United States Subsidies

United States–$8.157 billion in 2015

The US Federal Government paid a total of USD 4.757 billion in 2015 subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, as well as USD 3.4 billion to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to subsidize fossil fuels in the residential sector. According to a G20 report in 2016, “Fossil-fuel subsidies are also often granted in order to avoid producers shutting down operating wells in response to sudden price drops.” However, the report continues, “Hedging producers against market-price volatility, however, reduces incentives to innovate and develop productivity-enhancing technologies.” Reliable, comparable statistics are not available for the amount paid in fossil fuel subsidies in 2010, but reports indicate a trend of decreasing subsidies over time as the US aims to meet the G20 goal of eliminating fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. Any change in subsidies to the industry will need to be passed by Congress, which currently leans toward supporting fossil fuels more than reducing subsidies to them. US energy-related carbon emissions have been falling gradually over time due to the expanded use of natural gas over oil and coal.

Under the current administration, and President Trump’s continued assertions that he will “bring back coal,” it is unlikely that fossil fuel subsidies will be reduced over the next three years. However, with decreasing costs of natural gas and increased technological capabilities to extract it, it is likely that fossil fuel-related emissions will continue to fall gradually due to the reduced emissions of natural gas relative to oil and coal.

Learn More

OECD (2016): “A report on the G20 peer review of inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption in the United States”
https://www.oecd.org/site/tadffss/publication/United%20States%20Peer%20review_G20_FFS_Review_final_of_20160902.pdf
U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report on carbon emissions in 2016:
https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=30712
White House “An America First Energy Plan”
https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-energy

United States Survey

On April 17, 2017, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication published an additional study of data gathered from registered voters in the time leading up to the 2016 federal election showing that 69% of registered voters believed the U.S. should participate in the Paris Agreement.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication recently published a survey of adults’ perceptions of climate change across the United States from 2008-2016, based on statistical models drawn from survey data of over 18,000 respondents over the age of 25 in the United States, combined with Census data from the same time period. Full access to the data is provided here: http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2016/. This interactive platform provides a visual depiction of the geographically-varied data, and can be used to estimate public perceptions of global warming and related issues at the county, state, and national level, as well as by congressional district.

The most significant finding of this survey is that, despite the efforts of very conservative politicians to convince the population that global warming is a hoax, 70% of adult Americans believe that global warming is happening, compared to only 12% of adult Americans who do not believe that global warming is happening.

While these numbers are reflective of positive trends in American perceptions of climate change, more than one in ten Americans does not believe in global warming, a larger number than would be comforting to proponents of international action on climate change.

The location with the largest percentage of respondents who believe that global warming is happening is Washington, D.C., and the highest percentages by county tend to be coastal counties, likely those that face the greatest threat from sea level rise. Lower percentages tend to be found in inland counties that tend to vote Republican, although the study points out that political party affiliation is not necessarily correlated with increased or decreased percentages of global warming believers.

Although, in a world with a global climate agreement that is entering its second year of force, it may seem that surveys investigating belief in global warming lag behind the modern pace of the world, the United States’ federal administration has indicated its intentions to act directly in opposition to climate change mitigation on the basis that global warming is a hoax. Therefore, it is more important now than ever to demonstrate that more than half of Americans do, in fact, believe that global warming is happening.

On April 17, 2017, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication published an additional study of data gathered from registered voters in the time leading up to the 2016 federal election showing that 69% of registered voters believed the U.S. should participate in the Paris Agreement. This survey and its results can be found here: http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/5-1-voters-say-u-s-participate-paris-climate-agreement/. Also shown by this survey is that almost half of Trump voters believed the U.S. should participate in the Paris Agreement (47% ), compared to 27% who believed the U.S. should not. This finding is significant, because it shows that, contrary to statements by President Trump that most of his voters support pulling out of the agreement, a majority of Americans support the U.S.’ participation in it.

Learn More

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication website:
http://climatecommunication.yale.edu
New York Times, “How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps:”
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/21/climate/how-americans-think-about-climate-change-in-six-maps.html?mcubz=0

United States Strategies

United States: (1) Given Federal government withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. US cities, states and businesses need to adopt strong emission reduction pledges (2) Business leaders need to commit to greenhouse gas reductions in all parts of the supply chain; (3) Cities and states need to draft legal regulations that require government to comply with GHG emission reduction standards.

The United States’ current commitment under the Paris Agreement is to a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. The Climate Action Tracker (prior to rating the US’s commitments “inadequate” due to President Trump’s stated intention to pull out of the Paris Agreement) initially rated the US’s commitments “medium,” and “at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution. This means it is not consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C, let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit, unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort.” Even if the federal government supported the US’s proposed reductions, they would be less than fair for a country that holds the largest share of the world’s economy.

In response to the federal government’s announcement, states, cities, businesses, organizations, and individuals have come together to announce their pledges to reduce greenhouse gases, many of which have pledged 80 to 100 percent reductions by 2050. It remains to be seen how these pledges will add up, but Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown are confident that the response from the private sector will be at least enough to meet the original INDC committed by the US.

Statements made by business leaders and mayors are important as symbolic commitments to climate action, but words do not achieve results. What is necessary is a strong, decisive commitment to greenhouse gas reductions in all parts of the supply chain. Businesses can do this by committing in their purchasing and distribution to use sustainably-sourced products that require lower greenhouse gas emissions, by reducing transport or offsetting emissions from transport, and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with production. Government leaders of cities and states should draft into law legal requirements as seen in Massachusetts with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 that required the state legally to comply with certain GHG-reducing provisions by 2025.

If the largest businesses in each industry make decisive commitments, it will encourage smaller businesses to do the same in order to remain competitive. Additionally, if enough states make these legal commitments, it will encourage others to follow suit. With luck, the US may exceed its original INDC commitment, despite the President’s direct efforts to undermine it.

Learn More

“We’re Still In” pledge by mayors, governors, business leaders, and organizations around the country:
http://wearestillin.com

“America’s Pledge” launched by Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg:
http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/jerry-brown-and-michael-bloomberg-launch-americas-pledge-in-support-of-paris/

Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act:
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2008/Chapter298

The RE 100 – list of 100 businesses committed to 100% renewable power:
http://there100.org

United States Renewable Energy

United States—No 2050 national commitment, but Hawaii and 5 cities are committed

The United States has not made a commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050. However, several cities have made the commitment with the hope of inspiring others to do the same. In fact, five cities including Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT, Greensburg, KS, Rock Port, MO, and Kodiak Island, AK are already powered 100% by renewable energy, according to the Sierra Club.

In addition, according to EcoWatch, the state of Hawaii is the first state committed to meeting its entire energy demand with renewables, with a target date of 2045. Part of the strength of Hawaii’s commitment to renewable energy comes from its bountiful capacity for rooftop solar power. HECO, Hawaii’s major public utility, also plans to use smart grid technology including demand management and energy storage to meet the state’s needs. The state employs a major tax credit program as well as a feed-in tariff to incentivize consumers to purchase and install solar panels

While no other state has committed to the 100% renewable energy target, many cities have made the commitment, including major cities such as Atlanta, GA (100% by 2035); Boulder, CO (100% by 2030); and San Jose, CA (100% by 2022). A major resource that cities are using to increase their percentage of renewable energy is a power purchasing plan allowing the city to purchase renewable energy from large solar or wind farms farther away—because these farms are removed from urban centers, they are able to cover large swaths of land capable of generating the electricity needed to power urban areas.

Notably, San Diego, CA, whose goal is to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035, includes a plan for 90% of its vehicles to be electric by that same year. Many cities, including San Jose, CA, are also combining aggressive plans to increase the amount of renewable energy generated within the city by rooftop solar panels with plans to reduce energy consumption overall.

Although the US has no national commitment to 100% renewable energy, there is hope that cities and states will commit to the target, as domestic pressure from constituents and international pressure from other signatories of the Paris Agreement mounts.

Learn More

The Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100” page: http://www.sierraclub.org/ready-for-100/cities-ready-for-100
Hawaii Enacts Nation’s First 100% Renewable Energy Standard (EcoWatch): https://www.ecowatch.com/hawaii-enacts-nations-first-100-renewable-energy-standard-1882047718.html
Hawaii’s HECO May Reach 100% Renewable Energy Target 5 Years Early (Clean Technica): https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/11/hawaiis-heco-may-reach-100-renewable-energy-target-5-years-early/
Cost of Solar Power in Hawaii: https://energytransition.org/2016/06/the-cost-of-solar-power-in-hawaii/

United States Success Project

United States—The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort between the Northeastern states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to reduce emissions from the power sector through a mandatory cap-and-trade program at the state and regional level. Following an agreement signed in 2005 by the governors of participating states, the mandate took effect on January 1st, 2009 and has shown tremendous success over the past eight years of its operation.

Requirements of the RGGI include a regional emissions cap that is lowered through legislative action as emissions levels in the region are progressively reduced to meet the cap level. States sell emissions allowances through quarterly auctions, and invest the revenue in such areas as renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate-related programs, and others.

According to a report released by the Congressional Research Service in May 2017, RGGI states generated 33% of their electricity from coal and other carbon-intensive fuel sources in 2005, but only 7% in 2016 after the first seven years of the implementation of the program. In doing so, the program has also contributed to a reduction in consumer electricity costs of $460 million across the region, according to a 2015 article from Thinkprogress.

The RGGI is important because it is an agreement between governors and reflects a commitment at the state level to climate change-mitigation policies that operate irrespective of the federal government’s stance on renewable energy and climate change policy. In the United States, this is especially relevant following President Trump’s recent announcement that he will withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement and his continued lack of support for— and in some cases outright opposition to— renewable energy and emissions reduction policies. The RGGI symbolizes a strong commitment from the Northeast region to reducing emissions, while serving as an example to other regions that this kind of policy can be both effective and economically beneficial to the region.

The RGGI could be scaled to include more states, or expanded to include an entire nation. Its success lies in its operation at the state level, and in its cooperative nature between multiple states which hold each other accountable to implement the program and share best practices.

In times with little federal support for climate change mitigation policies, it is increasingly important for strong, decisive action to be taken at the state level. The RGGI is a program that does just this, and its success over the past eight years of its implementation shows that it is a reliable program choice.

Learn More

RGGI website: https://www.rggi.org
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions page on RGGI: https://www.c2es.org/us-states-regions/regional-climate-initiatives/rggi
RGGI 2016 program review: https://www.rggi.org/design/2016-program-review
ThinkProgress article on electricity bill reductions through RGGI: https://thinkprogress.org/the-northeasts-electricity-bills-have-dropped-460-million-since-they-started-paying-for-carbon-67e8c4ccd211

United States Checkup

United States—Falling Behind

While under President Obama, the U.S. was on the right track to meeting its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2025, President Trump has already begun the process of reversing many of Obama’s crucial policies. Current projections estimate that at best, the U.S. will see a small increase in GHG emissions from current levels, and at worst, a large increase from current levels that matches the pathway projected prior to the enactment of Obama’s climate change regulations. Climate Advisers hosts a series of projections on its website, which can be found in the “Learn More” links below. The projections separate Obama-era regulations into “highly vulnerable,” “moderately vulnerable,” and “vulnerable,” based on how easily they can be undercut by executive orders or repealed through the Congressional Review Act. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the emissions reductions from Obama’s policies are at risk to be negated with little to no legal protections. Many of these originally projected reductions are based on policies that intended to phase out the use of coal to generate electricity, but the Trump Administration has openly supported reversing these policies in favor of new regulations that expand coal mining and use. As much as 48% of the projected emissions reduction by 2025 could be reversed if coal is promoted as a fuel, rather than phased out, according to an article in Climate Home (see below).

The Trump administration has also withdrawn the US from the Paris Agreement.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, the U.S. is rated “moderate” in its commitments, “meaning that it is not yet consistent with limiting warming to below 2°C, let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit.” However, the tracker notes, “If the current policy scenario under the Trump Administration were to be codified as an NDC, the rating would drop to ‘inadequate.” In line with this assessment, the Citizens Climate Agreement Campaign rates the US two stars, and notes the inadequacy of its NDCs on the global scale.

The current President had made his position of opposition to renewable energy and GHG emissions reductions very clear. While the trackers referenced above have not shifted to mirror the uncertain political climate, it is unlikely that the US will meet its commitments, and is highly likely that it will begin “backsliding,” even increasing its emissions overall from current and past levels.

The silver lining is that in the US private sector investments in renewables are growing, as is consumer demand for environmentally responsible products. Hopefully, the private sector will be able to make up some of the projected increase in emissions. However, since a major source of emissions is from coal-fired electricity generation, it is not likely that the private sector will be able to make up for all the difference.

Learn More

Climate Advisers’ assessment of risk from pulling out of agreement (includes graphic):
http://www.climateadvisers.com/trumpbacktracker/
Potential for US to “backslide” on its commitments without pulling out entirely:
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/05/09/climate-advocates-bonn-stumped-trump-dilemma/
Effects on global diplomacy of pulling out of the agreement:
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/05/09/china-warns-trump-leaving-paris-accord-risks-bad-deals-g7-g20/
Tillerson endorses action to protect Arctic from climate change:
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/05/12/us-endorses-global-action-curb-greenhouse-gases-arctic-summit/
Advisors want to stay in the agreement to “have a seat at the table,” while others want to pull out entirely:
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/05/10/us-no-longer-worthy-paris-agreement/

United States Emission Reduction Policy

Trump’s Executive Order on Federal Climate Policies

President Obama created the President’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) in June 2013, through which he directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote a 26-38 percent reduction of GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. Under this plan, the EPA is to promote reductions across the country in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the reduction in carbon emissions from the energy generation sector, the improvement of end-use efficiency of buildings and appliances, the reduction in pollution of hydrofluorocarbons and methane, and the promotion of carbon fixing processes through the protection of forests and other natural landscapes. This plan has been instrumental in the EPA’s creation of the Clean Power Plan, passed in 2015. It set a national target of a 32% reduction in emissions from the power generation sector from 2005 levels. The CAP has also encouraged states, cities, and counties across the nation to create their own climate action plans, and to commit to even greater GHG emissions reductions than the President’s CAP set forth. Finally, it has encouraged investment in and development of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind farms.

In March 2017, President Trump signed an executive order rescinding 23 federal climate policies, crippling the Clean Power Plan and destroying the Climate Action Plan, citing the energy industry’s need for unregulated growth. Through this executive order, the President is prioritizing the fossil fuel industry heavily over the renewable energy industry. President Trump has committed to “eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” according to the White House website. The Trump Administration believes that the CAP must be eliminated in order to “increase wages $30 billion over the next 7 years,” but fails to mention the cost to the environment of not reducing emissions.

If the US is to meet our commitments to the Paris Agreement, it is imperative that we uphold the Climate Action Plan. Without the plan or its support for the EPA’s emissions reductions regulations, GHG emissions are projected to only decrease 7% from 2005 levels to 2020, which marks an increase from current levels. While in the short run there might be an economic cost associated with the CAP, in the long run the environmental—and subsequent economic—costs of not maintaining and implementing the CAP will be much greater.

Currently, President Trump has not indicated his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement entirely, but under his new Executive Order the US will certainly not meet its nationally determined contributions to the agreement, and will likely not participate in further negotiations while President Trump remains in office.

Learn More

Effects of Trump’s executive order on climate change: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/trump-moves-to-dismantle-climate-rules-21286

The President’s Climate Action Plan: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf

Timeline of Progress Made in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: http://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-timeline-progress-of-president-obama-climate-action-plan

White House Fact Sheet on President’s Climate Action Plan: http://pcastarchive.net/PCAST4/www.whitehouse.gov/president-obama-climate-action-plan.html

Summary of Resources on President’s Climate Action Plan (Center for Climate and Energy Solutions):  https://www.c2es.org/federal/obama-climate-plan-resources

United States Extreme Weather Event

Drought in the State of California

Since 2012, California has suffered from a drought that reached its peak in the years 2014-2017. Characterized as an extended dry period caused by lack of precipitation and/or reduction in groundwater, the drought came at a tremendous cost to California and other surrounding states. In 2015 alone, it is estimated that the drought cost the state US$2.7 billion, largely in lost agricultural productivity and employment. Additionally, the drought increased the severity of wildfires and floods, destroying millions of trees and billions of dollars worth of property. As of early 2017, the drought has largely ended in northern California, but parts remain under extreme drought conditions in southern California.

While it is difficult to link individual weather events to climate change, researchers at Stanford University have suggested reduced atmospheric pressure—and subsequent reduced precipitation—as the root cause of the drought. They suggest that such a severe drought would not have occurred to the same extent without global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Another study connected increased global average temperatures from climate change with greater soil moisture evaporation, which increased the severity of the drought.

While the drought emergency has not yet been lifted by governor Jerry Brown, it is expected to be lifted within the next six weeks. Despite the hardship the state endured over the past five years, water policy has not improved as much as necessary to protect the state in the event of another drought like this one. However, water usage in the state remains greatly reduced from pre-drought levels, and monitoring and reporting practices are in the process of being made permanent fixtures of California law.

Learn More

Costs of the drought in 2015:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2015/08/19/california-drought-cost-27-billion-2015/32007967/

Studies linking drought and climate change:
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/september/drought-climate-change-092914.html
https://thinkprogress.org/how-much-of-californias-drought-was-caused-by-climate-change-scientists-now-have-the-answer-56ae9e33555f#.amp1gp8nh

Post-drought outlook for California:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/us/california-drought-snowpack.html?_r=0

United States Media Organizations

Broadcast Media

National Public Radio (NPR) is an independent radio broadcast organization funded by the government and with donations from the public.

From the NPR website: “NPR is a nationally acclaimed, non-profit multimedia organization and the leading provider of noncommercial news, information and entertainment programming to the American public. Launched in 1970 as a radio network by a group of public radio stations, today NPR is among the most successful news organizations in America and a growing presence in digital media including podcasting, mobile applications and social media.”

NPR airs environmental news daily, ranging from science to climate change to global environmental policy. The organization has no stated bias on climate change. They report about the US commitment to the Paris Agreement and about positions both pro and con regarding climate change.

Content Samples:

On January 25th, NPR published an article detailing the possible legal battle between California and the EPA’s potential new head, Scott Pruitt, over emissions standards in cars. California has always been granted a waiver to increase its emissions standards above the level set by the EPA, but in his confirmation hearing, Pruitt indicated he may not grant that waiver as head of the EPA. California governor Jerry Brown has vowed to fight the Trump administration and push for stronger climate-friendly policies in his home state and in others. This is an important issue because it calls to attention the likely inaction of the Trump administration on greenhouse gas reductions, but emphasizes the potential for states to act in climate-friendly ways despite the lack of support from the federal government.

On February 7th, NPR released an article fact-checking the claims of the Trump administration that policies to “bring back coal” would bring more revenue and jobs to the US while promoting a free market economy. The article showed that due to current trends, the energy market is shifting toward natural gas rather than coal because it is less expensive to produce and sell. Offering coal subsidies would increase energy prices and interfere with the free market, as well as inhibit the reduction of carbon emissions. This article is important because it holds accountable the energy industry and makes a case for “cleaner” fuel that releases less carbon.

Contact: An NPR program that frequently covers climate change issues is All Things Considered. One of the senior producers, Art Silverman, can be reached on Twitter using his handle @asilverman.

Press releases can be submitted here: http://help.npr.org/customer/portal/emails/new. The mailing address for the main office is: 1111 North Capitol St. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=climate
http://www.npr.org/series/9657621/climate-connections

Print Media

The New York Times is published by the New York Times Company. The contact page for the newspaper can be found here. The page recommends reaching out to an author directly through the link provided by clicking their byline.

The New York Times takes a strong stance supporting both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. They publish stories daily detailing recently-published climate studies, statements of politicians and corporate leaders on climate change and policy, international environmental policies, and other relevant stories. They also frequently release articles fact-checking claims by prominent Americans about climate change and energy policy.

Content Samples:

On February 5th, the New York Times published an article detailing the likely actions of Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick for the EPA, to cut its operations and reduce its regulations. The article predicts that Pruitt will act more within the legal framework of the EPA in order to make cuts to cripple the agency in ways that would last far beyond the current administration.

On February 7th, they printed an article titled “No Data Manipulation in 2015 Climate Study, Researchers Say.” This article was a direct challenge to claims made over the past years that a study released in 2015 showing increased global temperatures was done to influence the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The article emphasizes that the study was based on sound methods and had no bearing on the decision of global leaders to adopt the agreement. This article is important because it challenges a common statement of climate change deniers that the “science” behind global warming is being faked in order to influence policy.

Contact: Henry Fountain is a science writer who covers topics relating to the environment and climate change. He can be reached through his contact form or his twitter handle @henryfountain.  https://www.nytimes.com/section/science/

Online Media

The Daily Climate is a website dedicated to disseminating news related to climate change and other environmental issues. It is run by Brian Bienkowski and works as an independent media organization without political bias. The website publishes original content and shares relevant articles from other reputable news organizations daily, often with comment from the editors.

The organization collects news from media outlets ranging from center right to center left, but generally supports legislation to mitigate climate change, as well as the Paris Agreement and the US’s involvement in it.

Content Samples:

Of the original content published recently by The Daily Climate, two pieces stand out. The first, titled “The Holocene climate experience,” describes previous human societies’ responses to large scale environmental change, noting that these societies generally took a strongly reactive approach and as such, saw extremely high early mortality rates or a complete end to their societies. The article warns that in the modern era with such a high population, our society is not equipped to deal with climate change and, if left unchecked, its effects will be catastrophic. This article is important because it emphasizes the importance of climate change mitigation, and of paying attention to history in our predictions for the future.

The other article is an essay titled: “Meteorologists and the sacred position between people and science.” This piece compares the role of meteorologists in the fight against climate change denial to the role of a pediatrician who suspects child abuse and has the legal obligation to report it, even without conclusive proof. The essay emphasizes that even without the acceptance of climate change by many American politicians, meteorologists have the responsibility to forecast decades into the future and prepare the public for the consequences of inaction on climate change.

Contact: The Daily Climate can be reached with press releases through their website. The mailing address is: The Daily Climate, 421 Park Street, Suite 4, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Brian Bienkowski can be reached at 434-220-0348 ext 416. http://www.dailyclimate.org/
Henry Fountain is a science writer who covers topics relating to the environment and climate change. He can be reached through his contact form or his twitter handle @henryfountain.
The New York Times is published by the New York Times Company. The contact page for the newspaper can be found here. The page recommends reaching out to an author directly through the link provided by clicking their byline.
The New York Times takes a strong stance supporting both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. They publish stories daily detailing recently-published climate studies, statements of politicians and corporate leaders on climate change and policy, international environmental policies, and other relevant stories. They also frequently release articles fact-checking claims by prominent Americans about climate change and energy policy.

Content Samples:
On February 5th, the New York Times published an article detailing the likely actions of Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick for the EPA, to cut its operations and reduce its regulations. The article predicts that Pruitt will act more within the legal framework of the EPA in order to make cuts to cripple the agency in ways that would last far beyond the current administration.
On February 7th, they printed an article titled “No Data Manipulation in 2015 Climate Study, Researchers Say.” This article was a direct challenge to claims made over the past years that a study released in 2015 showing increased global temperatures was done to influence the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The article emphasizes that the study was based on sound methods and had no bearing on the decision of global leaders to adopt the agreement. This article is important because it challenges a common statement of climate change deniers that the “science” behind global warming is being faked in order to influence policy.

Online Media
Website: The Daily Climate
http://www.dailyclimate.org/
The Daily Climate is a website dedicated to disseminating news related to climate change and other environmental issues. It is run by Brian Bienkowski and works as an independent media organization without political bias. The website publishes original content and shares relevant articles from other reputable news organizations daily, often with comment from the editors.
The organization collects news from media outlets ranging from center right to center left, but generally supports legislation to mitigate climate change, as well as the Paris Agreement and the US’s involvement in it.
Content Samples:
Of the original content published recently by The Daily Climate, two pieces stand out. The first, titled “The Holocene climate experience,” describes previous human societies’ responses to large scale environmental change, noting that these societies generally took a strongly reactive approach and as such, saw extremely high early mortality rates or a complete end to their societies. The article warns that in the modern era with such a high population, our society is not equipped to deal with climate change and, if left unchecked, its effects will be catastrophic. This article is important because it emphasizes the importance of climate change mitigation, and of paying attention to history in our predictions for the future.
The other article is an essay titled: “Meteorologists and the sacred position between people and science.” This piece compares the role of meteorologists in the fight against climate change denial to the role of a pediatrician who suspects child abuse and has the legal obligation to report it, even without conclusive proof. The essay emphasizes that even without the acceptance of climate change by many American politicians, meteorologists have the responsibility to forecast decades into the future and prepare the public for the consequences of inaction on climate change.
The Daily Climate can be reached with press releases through their form here. The mailing address is: The Daily Climate, 421 Park Street, Suite 4, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Brian Bienkowski can be reached at 434-220-0348 ext 416.

United States Subnational Best Practices

Regions/Provinces/States

California—California’s work has had the most impact on national emissions, because of its large population and strong state policy. California’s Assembly Bill 32: the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 set a target of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, representing a 15% reduction in 2006-level emissions in a period of 14 years. Implementation is supported by a core “Climate Action Team,” which includes 18 state government departments working hard to reduce state-wide emissions. It is largely funded by a fee collected from the highest emitting sources in California, namely power plants and factories. As one of the first emissions reduction plans in the US, Bill 32 is at the forefront of the fight against climate change and sets an example for the rest of the nation to follow.

The California Energy Commission is also a strong player in the fight against climate change. The Commission runs California’s Renewable Energy Program, including the Renewables Portfolio Standard. The Renewables Portfolio Act requires that all electricity retailers obtain a minimum of 33% of their electricity from renewables by 2020. This works as a huge level of support for renewable electricity generation, and has worked to expand capacity not only in California, but in other states as well. Another important initiative in the fight against climate change is the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System, inspired by California’s Renewables Portfolio Act, which is based in Salt Lake City and works to certify electricity in the western US as “green” while helping to expand capacity throughout the western region.

Because emissions from electricity generation represent the largest proportion of all US emissions, California’s actions to encourage renewable electricity generation while also requiring an overall emissions reduction represents a strong step forward in the fight against climate change, and works as an example to states across the country who may follow its lead.

In a show of defiance to the incoming Trump administration, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen what were already far and away the most aggressive policies to fight climate change in the nation. That includes a legislatively mandated target of reducing carbon emissions in California to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “I wouldn’t underestimate California’s resolve if everything moves in this extreme climate denial direction. Yes, we will take action.” (NY Times Dec 28 Adam Nagourney and Henry Fountain, California at Forefront of Climate Fight, Won’t Back Down to Trump.”
Contact
Alana Matthews, Public Advisor
Telephone: 916-654-4489
Email: publicadviser@energy.ca.gov

New York—New York leads the nation in reducing emissions from transportation, with a state-wide vehicle miles traveled reduction target. The state also has stringent goals for reducing emissions, with a 40% overall reduction by 2030 with a 50% reduction by 2050, including a standard for 50% of electricity generated in New York to come from renewables. New York also emphasizes not only generation of energy, but end-use efficiency—the plan includes a target for a 23% decrease from 2012 levels in energy consumption of buildings.

A large portion of New York State’s success comes from New York City’s success in reducing emissions, and its stringent goals for the future. Together, the city and state lead the way in improving end use efficiency and conservation to reduce the overall amount of energy required, and therefore continue to reduce emissions.

Contact
Telephone: 518-862-1090
Email: info@nyserda.ny.gov

Massachusetts—Massachusetts is at the forefront of emissions reductions, with a plan signed into law in 2008 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% of 2005 levels by 2020, with a 80% reduction plan by 2050 to follow. By 2012, the state had already achieved a 24% emissions reduction, and is on target to overshoot its 2020 target.

A large contributor to the reductions is an increase in end-use efficiency, and another is the growth in renewable electricity generation. Recently, the state passed “An Act to Promote Energy Diversity,” a bill requiring the state to generate 1,600 megawatts from offshore wind. Construction of “Cape Wind,” a new offshore wind farm with a capacity of 468 megawatts, will begin soon.

Massachusetts has one of the most aggressive emissions reduction targets in the country, and works hard to create policies that will support these reductions. Based on its success so far, the state can stand as an example to other states in the nation to achieve their own reductions through policy and efficiency.

Contact
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Telephone: (617) 626-1000
Email: env.internet@state.ma.us

Learn More

California Assembly Bill 32:
https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ab32/ab32.htm

California Energy Commission:
http://energy.ca.gov

New York State Energy Plan:
https://energyplan.ny.gov

Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act:
http://www.mass.gov/eea/air-water-climate-change/climate-change/massachusetts-global-warming-solutions-act/

Cities

Boston, Massachusetts—Boston has committed to a 25% GHG emissions reduction by 2020, and an 80% reduction by 2050. The city hit its 2020 goal in 2014, and is currently aiming for a 35% emissions reduction goal. The city is committed to expanding its energy efficiency programs, increasing local and low-carbon energy sources—including direct energy and co-generation, and reducing emissions from public transportation, while reducing overall emissions from both residential and commercial buildings. Currently, the city has 14.3MW of installed solar power, and hopes to generate 15% of its energy from cogeneration by 2020. It has also committed to reducing vehicle miles traveled 5.5% from 2005 levels by 2020.

Contact
Boston’s Climate Action Plan can be found here: www.cityofboston.gov/eeos/pdfs/Greenovate Boston 2014 CAP Update_Full.pdf

Burlington, Vermont—Although Burlington is not a member of the Compact of Mayors, it is the first city in the US to be powered by 100% renewable energy. The city is also committed to reducing its GHG emissions from transportation to reduce its overall emissions.

Contact
Burlington’s Climate Action Plan can be found here: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/sites/default/files/CEDO/Sustainability/Climate%20Action%20Plan.pdf

New York, New York—New York City’s #OneNYC plan includes sustainability as one of its four pillars, and has so far been successful in accomplishing many of its goals, while maintaining a strict commitment to future targets. It is committed to an 80% GHG emissions reduction by 2050, with a commitment to reducing emissions from buildings 30% by 2025. In 2015, the city completely phased out the use of No. 6 fuel oil, the “dirtiest fuel oil,” and planted 1,000,000 new trees. Between 2013 and 2016, New York’s solar energy capacity tripled to become 75MW. Additionally, the city is committed to sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, and between 2014-2015 it increased the number of recycled goods by 5% while expanding its curbside organics collection program by more than 700,000 homes.

Contact
New York’s #OneNYC plan can be found here: http://www1.nyc.gov/html/onenyc/index.html

Oakland, California—Oakland is committed to a 36% reduction in GHG emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 and an 83% reduction by 2050. The commitment will be fulfilled through a reduction in vehicle miles traffic; a decrease in electricity consumption through renewable generation, conservation, and efficiency; a decrease in natural gas consumption through retrofitting buildings, expanding solar hot water capacity, and natural gas conservation. Additionally, the city will divert waste from landfills through waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting. By 2015, the city had reduced its GHG emissions by 14%.

Contact
Oakland’s Climate Action Plan can be found here: https://data.bloomberglp.com/mayors/sites/14/2015/08/Oakland-action-plan.pdf

Portland, Oregon—Portland is committed to a 40% GHG emissions reduction by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050. By 2015, the city had reduced its emissions 14% from 1990 levels, with a 29% reduction in gasoline usage since 1990, and 3 million new trees planted since 1996. Additionally, the city’s overall recycling rate is 70% and currently over 250 green building projects are in progress.

Contact
Portland’s Climate Action Plan can be found here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/531994

San Francisco, California—San Francisco is committed to an 80% reduction by 2050, with a commitment to supplying 100% of residential and 80% of commercial electricity from renewable sources by 2050. The city is also committed to reducing automobile travel 50% by 2017 and 80% by 2030. The San Francisco Energy Watch program helps businesses and individuals to complete energy efficiency projects, and by 2016 they had reduced GHG emissions by 53,367 mT. By 2015, San Francisco had reduced its citywide emissions 14.5% of 1995 levels.

Contact
San Francisco’s Climate Action Strategy can be found here: http://sfenvironment.org/sites/default/files/engagement_files/sfe_cc_ClimateActionStrategyUpdate2013.pdf

Seattle, Washington—Seattle is committed to reducing its GHG emissions 58% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. In order to accomplish its aggressive emissions reduction targets, it has incorporated input from community groups and individuals when writing its climate action plans. Seattle is committed to expanding public transit and walking/biking infrastructure. It is also committed to a 10% reduction in energy use of commercial buildings and a 20% reduction in energy use of residential buildings by 2030. Additionally, the city requires minimum energy performance standards for newly-constructed buildings and retrofitting of existing buildings to increase efficiency and reduce waste heat.

Contact
Seattle’s climate action plan can be found here: https://www.bbhub.io/mayors/sites/14/2015/08/2013_CAP_20130612.pdf

Washington D.C.—Washington DC is committed to an 80% GHG emissions reduction by 2050. By 2032, the district has committed to decreasing energy use by 50% and increasing the use of renewable energy by 50%, supplying 25% of the district’s food from within 100 miles of the city, and increasing public transit, walking, and biking to 75% of all commuter trips.

Contact
Washington D.C.’s sustainability plan can be found here: http://www.sustainabledc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/sustainable-dc-summary.pdf

Associations

US Climate Action Network—The goal of the Climate Action Network is to bring together a “bigger, better, and broader” network of organizations and communities working to combat climate change. The network includes over 150 organizations representing every state and climate interest.

Contact
Website:  http://www.usclimatenetwork.org/about-us/members