Climate 411

The science is clear – climate change is causing more damaging hurricanes in Florida

Flooding in Tampa from Hurricane Idalia. Photo: Andrew Heneen, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

(This post was co-authored by EDF Senior Climate Scientist Ilissa Ocko)

Hurricanes are complicated, and their characteristics depend on a number of factors, which makes it difficult to tease out certain trends and predict the future. But what is scientifically clear is that human-caused climate change is a key reason that hurricanes are more destructive – especially in Florida.

Hurricanes are becoming stronger and faster. They are less predictable and thus more dangerous because there is less time to prepare and evacuate. Flooding from hurricanes is worsening due to higher sea level, more rainfall, and slower storm speeds. 

Florida has always been more vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms than any other U.S. state because its exposed, southern location is surrounded by warm waters. There are almost twice as many hurricanes that hit Florida as Texas, the second most impacted state. But shifting atmosphere and ocean conditions from climate change – caused by heat-trapping gases emitted from human activities – are making hurricane season even worse for Floridians. Here’s how:

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Posted in Basic Science of Global Warming, Extreme Weather, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Oceans, Science / Comments are closed

New carbon credit integrity guidelines could boost buyer confidence in agriculture

Voluntary carbon markets are a source of much-needed finance to help the agriculture sector realize its potential for climate mitigation. Still, carbon credit buyers face challenges in differentiating carbon credits that represent real and verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practices in a crowded marketplace. It takes due diligence to get this right, and changes are underway to make the process easier.  

New guidance on high-integrity carbon credits from an independent governance body has important implications for all credit categories, including those generated by the agricultural sector.   Read More »

Posted in Agriculture, Carbon Markets / Comments are closed

Latin America’s Climate Challenge, and Opportunity

This blog is co-authored by Sergio Sánchez, Senior Policy Director of Global Clean Air; Edgar Godoy, Associate Vice President of Jurisdictional Partnerships; Santiago Garcia, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Relationships Manager; and Erica Cunningham, AVP of Latin American Fisheries and Oceans.

Scene from the Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week 2023 opening ceremony. UNclimatechange via Flickr.

This week leaders and climate stakeholders from throughout Latin America are meeting in Panama to discuss climate action, and the strategies and finance needed to climate-proof the continent. It’s not an easy task in a region facing multiple challenges, from political instability to insecurity to stunted economic growth in many countries.

Climate change is already making life even more challenging for many vulnerable people in Latin American and Caribbean. Communities throughout the region are grappling with sea-level rise and extreme weather events that occur more frequently. The largely man-made destruction of natural resources, like the Amazon rainforest, will intensify the impacts of climate change, and the impact of climate change is creating further pressure in the ecosystems and their degradation. Yet enforcement of conservation efforts alone is not enough for a problem that is economic in nature.

Mitigation and adaptation strategies will look different from country to country in this highly diverse and mega biodiverse continent. However, they all share some common threads: the need for climate finance, capacity building, and technology transfer, among others.

The opportunity for climate action

A successful climate strategy for Latin America will also solve other problems. Efforts to conserve the region’s rich natural ecosystems must happen alongside efforts to safeguard vulnerable communities against climate impacts. At Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week, the region’s leaders and climate stakeholders will have the opportunity to collaborate and advance discussions on climate policies that address multiple issues for both mitigation and adaptation. Climate financing, both from rich countries and the private sector, will need to be scaled up for solutions to work.

EDF’s delegation at Climate Week will engage and collaborate with the region’s climate leaders from government, civil society, Indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders, on critical topics including clean air, forest conservation, food security, and resilient oceans and coastal communities.

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Posted in Carbon Markets, Extreme Weather, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Indigenous People, International, REDD+, United Nations / Comments are closed

Success of Hydrogen Hubs requires a step increase in transparency

This blog was co-authored with Erik Kamrath, Hydrogen Advocate, Climate and Clean Energy at NRDC and Pete Budden, Advocate, Climate and Clean Energy at NRDC. 

Photo of hydrogen tanks at sunrise

After much anticipation, President Biden and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced on October 13th the winners of the DOE hydrogen hub (H2Hub) program — a program intended to leverage networks of “hydrogen producers, consumers and local connective infrastructure to accelerate the use of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier.” The program will provide a $7 billion funding stream created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to be split between seven H2Hubs spanning 16 states. The projects will include a mixture of hydrogen produced with renewable energy, hydrogen derived from natural gas with carbon capture, and other fuel sources including nuclear power and biomass. H2Hubs will also house a diversity of hydrogen end-uses, including in heavy industrial processes and long-haul transportation.

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Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News / Comments are closed

Duke aims to miss state carbon reduction requirements in proposed Carbon Plan

Photo credit: Duke Energy via Creative Commons

To comply with its carbon-reduction laws on the books and support healthier communities, North Carolina should be shifting its electricity sources from coal to lower-cost clean energy. But in its latest plan presented to the NC Utilities Commission in August, Duke Energy proposed a coal-to-gas transition – a shift that offers North Carolina households and families higher levels of harmful air pollution and exposure to electricity price spikes via volatile natural gas costs, when compared to the clean energy alternative.

According to a law approved by overwhelming bi-partisan legislative majorities in 2021, North Carolina must reduce its carbon pollution from the power sector 70% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050, supporting a necessary, statewide shift to a clean energy economy. Much of the specifics around getting to those goals, however, are left to the NC Utilities Commission to determine with input from stakeholders and utilities. Duke Energy, the largest utility in North Carolina, plays a major role in achieving those goals, and it must regularly submit updated plans to the Commission outlining how it intends to meet them.

In its first Carbon Plan submitted last year, which detailed different approaches for meeting those goals, Duke also proposed a major build-out of new gas power plants. And again, in its latest Carbon Plan/Integrated Resource Plan (CPIRP), Duke doubled-down on a concerning portfolio that proposes to:

  1. Miss the critical 2030 70% carbon reduction goal.
  2. Almost triple the amount of new gas build out.
  3. Delay offshore wind construction until the 2040s.

Here’s why the NC Utilities Commission should push Duke to submit a stronger plan that prioritizes renewables, not gas, and actually gets the state on track to meet its goals.

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Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

New tool equips community voices to spur a just energy transition

Community Voices in Energy logo(This post originally appeared on EDF’s Energy Exchange)

Our new website, Community Voices in Energy — a collaboration with Chicago-based Blacks in Green — equips frontline communities to participate as experts in climate and energy proceedings and influence energy investments. By ensuring that community members are able to share their direct experience on the record in public utility commission hearings, the site helps utility regulators to make rulings that lead to a more equitable, healthy and affordable energy future.

Health and economy at stake

Communities located near polluting power plants experience more health problems, including high rates of asthma and lung disease. They also have less wealth, in part because of lower property values and unaffordable energy rates. Yet frontline, BIPOC and low-income communities have historically been excluded from energy regulatory and legal decision-making spaces that directly impact their quality of life.

Energy is among the largest sources of man-made climate pollution in the world, and energy solutions that benefit communities will also be healthier for the climate. A just transition requires equitable distribution of the benefits of clean energy to communities that have been left behind in the past.

A solution emerges in Illinois

In Illinois, regulators this year alone are considering $1.8 billion in rate hike requests from utilities, much of which will repair and extend systems that would lock in fossil-powered energy for generations to come. But cleaner, more affordable, solutions are available.

Environmental Defense Fund, Blacks in Green, and Citizens Utility Board pioneered the idea of bringing community experts into energy proceedings to provide testimony that could be entered into the legal record on which all commission decisions must be based. In a 2022 decision, the Illinois Commerce Commission explicitly acknowledged that EDF and partners raised its awareness that environmental justice communities experienced longer and more frequent power outages than wealthier Chicago communities, while also having fewer resources to recover from disruptions. As a result, the Commission required the utility to address system disparities, rather than only measuring their system as a whole.

Family staring at wind turbines with a sunset

Community Voices in Energy website drives energy justice

Our Illinois win encouraged us to expand our work and develop the Community Voices in Energy website, so that our community-centered approach can be replicated and spread around the country. Community expert contributors helped to shape the trainings offered on the website to enable meaningful participation in cases, and we developed the Energy Justice Intervenor certification program to support them.

With tools to frame what a just energy system is and how to get involved, the Community Voices in Energy website equips community members to advocate for a more just and equitable system. Including lived experiences at the forefront of big energy decisions will speed the transition to an equitable, affordable, clean, and healthy energy future for everyone.

Since our launch, we have already heard from federal energy regulators and from other states where energy proceedings threaten to lock in high rates and fossil energy at a moment where we must urgently transition to a clean energy. The new Community Voices in Energy website, and the movement it supports, give hope for our energy future.

Posted in Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Health, News, Partners for Change / Comments are closed