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CA M PA I G N U P DAT E

CLIMATE ACTION: THE WORLD CAN’T WAIT—AND ISN’T WAITING—ON TRUMP

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to roll back Obama-era plans to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from power plants and automobiles. But for those who find themselves despairing at the Trump Administration’s head-in-the-sand approach to the climate crisis, Roland Hwang, managing director of NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy program, has some advice: Look beyond Washing­ton. “When it comes to climate change, the good news is that we know what we need to do—focus on the big, proven

“When it comes to climate change, the good news is we know what we need to do.”

Clockwise from top left: Tropical Storm Irma, Charleston, South Carolina, 2017; Delta Fire, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California, 2018; a solar thermal power station in Nevada; Spring Valley Wind Farm, Ely, Nevada

transparent system to hold countries to their emissions reduction commitments. Despite the Trump Administration’s embarrassing attempts to tout the so-called benefits of fossil fuels, the summit also demonstrated the powerful spirit of resolve that’s sweeping across the United States in defiance of the president. NRDC joined with state and local officials and other advocacy groups to form an unofficial delegation that dwarfed the one sent by the Trump Administration. For example, as the pro-fossil-fuel presentation by one Trump official was being drowned out by chants

of “Shame on you!” the alternate U.S. delegation was hosting events featuring leaders like Bill Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh, a city once synonymous with coal that has pledged to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2035. Back in the United States, NRDC continues waging multiple courtroom battles aimed at beating back Trump’s reckless fossil fuel agenda. And we’re working to prevail on the new pro-environment majority in the House to promote a green economy and use its authority to investigate the administration’s derelict response to climate change, such as its attempts

clean energy solutions that are already delivering results,” says Hwang, noting that carbon emissions in the U.S. electric power sector have fallen by 28 percent over the past decade. “We’ve spent years laying the groundwork, whether it’s advocating for advances in energy efficiency and renewable energy or for smarter, more sustainable transportation systems. That work is paying off at the state and local levels, where we are confronting climate change head-on.” Dramatic advances in wind and solar technology, for example, have caused the cost of renewable energy to plunge by more than 70 percent in just 10 years. That has made it possible for cities and states to lead the charge toward a clean energy future. Nevada voters backed an NRDC-endorsed referendum that requires 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. Illinois voters elected a governor who has pledged to transition the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. [Continued on next page.]

STORM © MIC SMITH/AP PHOTO; FIRE © NOAH BERGER/AP PHOTO; SOLAR POWER © FERRAN TRAITE/ISTOCK; WIND FARM © JEREMY NIXON/ALAMY

hen delegates from almost 200 coun­ tries gathered in Katowice, Poland, in Decem­ber for a major United Nations climate summit, the stakes could hardly have been higher. Just two months before, the U.N.’s Interna­ tional Panel on Climate Change had issued a dire new report warning that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and that unless countries act swiftly to rein in carbon emissions, the world will face a climate catastrophe. The report alone might have been enough to cast a pall over the delegates’ task of hashing out a set of rules to implement the landmark Paris climate agreement of 2015, which the United States had taken a lead role in negotiating. Now the federal government of the world’s second-largest carbon polluter was in the grip of perhaps the world’s most notorious climate denier: Donald Trump. His rejection of climate science has not wavered in the face of his administration’s own recent alarming climate report nor a spate of climate-fueled natural disasters, including two powerful hurricanes and the most destructive wildfires in California history. Yet when Jake Schmidt, managing director of NRDC’s International program and a 15-year veteran of U.N. climate talks, arrived in Poland, he found the mood was far from grim. “There’s a clear sense of urgency, but there’s also optimism based on the progress that’s already being made toward cleaner energy and other climate solutions,” says Schmidt. “Don’t get me wrong; there’s a big difference when the United States is not leading but is instead aligning itself with countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to downplay the latest climate science. But one of the key takeaways from the success we achieved in Poland is that the world isn’t waiting on Trump.” Capitalizing on relationships forged over a decade or more working with countries like China, India and those in Latin America, the NRDC delegation helped push for a strong set of rules to drive the Paris agreement forward, including a common,

Profile for NRDC

Nature's Voice Spring 2019  

Nature's Voice Spring 2019  

Profile for nrdc