CCL’s top 10 blogs of 2022
By Katie Zakrzewski
2022 was a huge year for climate policy, which means that it was a big year for CCL’s blog. CCLers devoured blogs to better inform their advocacy work — our top 10 blogs had, altogether, over 70,000 reads! CCLers sure do love their research.
Here is a list of the top 10 blogs from this past year, as well as a sneak preview of each, with #1 being our most-read blog of 2022.
10. Why we still need a national carbon fee by Jonathan Marshall
The historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which delivers nearly $400 billion in climate investment over a decade, is easily the most powerful climate policy ever enacted in the United States. Coming on top of significant climate-related provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs and the CHIPS and Science Act, America is finally taking the global crisis seriously.
But most climate experts probably agree with CCL Executive Director Madeleine Para, who said, “We’re eager to build on today’s big step forward and continue to work for even more, and even better, climate action in the future.”
The reason should be obvious. Although this bold climate legislation should help bring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions down about 40 percent by 2030, that’s still well short of our national commitment of a 50 percent reduction. If we want to have any hope of keeping global warming under 2°C, the U.S. (and other countries) will need to get all the way to net zero by 2050 — a far bigger lift.
9. Americans are more ready than ever to take climate action by Berit Thorson
Last year was filled with extreme weather events across the United States, including unprecedented wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves throughout the midwest and western United States, an intense and deadly winter storm in Texas, and a number of disastrous tropical storms, tornadoes, and flooding events throughout the South and East. Climate change was also a common topic of focus in national politics, with bipartisan support for policy approaches to curb climate change. Brett Cease, CCL Education & Engagement Director, said that in 2021, our very own CCL volunteers took a collective 3,674,086 actions on CCL Community.
It’s no surprise, then, that according to the most recent results of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication study from September 2021, more Americans are alarmed about climate change than ever before.
8. Study shows that carbon cashback must be coupled with education by Dana Nuccitelli
A new study published in Nature Climate Change made some waves with its assertion that dividends do not increase the popularity of a carbon price. The reason — somewhat buried in the paper and associated stories from the Atlantic and David Roberts’ Volts newsletter— is that citizens in countries with carbon fee and rebate systems tend to overestimate their carbon costs. The paper notes of carbon fee and dividend in Canada:
“The policy is highly progressive, with 80% of households receiving more in dividends than they pay in carbon taxes … Canadians who learned the true value of their rebates were significantly more likely to perceive themselves as net losers even though most Canadians are net beneficiaries.”
There’s an important lesson to be learned here — it’s not enough to provide carbon cashbacks that exceed the carbon fee costs. If you only take one thing away from this study, make it this: dividends must be coupled with educational efforts to inform citizens about how much the carbon price is increasing their costs and that the carbon fee and dividend system is generating a net income for most households.
7. What the Inflation Reduction Act means for climate change by Dana Nuccitelli
The U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act by a single vote on Sunday, August 7.
The bill, headed to the House of Representatives within days, includes by far the largest and most consequential measures to reduce domestic climate pollution in the nation’s history, with a $386 billion clean energy investment, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Based on analyses by several energy modeling groups, it would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by close to one-billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the year 2030, significantly narrowing the gap between the U.S.’s current path and its Paris Climate Agreement commitment.
The bill took an almost biblical course from inception to what now appears to be likely passage by the House and signature by President Joe Biden. It overcame odds that just two weeks ago appeared likely to be fatal: Two separate apparent death blows by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), before its prospects twice rising from the proverbial ashes.
6. Are clean technologies and renewable energies better for the environment than fossil fuels? By Dana Nuccitelli
The grand transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green one is underway. It will involve a fundamental shift in the way we generate and use energy for various purposes. Instead of drilling and mining for fossil fuels, we’ll need to mine for critical minerals to manufacture a whole lot of “clean” technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries.
This raises some common questions — when we account for the impacts of the mining and manufacturing of these technologies, are they really better for the environment, human rights, and climate than the fossil fuel alternatives they’re replacing?
In general, the answer is yes. Clean technologies will have a non-zero impact, but they will be much smaller than the dirty fossil fuel status quo.
5. CCL turns to the future of environmental advocacy by Madeleine Para
And now let’s turn our minds to where we are going next. I know you’re eager to hear about it.
One of the things I’ve loved about becoming Executive Director has been the opportunity to meet leaders of other organizations, and think with them about strategy and collaboration. It’s been useful and fun and I feel like I’ve been making new friends.
One of those new friends spends a lot of time on Capitol Hill, and he told me that the last five yards are the hardest in football and in politics. Now I have no business talking about football, as everyone around me knows, but nevertheless, I think I can say it is not uncommon to get most of the way down the field and then be frustrated by the final plays. Touchdowns don’t always get scored, and bills can get stalled. I believe that’s where we are now — in the last five yards of budget reconciliation.
4. The latest IPCC report has a lot to say about carbon fee and dividend by Dana Nuccitelli
In the third installment of its Sixth Assessment Report (the first two volumes covered climate change causes and impacts), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has summarized the latest scientific research relating to climate change mitigation. While the second volume released just over a month ago touched a bit on carbon fee and dividend, that was merely the climate policy hors d’oeuvre to the third installment’s main course, which is the most relevant volume to CCL. I summarized this latest report’s findings over at Yale Climate Connections.
Some news stories about the report framed its message as signaling “now or never” on climate action. While it’s true that the more ambitious 1.5°C Paris target is rapidly slipping out of reach, it’s important to understand that it will never be too late to lessen the impacts of climate change. The climate of a 1.8°C world is more livable than a 2°C world, which would be better than a 2.2°C world, and so on. While it’s true that climate policy is maximally urgent, there will be no point in any of our lifetimes when it will become too late to leave the world a better place for future generations than that which will result if we give up. For this reason, many scientists are pushing back against counterproductive climate doom talk.
3. What the latest IPCC report says about carbon fee and dividend by Dana Nuccitelli
This week [earlier in 2022], the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second installation of its Sixth Assessment Report summarizing the latest scientific research on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities. I summarized its scientific findings over at Yale Climate Connections.
The report also specifically discusses carbon pricing and cashback in its 18th and final chapter. For example, it cites a 2019 report from the International Monetary Fund arguing that “of the various mitigation strategies to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions, carbon taxes are the most powerful and efficient, because they allow firms and households to find the lowest-cost ways of reducing energy use and shifting toward cleaner alternatives.”
2. How will carbon pricing impact inflation? By Dana Nuccitelli
Inflation — the decline of purchasing power as prices rise — is currently at its highest level in 30 years. This has led to concern among the public and policymakers about the rising costs of many important products like food, shelter, gasoline, electricity, and cars. Senator Joe Manchin has said he will not “support a package that risks hurting American families suffering from historic inflation.” As a result, CCL has received many inquiries from congressional offices, volunteers, and other stakeholders regarding the potential impact a carbon price would have on inflation.
The short answer is that well-designed carbon pricing legislation — like the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) and those currently under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee — includes a dividend returned to most or all American households precisely to address the resulting rise in energy costs. Inflation creates a problem when prices rise and household incomes don’t increase commensurately, but a dividend program can overcome that problem by sending carbon cashback to households.
Moreover, a recent review of carbon pricing systems in Canada and Europe found that contrary to economic modeling predictions that carbon fees will cause inflation, carbon fees have actually had the opposite effect in the real world.
1. Setback from Manchin won’t deter advocates’ push to reach climate goals by CCL Staff
July 15, 2022 – We are deeply disappointed at the news that the reconciliation package the Senate is considering will not contain any climate measures.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has rejected the climate elements of the package, citing concerns over inflation. Frankly, Americans need protection from the volatility of a fossil fuel-driven world. A clean energy economy would provide energy security and price stability, and the climate measures in this package would have helped speed that transition.
Among our other climate advocacy in this Congress, Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers have worked tirelessly since last July to push for meaningful climate policies in a reconciliation package. We held 960 meetings with House and Senate offices, generated more than 48,000 calls, and sent more than 164,000 personal messages to Congress since the reconciliation process began in earnest in July 2021. That work helped bring Congress remarkably close to major climate action — within one vote. We will not stop pushing for our lawmakers to agree and to act.
2022 was a climate rollercoaster, and CCL’s top 10 blogs showcase the highs and lows of the ride. Thanks to the hard work of CCLers, we were able to pass historic legislation, expand our focus and outreach, and shift the needle on creating the political will for a liveable world.