August Climate Good News: 7 Reasons to Have Hope

Sick of election news coverage yet? Does the negative banter make your brain go bonkers? Well, there’s over three months left – and the news cycle (election coverage aside) is enough to drive even the most optimistic souls into a mental funk. Yet quietly, alongside headlines fraught with dire predictions for humanity’s fate, there are amazing developments taking place to make our world a better place, for us and for future generations —in clean energy, in climate policy, and more. In fact, I heard today that it takes 7 POSITIVE THOUGHTS to overcome the power of one negative thought, so here are 7 reasons to take heart and feel hopeful.

Read and repeat as necessary to keep feelings of impending doom at bay:

  1. U.S. offshore wind just got a BIG BOOST: Massachusetts has committed to the nation’s most ambitious offshore wind energy target, passing the measure dramatically in the final hours of their legislative session. It will require local utilities to get 1,600 megawatts of their combined electricity from wind farms far offshore by 2027—the equivalent of three average-sized coal-fired power plants. There are a lot of things to love about offshore wind. Offshore wind employs nearly 60,000 workers in Europe. It’s extremely powerful. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, offshore wind tends to blow harder and more uniformly than on land. So what does this mean for Oregon? Laws like the one Massachusetts just passed will help create the economic incentive to build more offshore wind projects in the states. This means good things for our economy, our electricity bills, and our climate.
  2. Offshore wind is happening here: The nation’s first offshore wind farm DeepwaterWindis nearing completion. The first turbine was installed this week! When this 30-megawatt project off Rhode Island goes online by the year’s end, it will have five turbines anchored to the ocean floor, with enough capacity to power about 17,200 homes. Keep up to date with America’s first offshore wind project, Deepwater Wind here.
  3. Bend becomes latest Oregon city to act on climate: Earlier this summer, 130 people attended the Bend city meeting to advocate in favor of a proposed climate change resolution. The resolution establishes goals to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, develop community-wide emissions targets and create a climate action plan. Bend is already feeling the effects of climate change, with growing wildfires, decreased snowpack, and water for drinking and farming becoming more scarce. Impacts on its tourism industry are a major factor to consider as well; in 2015 Mt. Bachelor had its earliest closing date in nearly 40 years, ending the winter ski season early due to low snowpack. Nearby Hoodoo and Willamette Falls ski areas barely opened that year. Portland and Eugene have city-led climate change goals; Ashland is working establishing its plan. Kudos to Bend for taking charge and being a local climate leader!
  4. Clean energy investments! Thanks, Obama: The White House recently announced major investments in EV charging infrastructure ($4.5 billion), with plans to develop key electric vehicle “charging corridors” across the country and research initiatives to improve EV charging technologies.  “This is great news,” says Charlie Botsford of AeroVironment, the group that manages public charging stations along the West Coast Electric Highway that runs through Oregon. “We’ve served as a model during the development of other charging networks; Oregon has the best per capita DC fast charging network in the nation. It’s great that Oregon can be a positive example of what a strong EV charging infrastructure looks like as our country works to makes EV infrastructure more accessible!” Another fun tidbit about this news: the Energy Department is planning to research how to build charging technologies that can power up an EV with a 200-mile range in the space of 10 minutes—the time it takes to grab your morning cup of coffee, catch a Pokemon or two (gotta catch ’em all), and hit the road again!
  5. Every government agency must consider climate change: In another big move by the Obama administration to prioritize climate progress, the Council on Environmental Quality will require all government agencies to include climate change as a factor in environmental impact reports for proposed projects. This means that government agencies will now have to account for the greenhouse gas emissions of a new project, or, conversely, how much carbon a project may sequester. In knowing this, we can make more informed decisions about the kind of projects we want to fund, stopping or course-correcting any project that would increase our country’s carbon footprint.
  6. California’s climate program success: It’s been ten years since California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) was signed. It is the first of its kind, a landmark law signed in 2006 mandating a statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, a 25 percent reduction from the state’s “business as usual” forecast. It was ambitious, controversial and could either provide the example of how climate policy could succeed brilliantly, or fail tragically. According to a new assessment from the Union of Concerned Scientists, California is on track ten years later to meet its GHG reduction goals, while its economy continues to grow faster than the rest of the country. Job growth is keeping pace with population growth, all while California is reducing electricity consumption and consuming less oil. Read UCS’ full assessment here.
  7. Portland climate leader gets acknowledged in a big way: One of Oregon’s own was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for her work in climate equity. Desiree Williams-Rajee is the Equity Specialist for the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. She led an effort to engage organizations that serve communities of color and low-income populations to create a climate plan that reduces carbon emissions, prepares for climate impacts, and delivers more equitable outcomes for Portland’s underserved and underrepresented communities. Her work has inspired other cities to incorporate similar equity considerations into their climate action planning efforts. The final plan reflected a groundbreaking process that catalyzed the agency to rethink climate policy and public involvement and reignited a grassroots climate and environmental justice movement within Portland’s communities of color. Congratulations, Desiree! You’ve made Portland very proud.

So don’t lose heart; there are many great actions taking place locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to save the world. You can be a part of it! Sign up for Oregon Environmental Council’s Grassroots Action and Information Network to be alerted to timely ways you can speak up and act to protect our climate.

– Devon Downeysmith, Climate Communications & Outreach Manager

 

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