Dramatically higher than previously estimated, fossil fuel subsidies exceed what the world’s governments spend on health care, according to the International Monetary Fund. What’s more, they’re likely to remain this high — despite fossil fuels being the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the main culprit driving climate change.
Policy & Government
A catch all category for government, politics and initiatives to influence either.
SPECIAL SERIES: Disrupting Short-Termism
Between 10 and 30 percent of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs sold are left unconsumed, and all those leftover medications pose significant risks to public health and the environment. But CVS Health has decided it wants to do its part to stem the tide of prescription and over-the-counter medications filling up our medicine cabinets and clogging our waterways.
The decision to give Shell Oil the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic “shows why we may never win the fight against climate change,” Bill McKibben wrote in a scathing New York Times op-ed piece. “Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no.”
An Amtrak train derailed last week in Pennsylvania, which triggered a set of questions that are not often associated with tragedy. Questions like, “Is Amtrak underfunded?” and “Could technology have prevented the crash?” seem out of left field. But given the current state of politics in Washington, these questions seem more legitimate.
For five years, companies that make toxic flame retardant chemicals told us that they had hard science to show that their products save lives. Without flame retardants in all of our furniture, they’d say, thousands of children would die in house fires every year. That’s untrue. Here’s the story of the man who crafted the message.
During his inaugural address back in January, California Gov. Jerry Brown called for 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The clean energy plan “is economically sound, environmentally beneficial and achievable,” according to a detailed analysis and policy guidance report from Strategen Consulting.
Enabling consumers to choose between competing energy providers is a paradigm shift, and with the advent of community choice aggregation (CCA), that shift is in gear.
The “Philadelphia energy hub” is stuck in the promotional stage of the issue attention-cycle, in which boosters and doomsayers each try to create a narrative that benefits a strategic interest. To have a real discussion about a Philadelphia energy hub, we need to move beyond simplistic references to good things like “a manufacturing revival” and bad things like “an environmental sacrifice zone.” Now, we have two monologues: one saying “absolutely yes” and one saying “absolutely no.” The extremes have a right to state their yes or no positions, and personally I’m glad to have them both on the scene. But the question for the large majority of us is not, “yes or no?” The question is, “under what conditions?”
In a shocking development, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, headed by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Texas), submitted a new budget for NASA that would cut the earth science budget by $300 million. Ironically, this is happening at a time when NASA just reported that atmospheric carbon dioxide has exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human history.
Oregon was on the leading edge of domestic climate policy in the late ’90s with the nation’s first carbon dioxide regulation, but it has not kept pace, admitting failure on its own climate impact goals established in 2007. There are several promising Oregon bills that would bring the state back to the forefront of climate action.
Studies show that communities with statistically recognized transportation issues benefit the most from having a bike-share option in their neighborhood. However, disproportionately, some of the most recognized bike-share programs in the country have been met with controversy for lack of equitable distribution in core neighborhoods characterized by less affluence.
Greenpeace rates tech companies on their data centers. Oxfam America ranks food brands on the sustainability of their supply chains. The League of Conservation Voters scores elected officials on their voting records. But who rates, ranks and scores Greenpeace, Oxfam America and the League of Conservation Voters? Or The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International or WWF? For now, no one.
The global humanitarian community is feeling the strain from increasing numbers of disasters. Climate change is a big contributor to the trend, as it increases risks and vulnerabilities from natural hazards such as drought, floods and storms and impacts peoples’ livelihoods, health and food systems. Leaders in the humanitarian community recognize that a shift must be made toward an approach that addresses the risks, shocks and stresses to which people are vulnerable, rather than only fixing problems after they occur. There are numerous good-practice examples that can be scaled-up to form the basis for systemwide change.