The EU Aims Big on Climate Progress, and the US Appears Ready To Match
This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.
The EU proposed some climate emergency initiatives this week that, if enacted, would pretty much throw down the gauntlet and dare others to follow suit. As The New York Times reported, a series new proposals could end the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, raise the price of using fossil fuels even outside the automotive industry, and — this is the big one — slap a carbon tax on the import of what the EU could determine are “polluting” products from overseas.
The overall goal of the EU proposal is to ramp up the 27-nation bloc’s efforts to become fully carbon neutral by 2050, and to achieve a 55 percent reduction from 1990 emissions levels by 2035. The moves amount to a full-on switch away from fossil fuels, combined with ambitious efforts to ramp up clean energy production from solar, wind, and other carbon-free sources during the same time period.
Democrats in Washington, DC, met the EU challenge on Wednesday, by announcing a similar plan, The New York Times reported, though the details on this side of the Atlantic are noticeably lacking. What was announced was part of the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion budget plan and would include a carbon import tax similar to what the EU is proposing, along with money to develop renewable energy resources. Much of the renewables plan has been previously touted by the Biden administration as part of its ambitious agenda to curb fossil fuel dependency in the United States.
Neither the EU or the US is anywhere near passing these plans, and it will be months and likely many rounds of caveats and exceptions before anything is set in stone. But these are definitive big ideas that could create generational action to tackle the climate crisis. No country has ever tried a carbon import tax before. The bright spot in a carbon import tax is that, rather than offloading pollution offshore, it creates a strong financial incentive for exporters from abroad to set and abide by their own climate reduction targets.
Let’s hope that elected officials in both the EU and the US take these proposals seriously.
More climate wins
A project under development in rural southwesternx Utah aims to develop a massive supply of geothermal energy by digging down deep. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported on plans from Utah-based FORGE lab to significantly ramp up geothermal energy production across the US, which currently accounts for far below one percent of energy supplies. The company has completed the development of one well and plans to build another.
New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously to approve a second massive offshore wind project, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The project will allow two developers to build 2,658 megawatts of wind power off the Jersey shore — enough to power more than one million homes.
Italy finally banned cruise ships in Venice — and it looks to be for real this time. The Venetian Lagoon is fragile and in need of a break from overtourism, and after UNESCO threatened to put the lagoon on an endangered list, the government responded by banning large cruise vessels from entering from August 1. Finally, you’ll be able to take a picture of Piazza San Marco without a giant ship behind it.