Clean Energy Policies are Cutting Carbon Pollution

Environment America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the authoritative international body of climate scientists prepares to release the latest, and by all accounts most alarming, assessment of climate impacts, evidence is growing that the U.S. already has the tools in place to tackle global warming. Clean energy policies, such as standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, are leading to big reductions of carbon pollution – the leading cause of global warming – according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center.

The report, Moving America Forward, showed that clean energy policies have reduced U.S. carbon pollution by the equivalent of 34 million passenger vehicles.

“By using energy more efficiently and by generating more power from clean, renewable sources, states are delivering a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Julian Boggs, federal global warming program director with Environment America. “They’re proving that we have what it takes to protect our children and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We will need firm limits on carbon pollution from power plants in order to deliver a knockout blow.”

Scientists say extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy and the historic drought in California foreshadows what could be a new normal that could threaten our children and future generations if we fail to limit the pollution fueling global warming.

“Science shows us the danger of climate change. Economics shows the opportunity of climate solutions. Now we must press forward on the politics,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, who recently joined 30 other U.S. Senators in an all-night talkathon on the Senate floor. “We must support President Obama and EPA Administrator McCarthy in cutting carbon pollution from power plants. We must support the extension of wind and other clean energy tax credits. We must win this fight to protect people and the planet.”

Coal- and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, accounting for about 40 percent of total emissions.

Environment America pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Right now EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants – but not carbon pollution.

Key findings from the Environment America Research & Policy Center report include:

  • Renewable electricity standards have helped states develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as 12.5 million cars produce in a year.
  • Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as 12.9 million cars produce in a year.
  • Limits on carbon pollution from power plants would build on states’ success in using wind, solar, and energy efficiency to reduce carbon pollution.

Boggs pointed to opposition from power companies, the coal industry, and other big polluters as a roadblock to action. Already, groups from the American Petroleum Institute to the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits.

“With enough willpower, the U.S. can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round,” Boggs concluded. “Our leaders can start by rejecting attacks from polluters and supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.”