In 2016, Power Plants Used 40% Less Coal Than 2010's Prediction

Takeaway: while there is no guarantee that power plants will continue to be below expectations of coal use in the coming years, these data should give us hope that future progress could be greater than mainstream predictions.

Projected vs. Actual Electricity from Coal (Trillion kWh)

Electricity from coal is 40% lower in 2016 than the DOE thought it would be based on 2010 projections.

California Analysis Shows Market-Based Climate Policy Is Over 80% Cheaper Than Regulation-Based Policy

  • Economic analysis released by the California Air Resources Board in 2016 shows that achieving their 2030 carbon reduction target with market-based policies costs $1.7 billion, while a regulation-based approach costs $9.7 billion.

  • The analysis shows that market-based policies can achieve the same carbon reduction target as regulatory policies, but at an 80% cheaper cost.

2016 Report: Phasing Out All Federal Fossil Fuel Leases Would Reduce Carbon Emissions, But Not Nearly by Enough to Avoid Worst Climate Risks

Takeaway: while limiting U.S. fossil fuel production can reduce carbon emissions, achieving the vast majority of reductions needed to avoid the worst climate risks requires reducing fossil fuel consumption.
  • A 2016 report calculates that a U.S. Federal Government phase-out of all fossil fuel leases would reduce carbon emissions by an amount (100 million tons by 2030) roughly equal to recent Federal fuel efficiency regulations.

  • As the figure below shows, this phase-out would close the gap by 9%, in 2030, between where U.S. emissions are trending and where they must be to avoid the worst climate risks.

New York Times Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Support a Carbon Tax if the Revenue is Rebated to All Americans

% of Americans That Support a Carbon Tax if the Revenue is Used to Lower Income Taxes

Most Americans support a carbon tax if the revenue is given back to families in the form of lower income taxes.
  • A January 2015 poll by the New York Times, Stanford, and Resources for the Future found that 67% of Americans support a carbon tax if the revenue is rebated equally to all Americans by reducing income taxes.

  • The poll showed less support (61%) for a carbon tax that did not specify use of the tax revenue.

Report: Taxing Carbon and Giving the Revenue Back to Families Can Boost the Economy, Lower Carbon Emissions, and Save Lives

  • A 2013 report from REMI, a consulting firm commissioned by Citizens Climate Lobby, shows that taxing carbon and rebating all of the revenue back to families is a net benefit for the U.S. economy (in each year, economic output is higher than in a scenario without the policy).

  • The report finds that this "carbon fee and dividend" approach reduces five times as much carbon emissions in 2030 than the Clean Power Plan.

  • The report also shows that the policy can prevent over 13,000 premature deaths and give the average family of four a $350 monthly check to compensate them for higher energy prices by 2030.

The Paris Climate Agreement Does Not Impose Any Penalties If Countries Fail to Achieve Climate Pledges

Takeaway: Because there are no penalties for missed targets, we need to pass additional policies to ensure emissions are reduced.
  • The December 2015 agreement does not contain any penalties if countries fail to meet announced targets.

  • The Paris agreement requires countries to increase the stringency of their climate pledges every five years (with no specific amount required).

  • The agreement requires countries to report on progress towards meeting climate pledges.

The U.S.'s Climate Change Target Is Way Weaker than Europe's

Takeaway: the U.S. needs to pass stronger policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. and Europe's climate targets (% below 1990 levels)

The U.S.'s percentage reduction is far smaller than Europe's for both 2020 and 2025.

Climate Choice: Reducing Global Emissions Avoids the Risk of Hurricane Sandy-Strength Storms Happening Nearly Every Year by 2050

  • A 2013 study finds that reducing global greenhouse gas emissions avoids the risk of storms with Hurricane Sandy-like strength occurring roughly every year by 2050 along coastal regions in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.

  • The study shows that if no global action is taken, sea level rise will cause the annual odds of a Hurricane Sandy-strength storm hitting Atlantic City to increase from roughly 1-in-25 today to about once a year by 2050, but if we do significantly cut emissions, the odds increase to a more manageable 1-in-10.

  • Hurricane Sandy's $60 billion cost is greater than the entire proposed annual budget for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for 2017.

Americans Eat 4 Burgers Per Week on Average. Cutting That to No More Than One Per Week Would Really Help the Climate.

  • The average American currently eats over a pound of beef each week (roughly equal to 4 burgers), and beef is between five and ten times worse for the climate than chicken.

  • The U.S. produces one-fifth of the world's beef, which is responsible for nearly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Thus, reducing beef consumption to 1 burger per week (the maximum amount consistent with a sustainable global emissions level) would eliminate 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Choice: Cutting Emissions Avoids Risk of Losing All of Hawaii's Coral Reefs

  • A 2015 study finds that reducing global greenhouse gas emissions can save nearly half of Hawaii's coral reefs, whereas failing to reduce emissions will result in a complete loss of Hawaii's coral reefs.

  • About 38% of the ocean around Hawaii is covered by coral reefif we don't reduce emissions, Hawaii will risk losing all of its coral reefs by 2100, but if we do cut emissions, Hawaii would keep about 15% coral reef cover.

  • Reducing global emissions would provide between $10 and $30 billion in benefits to Hawaii between today and 2100 due to increased tourism and sustained local fisheries.