Category Archives: Climate Change

Biden Marks 50th Anniversary of Earth Day: ‘Meeting the Threat of Climate Change is not Beyond our Skill’

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Vice President Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic candidate for president, stated, “Earth Day began as a day of organizing that demonstrated the power of community action. This year, it’s also a reminder of everything that’s on the line if we do not get Donald Trump out of the White House and restore critically needed American leadership to the global climate fight, and to clean and protect our air, water, and land. If we give Trump four more years in office at this critical juncture for our planet, there may be no recovering from the damage his dangerous dismissal of science and short-sightedness will inflict on all of us.”© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Vice President Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic candidate for president, stated, “Earth Day began as a day of organizing that demonstrated the power of community action. This year, it’s also a reminder of everything that’s on the line if we do not get Donald Trump out of the White House and restore critically needed American leadership to the global climate fight, and to clean and protect our air, water, and land. If we give Trump four more years in office at this critical juncture for our planet, there may be no recovering from the damage his dangerous dismissal of science and short-sightedness will inflict on all of us.”

Here is his full statement:

Fifty years ago, the first Earth Day took place against a backdrop of unfettered pollution filling our skies, rivers so poisonous they caught fire, unregulated use of pesticides, and threats to the livability of our planet. But in a moment of choice, Americans all across this country took action. On April 22, 1970, 20 million people turned out to educate their communities and protest the degradation of our planet, launching the modern environmental movement.

It wasn’t a partisan issue. It wasn’t some ideological debate. Everyone could see that our planet was in peril. And by acting together, those activists seized the attention and the imagination of people all over the world, as well as leaders in Washington. Out of that first Earth Day came the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a new mindset that awakened all of us to our responsibilities beyond just the world we leave our children—to ensuring that our one planet will provide for generations unborn.

This year, Earth Day comes amid global crises: the difficult, immediate, and undeniable reality of pandemic disease, and the existential threat of climate change—which we are already experiencing and which threatens equally deadly results in the near future if we fail to act. COVID-19 and the climate emergency both underscore the fragility of life on this planet, the connections that bind us to our fellow humans, and the responsibility we all have to meet these global threats with urgent action, ambitious plans, and every tool at our disposal.

That’s the responsibility I feel every time I look at my grandchildren and see their unlimited potential. Or when I hear from young activists who understand that inaction today is costing their futures. Today’s young people carry the same fierce spirit as those first Earth Day activists, and they are the reason I know we will succeed in spurring the world to finally raise our ambitions to meet the seriousness of this threat.

This is an inflection point. A moment for all of us to come together to repair the damage to our environment caused by centuries of poorly regulated industrialization. But out of this crisis, we can also seize a moment of unmatched opportunity—to build a new, clean-energy future that remakes our economy, creates millions of good jobs that provide an opportunity to join a union, and revolutionizes our approach to environmental justice. To invest in a green infrastructure. To develop the technologies that will power tomorrow. To strengthen our resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change that we are already experiencing. To clean the air we breath and the water we drink. To revitalize our ocean and preserve our biodiversity. To deliver to our children and future generations a planet that will continue to protect and nurture them.

Meeting the threat of climate change is not beyond our skill, if we are guided by science and facts. We are not helpless. We can still forestall the worst-case scenarios that the scientists have warned us about for decades—but only if we act now. If we do not take aggressive steps to rein in our greenhouse gasses, and put our world on a radically different path by 2030, we will begin to see irrevocable changes that will threaten human life on Earth.

Yet, since almost the day he took office, President Donald Trump has done everything within his power to worsen the situation, sabotage our environmental protection laws and let polluters go unchecked, and reverse any progress on climate change—not just in the United States, but around the world. He denies the facts in front of his face as well as the assessments of his own intelligence analysts and government researchers. He muzzles scientists, censors research, and overruled California’s efforts to lead on climate in the absence of the federal government. He has rolled back nearly 100 commonsense regulations and functionally rescinded environmental laws governing our health and safety — air pollution went up in 2017 and 2018 after decades of improvement, and Trump has stripped protections that keep our drinking water safe. He pulled out of the Paris Agreement and left a literal empty chair where the United States should have been at the most recent G-7 meeting on climate change.

Earth Day began as a day of organizing that demonstrated the power of community action. This year, it’s also a reminder of everything that’s on the line if we do not get Donald Trump out of the White House and restore critically needed American leadership to the global climate fight, and to clean and protect our air, water, and land. If we give Trump four more years in office at this critical juncture for our planet, there may be no recovering from the damage his dangerous dismissal of science and short-sightedness will inflict on all of us.

Biden: 9-Point Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution

Vice President Joe Biden presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, presented a 9-point plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, in stark contrast to Trump’s efforts to roll back climate actions and reignite oil, gas, coal industries over clean, renewable energy. This is from the Biden campaign:

President Trump has spent his presidency ignoring the experts and scientists, reversing the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to address climate change, abandoning communities and workers, and blocking states and cities trying to lead— going backwards, all while we should have been doing even more.
 
On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be 9 years left to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate immediately and ambitiously, because there’s no time to waste.
 
Here are 9 key elements of Joe Biden’s plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice:
 
1) Take executive action on Day 1 to not just reverse all of the damage Trump has done, but go further and faster. Day 1 of the Biden Administration is going to be very busy! To immediately make progress on his climate agenda, Biden will take actions including requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations; developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles; protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters; and banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters.
 
2) Work with Congress to enact in 2021, President Biden’s first year in office, legislation that, by the end of his first term, puts us on an irreversible path to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The legislation must require polluters to bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting.
 
3) Rally the world to urgent and additional action. We know we cannot solve this emergency on our own: the United States accounts for only 15% of global emissions. On Day 1, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. But we must go further. In his first 100 days in office, Biden will convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made. Biden will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.
 
4) Make a historic investment in clean energy and innovation. Biden will invest $400 billion over ten years, as one part of a broad mobilization of public investment, in clean energy and innovation. That investment is twice the investment of the Apollo program which put a man on the moon, in today’s dollars. He will also establish ARPA-C, a new research agency focused on accelerating climate technologies.
 
5) Accelerate the deployment of clean technology throughout our economy. Creating the best, most innovative clean technology in the world is not enough. We also need to make sure it is used by households and industry in order to achieve aggressive emissions reductions. Biden will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. He will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030. And, Biden will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone.
 
6) Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies. Everyone is already feeling the effects of climate change. But the impacts of climate change (and inaction on climate change) – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. The coronavirus pandemic, which early data suggests is linked to air pollution that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities, is shining new light on this reality. Biden will make it a priority for all federal agencies — and hold them accountable for results — to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.
 
7) Hold polluters accountable. On Day 1, Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. In his first year, he’ll work to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. But that’s not all: Biden will direct his EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time when merited. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. These companies must be accountable to the American people, the communities where they operate, and the workers they employ.
 
8) Create 10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs. Every federal dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden Administration will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand the impacts of this climate crisis. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Biden will ensure his infrastructure legislation incorporates labor provisions so federal investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting workers across industries.
 
9) Fulfill our obligation to the communities and workers that have risked their lives to produce fossil fuels that made it possible for America to win world wars and become an industrial power. Biden will stand with communities and workers impacted by the changing energy market, including by increasing coal companies’ payments into the black lung benefits program, reforming the black lung benefits system so it is no longer rigged in favor of coal companies who can hire lawyers and doctors to ensure miners’ benefits are denied, expanding efforts to help miners detect black lung cases earlier and access care, and enforcing regulations to reduce cases of black lung in the first place. Biden will also establish a task force to help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll, and keep local hospitals open.
 
Read Biden’s full climate and environmental justice plan at joebiden.com/climate

Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Plan to Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 

Capitalists are actually much more responsive to the public will than lawmakers – which may not be saying much. But as the United Nations Climate Summit demonstrated, corporations and the financial institutions that fund them are becoming more conscious of climate change. Even former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has become an advocate for climate action. More investors are factoring in the cost of climate disasters as well as the change to agriculture, human productivity and health, availability of resources including potable water. Still, corporations that are wedded to the status quo and an economy and society oriented around fossil fuels and intense carbon emissions, that don’t respect air and water quality, need a nudge. Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis.

Climate change poses a systemic risk to the health and stability of our financial system,” Senator Warren stated. “And yet, Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. My plan to Stop Wall Street From Financing the Climate Crisis is just the first step to ensuring our financial system is ensured against the worst effects of climate change and Wall Street stops financing the climate crisis.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis. Elizabeth’s plan will limit and manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change, instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. 
 
Elizabeth rang the alarm in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. She is sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again as we face the existential threat of our time: climate change.  It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. 

As President, Elizabeth Warren will:

Direct the Federal Reserve to invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their exposure to climate-related risks.
 

Treat climate change as the systemic risk to our financial system that it is and use existing financial regulations to push the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate.
 

Go beyond her Climate Risk Disclosure Plan by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. 
 

Elizabeth will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
 

Fight for pensions by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 

Hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities — by working with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. 
 

Elizabeth will also investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects.
 

Transition us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history. As part of that transition, she will announce her choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And she will staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day.
 

Work with international allies by:
 

Advocating for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System
 

Requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. 
 

Dedicating $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home under the Green Marshall Plan.
 

Ending all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. 
 

Committing to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.

Read the plan here and below: 
 
Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis 
 
I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 financial crisis growing, I rang the alarm as loud as I could. But the people with the power to stop the crisis didn’t listen — not enough of them anyway. Not the banks, not Alan Greenspan or other federal regulators, not Congress. And when the financial crisis hit in 2008, working families lost it all while the big banks that broke the economy got a fat taxpayer bailout. 
 
And once again, as we face the existential threat of our time –– climate change –– Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. 
 
Climate change threatens our financial system in two ways. First, it poses a physical risk to property as climate-fueled extreme weather events — floods, hurricanes, wildfires — become more and more frequent. Second, it poses transition risks to our economy: investments in the fossil fuel industry may abruptly lose value as we transition to a clean economy, posing risks of financial crisis and destabilization. If we remain on a pathway to 2°C of warming (right now we’re on track for roughly 3°C of warming), the costs to the financial system could reach as much as $69 trillion by 2100. Other estimates put the global economic losses caused by climate change at $23 trillion –– still roughly three or four times the scale of the 2008 crisis.
 
It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. In fact, many of the largest banks and asset managers have actually increased their holdings of fossil fuel assets since the Paris Agreement was signed. And in the two years immediately after the Paris Agreement was adopted, the six largest U.S. bank investors in fossil fuels companies loaned, underwrote, or otherwise financed over $700 billion for fossil fuel companies. Wall Street banks are making a quick buck accelerating climate change, all while communities across the country are suffering from the lasting impacts of industrial pollution and the increasingly devastating effects of climate change. 
 
There has been some movement by big financial firms. A recently leaked report from J.P. Morgan — the world’s largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies — stated that the climate crisis could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.” Late last year, Goldman Sachs announced that it will spend $750 billion over ten years on sustainable finance projects, restrict financing to all new oil production and exploration in the Arctic, and impose stricter lending requirements for coal companies. And in a letter to investors earlier this year, Blackrock –– the world’s largest asset manager –– announced that it will exit investments with high environmental risk, like thermal coal, and launch new investment products that screen for fossil fuels. While these actions are a small step in the right direction, they are long overdue given the relative impact the financial industry has had on the climate crisis — and they’re not enough to protect us from a climate-fueled financial collapse, either. 
 
We will not defeat the climate crisis if we have to wait for the financial industry to self-regulate or come forward with piecemeal voluntary commitments. Winning a Green New Deal and achieving 100% clean energy for our global economy –– or enacting any of my 13 plans to defeat the climate crisis –– will be near impossible so long as large financial institutions are allowed to freely underwrite investments in dirty fossil fuels. 
 
This ends when I am president. A Warren administration will act decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to millions of Americans. We can make the financial system work for good as we transition to 100% clean energy, but first, we have to change the way Wall Street is currently doing business. 
 
Use existing financial regulations to tackle climate change because it is a systemic risk to our financial system
 
Foreign financial regulators understand that the climate crisis poses serious risks to the financial system. European regulators are warning of a “green swan” event that could trigger a climate change-driven financial crisis. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the Governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy warned that climate change poses a “catastrophic effect” to the global economy that could lead to “a sudden collapse in asset prices” similar to the to the 2008 financial crisis, and has urged central banks, such as the Federal Reserve Board, to play a much larger role in tackling the crisis. 
 
I am sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again –– just as I did in the lead up to the 2008 financial crash. 
 
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was our country’s response to the 2008 crisis. It included tools that our federal regulators could use to protect the safety and soundness of our financial system. Regulators should use those tools now to address the systemic risk that climate change poses.
 
Specifically, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) –– a body created by Dodd-Frank to bring together heads of financial regulatory agencies to assess threats across jurisdictions and markets –– should carefully examine the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate. And the Federal Reserve should invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards and margin requirement, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial institutions based on their climate-related risks.
 
By using the authorities Congress has already given them, federal regulators can mitigate the climate-related risk in our financial system and help accelerate the transition towards a clean energy economy.
 
Increase corporate accountability through the Securities & Exchange Commission
 
Publicly traded companies, including big banks, have an obligation to share important information about their business. But right now, these companies don’t share much about how climate change might affect their business, their customers, and their investors. 
 
That’s a problem in two ways. First, there are a lot of companies that could be badly hurt by the likely environmental effects of climate change, and their financial implications such as stranded assets, and supply-chain risk. We’ve already seen how record storms, flooding, and wildfires can cause billions of dollars in damage. Second, global efforts to combat climate change will have an enormous impact on certain types of companies, particularly those in the energy sector. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures found that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly affordable deployment of clean energy technology could have “significant, near-term financial implications” for Big Oil and fossil fuel companies.
 
My Climate Risk Disclosure plan addresses these problems by requiring companies to publicly disclose both of these types of climate-related risks. It directs the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. My plan also requires the SEC to tailor these disclosure requirements for specific industries so that, for instance, fossil fuel companies will have to make even more detailed disclosures.
 
But disclosure is just the first step. There is more the SEC can do to ensure companies are more accurately accounting for climate risk, which is why a Warren administration will go further by strengthening SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. My administration will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. And a Warren administration will work with the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to impose process standards — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
 
Protect Pensions 
 
For the millions of public school teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other state and federal public employees who spend their careers in service to our government, pension funds provide a shot at a decent retirement. Most simply, pensions are deferred wages for our public employees. And yet today, our pension systems are failing our public employees. That’s in part because they are invested in fossil fuels –– leaving all the risk of fossil fuel investments in hard working Americans’ retirement accounts. 
 
One recent analysis found that pension funds would be significantly more successful without risky fossil investments. California’s $238 billion state teachers retirement fund CalSTRS –– which serves nearly a million public school teachers –– would have earned an additional $5.5 billion over ten years without its fossil fuel investments. And Colorado’s state pension fund PERA –– which serves 600,000 current and former teachers, state troopers, corrections officers, and other public employees –– would have earned almost $2 billion more in value. This matters for hard-working pension-holders: investments in fossil fuels over the last 10 years have lost many of California’s public school teachers $5,572 each, and cost many of Colorado’s public employees $2,900 each. And yet, despite calls from environmentalists to divest from fossil fuels, in January of this year CalSTRS rejected divestment, claiming it would have a “lasting negative impact on the health of the fund.” 
 
As president, I will fight for every person’s pension, because every American deserves the right to retire with dignity after spending their career in service of our local, state and federal government. A Warren administration would explicitly state policy preferences for limiting climate risk, beginning with divestment from fossil fuels and prioritizing investments in environmental, social and governance (ESG) options. And I would go further by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
 
And, as a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy –– and as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality. 
 
Ensure insurers accurately price climate risk 
 
Insurers are the financial intermediaries most directly exposed to climate change’s risks because their core business requires them to underwrite damages on physical property. As the climate crisis accelerates the size and scale of disasters, the models that insurers have long relied on are increasingly unpredictable, generating unprecedented losses. In 2017 and 2018 alone, insurance companies paid out an estimated $219 billion in natural disaster-related claims –– the highest for any two-year period in history. One California-based insurer filed for bankruptcy after it couldn’t pay out the millions it owed policyholders whose homes had been destroyed in California’s Camp Fire.
 
But despite insurance companies knowing the size of the climate risk — they literally write it into their risk models — still they fan the flames of the climate crisis by underwriting the fossil fuel companies behind the crisis. Large insurers had over $500 billion in fossil fuel-related investments as of 2016. And of the combined $15 trillion in assets managed by the world’s 80 largest insurers, an average of only one percent is allocated to low-carbon investments. If insurers stopped providing insurance for coal-fired power plants it would be nearly impossible to secure financing for new power plants.
 
Instead of halting the effects of climate change, insurers are passing on the high prices to consumers — or foregoing offering protection to vulnerable Americans altogether. In some places, insurance companies are pulling out of areas entirely, leaving consumers exposed. For example, the number of new and renewed homeowners’ insurance policies fell by 8,700 in California counties at greatest risk for wildfires. But some insurance providers will still write policies in vulnerable areas, ratcheting up the monthly prices consumers pay to counterbalance their increased risk. Premiums rose in every single state in the nation over the past decade, with states in tornado alley experiencing the highest jumps by an average of over $500. And private companies are taking advantage of the price increases: the number of private flood insurers has more than doubled since 2016, and they’ve taken in an additional half a billion in premiums since the prior year.
 
It’s time to hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities. I’ll work with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. I’ll investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel projects. I’ll push the SEC to require insurance companies to show that they have evaluated climate-related risks in their underwriting processes and in their reserves. I will reform the National Flood Insurance Program by making it easier for existing residents to move out of flood-prone properties – both inland and coastal – including a program to buy back those properties from low-income homeowners at market value. And within my first term I will ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps are fully updated, so that we can raise the standard for new construction through the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.
 
Personnel is Policy
 
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, economic leaders from across the world highlighted the vital need to include climate risks in economic analysis. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin found himself in a minority of one, arguing that costs were being overestimated when considering the impacts of climate change. Either he’s uninformed or he’s lying: study after study shows that we are drastically underestimating the cost of the climate crisis. 
 
I have often said that personnel is policy. The regulators in charge of protecting the American people need to understand the risk that the climate crisis poses to our entire financial system — and the millions whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why I will appoint at every level of the system financial regulators committed to holding financial institutions accountable for climate risk. Here’s what that means:  

I will appoint a Treasury Secretary who — unlike Steven Mnuchin — believes in the power of markets to help defeat the climate crisis: because right now, research in both of those fields shows how vital it is that we expose the climate risk. 
 

I’ll appoint financial regulators — including Federal Reserve governors, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioners, and leadership of every other agency represented on the Financial Stability Oversight Council — who understand the clear threat climate change poses to our financial system and who implement policy that addresses financial institutions’ exposure to climate risks and hold them accountable to addressing.
 

I’ve already pledged to appoint an SEC chair who will use all existing tools to require robust disclosure of climate-related risks. I’ll also appoint SEC commissioners who will manage the threat climate change poses to the economy by pushing for corporate disclosure of climate risk and a shift of finances away from fossil fuels. 

The size and the scope of the risk that climate poses to our financial system requires immediate action. I’ve committed to transitioning us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern history, so that we can begin tackling the urgent challenges ahead on Day One. As part of that transition, I will announce my choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And I’ll staff all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day — so that we can begin de-risking our financial system from the moment I’m in office. 
 
Work with international allies
 
One of the next catastrophic global financial crises may well be caused by the growing climate crisis. The 2008 recession proved how financial crises are no longer isolated: their impact echoes across countries. That’s why addressing the financial risks of the climate crisis is an international issue. But the United States isn’t just lagging behind other countries on addressing the climate risk: right now, we’re not even in the same league. 
 
Leaders across the globe recognize the risk that the climate crisis poses to their financial systems: environmental concerns make up the top five long-term global economic risks for leaders surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2020. Manymany other countries have not only recognized the risk but are already taking steps to address it. The President of the European Central Bank has called for climate change to be an “essential part of monetary policymaking,” and the Bank of England has introduced stress tests to assess the UK financial system’s exposure to climate-linked financial risks. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his fossil fuel cronies are letting the U.S. fall behind, putting the financial well-being of millions of Americans at risk. 
 
A Warren Administration will work with international allies to build a more resilient financial and environmental future for our planet. And I’ll use every tool in the box to build that world. As President I’ll advocate for the Federal Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial System. As we transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the United States should be a leader on the global stage, and having a seat at the table is the first step. As part of my New Approach to Trade, I will require implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. My Green Marshall Plan will dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home. And we should end all American support for international oil and gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We should also commit to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead. Our efforts should be dedicated to accelerating the global transition to clean energy.

NYS Makes $4.3 Million in Grants to Reduce Food Waste, Help Hungry New Yorkers & Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Following a Gold Coast International Film Festival screening of the documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste,” panelelists discussed the issue of food waste, how it directly contributes to climate change, and what the state, local community and individuals can do to help solve one of the greatest problems of the 21st century. The panel consisted of Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO of Island Harvest, Halie Meyers chief of staff representing NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky and NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright. Not shown, Kendrick Repko, Brand Lead, Sustainable Retailing for Stop & Shop. The documentary, from executive producer Anthony Bourdain, gives persuasive argument and offers realistic solutions for changing the way food is raised, distributed, stored, processed, purchased, cooked and recycled. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has made $4.3 million in grants for 111 projects across the state that will help prevent hunger and reduce the disposal of food waste though food donation and recycling. The grants will support efforts by municipalities and organizations, such as pantries and soup kitchens, to help divert scraps for recycling and reduce the amount of organic waste by redirecting excess, edible food to New Yorkers struggling with food insecurity.

“Wasted food hurts needy families facing the terrible challenges of food insecurity and harms the environment by growing landfills and contributing to climate change,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said“These awards are the latest step New York is taking to help local governments and community organizations support smart investments that prevent food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by food disposal, and provide nutritious and healthy food to combat hunger across New York State.”

Wasted food has significant environmental, social, and economic impacts and these grants help support municipalities and emergency food relief organizations by improving food rescue efforts and diverting food scraps from disposal in landfills. Reducing the landfilling of food scraps is also recognized as a valuable mitigation measure in the state’s ongoing fight against climate change. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will administer the grants.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “It is a sad fact that Americans waste about 25 percent of the food purchased, leading to negative impacts on our environment and a waste of food resources that could otherwise be used to help people in need. The projects supported by the grants announced today are a combination of public outreach initiatives and innovative, common-sense approaches to promoting food recycling, helping the hungry, and reducing waste to build stronger, healthier, and environmentally sustainable communities.”

Municipal Food Scraps Reduction, Food Donation, and Food Scraps Recycling Grants

DEC is awarding a total of $3.28 million in grants to 27 municipal projects that will use innovative and comprehensive approaches to support wasted food prevention and reduction initiatives, streamline food donation and rescue efforts, and/or develop organics recycling programs and facilities. Many projects involve strategic partnerships with community-based organizations to reduce the volume of wasted food and food scraps entering the municipal waste stream. This is accomplished through the development and implementation of wasted food reduction education and outreach programs and by establishing municipal composting and other organics recycling infrastructure. Among the highlights of the municipal grant projects:

  • City of Cortland $195,936: The funding will support the Cortland Food Project Rescue and Waste Prevention, a comprehensive community education campaign focused on wasted food prevention and reduction. The city will develop and implement Cortland’s first local food rescue system and volunteer network to seek out large quantities of “past prime” produce that program staff and volunteers will be trained to process into value-added food products. The city will then coordinate with existing local hunger projects, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and the planned commercial community kitchen and entrepreneurship program to be located at the Homer Avenue Revitalization Project site;
  • Town of Ossining $99,145: The town will create a comprehensive food scraps recycling pilot program to serve approximately 38,300 residents and neighboring areas. The town will: purchase collection bins for several public sites, including nearby Environmental Justice communities and for residential home use; develop informational materials to include in the kits residents will use in their homes; and Teatown Lake Reservation will begin community education events and programming regarding food waste prevention and reduction, composting, and the town-run food scrap recycling program;
  • Tompkins County $70,426: The county will address wasted food prevention and food donation by targeting apartment complexes and multifamily units in the county. The project will educate tenants and property managers, focusing on smart shopping, smart storage, and smart food prep; site a food hub cooler for sharing excess edible food, with leftover donations going to Friendship Donations Network (FDN) for further distribution throughout the Tompkins County community; provide tenants with free toolkits to collect food scraps from their kitchens for composting; and develop “kitchen to compost” educational materials; and
  • Village of Sleepy Hollow $11,286: The village will develop and launch a comprehensive food scraps recycling program that includes: education efforts and materials that are accessible for all residents, despite income or language barriers; create a food scraps recycling program that offers 500 free starter kits (countertop food scraps collection pail and storage bin) to residents for composting; and create outreach materials designed to reach all demographics in the village, including Spanish-language translations, and engaging low-income residents and seniors in the participation of the project.

Emergency Food Relief Organization Grants

Food pantries and other local emergency food relief organizations are on the front lines when it comes to helping those in need. These organizations often rely on donations of food through partnerships with local businesses, farms, and other food donors to supplement their inventories of wholesome food. However, as many of these food pantries and organizations are volunteer-run and have limited funds, they often do not have the resources to establish these partnerships or purchase the necessary storage equipment and vehicles to transport donated perishable foods. Due to these challenges, highly nutritious, perishable food that is ready to be distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens — such as fresh produce ­— often goes to waste, despite the efforts of donors and food rescue organizations.

DEC is funding 84 projects with $1.1 million to support projects including: hiring food recovery staff focused on developing donation partnerships; purchasing efficient cold storage equipment; kitchen equipment to prepared rescued, perishable produce; vehicles to transport rescued food; and the implementation of hyper-local perishable and prepared food recovery and distribution networks. In addition, several projects include the establishment of nutrition and cooking classes to help them use the food they receive from the pantries most efficiently. These classes and workshops help clients reduce wasted food and stretch limited food budgets. Highlighted grant projects include:

  • Iris House $13,720: Iris House in Central Harlem will use the funds to support efforts to distribute food closer to the residents of East Harlem in New York City. Iris House will use part of the grant funds to cover the operation costs of a van to transport food pantry bag distribution to pop-up locations in East Harlem to save residents the costs of transportation to Central Harlem. Iris House will also develop and distribute brochures about nutrition and to advertise their services and provide information about free food availability;
  • Second Chance Foods $15,000: Second Chance Foods is not-for-profit food rescue organization in Carmel, New York, that will use the grant to support the salary of a kitchen manager to process rescued food into cooked meals or prepare parts of meals to donate to local food programs. By processing rescued food such as blemished produce and unfamiliar foods, Second Chance Foods makes more rescued food “usable” by soup kitchen managers and pantry clients, preventing wasted food and increasing the amount of wholesome food available to people;
  • Comfort Food of Washington County, Inc. $12,420: Comfort Food Community serves a rural county with limited access to grocery stores and a significant percent of the population in poverty. CFC will hire a seasonal Food Recovery Assistant to improve gleaning efforts at the 35 farms in their service area through volunteer recruitment and management, as well as coordinating and supervising rescue efforts. The Food Recovery Assistant will also work on outreach and education elements of the Fresh Food Collective. CFC will also use these grant funds to dedicate staff time to developing recipe cards and coordinated meal kits for the gleaned produce to help ensure that recipients of the produce are able to use all of it properly and incorporate more nutritious food into their diets; and
  • Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc. $15,000: Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc., is not-for-profit organization in Saratoga Springs dedicated to urban agriculture, farmland conservation, community empowerment, and increasing access to fresh, healthy produce. The farm will install a “Giving Garden” dedicated to growing food for food pantries and will use the grant to hire a farm manager to oversee the Giving Garden and associated donation partnerships; construct a wash/pack station to properly prepare freshly harvested vegetables in a safe, reliable, and convenient way; and install a walk-in cooler to store food before it is donated to local pantries.

A complete list of awardees/grantees and summaries of projects is available at the DEC website. For more information about how to reduce food waste in all New York households: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/98102.html.

New York State has long been committed to the fight against hunger and Governor Cuomo has launched groundbreaking initiatives and programs in recent years, including the Council on Hunger and Food Policy, Vital Brooklyn, and the No Student Goes Hungry initiative to combat hunger, improve access to healthy, locally grown foods, and bring New York-grown foods and beverages to underserved communities. The grants announced today also build upon the success of the 2019 Food Donations and Food Scraps Recycling law signed by the Governor, that requires all designated food scraps generators to first donate edible food to those in need, and secondly, to recycle food scraps if a viable recycling facility is located within 25 miles. In response to this crucial legislation, DEC has provided $800,000 to Feeding New York State for additional resources to handle the anticipated influx of donated food.

The grant announcement was made at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, to help prepare New Yorkers for the statewide ban on plastic carryout bags, which begins March 1. DEC, in coordination with Feeding New York State, will distribute reusable bags to food banks across the state as part of DEC’s efforts to encourage consumers to bring their own bags whenever and wherever they shop. Feeding New York State helps feed millions of people each year through more than 5,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs.

The BYOBagNY initiative is part of New York’s comprehensive outreach campaign with state and local partners to educate retailers and consumers about the plastic bag ban, which will help reduce the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state’s environment and communities. New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually—each for about 12 minutes—and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. For more information about the outreach efforts and details of the law’s implementation, visit DEC’s website.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren’s Plans for Green New Deal Will Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs

Senator Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for President, released a new independent analysis estimating that her plans for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has released independent analysis supporting her plans for a Green New Deal creating 10.6 million new green jobs. This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for President, released a new independent analysis estimating that her plans for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs. 

“America has a long and proud history of rising to the challenges that have faced this country — and defeating the climate crisis is no exception. A Warren administration will ensure that as we fight climate change, each and every American benefits from the opportunities created by the clean economy — especially the 10.6 million workers who will power our transition to 100% clean energy.”
 
Elizabeth Warren’s plans for a Green New Deal will:

Develop the green workforce of the future by expanding job training, partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class, and ensuring the new clean economy is open to everyone

Rebuild and repower our energy grid to grow our economy, invest in offshore wind, and achieve 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030

Transform our transportation sector by expanding green public transportation programs and requiring all new light and medium-duty vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles

Repair our water infrastructure by rebuilding America’s dams, levees, and inland waterways and ensuring safe drinking water for all

Rebuild our homes, buildings and schools to achieve safe and affordable housing and provide our children with healthy living and learning environments

Finance the green jobs program by creating a new Green Bank and issuing Green Victory Bonds, modeled after the programs FDR implemented during the New Deal

 
My Plan to Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs
 
Earlier this month, climate scientists published new research suggesting the planet is hurtling towards an ecological tipping point that would irreversibly damage the earth and threaten our livable climate — for good. This most recent study adds to the growing body of evidence that climate change is happening faster than scientists originally thought. And it further reinforces what we already know: we have roughly a decade left to avoid catastrophic impacts by ending our economic dependence on fossil fuels and substantially reducing global emissions.

But while climate change presents an urgent threat, it also presents the greatest opportunity of our time: the chance to rebuild our economy with 100% clean energy, to address the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy, and to create millions of good, union jobs in the process.
This is not the first time our country has faced a threat of this magnitude.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt said we would build a historic air force of 185,000 planes to defeat the Nazis, America had a nascent military aircraft industry. But FDR rallied the nation to the task: by the end of World War II, we had produced around 300,000 aircraft in less than 5 years.

When John F. Kennedy told the nation that we would send a man to the moon in under a decade, people said that would be impossible, too. But our top scientists and engineers came together and changed the world forever, delivering not just a lunar landing but also a torrent of new technology that helped working Americans here at home.

From World War II to the space race, American ingenuity has risen to meet seemingly impossible challenges — leading the world and unleashing economic benefits for Americans in the process.

Today we face a new challenge. Defeating the climate crisis will require the ingenuity of the moon landing and an economic and industrial mobilization unseen since our efforts in World War II. It will need to happen at the speed and scale of FDR’s New Deal, which launched over 50 federal programs and pulled millions of Americans out of unemployment. It will take workers of all kinds to rebuild and repower our energy grid and to upgrade our transportation, building, and water systems to guard against the worst effects of climate change and protect our most vulnerable communities. And it will take workers in every corner of America — from construction foremen in the Rust Belt to pipefitters in the Bayou — to transform our country’s infrastructure.

The Green New Deal is the answer to this national call.

After the 2008 crash, President Obama ushered through the historic American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to jumpstart our economy and bring an end to the Great Recession. Included in this total federal investment was $90 billion for clean energy, making it one of the largest investments in clean energy in U.S. history. The Council of Economic Advisors later reported that every $1 invested in clean energy leveraged an additional $1.60 in non-federal and private dollars.

Using this historical data and other estimates as a guide, my plans for a Green New Deal will result in an estimated total public and private investment of $10.7 trillion in our new clean energy economy. And independent experts that examined my ideas for a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation estimated that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs. This will help rebuild the middle class by providing family-supporting wages, career pathways, and worker protections in our new green economy.
This is the opportunity of the Green New Deal: a $10.7 trillion total investment in our clean economy that spurs 10.6 million green new jobs. And we’ll do it all together — with no community and no worker left behind.

I mean it when I say that defeating the climate crisis will be a top priority of my administration. That’s why today I’m releasing my plan to enact a climate change agenda that not only reduces our carbon emissions but also jumpstarts our economy.

Developing the Green Workforce of the Future

There are already clean energy job opportunities across the country. But with $10.7 trillion in federal and private investments, we can turn these opportunities into 10.6 million new, union jobs rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and transitioning to the new clean energy economy. To support the millions of skilled and experienced contractors we will need to plan and execute large construction and engineering projects in the new clean economy and to support the first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, and other public and private employees who respond to climate-induced disasters, my administration will commit to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids who opt not to go to college.

Expanding job training.

We currently invest $200 million annually in apprenticeship programs across the country. Successfully training and re-training millions of skilled laborers to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, however, will require scaling up dramatically. That’s why my plan to Defend and Create American Jobs calls for a tenfold increase in investments in apprenticeships — a $20 billion commitment over the next ten years. I’ll follow Governor Inslee’s lead by re-establishing dedicated programs for green industrial and construction job training and placement under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), too.

And investing in job training is only the first step. A Warren administration will link public investments in clean energy infrastructure to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training, as well as graduation rates and local hires, to ensure that we are creating a full training-to-career pipeline. My plans also call for expanded technical and trade school opportunities to create pathways into good jobs in the new clean energy economy that will not require a college degree. And my administration will create regional sector-specific training partnerships to help better align training with the local job market, leverage the community college system, and ensure that workers gain transferable skills.

Partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class.

I am committed to ensuring that all of the 10.6 million new jobs in the clean economy pull working Americans back into the middle class — and to working hand-in-hand with unions to do so. That’s why I will fight for good wages and strong benefits for every worker that joins the new clean economy. A Warren administration will condition federal clean energy investments to state, local, and tribal governments on employers offering family-supporting wages and benefits — and will enforce this through Project Labor Agreements, prevailing wage laws, and Community Benefit Agreements. And I will work hand-in-hand with unions to return power to the working people powering the green economy. Unions built the middle class and unions will rebuild the middle class in the green economy of the future, too.

I’ve already committed to making sweeping reforms to our labor policy. These changes will extend labor rights to all workers — for example, narrowing the definition of “supervisor” under the National Labor Relations Act to end the exclusion of workers like the construction foremen that will lead the charge on building our clean energy grids. They will guarantee workers entering this new economy have a voice in actually shaping it by strengthening organizing and collective bargaining rights and increasing worker choice and control, including by requiring large companies to allow workers to elect no less than 40% of board members. And I will work with unions to design the training and apprenticeship programs that can create strong career pipelines for workers to enter this new green economy, helping to expand opportunities — and a continuous supply of skilled workers to power this transformation.

Ensuring the new clean economy is open to everyone.

In addition to employing millions of new workers in the clean economy, I am committed to leaving no worker behind as we transition to an economy powered on clean energy. That includes honoring our commitments to fossil fuel workers by holding fossil fuel companies accountable and defending worker pensions, benefits, and securing retirements. I will make sure the opportunities created are available to those who have traditionally been excluded — especially women and communities of color — by imposing new rules on companies that hope to receive federal contracts.

Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure as part of the new clean energy economy will take all of us, including returning citizens — which is why my administration will partner with organizations that make renewable energy and associated job training available to underserved communities and formerly incarcerated individuals. And my plan to empower workers will expand worker safety protections for workers entering the green economy — like our transit workers who are increasingly subject to assault — and I will strengthen anti-discrimination protections for workers from all backgrounds.

Repowering our Energy Sector

In 2018, clean energy industries employed over 3.2 million Americans — more workers than in the petroleum, natural gas and coal industries combined. The clean energy industry is rapidly expanding — the two fastest-growing jobs in the nation are solar panel installer and wind turbine technician. But there is more to do, and the federal government can and should play a role in increasing the speed and scale of this transition. A Warren administration will focus on rebuilding and repowering our energy grid to grow our economy — and my plans will create 6.8 million good paying jobs in the energy sector, all while cutting carbon pollution.

100% Clean Energy Plan

While some states and utilities have been leading the way on cleaning up their electricity sources, far too many are falling behind. My plan calls for the federal government to set a bold standard for achieving 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, including carbon-free baseload solutions, putting us on the path to a 100% emissions-free electricity supply by 2035.

These ambitious targets will require us to ramp up renewable energy generation and deployment dramatically. Cleaning up our energy system will create a diverse range of jobs — from construction worker to electrician to project manager. But these good paying jobs won’t just be in renewable energy. They will also come from making homes, offices, and industries more energy efficient. And through my Green Manufacturing plan, we’ll jumpstart American research and manufacturing in areas like battery storage, which will require a whole new set of skills and laborers. And wherever possible, we’ll invest in modernizing our grid with American-made materials, spurring still more jobs right here at home.

Offshore Wind Jobs

Right now, there is only one offshore wind project operating in this country — Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm. It’s clear that today, we are failing to make use of the clean, powerful energy resource that lies just off our coasts. My Blue New Deal For Our Oceans plan will jumpstart the offshore wind industry. Bringing these offshore wind projects to life will generally require the help of workers from more than 70 different occupations — from machinists to engineers, sailors to ironworkers, electricians to longshoremen. By 2030, offshore wind energy development from Maryland to Maine could support more than 36,000 full time jobs. And even after they’re built, we will need workers to operate and service the turbines. My Blue New Deal also calls for electrifying and shoring up our ports, creating additional jobs throughout our coastal communities.

Restarting Our Transportation Sector

America’s transportation and trucking industry accounts for more than 10 million direct jobs, with over 3 million truck drivers alone. But right now, transportation also accounts for the largest portion of U.S. carbon pollution. Moreover, our public transportation infrastructure is crumbling: the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our roads a “D” grade on their most recent infrastructure report card, with one out of every five miles of highway pavement in poor condition.

For too long, our government has failed to invest in critical infrastructure — and unless we take action, poor conditions will continue to plague one of our most important industries. But this, too, is an opportunity: as we rebuild our crumbling transportation infrastructure, we can build in climate resiliency, and create a transportation system powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels. The massive project of investing in our transportation infrastructure will affect every state and county in the nation, creating about 2.6 million jobs in the public and private sector.

Build Green Program

Public transportation is a $71 billion industry that employs more than 430,000 people. And yet, 45% of Americans still do not have access to public transportation, leaving those without access reliant on car ownership to get to work, school and worship. We know that increasing public transportation rates and decreasing vehicle miles traveled is one of the best ways to reduce emissions. That’s why I’m proposing a new Build Green program, which would establish a new grant program to electrify public buses, school buses, rail, cars, and fleet vehicles that is modeled after the Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program. This program will be paid for by closing corporate loopholes, and will open up new funding opportunities for states, cities, counties and tribal governments to expand and electrify public transportation options. A study conducted in the Twin Cities found Black, Asian-American, and Latinx commuters have longer commutes than white commuters. And people with disabilities face particular barriers in using and accessing public transportation. These investments will be crucial to ensuring equitable and accessible transportation for all.

100% Clean Vehicles.

Demand for passenger electric vehicles is growing at home and abroad — but even though more and more people want electric vehicles, they still only account for around 1% of vehicles on the road. To spur auto manufacturing in this space, I have put forward a bold and ambitious goal to require all new light -and medium-duty vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero emission vehicles. We’ll achieve this goal by investing in a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By the end of the first term of a Warren administration, there will be a charging station at every rest stop in America. And this nation-wide network of charging infrastructure will begin to lay the groundwork for electrifying long-haul trucking, too.
But charging station infrastructure is only half the battle. Right now, consumers don’t have enough access to vehicles. In 2011, there were only two mass market electric vehicles available to consumers — and even now, the auto industry offers only fifteen models. While car manufacturers are already trying to meet growing demand, my investment in clean energy technology, including products designed for use in the electric vehicle supply chain, will further increase adoption of electric vehicles by making it easier for auto manufacturers to build the vehicles that consumers want.

We’ve let our failure to take action destroy our transportation infrastructure for too long and a Warren administration will make sure that the Department of Transportation acts with the speed and scale necessary to address the climate challenges ahead of us. I will take executive action to require the Department of Transportation set performance management rules that require federal transportation investments to be accompanied by life-cycle analysis and reduction strategies for climate and other transportation related pollution.

Renewing Our Water Infrastructure

America’s water infrastructure is crumbling. The government’s failure to invest is putting Americans in danger in two ways: first, our leveesdams and inland waterways infrastructure are all at risk — and will only become more stressed by climate change as sea-level rise, extreme flooding, and drought all become more frequent and severe. Second, our drinking water is increasingly at risk: as the infrastructure supporting it crumbles, an estimated 77 million Americans live with tap water that violates federal safe water standards — and this number does not even include the millions more served by very small water systems or private domestic wells. Meanwhile, more and more Americans struggle to afford their water bills as water bill costs have risen at more than double the rate of inflation over the last 20 years. Fixing our water infrastructure is an urgent priority — but we risk not having enough hands on deck, as the water sector’s aging workforce increasingly enters into retirement. Reinvesting in our nation’s water infrastructure isn’t just essential for the health and the safety of our communities, it’s also a chance to grow our workforce. In a Warren administration, we’ll not only protect Americans by rebuilding our nation’s water infrastructure — we’ll also create about 190,000 thousand good, union jobs in the process.

Rebuilding America’s dams, levees, and inland waterways.

Our nation’s dams, levees, and inland waterways provide necessary infrastructure for shipping and hydroelectric power — but they’ve been so underfunded that they are putting our communities at risk. When the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failed in 2017, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated from rural Northern California. And the failure of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina made Katrina one of the most devastating U.S. hurricane on record, killing 1,800 people, damaging 70% of homes in New Orleans, and resulting in damages of $125 billion. This stops now. A Warren administration will triple the US Army Corps of Engineers’ annual budget so that they have the resources they need to upgrade our water infrastructure and defend our vulnerable communities from harm. We’ll pay for this with savings from my plan to transition the military away from its dependence on fossil fuels and other internal Department of Defense funding shifts. This dramatic expansion will create new opportunities for good, federal jobs as we update critical infrastructure across the nation — an investment that is more important than ever to defend vulnerable front-line communities from more frequent and more severe weather events.

Ensuring safe drinking water for all

Nearly a decade ago the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to water and sanitation as basic human rights. But today, the United States is in the middle of a dangerous drinking water crisis. Not only do an estimated 77 million Americans’ have tap water that violated federal standards, but at least 2 million Americans still don’t have access to running water. And because of a long legacy of unfair, racist, and deliberate policy choices, communities of color are disproportionately likely to lack access to safe, affordable drinking water. After decades of declining federal investments in safe water, it’s time to invest in safe, affordable water for our communities. That’s why I have committed to fully capitalizing federal programs that fund drinking water capital infrastructure, such as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. And I will go further by supporting Rep. Joe Kennedy’s Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act, which would extend the horizon for states and localities to repay revolving loans and expand the funding to cover the installation of lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) filtering systems and remediation measures. These important updates to the State Revolving Fund programs will not only guarantee much-needed upgrades to our drinking water infrastructure, but will also spur necessary investments to allow for expanded job opportunities. My administration will continue to invest in brownfield remediation, which is why I have proposed to reinstate and then triple the Superfund Tax to ensure that we protect our communities from the legacy of environmental harm and we put people to work in the process. And I will remain committed to standing with communities across the country that are impacted by lead.

Jobs in the water sector are wide ranging: there are more than 200 different occupations, including in skilled trades, administration, and finance. What’s more, because every community needs quality water, these jobs exist across the nation. I will work to create more inclusive career paths for water workers to meet the needs of our drinking water infrastructure by fighting for increases in the percent of local hires and minority/women-owned contracts that are awarded as part of water-related government contracting. And I will work with Congress to fully fund the EPA’s Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants Program and the Environmental Health Sciences Environmental Career Worker Training Program, which is helping to improve workforce development for water-related careers. Lastly and in order to confront America’s drinking water crisis head on, I will take executive action to develop a national inter-agency safe and affordable drinking water roadmap. And to inform this effort I will convene a Water Equity Advisory Council with representation from key environmental justice and community-based organizations that are on the frontlines of addressing our safe water crisis.
 
Rebuilding our Homes, Buildings and Schools

In his Second Inaugural Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the “test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Later that term, FDR signed into law the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act, which put Americans to work building new, modern affordable housing units across the country. But today, whether it’s a leaky window, an old appliance, or mold in a home, it’s hard-working Americans that pay the price through increased utility bills and housing costs.

As I’ve outlined in my 100% Clean Energy Plan, I’ll work with states and local governments to develop and implement new and stronger building codes to reach zero-carbon emissions and building those new standards into federal grant requirements, tax credits, and mortgage products. And I’ll launch an initiative to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, with the goal of upgrading 4% of buildings a year until the job is done. All told, my plans will create over 970,000 thousand new jobs as demand grows across sectors from the manufacturing of American-made energy efficient materials to large and small-scale construction efforts.

Safe and affordable housing

We currently have a government that has paid lip service to the idea of providing all Americans in need with safe and affordable housing. The federal government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades and has turned a blind eye to the massive maintenance backlog needed to make sure the limited housing we do have is safe to live in. That stops now. My Affordable Housing Plan would invest $500 billion over 10 years to address this crisis and would create 3 million new housing units. As a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, I recognize the right to safe, affordable housing for every American and the need for new, green jobs to realize FDR’s dream. My Green Public Housing program will build on the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, by raising living standards and providing the financial assistance necessary to retrofit these homes. This will require training a new American workforce and would alone create 240,000 new jobs. We can address the climate crisis while we tackle the housing crisis, too.

Providing our children with healthy learning and living environments

As a former public school teacher, I know firsthand how our children’s learning can be affected by their environment. More than half of our public schools need repairs in order to be in “good” condition. Our poor school infrastructure has serious effects on the health and academic outcomes of students and on the well-being of teachers and staff. That’s why in my K-12 plan I’ve committed at least an additional $50 billion to improving our school infrastructure. This will require a workforce across the country to identify the schools most in need and carry out the necessary upgrades to provide our children with the learning environment they deserve. There’s nothing more important to me than investing in our kids because it means we’re investing in our future.

Green infrastructure means inclusive infrastructure. We have to recognize that our building infrastructure crisis is an environmental justice crisis. The disparities in our building infrastructure reflect the racial inequities that exist in America today. Historically, redlining denied entire groups of people—primarily communities of color—the chance to live in neighborhoods of their choice while also making them the victims of environmental racism. Studies have shown that low-income and minority children bear the brunt of poisoning from lead-based paint and failing lead pipes in older housing units. Our system has also failed Americans with disabilities who occupy 41% of our public housing units and yet only 3% of those units are ADA accessible. These same inequities exist in our public schools, too. In New York City, for example, 83% of elementary schools in New York City are not fully accessible to students with disabilities.

This ends in a Warren administration. It’s the job of our government to reverse these injustices, and I will put Americans to work to finish the job. That’s why I will use the full force of the federal government to invest in addressing these disparities — and creating millions of good, union jobs in the process.Together, these plans will curb homelessness in America, put Americans to work in quality jobs, protect the health of American families, and ease the burden on their pocketbooks.

Financing the Green Jobs Plan

Defeating the climate crisis and transitioning our economy to run on 100% clean energy will take big, structural change. That’s why my plans will result in $10.7 trillion in federal funding to fight for a Green New Deal — backed up by detailed plans laying out exactly how we will use those dollars — to address the size of this crisis.

The transition to clean energy is an opportunity to transform our economy, creating new industries, like in zero-emissions building construction, and greatly expanding others, like electric vehicle manufacturing, at a speed and scale not seen since World War II — and creating huge opportunities for state, local and non-federal investment in the process, too. My Administration will create new financing tools to unlock state, local, and private investment and direct it towards meaningful investments that tackle climate change, produce jobs, and reduce inequality. And my administration will put in place strong protections to ensure that this $10.7 trillion commitment flows to the right places, so that our climate investments benefit all Americans — not just the wealthy and well-connected.

A New Green Bank

A Green Bank is among the best ways to ensure a dedicated funding stream for an economy-wide climate transition to reconcile the scale of investment required with the speed of transition necessary to defeat the climate crisis. I’ll work with Congress to establish a bank modeled after and expanded upon the National Climate Bank Act, introduced earlier this year by my friend and colleague Senator Markey. We’ll put in place strong bipartisan oversight and governance to ensure that investments are equitable and benefit working Americans. And ultimately, this new Green Bank will mobilize $1 trillion in climate and green infrastructure investments across the country over 30 years.

The Green Bank will open up new markets for greater investment by working alongside existing federal authorities through direct spending, grants, and loans. It will provide security for investors looking for climate-friendly investments in mid- to large-scale infrastructure projects that serve the public interest but might not otherwise attract private capital due to risk-return thresholds, payback horizons, credit risk or other factors. It will increase the overall scale of clean energy investment and the pace of substitution of clean energy technologies for fossil-fuel based technologies, while also protecting consumers by keeping energy prices low and ensuring compliance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulations. And it will expand opportunities for communities and the private sector by directing funds toward communities on the front lines of the climate crisis that have traditionally been left out of investment opportunities.

Green Victory Bonds

Today many states have green bonds programs, using the proceeds to fund land use projects, river and habitat preservation, and energy and water infrastructure. Green bonds have also surged in popularity worldwide, with sales growing 46% last year to about a total of about $460 billion.

While the federal government has never issued a green bond, the World War II-era “Victory Bond” program was a major success, raising $185 billion — over $2 trillion in 2012 dollars — and four out of five American households bought Victory Bonds. I’ll propose a “Green Victory Bond,” backed by the full-faith and credit of the United States by the Treasury Department, to finance the transition to a green economy. These Green Victory Bonds will be sold at levels that allow Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum the opportunity to own a piece of the climate solution, and to benefit from the new green economy that we build together.

Read her plan here

Read independent analysis here

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Announce The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act

Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, here at a rally in Queens, New York, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings.© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, presented the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to address the shortage of public housing in a way that also attacks climate change by transitioning to sustainable buildings. Here is the plan from the Sanders campaign:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in an event outside the Capitol Building, announced the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act in partnership with public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, and climate change activists. The sweeping legislation they will unveil aims to retrofit, rehabilitate, and decarbonize the entire nation’s public housing stock.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act invests up to $180 billion over ten years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved health, safety and comfort, and eliminate carbon emissions in our federal public housing. The legislation also provides funding to electrify all buildings, add solar panels, and secure renewable energy sources for all public housing energy needs. The bill dramatically improves living conditions for nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1 million public homes.
 
“Faced with the global crisis of climate change, the United States must lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez understands, the Green New Deal is not just about climate change. It is an economic plan to create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and invest in our country’s frontline and vulnerable communities. This bill shows that we can address our climate and affordable housing crises by making public housing a model of efficiency, sustainability and resiliency. Importantly, the working people who have been most impacted by decades of disinvestment in public housing will be empowered to lead this effort and share in the economic prosperity that it generates for our country.”
 
“Climate change represents both a grave threat and a tremendous opportunity,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will train and mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the quality of life for all residents. I am proud to begin the hard work of codifying the Green New Deal into law with my friend and colleague, Senator Bernie Sanders.”
 
About 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption is attributable to residential and commercial buildings. With its focus on transforming 1 million units of federally owned housing, the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act will spur economies of scale for weatherization, retrofitting, and renewable energy, making them more cost effective and attractive throughout the country. The legislation is expected to create nearly 250,000 good-paying, union jobs per year across the country while reducing carbon emissions on the scale of taking 1.2 million cars off the road over the next ten years. Public housing costs would also be reduced by $97 million per year, or 30 percent, and energy costs would be slashed by $613 million, or 70 percent.
 
The legislation envisions a federal-state partnership, creating new grant programs to swiftly and efficiently transition public housing, tribal housing, and Native Hawaiian housing to zero-carbon, energy efficient housing. The bill creates sustainable communities for families by building new childcare and senior centers, expanding access to clean transit, and creating community gardens and other community amenities. Under the legislation, public housing will receive deep energy retrofits, build community-generated renewable electricity, and upgrade unsafe and unsanitary infrastructure, including buildings’ water and electrical systems.
 
The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act requires that the hundreds of thousands of jobs created by this investment be high-road, family-sustaining jobs by requiring strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and “Buy America” requirements. Public housing residents will lead the decision-making process for these investments and receive jobs training for the newly created jobs from this legislation.
 
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and endorsed by more than 50 organizations.

Read the bill summary here.

Read the legislative text here.

Read a section-by-section overview here.

Read organizational statements of support here.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Elizabeth Warren Details Plan to Confront Crisis of Environmental Injustice

Senator Elizabeth Warren details her plan to confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details her plan to confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.” This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren has released her plan to fight for justice as we take on the climate crisis. Warren will implement an equity screen for her proposed climate investments, directing at least $1 trillion into the most vulnerable communities over the next decade and investing not only in cleaning up pollution but in building wealth and lifting up the communities in most need. 

The climate crisis demands all of us to act, but it is also an opportunity to create millions of new good, middle class, union jobs and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. Elizabeth will honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers by fighting for guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries, and to protect the pensions and benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. She’ll partner with unions every step of the way. 

She will hold corporate polluters accountable, working with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm, and imposing steep fines on violators that will be reinvested in impacted communities.

Elizabeth knows we need to elevate environmental justice at the highest levels. She’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including empowering frontline community leaders to speak directly to the White House. 

In 1987, the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice commissioned one of the first studies on hazardous waste in communities of color. A few years later —  28 years ago this month —  delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted 17 principles of environmental justice. But in the years since, the federal government has largely failed to live up to the vision these trailblazing leaders outlined, and to its responsibilities to the communities they represent. 

From predominantly black neighborhoods in Detroit to Navajo communities in the southwest to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, industrial pollution has been concentrated in low-income communities for decades — communities that the federal government has tacitly written off as so-called “sacrifice zones.” But it’s not just about poverty, it’s also about race. A seminal study found that black families are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of air pollution than white families — even when they have the same or more income. A more recent study found that while whites largely cause air pollution, Blacks and Latinxs are more likely to breathe it in. Unsurprisingly, these groups also experience higher rates of childhood asthma. And many more low-income and minority communities are exposed to toxins in their water — including lead and chemicals from industrial and agricultural run-off.

And these studies don’t tell the whole story. As I’ve traveled this country, I’ve heard the human stories as well. In Detroit, I met with community members diagnosed with cancer linked to exposure to toxins after years of living in the shadow of a massive oil refinery. In New Hampshire, I talked with mothers fighting for clean drinking water free of harmful PFAS chemicals for their children. In South Carolina, I’ve heard the stories of the most vulnerable coastal communities who face the greatest threats, from not just sea-level rise, but a century of encroaching industrial polluters. In West Virginia, I saw the consequences of the coal industry’s abandonment of the communities that made their shareholders and their executives wealthy — stolen pensions, poisoned miners, and ruined land and water.

We didn’t get here by accident. Our crisis of environmental injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long. It is the result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our government looked the other way. It is unacceptable, and it must change. 

Justice cannot be a secondary concern — it must be at the center of our response to climate change. The Green New Deal commits us to a “just transition” for all communities and all workers. But we won’t create true justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at the EPA. We also need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need strong, resilient communities who are prepared and properly resourced to withstand the impacts of climate change. We need big, bottom-up change — focused on, and led by, members of these communities. 

No Community Left Behind

The same communities that have borne the brunt of industrial pollution are now on the front lines of climate change, often getting hit first and worst. In response, local community leaders are leading the fight to hold polluters responsible and combat the effects of the climate crisis.  In Detroit’s 48217 zip code, for example, community members living in the midst of industrial pollution told me how they have banded together to identify refinery leakages and inform their neighbors. In Alabama and Mississippi, I met with residents of formerly redlined neighborhoods who spoke to me about their fight against drinking water pollution caused by inadequate municipal sewage systems. Tribal Nations, which have been disproportionately impacted by environmental racism and the effects of climate change, are leading the way in climate resilience and adaptation strategies, and in supporting healthy ecosystems. The federal government must do more to support and uplift the efforts of these and other communities. Here’s how we can do that:

Improve environmental equity mapping. The EPA currently maps communities based on basic environmental and demographic indicators, but more can be done across the federal government to identify at-risk communities. We need a rigorous interagency effort to identify cumulative environmental health disparities and climate vulnerabilities and cross-reference that data with other indicators of socioeconomic health. We’ll use these data to adjust permitting rules under Clean Air and Clean Water Act authorities to better consider the impact of cumulative and overlapping pollution, and we’ll make them publicly available online to help communities measure their own health.

Implement an equity screen for climate investments. Identifying at-risk communities is only the first step. The Green New Deal will involve deploying trillions of dollars to transform the way we source and use energy. In doing so, the government must prioritize resources to support vulnerable communities and remediate historic injustices. My friend Governor Jay Inslee rightly challenged us to fund the most vulnerable communities first, and both New York and California have passed laws to direct funding specifically to frontline and fenceline communities. The federal government should do the same. I’ll direct one-third of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities — a commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the next decade. 

Strengthen tools to mitigate environmental harms. Signed into law in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act provides the original authority for many of our existing environmental protections. But even as climate change has made it clear that we must eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels, the Trump Administration has tried to weaken NEPA with the goal of expediting even more fossil fuel infrastructure projects. At the same time, the Trump Administration has moved to devalue the consideration of climate impacts in all federal decisions. This is entirely unacceptable in the face of the climate emergency our world is facing. As president, I would mandate that all federal agencies consider climate impacts in their permitting and rulemaking processes. Climate action needs to be mainstreamed in everything the federal government does. But we also need a standard that requires the government to do more than merely “assess” the environmental impact of proposed projects — we need to mitigate negative environmental impacts entirely. 

Beyond that, a Warren Administration will do more to give the people who live in a community a greater say in what is sited there — too often today, local desires are discounted or disregarded. And when Tribal Nations are involved, projects should not proceed unless developers have obtained the free, prior and informed consent of the tribal governments concerned. I’ll use the full extent of my executive authority under NEPA to protect these communities and give them a voice in the process. And I’ll fight to improve the law to reflect the realities of today’s climate crisis. 

Build wealth in frontline communities. People of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are vulnerable to climate change risks or where they’re subject to environmental hazards like pollution. That’s not a coincidence — decades of racist housing policy and officially sanctioned segregation that denied people of color the opportunity to build wealth also denied them the opportunity to choose the best neighborhood for their families. Then, these same communities were targeted with the worst of the worst mortgages before the financial crisis, while the government looked the other way. My housing plan includes a first-of-its-kind down-payment assistance program that provides grants to long-term residents of formerly redlined communities so that they can buy homes in the neighborhood of their choice and start to build wealth, beginning to reverse that damage. It provides assistance to homeowners in these communities who still owe more than their homes were worth, which can be used to preserve their homes and revitalize their communities. These communities should have the opportunity to lead us in the climate fight, and have access to the economic opportunities created by the clean energy sector. With the right investments and with community-led planning, we can lift up communities that have experienced historic repression and racism, putting them on a path to a more resilient future.

Expand health care. People in frontline communities disproportionately suffer from certain cancers and other illnesses associated with environmental pollution. To make matters worse, they are less likely to have access to quality health care. Under Medicare for All, everyone will have high quality health care at a lower cost, allowing disadvantaged communities to get lifesaving services. And beyond providing high quality coverage for all, the simplified Medicare for All system will make it easier for the federal government to quickly tailor health care responses to specific environmental disasters in affected communities when they occur.

Research equity. For years we’ve invested in broad-based strategies that are intended to lift all boats, but too often leave communities of color behind. True justice calls for more than ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions — instead we need targeted strategies that take into account the unique challenges individual frontline communities face. I’ve proposed a historic $400 billion investment in clean energy research and development. We’ll use that funding to research place-based interventions specifically targeting the communities that need more assistance.

No Worker Left Behind

The climate crisis will leave no one untouched. But it also represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to create millions of good-paying American jobs in clean and renewable energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing; to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity; to rebuild our unions and create real progress and justice for workers; and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. 

The task before us is huge and demands all of us to act. It will require massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to ensure that communities of color and others who have been systematically harmed from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition to clean energy.

But it is also an opportunity. We’ll need millions of workers: people who know how to build things and manufacture them; skilled and experienced contractors to plan and execute large construction and engineering projects; and training and joint labor management apprenticeships to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. This can be a great moment of national unity, of common purpose, of lives transformed for the better. But we cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills to get the job done are in the room as full partners. 

We also cannot fight climate change with a low-wage economy. Workers should not be forced to make an impossible choice between fossil fuel industry jobs with superior wages and benefits and green economy jobs that pay far less. For too long, there has been a tension between transitioning to a green economy and creating good, middle class, union jobs. In a Warren Administration we will do both: creating good new jobs through investments in a clean economy coupled with the strongest possible protections for workers. For instance, my Green Manufacturing plan makes a $1.5 trillion procurement commitment to domestic manufacturing contingent on companies providing fair wages, paid family and medical leave, fair scheduling practices, and collective bargaining rights. Similarly, my 100% Clean Energy Plan will require retrofitting our nation’s buildings, reengineering our electrical grid, and adapting our manufacturing base — creating good, union jobs, with prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining, for millions of skilled and experienced workers. 

Our commitment to a Green New Deal is a commitment to a better future for the working people of our country.  And it starts with a real commitment to workers from the person sitting in the White House: I will fight for your job, your family, and your community like I would my own. But there’s so much more we can do to take care of America’s workers before, during, and after this transition. Here are a few ways we can start: 

Honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers. Coal miners, oil rig workers, pipeline builders and millions of other workers have given their life’s blood to build the infrastructure that powered the American economy throughout the 20th century. In return, they deserve more than platitudes — and if we expect them to use their skills to help reengineer America, we owe them a fair day’s pay for the work we need them to do. I’m committed to providing job training and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries. And for those Americans who choose not to find new employment and wish to retire with dignity, we’ll ensure full financial security, including promised pensions and early retirement benefits. 

Defend worker pensions, benefits, and secure retirement. Together, we will ensure that employers and our government honor the promises they made to workers in fossil fuel industries. I’ve fought for years to protect pensions and health benefits for retired coal workers, and I’ll continue fighting to maintain the solvency of multi-employer pension plans. As president, I’ll protect those benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. My plan to empower American workers commits to defending pensions, recognizing the value of defined-benefit pensions, and pushing to pass the Butch-Lewis Act to create a loan program for the most financially distressed pension plans in the country. And my Social Security plan would increase benefits by $200 a month for every beneficiary, lifting nearly 5 million seniors out of poverty and expanding benefits for workers with disabilities and their families. 

Create joint safety-health committees. In 2016, more than 50,000 workers died from occupational-related diseases. And since the beginning of his administration, Trump has rolled back rules and regulations that limit exposure to certain chemicals and requirements around facility safety inspections, further jeopardizing workers and the community around them. When workers have the power to keep themselves safe, they make their communities safer too. A Warren Administration will reinstate the work safety rules and regulations Trump eliminated, and will work to require large companies to create joint safety-health committees with representation from workers and impacted communities. 

Force fossil fuel companies to honor their obligations. As a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy — as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes a reality.  

And as part of our commitment, we must take care of all workers, including those who were left behind decades ago by the fossil fuel economy. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal is the inspiration for this full scale mobilization of the federal government to defeat the climate crisis, it was not perfect. The truth is that too often, many New Deal agencies and policies were tainted by structural racism. And as deindustrialization led to prolonged disinvestment, communities of color were too often both the first to lose their job base, and the first place policymakers thought of to dump the refuse of the vanished industries. Now there is a real risk that poor communities dependent on carbon fuels will be asked to bear the costs of fighting climate change on their own. We must take care not to replicate the failings and limitations of the original New Deal as we implement a Green New Deal and transition our economy to 100% clean energy. Instead we need to build an economy that works for every American — and leaves no one behind.

Prioritizing Environmental Justice at the Highest Levels

As we work to enact a Green New Deal, our commitment to environmental justice cannot be an afterthought — it must be central to our efforts to fight back against climate change. That means structuring our government agencies to ensure that we’re centering frontline and fenceline communities in implementing a just transition. It means ensuring that the most vulnerable have a voice in decision-making that impacts their communities, and direct access to the White House itself. Here’s how we’ll do that:

Elevate environmental justice at the White House. I’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including making environmental justice a priority. I’ll update the 1994 executive order that directed federal agencies to make achieving environmental justice part of their missions, and revitalize the cabinet-level interagency council on environmental justice. We will raise the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to report directly to the White House, bringing in the voices of frontline community leaders at the highest levels. And I will bring these leaders to the White House for an environmental justice summit within my first 100 days in office, to honor the contributions of frontline activists over decades in this fight and to listen to ideas for how we can make progress.  

Empower the EPA to support frontline communities. The Trump Administration has proposed dramatic cuts to the EPA, including to its Civil Rights office, and threatened to eliminate EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice entirely. I’ll restore and grow both offices, including by expanding the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) and Environmental Justice Small Grant programs. We’ll condition these competitive grant funds on the development of state- and local-level environmental justice plans, and ensure that regional EPA offices stay open to provide support and capacity. But it’s not just a matter of size. Historically, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has rejected nine out of ten cases brought to it for review. In a Warren Administration, we will aggressively pursue cases of environmental discrimination wherever they occur. 

Bolster the CDC to play a larger role in environmental justice. The links between industrial pollution and negative public health outcomes are clear. A Warren Administration will fully fund the Center for Disease Control’s environmental health programs, such as childhood lead poisoning prevention, and community health investigations. We will also provide additional grant funding for independent research into environmental health effects.

Diminish the influence of Big Oil. Powerful corporations rig the system to work for themselves, exploiting and influencing the regulatory process and placing industry representatives in positions of decision-making authority within agencies. My plan to end Washington corruption would slam shut the revolving door between industry and government, reducing industry’s ability to influence the regulatory process and ensuring that the rules promulgated by our environmental agencies reflect the needs of communities, not the fossil fuel industry. 

Right to Affordable Energy and Clean Water

Nearly one-third of American households struggle to pay their energy bills, and Native American, Black, and Latinx households are more likely to be energy insecure. Renters are also often disadvantaged by landlords unwilling to invest in safer buildings, weatherization, or cheaper energy. And clean energy adoption is unequal along racial lines, even after accounting for differences in wealth. I have a plan to move the United States to 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035 — but energy justice must be an integral part of our transition to clean energy. Here’s what that means:

Address high energy cost burdens. Low-income families, particularly in rural areas, are spending too much of their income on energy, often the result of older or mobile homes that are not weatherized or that lack energy efficient upgrades. I’ve committed to meet Governor Inslee’s goal of retrofitting 4% of U.S. buildings annually to increase energy efficiency — and we’ll start that national initiative by prioritizing frontline and fenceline communities. In addition, my housing plan includes over $10 billion in competitive grant programs for communities that invest in well-located affordable housing — funding that can be used for modernization and weatherization of homes, infrastructure, and schools. It also targets additional funding to tribal governments, rural communities, and jurisdictions — often majority minority — where homeowners are still struggling with the aftermath of the 2008 housing crash. Energy retrofits can be a large source of green jobs, and I’m committed to ensuring that these are good jobs, with full federal labor protections and the right to organize. 

Support community power. Consumer-owned energy cooperatives, many of which were established to electrify rural areas during the New Deal, serve an estimated  42 million people across our country. While some co-ops are beginning to transition their assets to renewable energy resources, too many are locked into long-term contracts that make them dependent on coal and other dirty fuels for their power. To speed the transition to clean energy, my administration will offer assistance to write down debt and restructure loans to help cooperatives get out of long-term coal contracts, and provide additional low- or no-cost financing for zero-carbon electricity generation and transmission projects for cooperatives via the Rural Utilities Service. I’ll work with Congress to extend and expand clean energy bonds to allow community groups and nonprofits without tax revenue to access  clean energy incentives. I’ll also provide dedicated support for the four Power Marketing Administrations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Appalachian Regional Commission to help them build publicly-owned clean energy assets and deploy clean power to help communities transition off fossil fuels. Accelerating the transition to clean energy will both reduce carbon emissions, clean up our air,  and help bring down rural consumers’ utility bills.

Protect local equities. Communities that host large energy projects are entitled to receive a share of the benefits. But too often, large energy companies are offered millions in tax subsidies to locate in a particular area — without any commitment that they will make a corresponding commitment in that community. Community Benefit Agreements can help address power imbalances between project developers and low-income communities by setting labor, environmental, and transparency standards before work begins. I’ll make additional federal subsidies or tax benefits for large utility projects contingent on strong Community Benefits Agreements, which should include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights. And I’ll insist on a clawback provision if a company doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. If developers work with communities to ensure that everyone benefits from clean energy development, we will be able to reduce our emissions faster. 

It’s simple: access to clean water is a basic human right. Water quality is an issue in both urban and rural communities. In rural areas, for example, runoff into rivers and streams by Big Agriculture has poisoned local drinking water. In urban areas, lack of infrastructure investment has resulted in lead and other poisons seeping into aging community water systems. We need to take action to protect our drinking water. Here’s how we can do that: 

Invest in our nation’s public water systems. America’s water is a public asset and should be owned by and for the public. A Warren Administration will end decades of disinvestment and privatization of our nation’s water system — our government at every level should invest in safe, affordable drinking water for all of us.

Increase and enforce water quality standards. Our government should enforce strict regulations to ensure clean water is available to all Americans. I’ll restore the Obama-era water rule that protected our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide. We also need a strong and nationwide safe drinking water standard that covers PFAS and other chemicals. A Warren Administration will fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water systems. I’ll aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water supply, including by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance.

Fund access to clean water. Our clean drinking water challenge goes beyond lead, and beyond Flint and Newark. To respond, a Warren Administration will commit to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. In rural areas, I’ll increase funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program to $15 billion annually, empowering family farmers to help limit the agricultural runoff that harms local wells and water systems. To address lead specifically, we will establish a lead abatement grant program with a focus on schools and daycare centers, and commit to remediating lead in all federal buildings. We’ll provide a Lead Safety Tax Credit for homeowners to invest in remediation. And a Warren Administration will also fully fund IDEA and other support programs that help children with developmental challenges as a result of lead exposure.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable During Climate-Related Disasters

In 2018, the U.S. was home to the world’s three costliest environmental catastrophes. And while any community can be hit by a hurricane, flood, extreme weather, or fire, the impact of these kinds of disasters are particularly devastating for low-income communitiespeople with disabilities, and people of color. Take Puerto Rico for example. When Hurricane Maria hit the island, decades of racism and neglect were multiplied by the government’s failure to prepare and Trump’s racist post-disaster response — resulting in the deaths of at least 3,000 Puerto Ricans and long-term harm to many more. Even as we fight climate change, we must also prepare for its impacts — building resiliency not just in some communities, but everywhere. Here’s how we can start to do that:

Invest in pre-disaster mitigation. For every dollar invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall. But true to form, the Trump Administration has proposed to steep cuts to  FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, abandoning communities just as the risk of climate-related disasters is on the rise. As president, I’ll invest in programs that help vulnerable communities build resiliency by quintupling this program’s funding. 

Better prepare for flood events. When I visited Pacific Junction, Iowa, I saw scenes of devastation: crops ruined for the season, cars permanently stalled, a water line 7 or 8 feet high in residents’ living rooms. And many residents in Pacific Junction fear that this could happen all over again next year. Local governments rely on FEMA’s flood maps, but some of these maps haven’t been updated in decades. In my first term as president, I will direct FEMA to fully update flood maps with forward-looking data, prioritizing and including frontline communities in this process. We’ll raise standards for new construction, including by reinstating the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. And we’ll make it easier for vulnerable residents to move out of flood-prone properties — including by buying back those properties for low-income homeowners at a value that will allow them to relocate, and then tearing down the flood-prone properties, so we can protect everyone.

Mitigate wildfire risk. We must also invest in improved fire mapping and prevention programs. In a Warren Administration, we will dramatically improve fire mapping and prevention by investing in advanced modeling with a focus on helping the most vulnerable — incorporating not only fire vulnerability but community demographics. We will prioritize these data to invest in land management, particularly near the most vulnerable communities, supporting forest restoration, lowering fire risk, and creating jobs all at once. We will also invest in microgrid technology, so that we can de-energize high-risk areas when required without impacting the larger community’s energy supply. And as president, I will collaborate with Tribal governments on land management practices to reduce wildfires, including by incorporating traditional ecological practices and exploring co-management and the return of public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible. 

Prioritize at-risk populations in disaster planning and response. When the most deadly fire in California’s history struck the town of Paradise last November, a majority of the victims were disabled or elderly. People with disabilities face increased difficulties in evacuation assistance and accessing critical medical care. For people who are homeless, disasters exacerbate existing challenges around housing and health. And fear of deportation can deter undocumented people from contacting emergency services for help evacuating or from going to an emergency shelter. As president, I will strengthen rules to require disaster response plans to uphold the rights of vulnerable populations. In my immigration plan, I committed to putting in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations, including emergency shelters. We’ll also develop best practices at the federal level to help state and local governments develop plans for at-risk communities — including for extreme heat or cold — and require that evacuation services and shelters are fully accessible to people with disabilities. During emergencies, we will work to ensure that critical information is shared in ways that reflect the diverse needs of people with disabilities and other at-risk communities, including through ASL and Braille and languages spoken in the community. We will establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters, ensure that federal disaster spending is ADA compliant, and support people with disabilities in disaster planning. We will make certain that individuals have ongoing access to health care services if they have to leave their community or if there is a disruption in care.  And we will ensure that a sufficient number of disability specialists are present in state emergency management teams and FEMA’s disaster response corps. 

Ensure a just and equitable recovery. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, disaster scammers and profiteers swarmed, capitalizing on others’ suffering to make a quick buck. And after George W. Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, the doors were opened for contractors to under-pay and subject workers to dangerous working conditions, particularly low-income and immigrant workers. As president, I’ll put strong protections in place to ensure that federal tax dollars go toward community recovery, not to line the pockets of contractors. And we must maintain high standards for workers even when disaster strikes. 

Studies show that the white and wealthy receive more federal disaster aid, even though they are most able to financially withstand a disaster. This is particularly true when it comes to housing — FEMA’s programs are designed to protect homeowners, even as homeownership has slipped out of reach for an increasing number of Americans. As president, I will reform post-disaster housing assistance to better protect renters, including a commitment to a minimum of one-to-one replacement for any damaged federally-subsidized affordable housing, to better protect low-income families. I will work with Congress to amend the Stafford Act to make grant funding more flexible to allow families and communities to rebuild in more resilient ways. And we will establish a competitive grant program, based on the post-Sandy Rebuild by Design pilot, to offer states and local governments the opportunity to compete for additional funding for creative resilience projects.

Under a Warren Administration, we will monitor post-disaster recovery to help states and local governments better understand the long-term consequences and effectiveness of differing recovery strategies, including how to address climate gentrification, to ensure equitable recovery for all communities. We’ll center a right to return for individuals who have been displaced during a disaster and prioritize the voices of frontline communities in the planning of their return or relocation. And while relocation should be a last resort, when it occurs, we must improve living standards and keep communities together whenever possible.

Holding Polluters Accountable

In Manchester, Texas, Hurricane Harvey’s damage wasn’t apparent until after the storm had passed — when a thick, chemical smell started wafting through the majority Latinx community, which is surrounded by nearly 30 refineries and chemical plants. A tanker failure had released 1,188 pounds of benzene into the air, one of at least one hundred area leaks that happened in Harvey’s aftermath. But because regulators had turned off air quality and toxic monitoring in anticipation of the storm, the leaks went unnoticed and the community uninformed. 

This should have never been allowed to happen. But Manchester is also subject to 484,000 pounds of toxic chemical leaks on an average year. That’s not just a tragedy — it’s an outrage. We must hold polluters accountable for their role in ongoing, systemic damage in frontline communities. As president, I will use all my authorities to hold companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis. Here’s how we can do that: 

Exercise all the oversight tools of the federal government. A Warren Administration will encourage the EPA and Department of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their companies hurt people through criminal negligence.

Use the power of the courts. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision, companies are often let completely off the hook, even when their operations inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. I’ll work with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm at the federal level, allowing individuals and communities impacted by environmental discrimination to sue for damages and hold corporate polluters accountable.

Reinstitute the Superfund Waste Tax. There are over 1300 remaining Superfund sites across the country, many located in or adjacent to frontline communities. So-called “orphan” toxic waste clean-ups were originally funded by a series of excise taxes on the petroleum and chemical industries. But thanks to Big Oil and other industry lobbyists, when that tax authority expired in 1995 it was not renewed. Polluters must pay for the consequences of their actions — not leave them for the communities to clean up. I’ll work with Congress to reinstate and then triple the Superfund tax, generating needed revenue to clean up the mess.

Hold the finance industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. Financial institutions and the insurance industry underwrite and fund fossil fuel investments around the world, and can play a key role in stopping the climate crisis. Earlier this year, Chubb became the first U.S. insurer to commit to stop insuring coal projects, a welcome development. Unfortunately, many banks and insurers seem to be moving in the opposite direction. In fact, since the Paris Agreement was signed, U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America have actually increased their fossil fuel investments. And there is evidence that big banks are replicating a tactic they first employed prior to the 2008 crash — shielding themselves from climate losses by selling the mortgages most at risk from climate impacts to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to shift the burden off their books and onto taxpayers at a discount. 

To accelerate the transition to clean energy, my Climate Risk Disclosure Act would require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and price their exposure to climate risk into their valuations, raising public awareness of just how dependent our economy is on fossil fuels. And let me be clear: in a Warren Administration, they will no longer be allowed to shift that burden to the rest of us.

UN Climate Action Summit: Video Games Industry Powers ‘Playing for the Planet’ Alliance to Fight Climate Change

Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment and Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft are among the 21 gaming companies that have joined the Playing for the Planet Alliance, vowing to reduce carbon emissions and spark awareness and engagement in climate action among their collective 970 million gamers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Some of the biggest names in the video games industry, with a combined audience of 970 million players, have formally committed to harness the power of their platforms to take action in response to the climate crisis. Combined, these commitments from 21 companies will result in a 30 million ton reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, will see millions of trees planted, new “green nudges” in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging, and device recycling.

These voluntary commitments were announced at UN Headquarters on the side-lines of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. Under the banner of the Playing for the Planet Alliance, CEOs from 14 platforms and games makers, including Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Google Stadia, Rovio, Supercell, Sybo, Ubisoft and WildWorks, were present to showcase their commitments. The Alliance intends to support companies in sharing learning and monitoring progress on the environmental agenda.   

“The video games industry has the ability to engage, inspire and captivate the imaginations of billions of people across the world. This makes them a hugely important partner in addressing the climate emergency,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “We are encouraged by the commitment of these gaming companies, which shows recognition that we all must play our role in the global effort to lower carbon emissions and effect real change towards sustainability.”

These commitments were facilitated by UNEP with the support of Playmob and following the GRID-Arendal study Playing For The Planet, which outlines how the video games industry, which reaches 2.6 billion people globally, can support action on the environmental agenda.

“Today at the UN Climate Summit, I am honored and feel privileged to join leaders in the gaming industry to make commitments to contribute to the efforts of the UN,” said Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. “At PlayStation, we believe games have the power to ignite social change through educating people, evoking emotions, and inspiring hope. We could not be prouder to be part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance and we look forward to seeing what the industry can achieve together.”

“Climate change is impacting each industry and every sector, and we believe technology can play a critical role in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft. “Initiatives like our Minecraft Build a Better World Campaign and CarbonNeutral Xbox pilot provide a great opportunity to tap into Microsoft’s technology sustainability and gaming community to make a difference in this key area of our business.”

The commitments include:

Sony Interactive Entertainment will unveil new progress and plans to utilize energy efficient technology (on-track to avoid 29 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030), to introduce low power suspend mode for next generation PlayStation, to assess and report their carbon footprint and to educate and inspire the gaming community to take action on climate change.

Microsoft will announce the expansion of its existing operational commitment to carbon neutrality, established in 2012, into its devices and gaming work. It will set a new target to reduce its supply chain emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 – including end-of-life for devices – and to certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral in a pilot program. In addition, Microsoft will engage gamers in sustainability efforts in real life through the Minecraft its ‘Build a Better World’ initiative, which has seen players take more than 20 million in-game actions.

Google Stadia, which is set to launch later in the year, will produce a new Sustainable Game Development Guide as well as funding research into how “green nudges” can be effectively incorporated into game play.

Supercell (Clash of Clans) will offset the entire footprint of their community, Rovio (Angry Birds) has offset the carbon impact from their players charging their devices, and Sybo (Subway Surfer) and Space Ape (Fastlane) will offset 200 per cent of their studio and their gamers mobile energy use. Guidance documents will assist other companies to take similar actions.

Wild Works (Animal Jam) will integrate restoration elements in games and, like Green Man Gaming, they will focus on restoring some of the world’s forests with major tree-planting initiatives

Ubisoft will develop in-game green themes and will source materials from eco-friendly factories and Sports Interactive will eliminate 20 tonnes of packaging by switching from plastic to a recycled alternative for all future Football Manager releases.

Creative Mobile’s ZooCraft will evolve into a conservation-focused game with Reliance Games (Little Singham) generating awareness in the fastest growing mobile gaming market by creating awareness with kids to make them ambassadors for climate change with in-game events and initiatives across India. The biggest independent gaming platform in China, iDreamSky has committed to putting green nudges into its games.

E-Line Media (Never Alone, Beyond Blue), Strange Loop (Eco) and Internet of Elephants (Safari Central) will share their expertise of making high impact environmentally oriented games into the Alliance

Finally, Twitch have committed to utilizing their platform to spread this message to the global gaming community with Niantic Inc (Pokemon Go) committing to engage their community to act around sustainability issues.

“Through awareness-raising campaigns connected to our Angry Birds games and movies over the years, we know our fans are just as angry as us about climate change,” said Kati Levoranta, Rovio Entertainment CEO. “Considering the enormity of the environmental challenges that face us in years to come, we as an industry must stand with our players and be evangelists for action.”

Too often, there can be a trade-off between games that are designed to be educational but without reaching the masses. To address this, many of the companies will host design-jams with their creatives to consider how they can mindfully incentivize better environmental outcomes within the games, without limiting the fun and enjoyment for players.

Speaking in support of this initiative, Mathias Gredal Norvig, CEO of Sybo, the organization behind Subway Surfer, said: “Video gaming might seem like an unlikely ally in this battle, but this Alliance is a critical platform where all of us can play our part to decarbonize our impact and bring the issues into gameplay. I am a strong believer in sparking curiosity and conversations wherever people are, and with 2 billion people playing games, this platform has a reach that’s second to none.”

Amit Khanduja, CEO of Reliance Games, said: “The Mobile Games industry has to take the lead in the emerging markets to raise awareness among the next billion gamers coming online to lead the way for climate change. We are honoured to be part of this strong UN initiative for a better tomorrow.”

Members of the Alliance that have made commitments include: Creative Mobile, E-Line Media, Google Stadia, Green Man Gaming, iDreamSky, Internet of Elephants, Microsoft, Niantic Inc, Pixelberry, Reliance Games, Rovio, Space Ape, Sports Interactive, Supercell, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Strange Loop, Sybo, Twitch, Ubisoft, WildWorks and will be supported by Playmob.

See also:

UN Climate Action Summit: World Forges Ahead With Climate Action – Without Trump But Not Without States United

Nations, Private Sector Pledge Commitments to Climate Action at UN Summit

Youth Climate Activist Greta Thunberg to UN Climate Summit: ‘If You Choose to Fail Us, I Say We Will Never Forgive You’

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Tells 250,000 at NYC Climate Strike: ‘We demand a safe future’

UN Climate Action Summit: World Forges Ahead with Climate Action – Without Trump But Not Without States United

At the UN Climate Action Summit, Governor Janet Mills (center) challenged leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045. Spiting Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, 25 states have formed the US Climate Alliance © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

There was the sense at the United Nations Climate Action Summit that took place September 23, that the Trump Administration – but not the United States – is irrelevant to the crusade to mitigate the most devastating impacts of climate change. Indeed, the rest of the world, American states, localities and businesses, is forging full steam ahead to prevent the earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – and all the devastation that would result – within the next 12 years.

“We know why tackling climate change is important”, said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed before the Climate Action Summit began. “The devastation wreaked by Dorian on the Bahamas, what the Secretary-General called a Category Hell hurricane, is a glimpse into one aspect of a future powered by climate change – a future with super storms that grow in intensity and frequency, where those countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, continue to feel the worst impacts of the planet’s rising temperatures.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed: “The summit will present practical and new measures, speed transition from coal to clean energy, cut pollution harming health, protect nature, unlock the potential of nature to deliver on climate, create cleaner greener waste, speed up transition from grey to green economies, mitigate impacts of climate change, leave no one behind, transition must be ramped up now.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

“The summit will present practical and new measures, speed transition from coal to clean energy, cut pollution harming health, protect nature, unlock the potential of nature to deliver on climate, create cleaner greener waste, speed up transition from grey to green economies, mitigate impacts of climate change, leave no one behind, transition must be ramped up now,” she said at a press briefing before the summit.

The Climate Action Summit was designed to showcase only the boldest, transformative actions – specifics, not hyperbole or speechifying.  

“We will see what climate leadership looks like – progress toward carbon neutral future.”

Trump snubbed the summit, choosing instead to host a Religious Freedom Forum, and highlighted America’s military might but did not mention climate change once, in his address to the General Assembly. But just about every other leader did refer to the critical need and their commitment to climate action in their speech.

King Hussein of Jordan tells the UN General Assembly, What will our world become if we do not work together for a healthy and safe climate. We already know the dangers of climate change – how can we excuse [inaction]” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

“Can we afford to ignore the crisis of extinction, or will we do the right thing, support energies and talents of all the world’s youth and drive all the economies forward to fair and inclusive society?” Abdullah II bin AlHussein, King of Jordan, declared. “What will our world become if we do not work together for a healthy and safe climate. We already know the dangers of climate change – how can we excuse [inaction]”

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president of Croatia, declared, “Climate change- rising sea levels – is the greatest threat. Without protection of waters and marine life, there will be nothing to leave.”

Russia, one of the few holdouts and one of the world’s largest carbon emitters with an economy largely based on fossil fuel extraction and export, used the occasion to officially adopt the Paris Climate Agreement. The document signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will now “allocate financial resources… to developing countries for prevention and adaptation to climate change. The threat of climate change is (the) destruction of the ecological balance, increased risks for successful development of key industries… and most importantly, threat to safety of people living on permafrost and increase of natural disasters.”

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, president of Croatia, tells the General Assembly, “Climate change- rising sea levels – is the greatest threat. Without protection of waters and marine life, there will be nothing to leave.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

Governor Janet Mills of Maine challenged leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045.

Separately, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York State is pursuing partnerships with Ireland and Denmark that will lead to improved electric infrastructure and the advancement of more renewable energy sources, including offshore wind. The agreements were announced during Climate Week and will advance both New York’s nation-leading plan to combat climate change and the Governor’s Green New Deal agenda. This summer, Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates New York’s power be 100 percent clean and carbon-free by 2040. New York is one of 25 states including California that have formed the US Climate Alliance (USclimatealliance.org)  to uphold the Paris Agreement. – collectively representing over 50% of the US population and  60% of the United States’ GDP.

Mohammed acknowledged that the transition “is not one-size fits all – in some countries, renewable energy is already cheaper than coal; others need funding options. It’s not enough that we stop funding coal and actively move to making renewable possible –there is tension there. We must be realistic – you can’t click fingers and create a renewable grid overnight but we also determined there are over 100 coal plants in pipeline and emissions are still rising – that pathway is a serious threat to human survival.”

Informed by the perspectives of more than 130 Governments, a newly issued report, The Heat is On – Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition, reveals that business as usual, is not good enough and requires more mitigation, adaptation and finance – all which must be done quickly.

 “When I look back on this Climate Action Summit, I want us to see it as a sling shot – that helped to change our common trajectory towards sustainability”, said Ms. Mohammed, building trust “between this generation of adults and the next – between our children and ourselves – that we are all working together to our fullest potential to tackle the climate emergency”.

She recapped that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stressed the need to ensure that “the global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius” through “cutting emissions by 45 per cent by 2030”, warning that “we have very little time to take the decisions needed to get there”.

Those decisions should be set out in each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on climate change, which she called “the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement”.

“The world’s poorest 1 billion, we are least responsible for climate crisis – emitting less than 1% of global emissions,  yet, our small gross national incomes and limited resources means we suffer the most,” said Sonam P. Wangdi, Secretary of the National Environment Commission, Bhutan.

The United States, with only 5% of the population is responsible for 25% of carbon emissions, and the present administration, which hides behind science denial in order to preserve the status quo of their economic systems, will have a huge impact on whether the efforts made by 190 countries succeed in preserving the planet. But though the government was a no-show at the Climate Action Summit, states, localities and business interests were on hand, offering their commitments so that the United States will achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement led by Obama and rejected by Trump.

Indeed, it was just as if the world has moved on, rendering the United States irrelevant. The thought of holding the US accountable for reparations when an island nation like the Bahamas is devastated by Hurricane Dorian, was discounted. “Who would enforce a decision?” said Wilfred P. Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize, a statement made from the experience of Trinidad & Tobago which won a judgment against the US in the World Trade Organization that has yet to be paid.

Small Island Developing States are stepping up and striking back.

Wilfred P. Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize, recalled the devastation he went through as a boy of 4 when a category 4 hurricane hit his village. “From one moment being in a safe, secure structure or building, the next to be completely out in environment with absolutely nothing – you have absolutely nothing.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

“The recent activity of Dorian in Bahamas – devastated that island, and unless you really have experience this kind of devastation it is hard to appreciate how difficult, how absolutely destructive it is,” said Elrington, recalling his own terror at the age of 4 years old when a Category 4 hurricane hit. “From one moment being in a safe, secure structure or building, the next to be completely out in environment with absolutely nothing – you have absolutely nothing – no clothes, medicine, food, completely at the mercy of God. We think of the damage to human beings and the destruction, but equally tragic is the destruction done to floral and fauna – exceedingly depressing to see the entire landscape devastated and and of course, does not come back quickly.”

Apart from saving habitats, climate mitigation and adaptation has the added benefit of addressing poverty and inequality, in part perpetuated by the cost – and reliance –on fossil fuels as the basis for an economy. Shifting to clean, renewable like solar, wind, water, geothermal, lowers the expenditure and increases the independence from concentrated utility companies. Eliminating fossil fuels also reduces pollution and improves health.

But with worldwide pressure – by citizens and consumers – the private sector is being forced to take action as well.  Sixteen countries are phasing out gasoline-powered cars over the next several years, rendering US-manufactured cars unexportable, regardless of how Trump attempts to overturn California’s call for higher fuel efficiency standards and lower emissions.

Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment

Just announced, “first of its kind,” Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment “will transform mainstream infrastructure investment and drive a  permanent shift toward climate resilient economy for all countries, but especially for low and mid income countries which bear the brunt,” said John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, one of the world’s largest insurance companies. One of the ways it will change the way money is invested in business ventures and infrastructure is by creating new data analytics that incorporate the cost-benefit of climate adaptation, mitigation and resiliency into the model. “Rapid advancement in data analytics, coupled in momentum of regulatory initiatives and growing pressure from global society is what allows this initiative to be as ambitious as it is.”

“Pricing the risks posed by climate change will create opportunities to build a network of resilient infrastructure in high, medium and low-income countries, enabling us to better prevent future human and financial disasters,” says John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, introducing a newly formed Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

He said, “I come from the world of insurance. We work on a lot of analytical tools to price the effect of climate disasters. We will take those kind of analytical tools and build them into understanding what kind of investments we should make in infrastructure – measure the impacts of climate on infrastructure everywhere in the world – more important in vulnerable communities but everywhere in the world [including US, where former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been saying the very thing in pushing for a carbon tax].

“Pricing the risks posed by climate change will create opportunities to build a network of resilient infrastructure in high, medium and low-income countries, enabling us to better prevent future human and financial disasters.”

The coalition will develop case studies to build the business case, and identify the critical enabling environments, for climate resilient infrastructure investment. 

By the end of 2020, analytical tools including a physical risk pricing framework and methodology to prioritize national resilient investment needs, will be developed, alongside a range of instruments to prevent capital flight from vulnerable regions.

Biggest Names in Video Game Industry Commit to Climate Action

Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment and Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft are among the 21 gaming companies that have joined the Playing for the Planet Alliance, vowing to reduce carbon emissions and spark awareness and engagement in climate action among their collective 970 million gamers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com  

And, in a major mind-blowing commitment, 21 of the biggest names in the video games industry, with a combined audience of 970 million players, formally committed to harness the power of their platforms to take action in response to the climate crisis. Combined, these commitments will result in a 30 million ton reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, will see millions of trees planted, new “green nudges” in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging, and device recycling. Equally significantly, under the banner of Playing for the Planet Alliance, many will incorporate sustainability and climate action into the games, themselves, letting gamers, for example, toy with building sustainable societies.

These voluntary commitments were announced during the UN Climate Action Summit. CEOs from 14 platforms and games makers, including Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Google Stadia, Rovio, Supercell, Sybo, Ubisoft and WildWorks, were present to showcase their commitments. The Alliance intends to support companies in sharing learning and monitoring progress on the environmental agenda.

A full list of the announcements and commitments made at the Climate Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange

See also:

Nations, Private Sector Pledge Commitments to Climate Action at UN Summit

Youth Climate Activist Greta Thunberg to UN Climate Summit: ‘If You Choose to Fail Us, I Say We Will Never Forgive You’

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Tells 250,000 at NYC Climate Strike: ‘We demand a safe future’

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Nations, Private Sector Pledge Commitments to Climate Action at UN Summit

Youth leaders including Greta Thunberg, who in an impassioned address to the UN Climate Action Summit that followed a worldwide Climate Strike that brought out 4 million people worldwide and an unprecedented UN Youth Climate Summit, said, “We will be watching,” drove home the urgency of greater action by leaders, and their determination to hold leaders to account.

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Clearly the world’s leaders are finally listening to the rising tide of civic actions, including an outpouring of youth activists, not asking but demanding action on climate change – preventing the planet from heating more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, mitigating and adapting to the impacts of global warming, from rising sea levels, more frequent and violent superstorms, wildfires, droughts, floods and famines, extinction of wildlife and plants due to lost habitats, and the health impacts due to the spread of epidemics, disease and illness.

Major announcements by government and private sector leaders during the course of the day-long  United Nations Climate Action Summit, September 23, boosted climate action momentum, and demonstrated growing recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated.

77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so.

Over 100 business leaders delivered concrete actions to align with the Paris Agreement targets, and speed up the transition from the grey to green economy, including asset-owners holding over $2 trillion in assets and leading companies with combined value also over $2 trillion.

Many countries and over 100 cities – including many of the world’s largest – announced significant and concrete new steps to combat the climate crisis.

Many smaller countries, including Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, were among those who made the biggest pledges, despite the fact they have contributed the least to the problem.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, closing the Summit, said “You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go. We need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”

 Youth leaders including Greta Thunberg, who in an impassioned address that followed a worldwide Climate Strike, said, “We will be watching,” drove home the urgency of greater action by leaders, and their determination to hold leaders to account.

Youth Climate Strike, NYC (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Among the major announcements:

• France announced that it would not enter into any trade agreement with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement.

• Germany committed to carbon neutrality by 2050

• Russia, one of the few holdouts and one of the world’s largest carbon emitters, with an economy largely based on fossil fuel extraction and export, adopted the Paris Climate Agreement.

• 12 countries made financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. This is in addition to recent announcements from Norway, Germany, France and the United Kingdom who have recently doubled their present contributions.

• The United Kingdom made a major additional contribution, doubling its overall international climate finance to L11.6 billion for the period from 2020 to 2025.

• India pledged to increase renewable energy capacity to 175gw by 2022 and committed to further increasing to 450GW, and announced that 80 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance.

• China said it would cut emissions by over 12 billion tons annually, and would pursue a path of high quality growth and low carbon development.

• The European Union announced at least 25% of the next EU budget will be devoted to climate-related activities.

• The Russian Federation announced that they will ratify the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number of countries that have joined the Agreement to 187.

• Pakistan said it would plant more than 10 billion trees over the next five years. On unprecedented levels of private sector action:

• A group of the world’s largest asset-owners — responsible for directing more than $2 trillion in investments — committed to move to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.

• 87 major companies with a combined market capitalization of over US$ 2.3 trillion pledged to reduce emissions and align their businesses with what scientists say is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change—a 1.5°C future.

• 130 banks – one-third of the global banking sector – signed up to align their businesses with the Paris agreement goals On transitioning from brown to green energy:

• Michael Bloomberg will increase the funding and geographic spread of his coal phase out efforts to 30 countries. Already, his work has helped to close 297 out of 530 coal plants in the US.

• Countries, including France and New Zealand, announced that they will not allow oil or gas exploration on their lands or off-shore waters.

• Heads of State from Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia, are among those that announced that they will work to phase out coal. The Republic of Korea announced it would shut down four coal-fired power plants, and six more will be closed by 2022, as well as the doubling of its contribution to the Green Climate Fund.

• The Summit also delivered critical platforms for improving energy efficiency and reducing the growing energy needs for cooling, with the “Three Percent Club” coalition working to drive a three percent annual global increase in energy efficiency and the Cool Coalition setting ambitious national cooling targets for its members with the potential to deliver up to 1 degree on the pathway to a 2050 net zero carbon world. On scaling up financing and unlocking barriers to funds:

• Many countries announced new contributions to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change, with several countries, including France, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom, announcing that they would double their present contributions.

• Further, the Climate Investment Platform, officially announced during the Summit, will seek to directly mobilize US$ 1 trillion in clean energy investment by 2025 in 20 Least Developed Countries in its first year.

• The African Development Bank said it was doubling its climate-related financing to $25 billion by 2025. Funding will go to projects including a multi-billion initiative to develop 10,000 megawatts of solar power from the Sahara that will provide electricity to 250 million people. “What a difference a green, more prosperous, resilient, peaceful and secure future will mean,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank.

• Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment – just announced and the first of its kind – “will transform mainstream infrastructure investment and drive a  permanent shift toward climate resilient economy for all countries, but especially for low and mid income countries which bear the brunt” by providing data analytical tools to price in the cost of climate resiliency into investments, said John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson, one of the world’s largest insurance companies.

• The state of Maine committed to carbon neutrality by 2045.

• Summit initiatives were designed to ensure the actions undertaken would be fair for all, supporting jobs and clear air for better health, and protect the most vulnerable, as well as new initiatives on adaptation, agriculture and early warning systems that will protect 500 million additional people against the impacts of climate change.

At the UN Climate Action Summit, Governor Janet Mills (center) challenged leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New initiatives announced  have been designed to be scaled up to deliver impact at the global scale needed. The Secretary-General urged governments, businesses and people everywhere to join the initiatives announced at the Summit, and promised to “keep pushing” for greater ambition and action.

The Secretary-General committed the UN system to support implementation of plans presented at the Summit, with an initial report to be delivered at COP25 in Santiago, Chile.

A full list of the announcements and commitments made at the Climate Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange

See also:

Youth Climate Activist Greta Thunberg to UN Climate Summit: ‘If You Choose to Fail Us, I Say We Will Never Forgive You’

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Tells 250,000 at NYC Climate Strike: ‘We demand a safe future’