Here’s your latest Eco News Round-Up—everything you need to know about the fight for a better environmental future in the last month.
It's my pleasure to provide you with your latest Eco News Round-Up—everything you need to know about the fight for a better environmental future in the last month.
It was an especially busy (and exciting) month when it came to climate action, so I've got quite a bit to share with you this month:
A Month of Global Climate Action
The U.S. and China—the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters—pledged last week to sign last December’s Paris climate agreement on April 22, the day it opens for signature, and to "take their respective domestic steps in order to join the agreement as early as possible this year."
The Paris agreement needs at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions to formally accede to it before it can enter into force, making early action from the U.S. and China critically important.
China also reaffirmed its commitment to launching a national carbon market in its recently-released five-year plan. China will draw on lessons learned from the seven pilot programs that EDF’s China team helped design and put into action over the past several years.
Read More: China's carbon market is a game-changer years in the making
President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau also made a joint announcement earlier in the month pledging to work together to implement the historic Paris Agreement as soon as possible.
As a first step, both countries pledged to cut industrial methane pollution by nearly half, and to take steps to regulate dangerous methane pollution emitting from oil & gas facilities currently in operation. Methane is responsible for about a quarter of today’s warming, and the U.S. and Canada are the second and fourth largest emitters of oil and gas methane respectively.
This victory belongs in part to EDF members who sent more than 181,000 letters and made hundreds of phones calls to the EPA and the White House demanding action on industrial methane pollution.
President Obama also met with President Macri of Argentina in March and the two leaders issued a statement pledging to work together to scale up each country's use of renewable energy, and reaffirming their commitment to reaching a decision on adopting a market-based measure on aviation emissions at this year’s Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Read More: How close are we to a global market for aircraft emissions?
The 2015 National Climate Assessment, unveiled last week by U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), outlines the multiple ways that climate change threatens the lives and health of all Americans.
The new report lists a frighteningly long list of ways that climate change can make us sick, hurt us, or even kill us. In nine chapters, it covers temperature related deaths and illnesses, air quality impacts, water related illnesses, food safety, and diseases transmitted by pests like fleas and mosquitos.
Among its disturbing findings:
- An increase of thousands to tens of thousands of premature heat-related deaths each summer by the end of the century.
- Failure of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure due to increases in some extreme weather events and storm surges, especially in areas with aging infrastructure.
- Increased spread of mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses.
Happily, global greenhouse gas emissions stayed flat for the second year in a row while the global economy still grew by 3%, according to preliminary 2015 data released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) last month. Emissions in the U.S. and China actually decreased, by 2% and 1.5% respectively.
The IEA report cited surging renewables as "key" to keeping emissions flat, accounting for around 90 percent of new electricity generation in 2015. Wind produced more than half of new electricity generation.
In fact, the world set a new record for clean energy investments in 2015, with a total of $286 billion invested in renewables according to the U.N. Environment Program’s new report. China alone invested $103 billion, proving the strength of their commitment to a clean energy path forward. By comparison, the U.S. invested just $44 billion.
Leading companies across America stood up for clean energy last month by supporting the Clean Power Plan, which establishes the first limits on carbon pollution from the nation’s existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Among them were major consumer brands Ikea, Mars, Adobe, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, as well as technology giants Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, which filed “friend of the court” (or amicus) briefs with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals urging the Court to uphold the Clean Power Plan. Google posted a public statement on their blog explaining why Google supports clean energy.
They were joined by a wide and diverse coalition of scientists, health advocates, major power companies, business associations, city and state representatives, workers unions, faith communities, consumer groups, and more. EDF maintains a full list of filed briefs in our CPP Resource Center.
New EDF Program Can Save Monarch Butterflies from Extinction
This spring and summer, EDF field ecologist and Director of Conservation Strategies David Wolfe will be following the monarch butterfly’s migration route and launching the first phase of our new initiative to save the iconic butterfly from extinction.
Under the innovative Habitat Exchange model, ranchers and farmers who plant and maintain milkweed habitat for monarchs can earn revenue, just as they would from planting a crop. The higher-quality habitat they maintain, the more they can earn, ensuring maximum bang for the buck—and for the butterfly.
EDF’s quest to save the monarch butterfly from extinction was recently featured on Vox.
Read More: Why a good year won't save the monarch butterfly...but this solution can
Participate: Next month, we’ll be hosting a live event with David Wolfe, EDF Director of Conservation Strategies. He’ll explain just how habitat exchanges work and answer EDF member questions. Watch your inbox later this month for your invitation!
One Year Later, Momentum for Carbon Markets in Agriculture Continues to Grow
In June of 2015, the California Air Resources Board approved the first-of-its-kind protocol that enables rice growers who reduce their methane emissions to generate valuable carbon credits that can be sold on California’s carbon market.
Thanks to the rice protocol milestone, pilot projects are now taking off or development to reward private landowners for keeping grasslands intact, and for reducing nitrous oxide emissions.
Last month, Climate Progress caught up with Mark Isbell, a third-generation rice grower in central Arkansas participating in one of our pilot projects, and Robert Parkhurst, director of agricultural greenhouse gas markets for EDF, to hear their take on the first year in the field.
Getting the Lead Out
EDF has launched a major new health initiative to accelerate replacement of dangerous lead pipe infrastructure across America.
Between 7 and 10 million homes are serviced by lead pipes in America today. Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, and exposure in childhood—even a low levels—can lead to a lifetime of learning and behavioral problems and reduced IQ. And the methods used to keep lead out of those families' drinking water are imperfect and at risk of sudden, unpredictable failure.
Our multi-prong approach will include applying pressure to EPA to overhaul their lead in drinking water rule to make lead pipe replacement a top priority instead of a last resort. We’ll also work with communities around the country to support policies that promote disclosure and replacement lead pipes, with a focus on solutions that can work for low-income communities like Flint, MI.
The Hill, a popular daily newspaper read on Capitol Hill, published an op-ed from Diane Regas, Executive Director of EDF, underscoring the urgent need to make lead pipe replacement a priority across America.
Under Better Management, Global Ocean Fish Populations Could Double by 2050
New research shows the majority of the world’s wild fisheries could be at healthy levels in just 10 years, and that global fish populations could double by 2050 with better fishing approaches compared to business as usual.
Not only that, it could also lead to bigger catches and more food for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who rely on fish as an important source of protein.
Read More: How an EDF-developed solution can save the world's fisheries
Thank you again for being with as we fight for a cleaner, healthier, safer future for the Earth and all living things. I hope you found this exclusive update valuable.
Manager, Online Membership