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Hurricane Dorian Proves Reducing Carbon a Priority

Many people in North America from The Caribbean to the U.S. were forced to give their full attention to Hurricane Dorian at the end of August and first week of September in 2019. The intensity and uncertainty of that storm made it a serious threat to millions. Devastation to residents of the Bahamas has been tragic. Even though many in the eastern U.S. escaped most of the life-threatening effects, this event and others like it, need to be a warning that more powerful and violent events are on the way in the future.

Notably, Dorian was the fifth Category 5 hurricane in four years – a first since record collection began in the 19th century.

Scientists are getting a clearer picture that carbon emissions and the resulting climate changes are influencing the strength, size, and wetness of these storms. Our response must be to accelerate personal and collective actions that can slow and reduce these effects.

Reducing Carbon Emissions is a Priority

According to the Carbon Atlas, a research partner of the World Climate Research Programme, as recently as 2017 the U.S. emitted the second highest level of carbon dioxide, second only to China.

Most importantly, when accounting for population, the U.S. is one of the highest carbon emitters per capita, as seen in this World’s Carbon Emissions illustration.

Serious efforts to reduce our carbon emissions are needed. Because our transportation and energy production sectors produce the overwhelming majority of carbon dioxide, that makes them key areas on which to focus.

Clean energy including solar power has already become the most economical solution to reduce our nation’s electricity generation related carbon footprint.

Climate and Energy Actions in Pennsylvania

Locally, Pennsylvania legislators have moved to change the state’s renewable energy goals from 8% to 30% by 2030, through Senate Bill 600 (S.B. 600). Earlier in 2019, Mark and Dara Bortman had hosted State Senators Steve Santasiero and Art Haywood to discuss this legislation, its environmental benefits, and in particular the impact on local markets. So it is no surprise that in following the Hurricane Dorian threat, Mark was asked to join in a September 14, press event to encourage state lawmakers and residents to continue to push harder for energy reforms.

  • The speakers at this event emphasized the urgency as well as the actions needed to make sufficient progress in reducing carbon output on a large scale:
  • It’s up to us to collectively address the issues facing the planet. There isn’t another option.
  • U.S. Joint Forces Command has placed climate change among the top security challenges for the military to address.
  • Human migration patterns and human health are already changing in response to habitat and climate changes.
  • Once final, S.B. 600 would do more than reduce energy related emissions. It will also create a significant number of good paying, clean energy jobs.

As Mark Bortman noted,

If we’re able to get this bill through, it will put Pennsylvania back in the leadership for climate action. Going forward, there’s going to be more jobs in renewable energy than fossil fuels.

Policy Looking Towards the Future

Even more exciting, the lawmakers and leaders from environmental groups that were present also previewed the next and more robust legislative effort. A new bill in the works will introduce a measure to further reduce carbon emissions by creating what is called a “cap and invest” program. It is known as the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act, and it would set a cap on the amount of carbon a power generator could emit and a price the company would pay when exceeding limits. Any money generated through the program would go to an Energy Transition Fund, which would invest in clean-energy projects, economic development, and low-income energy assistance programs.

This is becoming urgent because Pennsylvania is the fourth highest carbon dioxide polluter of the 50 U.S. states, emitting nearly 220 million metric tons of CO2 per year. That places the state behind only the much more populated states of California, Texas, and Florida.

Putting this into law is the next step to clarify and increase enforceable guidelines to emphasize the governor’s previous executive order. That action requests state departments and residents to work towards achieving a 26 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050, compared to 2005. The cap and invest program gives utilities and all parties involved a visible path to achieve the goals.

Exact Solar plans to follow the mentioned legislation closely and participate as much as possible. Join us on social media to be advised of upcoming news and ways to get involved.

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