Green Economy and Climate Attitudes
Green Economy Adaptation: On June 20, 2011 Oxfam released a report, “Adapting For A Green Economy; Companies, Communities and Climate Change.” Based on results from a 2010 survey of corporate signatories to the United Nations Global Compact and the United Nations Environment Programme Caring for Climate initiative, the report shows the business perspective for private sector adaptation to climate change in ways that build the resilience of vulnerable communities in developing countries. Addressing the adaptation needs of vulnerable communities at the scale that is necessary will require unprecedented levels of cooperation, collaboration and resource mobilization among governments, businesses, civil society groups and communities themselves. It is hoped that the report’s findings will be useful for a much wider range of actors as well, including small, local businesses in developing countries that are on the front line of climate impacts; civil society organizations seeking to strengthen their work around climate change and sustainable development; and subnational policymakers, who are in a key position to shape a productive interface among government, communities and businesses.
Green Jobs: On June 15, 2011 Blue Green Alliance released a report, “Gauging Growth: The Freight Rail Supply Chain and Job-Creation Potential.” It states the rail industry has nearly doubled the amount of goods it has shipped without increasing fuel consumption over the past three decades, and creates a fraction of the pollution of other transport modes such as trucking and aviation. Its continued growth will generate green jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil and contribute to solving climate change. As the U.S. economy gets back on track, freight movement will expand, requiring corresponding infrastructure investment. By growing capacity, the freight rail industry can seize significant opportunities to meet projected demand for shipping cargo, save energy, reduce pollution and create tens of thousands of new jobs throughout the economy.
Climate Change: On June 16, 2011 Clean Air-Cool Planet released a report , “Preparing for the Changing Climate: a Northeast-Focused Needs Assessment” – the first region-wide snapshot that includes information from regional, state and local governments on how communities in the Northeastern U. S. are preparing for a changing climate — and what resources and assistance they need to succeed. The study is based on direct outreach to over 200 communities from Maine to New Jersey, including survey responses from 34 local governments, 6 regional governments, and 8 state agencies.
Mercury Pollution: On June 14, 2011 the Sierra Club released a study, “National Study of Hispanics on Environmental Issues” which emphasized Latinos are at a higher risk for mercury pollution. The study findings revealed that many are not aware of any of toxic sites close to their home or workplace. It is also important to note that fifty one percent of the study respondents replied that polluted air and water is a top environmental problem.
Climate Investor Group Survey: On June 13, 2011 Ceres released a report, “2010 Global Investor Survey On Climate Change.” The report provides an overview of the investment practices of investors around the world relating to their actions on climate change, in addition to presenting a selection of case studies.
Better Buildings Initiative: On June 13, 2011 US Green Building Council and the National Resources Defense Council released a joint report, “A New Retrofit Industry: An Analysis Of The Job Creation Potential Of Tax Incentives For Energy Efficiency In Commercial Buildings And Other Components Of The Better Buildings Initiative.” In February, President Obama announced the Better Buildings Initiative (BBI) – a suite of legislative proposals and executive actions aimed at reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings by twenty percent by the year 2020. In order the pursue the shared agenda of improving energy efficiency in commercial and multifamily buildings, US Green Building Council (USGBC), Real Estate Roundtable (RER), and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) commissioned the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) to conduct an analysis of the Better Buildings Initiative and assess its potential to create jobs. Chief amongst the potential job creators is the redesign of the tax deduction for energy efficiency commercial buildings as proposed by USGBC, RER, and NRDC, followed by a loan guarantee program for financing retrofits and the grant programs of the BBI.
Drivers of Deforestation : On June 8th 2011 the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report “The Root of the Problem—Drivers of Deforestation: What is driving tropical deforestation today?” which discusses various economic agents, otherwise known as “drivers”, of forest degradation and deforestation, both which are important sources of global warming pollution, as well as threats to biodiversity and to the livelihoods of forest peoples. The drivers of deforestation differ by region. Reducing growth in demand for commodities that drive deforestation in addition to increasing the productivity of currently-used lands and directing agricultural expansion into grasslands rather than forests are essential for future success. If recent successes, such as pressure to change the soybean industry in Brazil, can be duplicated in other tropical countries, we can envision the end of deforestation in the next few decades.
Mercury Falling: On June 21, 2011 American Progress released a brief “Mercury Falling: Many Power Plants Already Have Equipment to Slash Mercury, Toxic Contamination.” In March the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to dramatically reduce the mercury, lead, acid gases, and other toxics from more than 400 plants in 46 states. The briefing compiles various reports and data tables relevant to the recent Environmental Protection Agency Mercury Hearings. The brief concludes with an urgency to issue and enforce air toxic safeguards to protect children, seniors, and other Americans from cancer-causing and smog-forming pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Air Toxics Standard: On June 14, 2011 the Economic Policy Institute released a report “A Lifesaver, Not a Job Killer EPA’s Proposed “Air Toxics Rule” is No Threat to Job Growth”, which explains that the air toxics rule will not deter job growth. The EPA explored two sectors, changes in employment in the directly regulated industry (utilities), and the increased demand for labor directly stemming from the construction and installation of pollution abatement and control (PAC) equipment. The report details several major findings such as: modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015, between 81,000 and 101,000 jobs in the pollution abatement and control industry, and assuming a re-spending multiplier of 0.5, and since the net impact of the above impacts is positive, another 9,000 to 53,000 jobs would be created through re-spending. Specifically, the EPA that adoption of the proposed toxics rule would lead to the following outcomes: 6,800 to 17,000 lives saved, 11,000 fewer heart attacks, 12,200 fewer hospital and emergency room visits, 225,000 fewer cases of respiratory symptoms, and 850,000 more work days.
Electric Power Sector: On June 13, 2011 the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report “Environmental Regulation and Electric System Reliability” which summarizes the current state of knowledge about challenges facing the electric power sector as it seeks to maintain reliability without jeopardizing important process on public health and environmental protections. This study finds that impacts on the reliability of the electric system due to EPA regulations are manageable and there are tools available at the federal, state, and local levels to address localized reliability risks. While recognizing the political difficulties, the report states that there may be an opportunity to enact legislation that could guarantee the environmental benefits of the Clean Air Act and provide a lower cost transition for the power sector.
Renewable Energy Paves Pathway for Green Economy: On June 16, 2011 the Next Economy Partnership Project recently completed a national survey “Energy Findings in the Latest Next Economy Poll” of 2012 likely voters, building on focus group research conducted over the preceding six months, focused on the economic challenges facing the country. The organizations hoped to gain a better understanding of how Americans view today’s economy and how they believe our country can best address the rapidly changing global economy it faces. The survey was divided into the following section: current views of economy reveal deep discontent and uncertainty, understanding how voters measure economic success, the power of bottom-up growth and success stories, focus on oil companies a double-edged sword, energy solutions among most popular economic policies, and further energy solutions on the horizon. Voters still strongly support new energy solutions — which they see as key to creating jobs and restoring America’s economy.
Public Support for Environmental Protection Agency: On June 16, 2011 a nationwide, bipartisan survey conducted by The American Lung Association showed that Americans across the country are overwhelmingly supportive of the Environmental Protection Agency and their efforts to update standards for life-threatening air pollutants.
Climate Change Beliefs and Attitudes: In May 2011 the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication released a joint survey “Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in May 2011” This survey found a majority of Americans want more action to address global warming from corporations (65%), citizens themselves (63%), the U.S. Congress (57%), President Obama (54%), as well as their own state and local officials. Seventy one percent of Americans say global warming should be a very high (13%), high (27%), or medium (31%) priority for the president and Congress, including 50 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Independents and 88 percent of Democrats. 91 percent of Americans say developing sources of clean energy should be a very high (32%), high (35%), or medium (24%) priority for the president and Congress, including 85 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents, and 97 percent of Democrats.