Climate Change and Environment
Researchers around the world have documented increases in temperature at Earth’s surface, as well as in the atmosphere and oceans. Many other aspects of global climate are changing as well. Human activities, especially emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, and land-use change, are the primary driver of the climate changes observed in the industrial era.
COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE, BUILD A CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY, AND SECURE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred this century. While Donald Trump has called climate change a “hoax,” 2016 is on track to break global temperature records once more. Cities from Miami to Baltimore are already threatened by rising seas. California and the West have suffered years of brutal drought. Alaska has been scorched by wildfire. New York has been battered by superstorms, and Texas swamped by flash floods. The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future. We cannot leave our children a planet that has been profoundly damaged.
Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge; creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050; and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century. We will take bold steps to slash carbon pollution and protect clean air at home, lead the fight against climate change around the world, ensure no Americans are left out or left behind as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and be responsible stewards of our natural resources and our public lands and waters. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs. We can and we will do both.
BUILDING A CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. We will cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, and offices through energy efficient improvements; modernize our electric grid; and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world. These efforts will create millions of new jobs and save families and businesses money on their monthly energy bills. We will transform American transportation by reducing oil consumption through cleaner fuels, vehicle electrification increasing the fuel efficiency of cars, boilers, ships, and trucks. We will make new investments in public transportation and build bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure across our urban and suburban areas. Democrats believe the tax code must reflect our commitment to a clean energy future by eliminating special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies as well as defending and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.
Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals. Democrats believe that climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science, and support using every tool available to reduce emissions now. Democrats are committed to defending, implementing, and extending smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan, fuel economy standards for automobiles and heavy-duty vehicles, building codes and appliance standards. We are also committed to expanding clean energy research and development.
Democrats recognize the importance of climate leadership at the local level and know that achieving our national clean energy goals requires an active partnership with states, cities, and rural communities where so much of our country’s energy policy is made. We will ensure that those taking the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency have the tools and resources they need to succeed. The federal government should lead by example, which is why we support taking steps to power the government with 100 percent clean electricity.
Democrats are committed to closing the Halliburton loophole that stripped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing, and ensuring tough safeguards are in place, including Safe Drinking Water Act provisions, to protect local water supplies. We believe hydraulic fracturing should not take place where states and local communities oppose it. We will reduce methane emissions from all oil and gas production and transportation by at least 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 through common-sense standards for both new and existing sources and by repairing and replacing thousands of miles of leaky pipes. This will both protect our climate and create thousands of good-paying jobs.
We will work to expand access to cost-saving renewable energy by low-income households, create good-paying jobs in communities that have struggled with energy poverty, and oppose efforts by utilities to limit consumer choice or slow clean energy deployment. We will streamline federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants.
We support President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. As we continue working to reduce carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gas emissions, we must ensure federal actions do not “significantly exacerbate” global warming. We support a comprehensive approach that ensures all federal decisions going forward contribute to solving, not significantly exacerbating, climate change.
Democrats believe that our commitment to meeting the climate challenge must also be reflected in the infrastructure investments we make. We need to make our existing infrastructure safer and cleaner and build the new infrastructure necessary to power our clean energy future. To create good-paying middle class jobs that cannot be outsourced, Democrats support high labor standards in clean energy infrastructure and the right to form or join a union, whether in renewable power or advanced vehicle manufacturing. During the clean energy transition, we will ensure landowners, communities of color, and tribal nations are at the table.
SECURING ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE
Democrats believe clean air and clean water are basic rights of all Americans. Yet as we saw in Flint, Michigan, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately home to environmental justice “hot spots,” where air pollution, water pollution, and toxic hazards like lead increase health and economic hardship. The impacts of climate change will also disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, tribal nations, and Alaska Native villages—all of which suffer the worst losses during extreme weather and have the fewest resources to prepare. Simply put, this is environmental racism.
Democrats believe we must make it a national priority to eradicate lead poisoning, which disproportionately impacts low-income children and children of color and can lead to lifelong health and educational challenges. We will prioritize hiring and training workers from affected communities to clean up toxic brownfields and expand clean energy, energy efficiency, and resilient infrastructure.
The fight against climate change must not leave any community out or behind—including the coal communities who kept America’s lights on for generations. Democrats will fight to make sure these workers and their families get the benefits they have earned and the respect they deserve, and we will make new investments in energy-producing communities to help create jobs and build a brighter and more resilient economic future. We will also oppose threats to the public health of these communities from harmful and dangerous extraction practices, like mountaintop removal mining operations.
All corporations owe it to their shareholders to fully analyze and disclose the risks they face, including climate risk. Those who fail to do so should be held accountable. Democrats also respectfully request the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies accused of misleading shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change.
PROTECTING OUR PUBLIC LANDS AND WATERS
Democrats believe in the conservation and collaborative stewardship of our shared natural heritage: the public lands and waterways, the oceans, Everglades, Great Lakes, the Arctic, and all that makes America’s great outdoors priceless. As a nation, we need policies and investments that will keep America’s public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, protect native species and wildlife, and harness the immense economic and social potential of our public lands and waters.
Democrats will work to establish an American Parks Trust Fund to help expand local, state, and national recreational opportunities, rehabilitate existing parks, and enhance America’s great outdoors—from our forests and coasts to neighborhood parks—so “America’s Best Idea” is held in trust for future generations, and all Americans can access and enjoy natural spaces. Democrats are committed to doubling the size of the outdoor economy, creating nearly hundreds of billions of dollars in new economic activity and millions of new jobs.
Democrats will approach conservation of our public lands and waters in a way that reflects the diversity of our country, by actively engaging all Americans in the great outdoors and protecting natural landscapes and cultural sites that tell the story of America’s complex history. To help meet these goals, we will work to build a diverse workforce in agencies that manage America’s public lands, waters, and cultural sites.
We oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast, and believe we need to reform fossil fuel leasing on public lands. We will phase down extraction of fossil fuels from our public lands, starting with the most polluting sources, while making our public lands and waters engines of the clean energy economy and creating jobs across the country. Democrats will work to expand the amount of renewable energy production on federal lands and waters, from wind in Wyoming to solar in Nevada.
Democrats oppose efforts to undermine the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act to protect threatened and endangered species.
Because the Bristol Bay drainages of Alaska produce the world’s largest salmon fisheries, we support efforts by the EPA under the Clean Water Act to establish proactively science-based restrictions on discharges of dredged or fill material associated with a potential Pebble mine and urge that such restrictions must apply to potential mines at other metallic sulfide deposits in those drainages.
Agricultural lands account for nearly half of the total land area in America and our agricultural practices have a significant impact on our water, land, oceans, and the climate. Therefore, we believe that in order to be effective in keeping our air and water clean and combating climate change, we must enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship.
Climate change is an existential threat to humanity, and we believe California and the United States must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis. All Californians, urban, suburban, and rural, hold a shared interest in preserving and protecting the environment that sustains us, especially our water. California Democrats have led the way toward effective bipartisan solutions to problems arising from our industrial society – resource extraction, waste disposal, and pollution – and their disparate impact on our forests, family farms, the poor, ethnic minorities, and indigenous people.
Climate change and other environmental issues present a clear and imminent threat to our planet and our public health, therefore California Democrats will:
- Urge Congress to pass comprehensive energy security and climate protection laws that include national requirements for renewable electricity generation, end reliance on dirty forms of energy such as coal, and establish a rigorous greenhouse gas emissions cap;
- Urge Congress, the California Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to reduce long-term reliance on nuclear power, ensure the safety and fully evaluate the full lifecycle costs of nuclear power. This includes the phasing-out of all reactors, the swift decommission and withhold of funds for license renewal for Mark I nuclear reactors (which cannot be made safe), and ensuring that operators provide emergency plans and adequate liability protection for populations within 50 miles of reactors;
- Support a comprehensive employment plan for workers displaced as nuclear and fossil fuel infrastructure is eliminated, including Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for workers employed to tear down and remove such facilities, and work to ensure the clean-up and safe storage of nuclear waste and the cleanup of Superfund sites;
- Support price guarantees as a method of promoting domestic and entrepreneurial renewable energy production that increases the percentage of renewable energy in California’s power mix. Support the right of individuals to generate their own energy, virtual net metering, expansion of solar energy production in disadvantaged communities and multi-unit developments, and encourage the growth of individual energy generation. Oppose attempts to remove incentives that increase the number of rooftop solar systems. Support government initiatives that allow property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings. Incentivize utilities to provide on-bill financing to help Californians finance energy efficiency upgrades;
- Support energy democracy and community choice energy programs to transition our cities and counties, and ultimately all of California, to locally sourced clean power that will provide green jobs;
- Provide research grants that encourage conservation, sustainability of natural resources, and development of green technologies in transportation and alternative energy production;
- Support the implementation of a fossil fuels extraction tax; and,
Develop comprehensive regional community conservation and sustainability plans to prevent depletion of natural resources.
- Create green collar jobs by providing incentives for the development, production, deployment, and purchase of environmentally friendly products, renewable energy systems, high-speed rail, energy efficient goods and services, and recycled materials through public-private partnerships;
- Extend the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act to 2050; return to the state’s 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2025; produce 100 percent of California’s electricity from renewable and sustainable energy sources by 2045; produce 50 percent of the state’s transportation fuels from non-petroleum sources and support Low Carbon Fuel Standards that take into account long-term sustainability;
- Oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure projects;
- Reject any attempt at new offshore oil or gas development; preserve and ensure coastal access; protect the mandates of the California Coastal Act; and support the recovery and preservation of our ocean ecosystems;
- Restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe and preserve California’s inland lakes by preventing the intrusion of new aquatic invasive species and by protecting watersheds and surrounding forest ecosystems;
- Work to improve and provide adequate funding for the federal and equivalent state regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, or the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and oppose attempts to weaken such protections;
- Support policies to eliminate the costly scourge of plastic pollution from our state’s neighborhoods, rivers, beaches, and marine ecosystems;
- Promote sustainable utilization and conservation of natural resources and public lands through appropriate taxation for extraction of non-renewable natural resources and thoughtful land use planning to combat suburban sprawl; reject any sale of public forestry and park lands; support dedicated funding for state parks; and safeguard California’s forests through sustained yield best practices forestry, the elimination of clear cutting (and subsidies for roads to enable clear cutting) to preserve natural habitat diversity and connectivity, soil conservation measures, the preservation of heritage trees, and carbon sequestration techniques;
- Support mandatory funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to counties which have relinquished taxable land to the state for wildlife conservation;
- Encourage the goal of “Net Zero Energy Emissions” in new home construction by 2020 and in new commercial construction by 2030 and encourage the use of fire-resistant, termite-proof, and energy-efficient building materials in all new residential and light commercial construction;
- Support an immediate moratorium on fracking, acidizing, and other forms of oil/gas- well stimulation to remain in effect until legislation and regulations are put in place that repeal the exception in the Safe Drinking Water Act, guarantee public health and safety, mitigate the effects of climate change, protect the environment, and allow government access and testing of the chemicals used at all sites;
- Work to reduce California’s dependence on natural gas without sacrificing energy system reliability by replacing it with renewable energy in order to eliminate the need for storage facilities, including the immediate shutdown of the natural gas facility in Aliso Canyon that had the largest methane leak in U.S. history;
- Affirm a commitment to environmental justice: no community should be subjected to environmental hazards due to race, economic standing, or immigration status;
- Support policies that protect the biological diversity of living organisms, dedicated funding to conduct basic research, monitoring, habitat protection, and conservation actions to ensure sustainable populations of wildlife and fisheries for future generations; and,
- Support the adoption of a new California wetland definition to protect the 2.9 million acres of wetlands in California that include seasonal streams and small isolated ponds.
Sierra Club Los Angeles Political Action Committee: Meetings: Usually every second Monday of the month at 7:00 pm at Chapter Headquarters.
SoCal 350 Calendar SoCal 350 General Meeting Monthly on the third Sunday 3-5 pm St. Athanasius Episcopal Church at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul: 840 Echo Park Ave. Los Angeles 90026
United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world
The City of L.A.’s Green New Deal will result in health outcomes and support a green economy.
Key benefits achieved by the respective targets, milestones, and initiatives, based on an analysis of eight criteria described below.
- Resiliency: Protect L.A. against future climate change, shocks, and unexpected disasters as described in Resilient Los Angeles
- Climate Mitigation: Reduce GHG emissions
Access and Equity: Expand access to benefits created by the pLAn (e.g., access to green/healthy spaces, clean energy programs, mobility, etc.)
- Quality Jobs: Generate quality jobs and support a green, sustainable economy
- Workforce Development: Improve local workers’ skills, lift labor participation rates, and increase the number of Angelenos achieving higher education
- Health and Wellbeing: Improve air quality, comfort and mental health, and encourage more physical activity
- Economic Innovation: Attract investment in innovative industries, promote start-ups, and deepen the knowledge exchange between the private, public, and academic sectors
- Increased Affordability: Make it more affordable to live in L.A. (e.g. utility rates, energy costs, and other household bills)
1 Resilient and healthy community environments where residents thrive in place
2 Buildings and infrastructure that support human health and resilience
3 Equitable and sustainable land use and development without displacement
4 A prosperous LA County that provides opportunities for all residents and businesses and supports the transition to clean economy sectors
5 Thriving ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity
6 Accessible parks, beaches, recreational waters, public lands, and public spaces that create opportunities for respite, recreation, ecological discovery and cultural activities
7 A fossil fuel-free LA county
8 A convenient, safe, clean, and affordable transportation system that enhances mobility and quality of life while reducing car dependency
9 Sustainable production and consumption of resources
10 A sustainable and just food system that enhances access to affordable, local, and healthy food
11 Inclusive, transparent, and accountable governance that encourages participation in sustainability efforts, especially by disempowered communities
12 A commitment to realize OurCounty sustainability goals through creative, equitable, and coordinated funding and partnerships
An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
Sunrise Movement: Sunrise is a movement of young people uniting to stop the climate crisis. We call ourselves Sunrise because we know this dark hour in America, when fossil fuel executives and climate deniers run our government, cannot last. The sun will rise again.
We have a 4-year plan to make climate action an urgent priority in every corner of the country, expose the fossil fuel executives who have purchased politicians and blocked progress, and lift up champions who will work for the people at every level of government.
Sunrise is a 501(c)(4) organization