Global Warming Solutions

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

- Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee

The last generation

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

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

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

Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky/Bigstock

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

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

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

 

Credit: Mavrick/Shutterstock

The Clean Power Plan

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

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

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

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

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

More than 8 million supporters

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

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

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

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

Credit: Staff

Protect our children's future

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

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

Issue updates

Report | Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center

In the Path of the Storm

Since 2007 , federally declared weather-related disasters in the United States have affected counties housing 243 million people – or nearly four out of five Americans. The breadth and severity of weather-related disasters in the United States – coupled with the emerging science on the potential for global warming to exacerbate some types of extreme weather – suggest that the United States should take urgent action to reduce emissions of global warming pollution, while taking steps to prepare for the dangers posed by climate change.

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Report | Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center

A Double Success

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a central strategy in the Northeastern states’ efforts to protect the region from global warming. The program, which took effect in 2009, has succeeded in cutting carbon dioxide emissions and demonstrating the effectiveness of cap-and-trade as a global warming solution while helping to sustain a growing regional economy. 

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Report | Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center

Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water

Coal- and natural gas-fired power plants pollute our air, are major contributors to global warming, and consume vast amounts of water—harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. Wind energy has none of these problems. It produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming, and uses no water.

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News Release | Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center

Obama Administration Finalizes Historic Clean Car Standards

Today the Obama administration finalized new clean car standards that will double the fuel efficiency of today’s vehicles by 2025, drastically reducing emissions of carbon pollution and cutting oil use in Maryland and nationwide. The standards will cover new cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025, and require those vehicles to meet the equivalent of a 54.5 miles-per-gallon standard by 2025.

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Report | Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center

Charging Forward: The Emergence of Electric Vehicles and Their Role in Reducing Oil Consumption

Fully electric vehicles, with zero direct emissions, are emerging as a market-viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. For the first time in the history of the modern automobile industry, vehicles that do not run on oil have started to appear on American roads, signaling the beginning of the end for the monopoly of the internal combustion engine.

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