Global Warming Solutions
Global warming is the most profound environmental threat that our children face. Scientists warn that unless we act now, our children and future generations will face catastrophic consequences. Despite the science, the dirty energy industry has been spending millions to continue to pump carbon pollution into our skies. But our staff and members are proving each day that there is a way forward on global warming.
The consequences? Stronger storms and rising seas
Our children and future generations will be the ones to bear the worst impacts from global warming, but we’re already starting to feel the effects. In recent years, we’ve seen stronger, more frequent storms like Hurricane Sandy. We’ve also seen devastating drought and flooding in the Midwest and destructive wildfires in Colorado and elsewhere in the West. Extreme weather could become “the new normal” as global warming wreaks havoc on our climate. Read our report, "In the Path of the Storm," to learn more.
Global warming will also threaten our coastal communities with rising sea levels from Florida to Maine.
We know this warming is being fueled primarily by carbon pollution – and the largest single source of carbon pollution in America is our power plants – which produce 40 percent of emissions nationally. Currently, power plants face no federal limits on carbon pollution, so cleaning up our power plants is the biggest single step we can take in the near term to reduce carbon pollution and tackle global warming.
And right now, there are clear opportunities to do what is necessary to protect future generations.
Cleaning up the largest polluters and advancing clean energy solutions
The good news is that we know what we need to do to solve this problem and create a greener, healthier, more sustainable world for everyone.
In the short term, we can limit carbon from power plants and expand our use of clean energy. In the longer term, we can build enough wind farms and solar panels to replace the dirty coal and gas plants that are powering our homes, businesses and industries. We can make our homes and businesses so efficient that with solar panels on the roof, they can produce more energy than they use. We can re-build our communities so that we can walk, bike or take the bus to work. And we can build hyper-efficient and electric cars, so that when we do need to drive, we get 100 miles to the gallon or better.
A new path forward
On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a sweeping new Climate Action Plan. The centerpiece of his plan is directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single sources of carbon pollution, responsible for 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.
The president laid out the following timeline to finish the rules:
Sep 20, 2013: EPA proposes an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants. This rule, if finalized, would block the development of all new dirty coal plants.
June 1, 2014: EPA proposes a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants.
June 1, 2015: EPA finalizes limits for carbon pollution from existing power plants. At this point, the rule will be reviewed by Congress..
June 1, 2016: EPA requires final implementation plans from the states for their plans to meet the final rule.
This announcement was a hard-fought win – King Coal, Big Oil, and the rest of the dirty power industry bitterly opposed these rules, but we and our allies in the environmental and public health community had submitted more than 3.2 million public comments to the EPA in support of the rule to cut carbon pollution from new power plants, and have shown support from a broad array of powerful constituencies and stakeholders.
Additionally, President Obama’s plan does more to address global warming than limiting carbon pollution from power plants. It calls for increasing investment in the energy efficiency of our buildings, appliances, and heavy duty vehicles; expanding renewable energy production on public lands; equipping communities to better prepare for and respond to weather-related disasters; and rebuilding American leadership on the international stage on global warming.
Action in the states
The other good news is that long before President Obama’s plan, many states were filling the void on climate solutions left by congressional inaction. Six states now have statewide caps on carbon pollution and nine states from Maine to Maryland are participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which caps pollution from power plants in the region. Numerous other states have renewable energy standards and energy efficiency standards in place.
We’ve made huge strides in recent years and carbon pollution has already dropped 11 percent since its 2005 peak, but we’re still a long way from solving the climate crisis. Scientists say that developed countries such as the U.S. need to cut emissions of global warming pollution at least 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by at least 85 percent by 2050 in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.
Support a rule that says: "No new dirty power plants"
Dads wish President Obama a Happy Father's Day, and ask for action on global warming for their kids:
- Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy are already becoming more frequent and severe because of climate change, and 4 out of 5 Americans live in areas that were affected by weather-related disasters between 2007-2011.
- Average U.S. temperatures have increased by more than 2° Fahrenheit over the last 50 years, and 2012 was the hottest year on record. Temperatures are projected to rise by as much as an additional 7° F to 11° F on average by the end of the century, should emissions of global warming pollutants continue to increase.
- Carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels like coal and oil is the main cause of climate change, which increases the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events ranging from droughts and wildfires to hurricanes and severe flooding.
- In the absence of federal legislation, the United States could curb emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use by as much as 20% by 2020 and 34% by 2030 through state and local policies, and through key actions taken by the federal government.