Fighting to Win: Your Monthly Dose of Climate Good News

It’s been a hard month. While there is good news, it’s important to take the time to acknowledge that sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the realities of climate change. And so, the continual challenge is to STAY INSPIRED: Inspired amidst the headlines, which often focus on the doom and gloom, and amidst the climate impacts, which are hitting close to home, and often more intensely than anticipated.

Thankfully, just as the world is changing, so is our collective consciousness evolving. This evolution can be seen in recent policy advancements that will clean up our energy mix, in the ever-growing fossil fuel divestment movement, in the soaring clean energy economy revolution, and much more. So that is the good news, climate advocates. And here is more climate good news to keep you inspired:

  • Governor Kate Brown and West Coast leaders sign groundbreaking clean energy agreement: Members of west coast leadership, including three governors, the B.C environment minister, and six mayors, joined forces to sign the Pacific North America Climate Leadership Agreement, an agreement that will move the region’s clean energy economy forward. Our Governor, Kate Brown, spoke about this important partnership, stating: “Oregon took action this year to create a vision of a future free of coal-powered electricity, a testament to our commitment to reduce global carbon emissions. The Pacific Coast region is leading the fight against climate change, and our partnership demonstrates that we’re even more powerful when we collaborate.”Key requirements of the agreement include: 1) implementing energy data reporting and benchmarking for at least 75 percent of eligible large building square footage; 2) expanding adoption of zero-emission vehicles and development of a Pacific Coast electric vehicle charging network; 3) accelerating the deployment community-scale renewable energy, including lowering the carbon intensity of heating fuels; and 4) reducing carbon emissions from the food waste stream. With a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion, the Pacific North America region represents the world’s fifth largest economy, making this agreement not merely symbolic in nature, but truly influential. Oregon and the entire west coast region are major players in motivating a nationwide transition to a clean energy economy.
  • Portland Public School System Bans Climate-Denying Textbooks: Last month the Portland Public School Board voted to ELIMINATE textbooks and materials that “express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.” The resolution was created by the Portland chapter of 350.org and other community members, and also includes provisions to ensure that Portland Public Schools includes climate justice as part of its curricula. Kids are not only students, but often teach their own families about important environmental initiatives. It’s critical that the next generation has accurate information about the causes and effects of climate change. A big thanks to Portland 350.org for spearheading this important initiative!
  • Norway is moving towards banning all fossil fuel-powered cars by 2025: While Oregon continues to set an example for the U.S. on clean energy and climate policy, so does Norway for the rest of the world. With politicians from both sides of the aisle in agreement with this latest decision, Norway is perhaps one of the most environmentally enlightened countries on the planet. Currently about 24 percent of the country’s cars already run on electricity. And Norway is not the only government considering a ban of internal combustion vehicles; India and the Netherlands are too!
  • The largest public pension fund in our nation’s capitol just went fossil-free: The largest public pension fund in Washington, D.C. has decided to divest its $6.4 billion fund of all direct holdings in fossil fuels. Over the last several years the District of Columbia Retirement Board has been discreetly selling off its shares in oil, natural gas and coal, but made a public announcement of the decision just this week.We’ve seen divestment used as a powerful tool to incite global change. Most notably, the South African divestment campaign of the 1980’s helped put an end to apartheid, while more recent divestment campaigns have helped end violence in Darfur, and highlighted dangerous or unethical industries by divesting from tobacco, automatic weapons, sweatshop labor, landmines and more. Divestment from fossil fuels sends a powerful message to big oil and coal, encouraging the global transition to a clean energy economy, and helping break the hold these industries have on our economy.
  • California’s low-carbon fuel standard is working: Over the five years of the life of the program, supplies and use of lower-carbon, alternative fuels have grown by 36 percent California, displacing the need for over 6.6 billion gallons of petroleum based gasoline and diesel. The program has created the one the world’s largest clean fuels markets, increasing investments in clean fuels by an estimated $650 million.And, it’s estimated that the standard has helped California avoid $1.6 billion in health-related impacts from air pollution so far. These benefits will continue to grow to an estimated $8.2 billion annually by 2025 as the use of very low-carbon fuels grows. These clean transportation programs are estimated to have helped avoid nearly 90,000 cases of respiratory symptoms, 8,000 cases of asthma-related health issues, and 15,000 lost work days. Over time, these numbers will also continue to grow. There are many more benefits that can be explored here.

This is but a sampling; there is plenty of good news out there – and what’s perhaps most inspiring, is that Oregon and the entire West Coast are leaders in the global fight for a healthy and stable climate. We live in a place that is working hard to prioritize climate, from cleaning up our energy mix, to teaching our kids to be future climate leaders. We have a lot of work to do, but we’re a state that’s willing to do it. So whenever you feel disheartened, look here for the good news. We’ll round it up here to help keep you inspired.

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