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Climate Change in the American Mind: Beliefs & Attitudes, Fall 2023

January 10, 2024

This report is based on findings from a nationally representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Interview dates: October 20 – 26, 2023. Interviews: 1,033 adults (18+). Average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Don’t Mess with Texas: Getting the Lone Star State to Net-Zero by 2050

April 11, 2022

The world is decarbonizing. Many countries, companies, and financial institutions have committed to cutting their emissions. Decarbonization commitments have been issued by: 136 countries including Canada, China, and the UK, at least 16 U.S. states including New York, Louisiana, and Virginia, and a third of the largest 2,000 publicly traded companies in the world, including Apple, Amazon, and Walmart, and numerous Texas companies like ExxonMobil, American and Southwest Airlines, Baker Hughes, and AT&T.1–9 These decarbonizing countries, states, cities, and companies are Texas's energy customers. If Texas ignores the challenge to decarbonize its economy, it may eventually face the more difficult challenge of selling carbon-intensive products to customers around the world who do not want them. We are already seeing this scenario beginning to play out with France canceling a liquified natural gas deal from Texas gas producers and both U.S. and international automakers announcing shifts to electric vehicles. Proactive net-zero emissions strategies might allow Texas to maintain energy leadership and grow the economy within a rapidly decarbonizing global marketplace.Thankfully, Texas is uniquely positioned to lead the world in the transition to a carbon-neutral energy economy. With the second highest Gross State Product in the US, the Texas economy is on par with countries like Canada, Italy, or Brazil. Thus, Texas's decisions have global implications. Texas also has an abundant resource of low-carbon energy sources to harness and a world-class workforce with technical capabilities to implement solutions at a large-scale quickly and safely. Texas has a promising opportunity to lead the world towards a better energy system in a way that provides significant economic benefits to the state by leveraging our renewable resources, energy industry expertise, and strong manufacturing and export markets for clean electricity, fuels, and products. The world is moving, with or without Texas, but it is likely to move faster--and Texas will be more prosperous--if Texans lead the way.There are many ways to fully decarbonize the Texas economy across all sectors by 2050. In this analysis, we present a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario and four possible pathways to Texas achieving state-wide net-zero emissions by 2050. Figure ES-1 provides a visual comparison of scenario conditions.

Energy Efficiency and Demand-Response: Tools to Address Texas' Reliability Challenges

October 20, 2021

Texas has recently experienced major electric reliability problems, as illustrated by large load shedding during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021. This event reflected the extraordinarily high demand for electric home heating (from inefficient homes and equipment) combined with the loss of 50% of the state's generation fleet (due to freezing weather, fuel supply, and equipment failures). The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the power system serving 90% of Texans, also faces summer supply challenges, as illustrated by calls for power conservation in June 2021. In that case, the shortage was driven by a large number of plants being out of service for unplanned repairs. ERCOT's energy-only wholesale market design and evolving generation resource mix are widely viewed as complicating the task of maintaining reliability as the power supply mix changes.Numerous solutions have been proposed to address these problems, including subsidized winterization of existing power plants and critical grid infrastructure, and construction of many new power plants. This paper looks at seven residential retrofit measures selected for their proven capability to reduce summer or winter peak electricity demand. We also considered the impacts of a planned federal phaseout of incandescent lamps on energy demand in Texas. This paper estimates these measures' potential to improve ERCOT's system reliability by cutting summer or winter peak loads or delivering grid flexibility services.

Too Hot to Work: Assessing the Threats Climate Change Poses to Outdoor Workers

August 17, 2021

Outdoor workers face severe risks from extreme heat—risks that will increasingly threaten the health and livelihood of tens of millions of outdoor workers in the United States as climate change makes dangerously hot days more frequent and intense. With economic and legal systems that routinely discount their lives and safety, workers who experience heat-related injuries or illnesses on the job have little to no recourse. By midcentury, with no action to reduce global warming emissions, an estimated $55.4 billion in outdoor workers' earnings would be at risk annually due to extreme heat. Even with bold action to limit emissions, outdoor workers will face severe and rising risks from extreme heat. Policymakers and employers must take actions to protect outdoor workers.

Never Again: How to Prevent Another Major Texas Electricity Failure

June 3, 2021

The historic weather system that hit the South Central United States in February 2021 led to the deaths of nearly 200 Texans and caused over $100 billion in damages to Texans' homes and property. Its impacts on power, natural gas, water, and transportation infrastructure were profound, leading the power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), to order all local utilities to immediately decrease power demand early on February 15. This grid reliability order led to cuts in electric service to over four million premises, leaving millions of Texans out of power and in miserable conditions for up to four days. While the February 2021 event was clearly unprecedented, prior outages should have provided a wake-up call to policymakers and regulators to address reliability issues. The events of February 2021 resulted from several policy failures as well as from operational and planning failures across our state's electric, natural gas and water systems.  We must address the causes of this winter's weather challenge and prepare to deal with emerging economic, technology and extreme weather realities. Texas is the world's ninth-largest economy.  We owe it to our families and fellow citizens to learn from this event, plan for the future, and do the right thing for the good of Texas.  We offer the following observations and 20 recommendations, which are organized based on the outage's contributing factors.  Some of these require further legislative action; others can and should be implemented by the PUCT under existing authorities.

Field Notes: Equity & State Climate Policy

September 5, 2019

For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.

Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days

July 2, 2019

This UCS analysis provides a detailed view of how extreme heat events caused by dangerous combinations of temperature and humidity are likely to become more frequent and widespread in the United States over this century. It also describes the implications for everyday life in different regions of the country.We have analyzed where and how often in the contiguous United States the heat index—also known as the National Weather Service (NWS) "feels like" temperature—is expected to top 90°F, 100°F, or 105°F during future warm seasons (April through October). While there is no one standard definition of "extreme heat," in this report we refer to any individual days with conditions that exceed these thresholds as extreme heat days. We also analyzed the spread and frequency of heat conditions so extreme that the NWS formula cannot accurately calculate a corresponding heat index. The "feels like" temperatures in these cases are literally off the charts.We have conducted this analysis for three global climate scenarios associated with different levels of global heattrapping emissions and future warming. These scenarios reflect different levels of action to reduce global emissions, from effectively no action to rapid action. Even the scenario of rapid action to reduce emissions does not spare our communities a future of substantially increased extreme heat. For the greatest odds of securing a safe climate future for ourselves and the ecosystems we all depend on, we would need to take even more aggressive action, in the US and globally, than outlined in any of the scenarios used here. Our challenge is great, but the threat of not meeting it is far greater.

Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate

June 1, 2018

As sea levels rise, more and more American homes and businesses will experience frequent, disruptive flooding that makes everyday life impossible. More than 300,000 of today's coastal homes are at risk of this untenable flooding within the term of a 30-year mortgage.Yet property values in most coastal real estate markets do not currently reflect this risk. And with short-sighted investments and policies at all levels of government concealing this growing problem, homeowners, businesses, communities, and investors are not aware of the financial losses they may soon face.In the coming decades, many coastal real estate markets will be strained by flooding, some to the point of collapse, with potential reverberations throughout the national economy. Individual homeowners and businessowners, banks, lenders, investors, developers, insurers, and taxpayers are poised to sustain large collective losses. Shrinking property tax bases could spell decline for many coastal cities and towns.We have scant time remaining to brace our communities, and our local and national economies, for this challenge. While there are no easy solutions, knowing our risk—and using that knowledge to create bold new policies and market incentives—will help protect coastal communities. Whether we react to this threat by implementing science-based, coordinated, and equitable solutions—or walk, eyes open, toward a crisis—is up to us right now.

Climate Change in the Latino Mind

May 1, 2017

This report focuses on a critical demographic in the United States – Latinos. Currently 17% of the U.S. population (more than 58 million people) and the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the nation, Latinos are a fast-growing demographic projected to reach 24% of the population by 2065, while non-Latino whites will decrease from 62% of the current population to 46% in 2065. A 2017 nationally representative survey of 2,054 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos investigates their current climate change knowledge, risk perceptions, policy support, behaviors, motivations, and barriers to political action.

Oregon: Changing Climate, Economic Impacts, & Policies for Our Future

July 19, 2016

E2's compendium of leading research – "Oregon: Changing Climate, Economic Impacts, and Policies for our Future" – is a new, first-of-its-kind resource for businesses, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. In addition to examining the economic threat climate change poses to Oregon, the report highlights the economic benefits and job opportunities that can be created by deploying more clean energy.

Toward Water Sustainability: A Blueprint for Philanthropy

March 14, 2016

This document offers a blueprint for collaborative and expanded philanthropic action to advance sustainable water management at a scale never before attempted in the water field. The blueprint was developed by the Water Funder Initiative (WFI), an effort launched by a group of foundations that recognizes the urgent need to solve water problems. WFI is a collaborative initiative to identify and activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the United States, starting in the West where scarcity and reliability of clean water are urgent issues.Water is the essence of life and vital to the well-being of every person, economy, and ecosystem on the planet. But around the globe and here in the United States, water challenges are mounting as climate change, population growth, and other drivers of water stress increase. Public, private, and philanthropic investment in water solutions has not been commensurate with the challenges we face. This underinvestment has led to heightened conflicts and costly litigation among water users as drought and other extreme weather have caused billions of dollars in damage. Precipitous declines in water supplies - both above and below ground - simply cannot be sustained, nor can we continue operating with deteriorating infrastructure and outdated policies that further jeopardize human communities and freshwater ecosystems.Philanthropy can - and must - play a more pivotal role in addressing 21st century water challenges. Effective, strategic, and collaborative grantmaking already has made a difference by advancing critical policy reforms and new water management practices in some places. But with the pressures intensifying, now is the time for the field to rapidly scale up this progress and transform our relationship with water from reactive crisis management to long-term sustainability.WFI is starting with a focus on the American West, where nearly a third of the nation's people and GDP depend on increasingly unreliable water supplies. In this region, as in many other parts of the world, risks are rising for cities, rural economies, low-income communities, recreational industries, and natural freshwater systems. Although the initial focus is on the American West, many of the approaches are applicable elsewhere in the world, and lessons from other regions can help solve water problems confronting the West.

Minnesota's Clean Energy Economy profile

October 9, 2014

Minnesota's Clean Energy Economy Profile represents the state's most comprehensive effort to quantify the direct employment and wages of clean energy businesses.