming pollution, and the nation responsible for more of the human-caused carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere than any other. Without prompt action by the United States and others to reduce global warming pollution, catastrophic impacts – from coastal flooding to food system disruptions – could become unavoidable.
Fortunately, even in the absence of a comprehensive response from the U.S. Congress, local and state governments and the Obama administration have taken leadership on global warming. State and federal leadership on global warming is already having a significant impact. A set of clean energy policies adopted by states and the federal government and in effect from 2007 to 2012 reduced U.S. carbon dioxide pollution by 162 million metric tons in 2012. That is equal to annual emissions from 34 million vehicles, or all the passenger cars and trucks in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Colorado combined. Those emission savings will grow in future years as the policies mature and more ambitious clean energy targets come into effect.