Pages tagged "climate change"


Diet for a Healthy Planet

LGEG_Grains.pngWill the U.S. Government finally weigh the climate impacts of our food choices when determining official recommendations on what Americans should be eating?

 

All eyes are on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee this week. For the first time ever, these U.S. agencies are determining what constitutes a diet that’s not only healthy for our bodies, but good for our planet too. This means figuring out how to integrate ecological health concerns into their recommendations on what we should be consuming.

 

The Committee will be deliberating these issues at their public meeting on September 16 and 17, the last public meeting before the release of final draft guidelines in early 2015. As Kari Hamerschlag of Friends of the Earth puts it, “if the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee has its way, America’s dinner plates are about to include a healthy portion of much needed environmental awareness.”

 

It is encouraging that our government is providing direction on food choices that are better for human health and the planet, but it’s essential that it pay closer attention to science when making recommendations or new rulings that affect millions of people. Specifically, it’s essential the government factor in the climate footprint of any given food before determining it is healthy for people or planet.

 

Let’s be honest: climate change is scary. The National Academy of Sciences published a study in 2013 explaining how 1,700 American cities – including New York, Boston, and Miami – will become locked into some amount of submersion from rising sea levels unless expensive new dykes and levees can hold back the rising waters. In fact, the International Energy Agency has warned that major action by 2017 may be the last real chance to reverse climate change before it’s too late.

 

To reverse climate change before it’s too late we must take speedy and large-scale action in the food, agriculture, and forestry sectors. We must eliminate foods with the highest climate footprint from our diet and transition to a diet higher in plant proteins, support local agriculture, and halt tropical deforestation for palm oil.

 

For example, consider the massive climate footprint of two highly consumed commodities: palm oil and beef. Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil fuels top the list. Oil, natural gas and especially coal are indeed major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. But what about rainforest destruction and meat production?

 

Palm Oil

In November 2013 the Food and Drug Administration signaled the end for heart-harmful, artificial trans fats in our foods. This was a huge step forward and a long time coming, but the unintended consequences have been dire for our climate. Food manufacturers have raced to remove hydrogenated oils from their products and as the primary replacement oil have turned to Conflict Palm Oil. Palm oil production is one of the world’s leading drivers of climate change and of rainforest destruction. As RAN ED Lindsey Allen warned in her New York Times Letter to the Editor, “a healthy diet is one that also contributes to a healthy environment. Companies do listen when we speak. Let’s make sure that they know that we don’t want Conflict Palm Oil in our snacks either.”

 

Beef

The United Nations currently estimates that livestock production alone is responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. (One 2009 analysis by World Watch put the number significantly higher, arguing that “the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of green house gas emissions (GHGs) and in fact account for at least half of all human caused GHGs.”)

 

Therefore it's no surprise that the two of the most credible sources on the science behind climate change, United Nations Environmental Program and Nature Climate Change, suggest that “the fastest way to address climate change would be to reduce significantly the amount of meat that people eat.”* Animal-based foods (meat, dairy products, and eggs) are resource-intensive, inefficient, and polluting. Their production requires massive amounts of water, land, and energy. The byproducts of animal agriculture pollute our air and water and contribute significantly to global climate change.

 

As Kari Hamerschlag pointed out in her post, at its July public meeting, Miriam Nelson, chair of the Sustainability and Food Safety Subcommittee, made clear that their review of 1600 studies provided overwhelming evidence of significant environmental impacts of “higher consumption of animal foods” and that “a dietary pattern lower in animal based foods and higher in plant foods has lesser environmental impact and at same time is more health promoting than the current American diet.”

 

Although meat consumption has dropped in the U.S. in recent years, we still consume significantly more meat than what is recommended by current USDA guidelines and we have the highest per capita meat consumption in the world. And unlike some parts of the world, the vast majority of this meat is produced from animals raised in cruel and unsanitary conditions on factory farms.

   

Given the severity of risk that climate change poses to all of humanity and the role our industrialized food system plays in climate change, it is critical that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee provide Americans with recommendations grounded in science.

 

*Davies Boren Z. 2014 Apr 10. US government searching for “cow of the future” to save the environment. The Telegraph; Ripple WJ, Smith P, Haberl H, Montzka SA, McAlpine C, Boucher DH. 2014 Jan. Commentary: ruminants, climate change, and climate policy. Nature Climate Change. pp. 1–4.


*Hertwich E, van der Voet E, Suh S, Tukker A, Huijbregts M, Kazmierczyk P, Lenzen M, McNeely J, Moriguchi Y. 2010. Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials, A Report of the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials to the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management. UNEP.


Industry’s Dreams, Indigenous Nightmares: A Visit to the Alberta Tar Sands

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In late June, a team of RAN staff travelled to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada to participate in the Tar Sands Healing Walk, which is organized and hosted by members of the local First Nations Communities. Walking amidst the tar sands destruction was a humbling and powerful experience.

This blog post is one of a series, sharing our impressions and reflections.

Our journey in Alberta began in Fort McMurray, a boomtown where the international oil industry has set up a base of operations from which to conduct tar sands extraction. The scale of the industry anchored in Fort McMurray is difficult to overstate: the town sits on one of the world’s largest oil deposits, the Athabasca tar sands. The extraction of Alberta’s tar sands constitutes the world’s biggest industrial project, and massive mining operations directly abut Fort McMurray. 

We landed at the brand new Fort McMurray international airport, where workers were putting the finishing touches on the terminal’s décor, as if the place had been quickly constructed in anticipation of our arrival. Immediately, signs of the tar sands-driven boom were apparent; gift shops featured oil sands tee shirts and advertisements announced new direct international flights to Las Vegas, enabling well-paid oil workers to quickly spend their paychecks on gambling and entertainment.

industry_mags_600x416.jpgMore than 80% of Canada’s tar sand workers are male, and Fort McMurray was full of bulky guys. On the plane, I overheard a pair of oil workers talking about how they had gained over 100 pounds while living in company-provided housing at a tar sands refinery, a by-product of boredom and sedentary machine-operation. As if to justify the weight gain, the workers then turned their conversation to the “couple of houses” each had bought with their tar sands earnings. 

Many of Fort McMurray’s workers seemed focused on buying real estate with oil profits; the town was awash in oil industry publications that combined breathless accounts of lucrative tar sands expansion, advertisements for mining companies, and tips on homeownership and real estate. According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, capital investments in the Canadian tar sands have jumped more than 400% since 2006, stretching the municipality’s resources and skyrocketing population and property values in Fort McMurray. Expansion, growth, money, and oil are the watchwords of the day.

Ft._Mac_600x660.jpgOn the edge of town we visited the Oil Sands Discovery Centre, a shrine to the technological process of extracting and refining the tar sands. Sponsored by the Albertan government with heavy support from industry, the Discovery Centre was most remarkable for what it was not included in its displays. As in Fort McMurray and the tar sands industry more broadly, the Oil Sands Discovery Centre lacked any acknowledgement of the climate impacts stemming from the tar sands. It was as if the oil industry town existed in an alternative reality where climate change did not exist and endless expansion of tar sands mining was completely unopposed by the global community.  This was a step beyond climate denialism; it was an outright refusal to even recognize that the concept of climate change exists.

Irony_At_the_Oil_Sands_Discovery_Centre_400x600.JPGIn place of the gaping hole where climate concerns should have been, the Oil Sand Discovery Centre touted Fort McMurray’s incredibly ironic ban on single-use plastic bags, and offered an appeasing video insinuating that oil industry reclamation efforts are akin to the millennia of sacred land stewardship practiced by Indigenous First Nations groups. While we immediately smelled a rat in the oil industries claims of reclamation, it wasn’t until we joined the Athabasca Chipeywan and Mikisew Cree First Nations that the abject hideousness of industry claims came into focus.

When we left the world of Fort McMurray’s oil settlers and joined First Nation host communities at the Tars Sands Healing walk, what we heard and saw laid bare the poisonous horror that lurks beneath the sheen of Alberta’s lucrative tar sands boom and industry’s expansionist dreams.

Part Two, "Indigenous Nightmares", will be posted next week. 

 

Photos: 

1. Visitors at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre in Fort McMurray.

2. Oil industry magazines predict growth for Fort McMurray and tar sands mining.

3. Fort McMurray is dwarfed by nearby tar sands mines.

4. An ironic sign at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre.

 


APRIL Makes A Mockery Of Its Own "Sustainable" Forest Policy

 

Almost six months after the release of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL)—the second-largest Indonesian pulp & paper company—continues business-as-usual rainforest destruction, betraying the spirit and substance of its policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that APRIL-owned PT RAPP cleared massive swaths of carbon-rich peatlands on Pulau Padang, an island off the Sumatran coast that APRIL promised to help restore. Members of island community Desa Bagan Melibur have called on APRIL to terminate operations on their community land, and Desa Bagan Melibur’s May 17 protest is the most recent clash in a stark legacy of land disputes between APRIL and Padang’s thirteen villages since 2009.

Pulau Padang’s peatlands store millions of tons of carbon and are home to endangered species and communities that depend on these forests for their livelihoods. You could also say the island itself is endangered: decaying peat causes the low-lying island to subside, and scientists warn that if no action is taken, Padang may very well be under sea level and useless for any type of cultivation by 2050.

APRIL’s forest policy itself is rife with loopholes and allows APRIL to continue slashing natural forests in its concessions through December and source rainforest fiber until 2020. Yet the company’s refusal to uphold even its weak policy commitments brings APRIL’s intentions entirely into doubt. In addition to the Pulau Padang case, earlier this year, APRIL suppliers were caught clearing natural forests on legally protected peat land in Borneo and high conservation value forest on peat land in Riau. In the latter case, not only were internationally protected ramin trees cut down, but APRIL supplier PT Triomas allegedly attempted to hide the evidence by burying the contraband logs.

There is mounting recognition that APRIL’s policy and actions are insufficient and not credible. Last Friday, RAN and an international collation of allies co-authored a letter highlighting the severe shortcomings in APRIL’s policies, such as the lack of a moratorium on natural forest and peat land conversion, unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts, and the policy’s narrow scope, which does not extend to cover APRIL’s sister companies within owner Sukanto Tanoto’s rogue cartel of companies, such as Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. The letter also points to the inadequacy and questionable credibility of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) APRIL set up to help develop, implement, and monitor the forest policy in a transparent and independent manner.

APRIL’s new policy and the SAC risk being nothing but a parade of environmental lip service built on teetering scaffolds of environmental destruction, social conflict, and corruption. Customers and financiers must cut ties with APRIL and other companies owned by Sukanto Tanoto and pressure APRIL to end rainforest clearing and respect community rights.

TAKE ACTION: Tell APRIL owner Sukanto Tanoto to stop pulping Pulau Padang’s rainforests.


Communities Speak Out Against Coal Plants

This morning, the EPA announced limits on carbon pollution from power plants. That's a welcome step in fighting climate change—and it wouldn't have happened without communities speaking out against coal plants. Here at RAN, we're proud of the role our network of friends and activists has played in building pressure over the last several years.

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Stop TXU! Activists stage protests against financial institutions linked to Texas utility company TXU’s controversial plans to build 11 new coal-fired power plants as part of an expansion strategy that would make it the single largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the Unites States. Winter 2007. Photo: Andrew Stern.

 

FFD_UK

University of Kentucky Fossil Fools Day. Students raise a wind turbine atop a coal mound as part of an action for Fossil Fools Day at University of Kentucky. April 1, 2008.

 

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Wise Coal Action. Virginia residents and anti-coal activists form a blockade to disrupt the construction of Dominion's Wise County Coal-Fired Power Plant. September 2008.

 

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Capitol Climate Action. Thousands of activists surround the Capitol Coal Plant in Washington DC to demand its retirement. March 2009.

 

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Duke Energy's Cliffside Coal Plant. RAN activists holding a banner in front of Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. The banner action coincided with the release a new report, The Principle Matter: Banks, Climate & The Carbon Principles. January 2011.

 

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Crawford Coal Plant Banner. Six activists with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Rising Tide North America, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Backbone Campaign climbed the fence to Midwest Generation’s controversial Crawford coal plant in Little Village. The activists unfurled a 7' x 30' banner atop a 20-foot tall sprawling coal pile that feeds the power plant, which reads: "Close Chicago's Toxic Coal Plants." April 2011.

 

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BofA_PCBrown2

Stand with Pat: Tell BofA to Stop Funding Coal. Grandmothers Pat Moore and Beth Henry and seven others were arrested outside of four different Bank of America branches in Charlotte, NC delivering a simple yet urgent message to the bank: they must STOP funding coal. November 2012. Photo: © Paul Corbit Brown.


EPA Announces Rules to Limit Carbon Pollution: RAN Responds

This morning, Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, announced new carbon pollution standards for power plants, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

We welcome the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential and long overdue step to address global warming.

Communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

Coal FumesThis is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, are fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard the next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We stand with the majority of Americans who want to see strong action from the government to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

RAN fights climate change by taking fast, impactful action against dirty energy. Join us by becoming a Dirty Energy Rapid Responder!


Coal is Poisoning the Cape Fear River

This month, Rainforest Action Network and three allies testified at Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting, urging them to drop coal, to stop profiting from environmental destruction and human rights abuses. We're posting the statements of our three allies. Add your voice by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change

My name is Kemp Burdette. I am the Cape Fear Riverkeeper. I was born and raised along the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina.

I want to describe to you the impacts that coal is having on the Cape Fear River, because Bank of America's financing of the coal industry, and specifically Duke Energy, is supporting the contamination of groundwater, the fouling of rivers, and the poisoning of drinking water supplies for nearly a million people in the Cape Fear watershed alone. Across North Carolina, the problem is even worse.

CapeFear_720x720I’m sure you've heard about the Dan River coal ash spill.

You may not have heard about Duke's other discharge of coal ash waste water into the Cape Fear River. Less than two months ago Duke was caught illegally pumping over 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into the Cape Fear River—three times more wastewater than what spilled into the Dan River.

This was done above the drinking water intakes for 840,000 people, and it was done intentionally, although secretly and illegally, with no notification of the public or of state regulators.

In addition to catastrophic failures and illegal discharges, Duke's coal ash ponds have other problems—they leak like sieves into groundwater and surface waters. They leak 24 hours a day, seven days a week at every location across North Carolina.

In New Hanover County, selenium contamination from coal ash is deforming fish in a popular fishing lake.

Duke Energy and the State of North Carolina are currently under a federal investigation for inappropriate conduct and relations between state regulators and the company.

I would urge Bank of America to end its lending and underwriting of companies like Duke Energy. Duke's coal ash ponds will continue to fail. They will continue to leak. They will continue to poison water supplies. They will continue to destroy the environment. Coal is, and will continue to be, very, very risky business.

Stand with Kemp and RAN by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change


Bangkok: Rich Countries try to kill Kyoto, International Youth declare "No Confidence" in Road to Copenhagen

cross posted from Grist. Today marked one of the final days of the Bangkok UN Climate Negotiations. With the end of this intersessional in sight, the International Youth Delegation (IYD) has officially declared “No Confidence” in the road to Copenhagen. With youth delegates from over 30 countries engaging in the Bangkok process, the IYD cited pathetically weak targets from the North, alarm that a second commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol will not be secured, and a lack of guarantees for protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights and interests, in its Declaration. The current text of the draft climate deal is so weak and so full of “false solutions” (measures like offsetting that actually make the problem worse) it is unacceptable. Youth delegates representing each continent addressed the U.N. today, detailing the urgency of the crisis as it affects their communities currently, telling stories of their hope and organizing alongside their denunciation of the state of play in the UN Negotiations. This week the Annex 1 (rich countries), attempted to kill the Kyoto Protocol (KP). We are nearing upon the end of the current KP term, and a lack of renewing it means that the world would lose the few legally binding international climate agreements it has (as insufficient as they are). The excuse is that the United States will not sign, and therefore the whole thing should be scrapped and an entirely new deal can be struck on its own. It is lunacy to think that this will yield a stronger outcome, and the G77 (the rest of the world) countries are furious. We have always known the US wont sign the KP; the world cannot continue to wait for the US to get on board. In Bali, the U.S. already committed to setting comparable targets to other Annex 1 countries, so the world could deal with the U.S. in the LCA (Long Term Cooperative Action). This all amounts to a shell game: more dirty delaying tactics from self-interested countries who are content to strip away basic attempts at an international agreement (for example "compliance" - meaning that the U.S. would have international oversight of its targets, or "top-down target setting" - meaning the international community sets carbon targets together based on science, rather than each countries independently setting their targets based on what their fossil fuel extraction industries dictate). Allowing the U.S. to drag the world out of existing legal obligations is disgraceful. These negotiations are going backwards. Make no mistake: Our future is being held hostage to interests that have consistently thumbed their noses at the international community and their obligations to the rest of the world. This process has been polluted by self-interested corporations and nations looking to profit off of our crisis. They have been pushing false solutions that exacerbate rather than fix the problem. Not only are the targets set by rich countries weak, but they are deceptive. Rather than representing actual emissions reductions, they contain unacceptable proportions of offsets, which do not reduce emissions, and displace the burden back onto the developing countries of the world. In the meantime, further language on Indigenous Rights is being removed and diluted from the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) text. "Rights" are being defined as "right to participate," as opposed to "rights over land and communities", and existing UN language (such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or UNDRIP, and the principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC) is far from being adopted. This has led to major protests all week and this morning youth supported the Indigenous Caucus in a "No Rights?? No REDD!!" demonstration on the front steps of the U.N. The youth will not accept a dirty deal. Rights-based language in the text (including UNDRIP and FPIC), no offsets, limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees C and 350 ppm of c02, unconditional legally binding targets for Annex 1 countries of at least 40% reductions by 2020, and a LOT of money for adaptation and technology transfer are just some of the baseline components that must be in the text to even begin to sensibly move forward. Regardless of what governments decide, youth across the world are continuing to organize social movements to build meaningful solutions in their own communities, working on local, national, and international levels. Our hope for the future is in the power of civil society to reshape what is perceived as politically possible. See the video of the press conference here: [vimeo 6948679]

Reparations for Climate Chaos

Think Climate Finance is boring? Think again. cross posted from Grist. Remember when the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund were constantly making global headlines for their fierce opposition from people's movements around the world? Well, international Finance Institutions (including the World Bank) are rearing their ugly heads again - this time with the U.N. as their vehicle. Today, more than 50 social movements, trade unions, environmental groups and NGOs from 17 countries issued a statement at the United Nations in Bangkok, where UNFCCC climate negotiations move into their fifth day. The groups, which include several large international networks, said that rich countries should acknowledge their historical responsibility and the “ecological and climate debts” they owe to developing countries. “Deep, drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, through domestic measures is part of reparations,” the statement said. “They took much more than their fair share of atmospheric space, and in the process denied the people of developing countries – the people of the South – their rightful share. They must give it back.” [caption id="" align="alignright" width="289" caption="photo: Janet Redman"][/caption] And they're right. As colleagues here in Bangkok talk about their newly-homeless families from the floods earlier this week in the Philippines, it is undeniable that the economic prosperity of the North is the gift-that-keeps-on-giving to the South - this time around in the form of devastating climate change. Tom Pickens from Friends of the Earth described it like having a fancy four course meal in an expensive restaurant - and then forcing someone walking by on the street outside to pay. Reparations for these debts, according to Fabrina Furtado from Jubilee South, also include the “complete restoration of territories and ecosystems, reconstruction of basic infrastructure, recovery of social rights, and the restoration of the well being of the peoples of the South.” Reparations must come from public sources. The groups decried alleged attempts by Annex 1 (Northern) countries to “avoid taking full responsibility” for the consequences of their excessive emissions. In their statement, groups expressed strong opposition to giving any role in climate finance or climate programs to the World Bank, regional development banks and other international financial institutions – and emphasized the need for “a new global fund.” These views are similar to those of the G77 plus China group, a bloc of more than 130 developing countries in the climate negotiations that considers the World Bank inappropriate for channeling developed countries’ financial obligations under the Convention – largely because of its undemocratic and unaccountable governance structure. The group’s critique of the World Bank and related financial institutions goes even further. Elena Gerebizza of the Italian NGO Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank said, “The World Bank and other international financial institutions are in large part responsible for the current economic, financial and climate crises. We cannot expect them to play a positive role nor to contribute to real solutions.” “On the contrary,” she added, “these institutions have been pushing false solutions, such as the expansion of the carbon market, which increase financial instability and take away space for serious thinking about real solutions for the climate crisis.” Whew. United States, ready to listen yet?

Freedom From Oil Tour Diary episode #6 - interview with propagandhi about the tar sands

[youtube -Mkk6gKZVYU] Check out episode 6 of the 10 day adventure of RAN and Substance educating and mobilizing people to stop the Tar Sands, with rock bands Propagandhi and Strike Anywhere

Sorting Global Warming Fact from Fiction

> Original story at Center for American Progress.
Cattle graze in front of wind mills of the Spanish utility Endesa in the Eolico Park, Spain. (SOURCE: AP/Javier Barbancho) Cattle graze in front of wind mills of the Spanish utility Endesa in the Eolico Park, Spain. SOURCE: AP/Javier Barbancho. By Vanessa Cárdenas | May 20, 2009
Léalo en español When so-called experts with little credibility and ties to the energy industry come out against renewable energy investments, you would think we would take their advice with a grain of salt. Yet that’s not the case with media pundits, elected officials, and others who—egged on by the conservative Heritage Foundation—have latched on to a dubious study from Spain to scare lawmakers and the public into thinking that developing clean-energy technologies raises prices and costs jobs. Spain is a global leader in renewable energy, but this study claimed that government subsidies for renewable energy projects such as windmills and solar panels cost the Spanish economy $8 billion and eliminate 2.2 jobs for every “green” job created. Nothing could be further from the truth. The study, authored by the relatively unknown Gabriel Caldaza, estimates that renewable projects in Spain created only 50,000 jobs, yet U.N. estimates show those projects actually created 188,000 jobs. Caldaza also claims that solar energy projects cost Spain 15,000 additional jobs last year. Yet Caldaza fails to disclose that these job losses in Spain were actually caused by the worldwide economic crisis, not government funding for clean-energy projects. In reality, government estimates show that the clean energy sector in Spain grew by 500 percent in the last three years, and it will likely create 270,000 more jobs by 2020. Caldaza also inaccurately forecasts impending economic doom in the United States if the current administration keeps its sights set on renewable energy development. Caldaza asserts, without offering any analysis of the U.S. economic situation, that if the Obama administration continues to subsidize renewable energy projects, “the U.S. could lose 6.6 million to 11 million jobs while it creates three million largely temporary ëgreen jobs.’” These dire projections have made Caldaza the darling of the American extreme right wing. Never mind that leading Spanish experts from Fundación Ideas para el Progreso in a letter to Congress decrying Caldaza’s study characterized his research as “not reliable or credible,” and further described the research institute he’s affiliated with as having “clear links to the energy industry.” Investing in clean and renewable energy is not only beneficial to the environment and our health; it actually reduces household energy bills while creating jobs. A 2008 Center for American Progress study found that investing $100 billion over two years in green energy would generate 2 million jobs, creating four times more jobs than if the same amount were spent in the oil sector. And these jobs would be concentrated in manufacturing and construction—two of the worst affected sectors by the recession. Investing in green jobs could therefore act as an economic stimulus and help low skill workers such as construction workers, roofers, and assemblers. Clean-energy companies have already over the last year invested in American manufacturing facilities and created needed employment in the United States. According to the American Wind Energy Association, or AWEA, the wind energy industry currently employs 85,000 people and generated over 35,000 jobs in 2008. Yet the AWEA warned in a letter to Congress that the United States could lose its wind energy industry—and the billions in investments and thousands of jobs that come with it—to other countries unless it adopts improved renewable energy standards. These standards, which would require at least 25 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025, are currently being debated by Congress and have already been adopted by states such as Colorado and New Mexico. And what about prices? The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that American consumers will save $95.5 billion from lower energy costs by 2030 if the government adopts the national renewable electricity standard currently being debated in Congress. A national renewable electricity standard, a key piece of this legislation proposed by Representatives Waxman and Markey, would save households and businesses in every state billions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bills. This would correspond to more than $5 billion in savings each for California, Texas, and New York. The bottom line is that it is in our best interest to make a serious investment in clean and renewable energy and follow Spain’s lead. To get there, we will have to focus on the facts and not on such tall tales. For more information, see:
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact: For print and radio, John Neurohr, Deputy Press Secretary 202.481.8182 or jneurohr@americanprogress.org For TV, Andrea Purse, Deputy Director of Media Strategy 202.446.8429 or apurse@americanprogress.org For web, Erin Lindsay, Online Marketing Manager 202.741.6397 or elindsay@americanprogress.org

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