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Zero Net Fifty

Jan 2021

Here are the political pluses and pitfalls to watch for in the Biden Administration’s clean transportation and infrastructure plans

To realize the goals of the Paris Agreement, it’s estimated the US needs to transition 20% of vehicles to clean technologies by the end of this decade. That’s about 55 million cars based on the number of cars in the US as of 2018. As of 2019, 1.4 million electric vehicles had been sold in the US, and the US has about 84,000 public chargers. 

Understanding how many new EVs the US might have on the road by the end of the decade, how and where those vehicles might charge in order to estimate what the public charging network should look like, and identifying how much it would cost to build that public charging network are all things we should already know today in order to achieve them in 9 years.

In this episode, we take a look at climate-related activities in the early moments of the Biden Administration and discuss the backdrop for President Biden’s plans to expand electric vehicle adoption in the US and build the infrastructure necessary to support that growth.

Nov 2020

So GM backpedaled on support for Trump’s climate regulation goals. Does the news really matter?

If you’ve been following the ongoing struggle between California and the Trump administration, then you likely took note of GM’s announcement before Thanksgiving that the automaker is backing away from the support it gave Trump in the legal battle over California’s right to set fuel efficiency standards different from federal standards. But were you left wondering what the bigger meaning of that announcement is for the transportation sector, and what the future of those standards will be in the U.S. Listen to Joel Stronberg’s take on the GM announcement and the EV market, and how they fit into the plans of President-elect Joe Biden. Plus, get insight into more plans from the coming Biden administration and what the administration’s immediate challenges will be as it executes the plan to bring the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement.

Nov 2020

ZNF First Look: What to expect now that Biden is President-Elect

With the Nov. 7 news that Joe Biden became President-elect fresh on our minds, we paused to consider our initial reactions to the results and what those results mean for the ongoing effort to protect our environment. Biden’s win is a victory, to be sure, but there are so many other factors that matter on the forward path. What will Biden’s administration face when the dust settles over Georgia’s Senate seats? A Republican majority or a 50-50 split? What will be Biden’s plan for his first 100 days? There are also questions to consider about what Democrats want now, and whether there will be a deepening divide there. We look at these issues and more in this first look at the outcome of the 2020 elections.

Oct 2020

What is it about this new Vermont law that matters in the fight for our environment?

Vermont’s new Global Warming Solutions Act became law without Republican Governor Phil Scott’s approval. In the Green Mountain State, Republicans and Democrats generally agree that climate change is real and that it’s important to do something about it. But they don’t generally agree on the approach — arguing mostly about how goals can be achieved at a reasonable cost. Those disagreements, however, are just the backdrop to what matters most—to all states—about the Global Warming Solutions Act. Joel Stronberg explains why everyone should be paying attention to what’s going on in Vermont and what it means in the fight for a healthy environment.

Oct 2020

What now for the Supreme Court and climate change without RBG?

Why are we concerned about the balance of the political leanings of the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States? And do the justices always stick to a conservative or liberal stance when deciding cases? How should we look at the path of climate change in our society with a conservative Supreme Court? Joel Stronberg answers these questions and more in this special episode, as we pause to consider the big picture following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sep 2020

ZNF Shorts: Racism in the environmental movement: Where do we go from here?

In this short-format edition of Zero Net Fifty we discuss how the deaths of men and women of color at the hands of White police officers has triggered a racial justice reckoning the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1960s. Racial justice has, in many ways, become a metonym for all the socio-economic and political inequities that have been ailing America for decades.  

Racial and economic injustice and inequality are found in many forms throughout the clean energy and environmental sectors—in its institutions, the siting of polluting industries, and access to technology.  

Racism has long plagued the environmental movement. John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club was an overtly avowed racist. For its initially higher costs and the race of its early adopters, solar has long been considered a technology for wealthy White folks. However, times are changing.  

Listen to this 20-minute episode as we discuss what some of these changes are. 

Aug 2020

ZNF Shorts – What does a ‘total fossil fuel lock down’ mean?

In this short-format edition of Zero Net Fifty, we bring the call for a “total fossil fuel lock down” into focus.

What does the REN21 call for this lock down look like, as proposed in its Renewables 2020 Global Status Report?

REN21 says we’re making progress on this lock down in some sectors – think electricity and energy efficiency – but we need to be making progress across all power sectors – think heating, cooling and transportation.

Of those sectors, we dive into transportation – with a look at what policy and progress has targeted so far and what needs more attention.

Specifically, within the transportation sector, electric vehicle policies may seem like they are moving quickly, but are they?

Listen to this 20-minute episode to understand why EVs might not be as far along the progress chain as we need them to be, and where improvements should be made.

Jul 2020

What are they thinking? How to know what the parties want from climate policy

Even if a new federal bill has no chance of becoming law, it’s still a highly instructive mechanism in climate politics.

In this episode, we look at the progress of new climate policies, first at the state level and then at the federal level.

In Vermont, a new policy for action on global warming is making its way through the Vermont legislature with potential rules that would hold the state accountable if it fails to meet new aggressive emissions reductions goals in the near term.

At the federal level, we saw the release from the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis of its proposed net zero emissions by 2050 pathway in a plan called, “Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient and Just America.” While the release of that plan presents a good opportunity to see what Democrats are thinking in terms of policies to address climate change, the committee, ultimately, is not a policy-making body. It also offers insight into what Republicans are thinking on climate change, as we saw that the committee’s Republican response was not as negative as might have been expected in the past. Does it point to an interest on the part of Republicans to open dialogue that could result in forward progress on climate policies?

Further action from the side of the Democrats at the federal level came from an infrastructure bill that relies heavily on green provisions, along with another bill on energy efficiency. Like all legislation coming out of the U.S. House, these new bills do not have any hope of moving forward, but they are representative of how Democrats see the U.S. plan to address climate change.

Specific to that thinking is a central role for environmental justice. The need to grow communities that are resilient, not just in terms of their ability to resist climate change, but also in how their members can thrive, is present and will remain a constant factor in new climate policies.

The big picture priorities, specific to how the U.S. thinks about climate change and how it will address it, are changing. Energy and climate are front and center in the national conversation in ways that they never have been before. How that conversation develops and escalates will be clear in the coming months, as the country gears up for primaries in August, and ultimately, the very critical presidential election in November.

Jun 2020

Science, the pandemic, and how the coming election is a crossroads for climate change

As the U.S. comes slowly through the worst of the pandemic, and we understand how important science was in navigating COVID-19, we discuss the stark realities of timing for policies critical to addressing climate change under any outcome of the November election.

Apr 2020

Climate change in a pandemic. Where are we now?

In this episode, we discuss how global focus on the current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting climate change efforts, and what the long-term effects might be.

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