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Why This Matters: Transportation emissions are one of the largest sources, and even though airline emissions are only around 9% of the U.S. total, they had been increasing greatly pre-pandemic. Airline efforts are far behind other transportation sources when it comes to developing control technologies and biofuel alternatives. Without a strong push from the government, no airline or airplane maker is likely to tackle the difficult challenge of making more fuel-efficient and lower-emitting airplanes. Hopefully, the incoming Biden administration, particularly the Defense Department, can push the airline industry to build back better given all the COVID relief it has received.
The environmental community was swift to criticize the new rule. Annie Petsonk of the Environmental Defense Fund said in a release, “This do-nothing rule is totally inadequate in light of the climate crisis. That the EPA’s rule is being finalized concomitantly with Congress issuing another multi-billion-dollar COVID-19 rescue package for airlines — with no enforceable requirements for airlines to improve their environmental performance — underscores the need for swift regulatory action by the next administration so that airlines put climate at the core of their recovery.” Similarly, Liz Jones, with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute argued, “This rule is especially infuriating because there are effective ways for the aviation industry to modernize and decarbonize. What we desperately need are technology-forcing standards to get the industry on track.”
EPA reverted to the usual jobs versus the environment argument saying of the rule that it is a “pragmatic approach to climate action [that] has produced meaningful results without unnecessarily sacrificing American jobs.”
Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Ed Markey have in the past called for the big airline industry bailouts to come with some corresponding commitments to reduce their emissions. “Carbon offsets should be a condition for any such bailouts,” Senator Whitehouse tweeted last March after the airline industry received its first $50B in relief funding. He went on to say, “Airlines that want public support should live public values.”
What You Can Do: Keep meeting virtually. The pandemic could lead to a more sustainable amount of business travel, but only if that is more acceptable once it is safe to travel by air in large numbers again.
On Monday, France hosted the One Planet Summit for biodiversity where the leaders of more than 50 nations launched the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People. The coalition aims to secure a global agreement to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030 when the Convention on Biological Diversity […]
Each January, the Eurasia Group, a management consultancy, looks at the biggest global political risks in the year to come. Climate change is perennially on the list — this year it ranks thirdbehind public doubt in the legitimacy of President-elect Biden’s election and the coronavirus.
Why This Matters: “In 2021, climate will go from a playground of global cooperation to an arena of global competition.”
When you leave your front door, what can you reach in 15 minutes by foot or bike? A grocery store? A school? A park? That’s the question that many urban planners are using to shape plans for how cities operate in the future. The 15-minute city means designing neighborhoods where everything people need, from housing to dining to cultural institutions, is within that 15-minute radius.
Why this Matters: It’s a good idea to create neighborhoods that fulfill people’s basic needs so that they won’t have to travel as far to manage their daily lives – especially post-pandemic when more people are likely to work from home.
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