LPDD.org is an extraordinarily vast database, spanning more than 2,000 model laws, best practices, and policy documents touching on 34 different pathways to reducing emissions in the United States, at every level of government (and some in the private sector). To help the busy changemaker approach our database in a brief time, we’ve drafted Top 10 lists for a subset of these pathways, highlighting some of the most interesting model laws or other resources that state or local governments can utilize.
We invite you to check out our Top Ten lists for Distributed Renewable Energy, Light Duty Vehicles, New Buildings, Existing Buildings, and Electricity Charges, Mandates, and Subsidies, and look forward to putting more snapshot guides to our resources online soon.
- Executive Order 14008: Among President Biden’s early Executive Orders with import to climate change, EO 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” is potentially the most impactful. The Order calls on federal agencies to use “all available procurement authorities to achieve or facilitate: i) a carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035; and (ii) clean and zero-emission vehicles for federal, state, local, and tribal government fleets”; creates the Civilian Climate Corps; calls on the State Department to prepare to submit to the Senate the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol; adopts federal policies protecting frontline communities; calls on the Dept. of the Interior to halt issuing new leases for oil and gas on federal lands and offshore waters to the extent possible; establishes the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of federal lands and waters by 2030; and calls on the Office of Management and Budget to seek to eliminate subsidies for the fossil fuel industry beginning with the FY 2022 budget request.
- Nature Report, Under-reporting of greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. cities: Decarbonization plans start with an accurate accounting of current GHG emissions. This 2021 Nature report highlights chronic ways in which US cities underestimate their GHG emissions. The report found that cities under-report their own greenhouse gas emissions, on average, by 18.3%. Differences arise because city inventories omit particular fuels and source types and estimate transportation emissions differently. The report makes key observations for localities to consider when measuring the scope of decarbonization roadmaps and policies.
- Seattle Natural Gas Ban in New Construction: In February, the Seattle City Council approved changes to the city’s energy code which will ban the use of fossil fuels in new commercial and large multi-family construction for space and most water heating in order to cut down on the significant emissions contributed by the building sector. The Seattle Energy Code update eliminates all gas and most electric resistance space heating systems; eliminates gas water heating in large multifamily buildings and hotels; improves building exteriors to improve energy efficiency and comfort; and requires electrical infrastructure necessary for future conversion of any gas appliances in multifamily buildings. Seattle becomes one of the first cities outside of California to move forward on such a ban.
- Massachusetts Law Assessing EV Charging Rates: Among the many provisions of Massachusetts’ 2021 comprehensive transportation bill (H.5248), the state required utilities to study and present alternatives to traditional EV charging rate design. Traditional rate designs can penalize EV charging stations with high “demand charges”, a charge linked to the maximum total amount of energy consumed in a brief period, which tends to be high when EVs are charging. This problem is especially pronounced with fast chargers, designed to reach 80% charge in 20 minutes. Utilities have 180 days from the signing of the bill to file their rate proposals, which will then be open to public comment before the Department of Public Utilities decides whether to approve the plans. This approach may be a model for other states looking to make electric rates more EV-friendly going forward.
- National Academies Report, Accelerating Decarbonization of the US Energy System: According to a 2021 report from the National Academies of Sciences, the United States could achieve net-zero carbon pollution by 2050, address societal inequities, and reap benefits far greater than the costs. The report recommends five main reforms, to be funded in part by a rising $40/ton carbon tax: improving building efficiency; electrifying transportation and building heating; getting 75% of electricity from clean sources by 2030; increasing transmission capacity; and tripling government investment in clean energy research. At an annual cost of about $300 billion over status quo spending levels, the report found these reforms would pay for themselves in public health benefits alone.