Paris cli­mate ac­cord is alive and well in US

Amer­i­can al­liance will share in Ger­many this week the im­pres­sive progress now un­der­way in­many parts of the coun­try to build a clean en­ergy econ­omy.

The Mercury News - - Opinion - By Adam Stern Adam Stern is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ac­terra, a Bay Area en­vi­ron­men­tal group based in Palo Alto. He wrote this for the Bay Area News Group.

As the world’s na­tions gather in Bonn, Ger­many this week for the lat­est round of U. N. cli­mate talks, the of­fi­cial U. S. del­e­ga­tion will strug­gle to rep­re­sent our coun­try in the wake of Pres­i­dent Trump’s an­nounce­ment in June that he in­tends to with­draw the United States from the Paris cli­mate ac­cord.

But a new, un­of­fi­cial U. S. coali­tion will also be on hand at the talks. “We Are Still In” is a 2,500-mem­ber al­liance of strong Amer­i­can voices from busi­nesses, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and uni­ver­si­ties com­mit­ted to meet­ing our green­house gas re­duc­tion tar­gets.

They will host a US Cli­mate Ac­tion Cen­ter in Bonn that will as­sure the world that many U. S. in­sti­tu­tions still sup­port the Paris agree­ment.

The al­liance will share the im­pres­sive progress now un­der­way in many parts of the coun­try to build a clean en­ergy econ­omy.

The strength­en­ing move­ment in Amer­ica to ad­dress cli­mate change, rather than deny it as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would have us do, is lead­ing to dra­matic shifts to­ward us­ing re­new­able power such as wind and so­lar.

Mean­while, China and In­dia are work­ing on timeta­bles to ban in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines, lead­ing Cal­i­for­nia to con­sider do­ing the same. GM and Ford are em­brac­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles as cheaper bat­tery tech­nol­ogy makes the cars more af­ford­able, and grow­ing net­works of elec­tric charg­ers of­fer con­ve­nience and re­li­a­bil­ity.

Some of the best ex­am­ples of cli­mate progress are com­ing from Cal­i­for­nia. In July, Gov. Jerry Brown signed bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion ex­tend­ing the state’s cap and trade pro­gram to 2030.

This mar­ket- based sys­tem — to­gether with Cal­i­for­nia’s re­new­ables port­fo­lio stan­dard — is on track to re­duce statewide green­house gas emis­sions to 40 per­cent be­low 1990 lev­els by 2030. Pol­lu­tion re­duc­tions have been achieved in Cal­i­for­nia even as the state’s pop­u­la­tion and econ­omy con­tinue to grow.

In the Bay Area, new Com­mu­nity Choice En­ergy agen­cies are spring­ing up to de­liver more car­bon-free power at rates lower than PG& E.

Penin­sula Clean En­ergy, which now serves 289,000 cus­tomer ac­counts in San Ma­teo County, has an­nounced that its clean elec­tric­ity is avoid­ing 308,000 met­ric tons in an­nual emis­sions and sav­ing res­i­dents and busi­nesses $17 mil­lion per year.

Sil­i­con Val­ley Clean En­ergy is pro­vid­ing power for 12 cities in Santa Clara County. Sim­i­lar agen­cies are up and run­ning in Marin and San Fran­cisco. Alameda County and San Jose will start their pro­grams in 2018.

The Bay Area Air Qual­ity Man­age­ment Dis­trict, best known for its “Spare the Air” alerts, is work­ing to im­ple­ment a new clean air plan and cli­mate strat­egy.

The plan en­vi­sions a low­car­bon econ­omy that meets air qual­ity stan­dards and re­duces health risks in Bay Area com­mu­ni­ties. The Air Dis­trict is play­ing a vi­tal role co­or­di­nat­ing the ac­tions of cities and in­dus­tries in the tran­si­tion away from fos­sil fu­els.

Face­book re­ported in 2016 that 43 per­cent of its en­ergy mix, mostly used to power its data cen­ters, came from clean and re­new­able en­ergy sources.

Through Project Sun­roof, Google has mapped more than 43 mil­lion rooftops in the United States, thus giv­ing home­own­ers an easy tool to eval­u­ate their house’s suit­abil­ity for so­lar pan­els.

Tesla’s as­sem­bly line in Fre­mont has started to pro­duce the new Model 3 elec­tric ve­hi­cle. The ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and mid-range price for the car at­tracted 455,000 orders be­fore any­one could test­drive it.

Much of the na­tion’s progress on re­duc­ing our car­bon emis­sions to date has been thanks to smart reg­u­la­tory plan­ning.

Now, in the ab­sence of fed­eral sup­port for wise, sci­ence­based pol­icy on cli­mate, we must en­cour­age more com­pa­nies, cities, and states to join the “We Are Still In” coali­tion.

We all have more power than we may re­al­ize to in­flu­ence our com­mu­nity lead­ers and busi­nesses to take ac­tion on cli­mate.

Let’s use it.

“We Are Still In” is a 2,500-mem­ber al­liance of strong Amer­i­can voices from busi­nesses, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and uni­ver­si­ties com­mit­ted to meet­ing our green­house gas re­duc­tion tar­gets.

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