Guess what? It's time to pack away your despair and cynicism on climate for good! This week, the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies released a report that found our work to replace coal plants with clean energy has brought U.S. carbon emissions to the lowest levels since 1995. In fact, thanks to the work of more than 100 organizations in the Beyond Coal network, the U.S. has led the world in cutting carbon over the past decade.
Michael Bloomberg and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune summed it up this way, in an op-ed for CNN:
Here's some good news that many Americans may not realize: Domestically, we are winning the fight against the carbon pollution that drives climate change. And by doing so, we are giving President Obama a strong hand to play when world leaders gather at the U.N.'s climate summit in Paris in five weeks to negotiate a global agreement to limit carbon emissions.
The report found that, here in 2015, our Beyond Coal work has already reduced carbon emissions further than we would have under climate legislation that died in the U.S. Senate back in 2010. Even better, when we reach our 2017 goal of securing replacement of half of U.S. coal plants with clean energy, we'll be able to double the carbon reductions that will be delivered by the Clean Power Plan alone.
Every day when I get to work, I can't believe I have the good fortune of spending my life working with this group of game-changers. It gives me boundless hope for my daughter's future. And the best part is that we're just getting started, which is essential, because the science is clear that we have to leave much of our fossil fuels in the ground if we hope to pass on a habitable planet to our kids. We've got momentum, and we're doubling down -- here are some examples from just the past week:
-- On Sunday I was in Waukegan, Illinois, for a Dia de Los Muertos march and vigil calling on NRG to move beyond coal. The coal plant there is almost 60-years-old, has the bare minimum controls for air pollution, and is in a predominantly Latino community on the shore of Lake Michigan. We were 150+ strong, led by frontline community members, calling on NRG for a #CleanWaukegan! It was a powerful event in an incredibly inspiring campaign. And a crew from Years of Living Dangerously was there to cover it, so stay tuned...
-- In New York, the grid operator released a report green-lighting the retirement of two coal plants, which means half the state's fleet of dirty and uneconomical coal plants can be responsibly retired. As our campaign representative for New York, Lisa Dix, described it it:
This is the end of the coal era for NRG Energy in New York. The report concludes that the Dunkirk and Huntley coal-fired power plants are no longer needed to keep the lights on in New York. We urge Governor Cuomo to commit to phasing out coal in New York by 2020 and ensure that there is a just and fair transition for the communities affected by these retirements.
-- This week, Sierra Club president Aaron Mair joined Senators Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley, along with climate leader Bill McKibben, for the introduction of the "Keep it in the Ground Act." The bill would take another important step towards solving climate change by ending the extraction of fossil fuels on federal lands owned by all of us -- the American people. Through the work of both our Beyond Coal and Our Wild America campaigns, the Sierra Club has been at the forefront of this work for many years, and this legislation is an important milestone in that long fight.
-- In Asheville, North Carolina, Duke Energy announced it was canceling plans to build a massive new transmission line and scaling back its plans for natural gas. The announcement came after sustained community opposition to Duke's plans for large new natural gas projects. Kelly Martin, our North Carolina campaign representative, had this reaction:
Investments in energy efficiency and clean energy are a smart bet and, if done right, could prevent the need for any more natural gas to be built in our region....We look forward to the day when Duke Energy ends its reliance on fossil fuels altogether, for the sake of our public health, water quality, and slowing down climate change.
And I could go on! That's a mere sampling of the many steps forward we're making nationwide, from just the past few days. So much inspiring progress, and every week the momentum keeps growing. Thank you to everyone out there who is working together to power the nation with clean energy and move beyond fossil fuels -- you give me hope for my daughter's future.