From The Hill’s E2 Wire:

Most undecided voters want more action from President Obama and Congress to fight global warming, and a substantial percentage say the topic will influence their ballot for president, a new poll shows.

The joint Yale University/George Mason University (GMU) survey found that undecided voters’ beliefs about the existence and causes of global warming are far closer to President Obama’s likely voters than GOP rival Mitt Romney’s.

Sixty-four percent of undecided voters believe Obama should be doing more to address climate change, and 72 percent say Congress should be doing more.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.

I usually stick to sustainability and city themed posts on this blog of mine, but this conversation between a gay Vietnam War veteran and U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney definitely deserves an exception. This vet is a hero. Full stop.

P.S. It’s worth watching all the way to the end too. 

(Source: ABC News via Upworthy)

It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here: Some Good News, For A Change

In a week where Arctic ice has reached a new low and food prices have spiked due to severe droughts in Europe and the United States it feels strange to think that progress is being made in the fight against global climate change. However, over the last couple of weeks four big initiatives have been announced that have potential to make a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint.

Last week, China announced it will spend some $372 billion on clean energy, energy efficiency, and reducing its use of the dirtiest of fossil fuels: coal. Its announcement also made clear that:

Seven Chinese cities and provinces will launch CO2 emissions trading schemes over the next two years ahead of a national scheme later in the decade. (Reuters)

The country is currently the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

On Tuesday, Australia and the European Union announced a partnership to create the world’s largest carbon market, which will begin trading by 2015. Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins encouragingly described the move in an interview:

Given the relatively primitive state of climate change policy around the world, especially considering the scope of the problem, this is a very significant step forward. (Atlantic Cities)

For those keeping score at home, when California’s carbon trading system opens in November it will be the world’s second largest.

Finally, this week the United States stepped up and delivered a big one-two punch:

President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Thursday that would increase the number of cogeneration plants in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2020, a move that would boost U.S. industrial energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions by 150 million tons per year. 
Thursday’s executive order came just two days after the White House finalized a rule - developed with U.S. automakers - that would double fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA said the car efficiency standards will be the most effective domestic policy in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions, cutting as much as 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025.” (Reuters)
Canada has indicated it will copy Obama’s fuel efficiency rules.
Together these initiatives are significant because they include the countries with the largest carbon footprints, which must be in leadership roles if we are to get a handle on this predicament. We definitely have a long, long way to go and have some epic challenges before us. But, more and more people seem to be waking up, learning about where we are at, talking with others about it, and then making changes. Positive changes. 
In essence, what I’m trying to get across is that it’s important to celebrate the positives. Dwelling on the bad news about our climate and the health of our planet and society can be counterproductive and self-defeating. Instead of feeling stuck, now more than ever I think we need to be awake and aware. Ready to adapt to what’s already in the pipe while finding new, old, and otherwise ways of remaking our homes, our food, our transportation, our cities, our economies, our institutions, and even our thinking that allow us to use energy, ecosystems, and other resources more creatively and wisely over the long term. As Charles Darwin is quoted, but apparently misattributed as saying,
"It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
Those are my two bits for now. Have a good long weekend!
(Photo source: Clean Technica)

From CBC:

The average gas mileage of new cars and trucks in the U.S. will have to nearly double by 2025 under regulations that were finalized Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The new rules will require the fleet of new cars and trucks to average 54.5 miles per U.S. gallon (4.3 litres/100 km) in 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg (8.22 l/100 km) at the end of last year.

The regulations will bring dramatic changes to the cars and trucks in U.S. showrooms and drive automakers to introduce new technology to make vehicles cleaner and more efficient.

The Obama administration says the changes will save families more than $1.7 trillion US in fuel costs and bring an average savings of $8,000 over the lifetime of a new vehicle sold in 2025. The standards also are the biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

The 54.5 mpg standard came from the Obama administration’s quest to cut carbon dioxide emissions nearly in half by 2025. The gas mileage is what’s needed to make that cut.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Infographic source: NRDC)

My two bits: Building cities and towns where getting around by foot, bike, and transit is both easy and enjoyable is obviously a big piece of the puzzle. But, given that tens of millions of people currently depend on cars for transport this is a significant development. It’s also encouraging to see Obama putting forward an firm, demand-side solution to reduce both fossil fuel energy consumption and climate change pollution.

From The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication:

… at the national level and among ten key swing states – taking a proclimate stand appears to benefit candidates more than hurt them with registered voters. Of course, the political dynamics in any given district may be an exception to this pattern, but it is important to note that the pattern is similar at both the national and swing-state scales.

A few highlights:

• A majority of all registered voters (55%) say they will consider candidates’ views on global warming when deciding how to vote.

• Among these climate change issue voters, large majorities believe global warming is happening and support action by the U.S. to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs.

• Independents lean toward “climate action” and look more like Democrats than Republicans on the issue.

• A pro-climate action position wins votes among Democrats and Independents, and has little negative impact with Republican voters.

• Policies to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and promote renewable energy are favored by a majority of registered voters across party lines.

• These patterns are found nationally and among ten swing states.

Read the rest of the article here.

Related:

(Tom Toles editorial cartoon: Washington Post via Go Comics)

From The Hill:

The League of Conservation Voters has launched a petition drive pressing the moderator of the first presidential debate, Jim Lehrer of PBS, to ask about the topic. The first debate is Oct. 3.

“We urge you to ask President Obama and Gov. Romney how they will confront the greatest challenge of our generation — climate change,” states the online petition, launched Wednesday.

… 

The League of Conservation Voters is seeking 50,000 signatures.

Check out the rest of the article here. You can sign the petition here.

Related:

(Map source: State of the Climate - National Overview, July 2012, NOAA)

The US wind energy industry is now providing enough capacity to power 13 million homes, equivalent to all of Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama, and Connecticut combined.
We’ve got to somehow get everybody to understand that a different and better energy system is not only just possible, it’s inevitable.

Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in an interview for The Huffington Post article, 'Is Clean Energy Doomed If President Obama Is Not Re-Elected?'

(Photo source: Pew Clean Energy Program)