Global Warming Solutions

“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”

- Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee

The last generation

Years ago, many of us thought of global warming as something that would happen “someday.” As it turns out, “someday” is right now.

Since 2001, we’ve experienced 15 of the 16 warmest years on record — including 2015, the hottest year ever recorded. As the oceans warm, we’re learning that it’s no longer a question of if the Antarctic ice sheet will melt, but how fast.

We’re fast approaching the point when scientists say climate change could tip toward catastrophe, with sea levels rising faster along our coasts, storms growing more powerful, and droughts and other forms of extreme weather more disruptive.

Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky/Bigstock

Of course, nobody wants to leave the next generation a world where heat waves, floods, droughts and worse are everyday events in an increasingly dangerous world.

If we accept, as we must, the broad scientific consensus that human pollution is accelerating these changes, then this is our challenge: stop putting carbon into the atmosphere, increase our energy efficiency, and repower our society with clean, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

The good news is that solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency not only reduce carbon pollution. They also clean up our air, reduce asthma attacks, and promote energy independence.

 

Credit: Mavrick/Shutterstock

The Clean Power Plan

In Washington, D.C., President Obama has demonstrated strong leadership on this issue. For example, in June 2014 he moved forward with what The New York Times called “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.”

The president’s Clean Power Plan would limit — for the first time ever — carbon pollution from dirty power plants.

Why power plants? The country’s more than 500 coal-fired power plants are America’s No. 1 source of global warming pollution — even bigger than cars and trucks.

In fact, the Clean Power Plan would cut this pollution at least 30 percent by the end of the next decade. By giving the states the option to replace dirty coal plants with wind, solar and energy efficiency, it also has the potential to speed the shift to clean power. And the plan is an essential part of the success of the Paris Agreement, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, which was signed by 195 countries in December 2015.

Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

More than 8 million supporters

A recent poll shows that 2/3 of all Americans back the Clean Power Plan. Americans have submitted more than 8 million comments asking the EPA to take action on the issue. More than 600,000 of these comments have come from our members and supporters.

Unfortunately, in February 2016, the Supreme Court delivered a major blow to climate action, announcing it will put the Clean Power Plan on hold while it hears lawsuits from polluters and their allies who want to kill the plan. This decision is a huge loss for our kids’ future and for all Americans who care about the health of our planet. 

The actions the United States has taken to date are necessary — but not yet sufficient — to prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures. In order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) — the international consensus target for preventing the worst consequences of warming — the U.S. must cut emissions at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by mid-century.

Leaders at all levels of government across the United States must follow through with existing commitments to reduce pollution. Leaders at all levels of government should identify and pursue new policies to cut pollution. And the U.S. must play a leadership role in the global movement to limit global warming.

Credit: Staff

Protect our children's future

As Gov. Inslee pointed out, global warming is the challenge of our generation.

Protecting our children’s future requires us to stop dumping carbon into our atmosphere, and there’s no better place to start than with America’s No. 1 global warming polluters. 

Issue updates

Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Summer on the Road: Going Further on a Gallon of Gas

As summer approaches, the dangers of our continued dependence on oil are apparent everywhere we look. Our oil dependence risks our environment to disasters like oil spills, endangers our climate with the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution from oil consumption each year, and threatens our families’ health.  If our cars and trucks today met the proposed 54.5 mpg standard, Pennsylvanians would cut gasoline consumption by 603 million gallons over the course of this summer, slashing global warming pollution by more than 5.3 million metric tons and saving consumers over $2.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Clean Cars Triple Win Would Save Pennsylvanians $2.3 billion this Summer

As Pennsylvanians get ready for summer road trips, a PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center report finds that cleaner, more fuel efficient cars would significantly slash oil consumption and global warming pollution across the state. The report, Summer on the Road: Going Farther on a Gallon of Gas, was released as the Obama administration is on the verge of finalizing fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for cars and light trucks that achieve a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Obama Administration to Protect Americans’ Health by Setting Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed historic new limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.  Carbon pollution fuels global warming, which leads to poor air quality that triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. 

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

9 out of 10 Pennsylvanians Live in Areas Hit by Recent Weather Disasters

After a year that saw many parts of hit by severe storms and record flooding, a new PennEnvironment report documents how global warming could lead to certain extreme weather events becoming even more common or more severe in the future.   The report found that, already, more than 9 out of 10 Pennsylvanians live in counties affected by federally declared weather-related disasters since 2006.

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Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

In the Path of the Storm

Weather disasters kill or injure hundreds of Americans each year and cause billions of dollars in economic damage. The risks posed by some types of weather-related disasters will likely increase in a warming world. Scientists have already detected increases in extreme precipitation events and heat waves in the United States, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently concluded that global warming will likely lead to further changes in weather extremes.

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