The last generation

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

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

Since 2000, we’ve experienced 16 of the 17 warmest years on record  including 2016, 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, and storms growing more powerful, and droughts and other forms of extreme weather more disruptive.

A two-part challenge

Nobody, of course, wants to leave the next generation a world where heat waves, floods, droughts and worse are the “new normal,” everyday events in an increasingly dangerous world.

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

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

The Clean Power Plan

Over the past eight years, we’ve made significant progress to reduce global warming pollution and to make sure we leave kids growing up today a cleaner, healthier planet.

For example, in June 2014 President Obama moved forward with what The New York Times called “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.”

His plan is called the Clean Power Plan and it 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 #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 building block to the success of the president’s climate deal with China — which is itself the cornerstone to a broader global agreement. 

More than 8 million supporters

A recent poll shows that 2/3 of all Americans back the idea. Americans 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, some members of Congress — including backers of the fossil fuel industry and those who still deny the overwhelming science behind climate change  have vowed to do everything in their power to block the plan.

What can and must we do to see that the Clean Power Plan remains in place?

First, in Congress, we must persuade enough representatives and senators to defend the Clean Power Plan and other necessary protections from repeal and rollback. 

Second, outside of Washington, we must persuade both Republican and Democratic governors who support clean energy to stand behind the Clean Power Plan  and thereby signal to Congress and the courts that blocking this plan will be politically unpopular.

Third, we must keep showing all of these officials that local leaders and the public are with us and willing to speak out on this issue  because we know when the public leads, our leaders will, eventually, follow. 

Protect our children's future

That’s what happened when we helped mobilize public opinion and support to turn back attacks on solar in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico and won new commitments to solar in Austin and Houston, Athens and Atlanta, and New York State and California, among other places. Over the last 10 years, we’ve helped establish dozens of pro-solar programs, including the biggest: California’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative.

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 #1 global warming polluters. 

 

Global Warming Updates

Report | Wisconsin Environment

In the Path of the Storm

Weather disasters kill or injure hundreds of Americans each year and cause billions of dollars in damage. The risks posed by some types of weather-related disasters will likely increase in a warming world. Scientists have already detected increases in extreme precipitation events and heat waves in the United States, and climate science tells us that global warming will likely lead to further changes in weather extremes.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Wisconsin Environment Applauds Nomination of Gina McCarthy for EPA Administrator

Madison, WI — Today, President Obama nominated Gina McCarthy for the next administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, replacing outgoing Administrator Lisa Jackson. McCarthy is currently the assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA, and previously held top environmental positions in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Megan Severson, state advocate for Wisconsin Environment, issued the following statement in response:

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center

Wind Energy in Wisconsin Prevents as Much Global Warming Pollution as Taking 133,000 Cars Off the Road Each Year

As this summer’s drought prompts more Wisconsinites to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Wisconsin Environment released a new report today that shows that Wisconsin’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 133,000 cars off the road per year. 

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Report | Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center

Wind Power for a Cleaner America

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 | Wisconsin Environment

Obama Administration Finalizes Historic Clean Car Standards

Madison, WI—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 Wisconsin 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.  A recent joint analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Union of Concerned Scientists projects that by 2030 in Wisconsin alone, the standards will cut carbon pollution from vehicles by 3.9 million metric tons—the equivalent of the annual pollution of 598,000 of today’s vehicles—and save 335 million gallons of fuel. 

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