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 Minnesota Research & Policy Center

Shining Cities

Solar power is on the rise across the country. The United States has more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed today as it did in 2002. With solar module prices coming down, increasing national awareness of solar energy, and a growing legion of solar businesses large and small, solar power is emerging as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy and the environment.

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News Release | Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Environment Minnesota to Release Report Highlighting Solar Progress in Minneapolis

Environment Minnesota will hold a news conference releasing a new report, “Shining Cities:  At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution,” a first-of-its- kind comparison of installed solar in major cities across the U.S.  Minneapolis will be compared to other U.S. cities.  Speakers will also address best practices for advancing solar in Minneapolis.

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News Release | Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center

New Report Highlights Solar Progress in Minneapolis

Environment Minnesota will hold a news conference releasing a new report, “Shining Cities:  At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution,” a first-of-its- kind comparison of installed solar in major cities across the U.S.  Minneapolis will be compared to other U.S. cities.  Speakers will also address best practices for advancing solar in Minneapolis.

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Report

Wind Energy for a Cleaner America

A new report released today by Environment Minnesota revealed that Minnesota’s wind energy is already avoiding more than 4.5 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution – the equivalent of taking almost 950,000 cars off the road, while saving over 2 billion gallons of water per year – enough to meet the needs of over 80,000 people.

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News Release | Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County Power Plant is Minnesota’s Biggest Global Warming Polluter, 21st Most Carbon-Polluting Plant in the Country

On the heels of summer storms that caused record power outages in the Twin Cities and in the midst of a severe drought across the Midwest, a new report from the Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center finds that Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County or “Sherco” Power Plant is the state’s biggest carbon polluter, producing as much global warming pollution as 2.7 million cars each year. Sherco is the 21st most carbon-polluting power plant in the country, according to the report.

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