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Building Sustainably: Mass Timber (September 2023)

September 29, 2023

Mass timber is an umbrella term for a class of engineered wood building materials, including those created by layering and bonding wood. The best-known example of mass timber is cross-laminated timber, which can be made from small-diameter or diseased trees to create a strong, lightweight building material. Unlike lumber, which is typically used in traditional stick-frame construction of houses and low-rise buildings, mass timber is strong enough to construct much larger structures. Builders are turning to mass timber because of its multiple benefits. In addition to having a lower carbon footprint than traditional steel and concrete, it is often cost-competitive with them.

Fact Sheet | Climate, Environmental, and Health Impacts of Fossil Fuels (2021)

December 17, 2021

The use of fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—results in significant climate, environmental, and health costs that are not reflected in market prices. These costs are known as externalities. Each stage of the fossil fuel supply chain, from extraction and transportation to refining and burning, generates externalities. This fact sheet provides a survey of some of the externalities associated with fossil fuels.

Closing the Digital Divide: How Rural Broadband Benefits Communities and the Climate

October 12, 2021

In 2019, at least 14.5 million Americans lacked broadband (or high-speed internet) access, with rural communities and tribal lands bearing a disproportionate share of the burden. The inaccessibility or unaffordability of broadband leads to the "digital divide" phenomenon—the socioeconomic gaps that arise between communities that have reliable access to high-speed internet and those that do not. A lack of broadband access often exacerbates the pre-existing burdens of underserved communities by impacting services that increasingly depend on the internet, including education and healthcare. Broadband also facilitates many energy-efficiency technologies that reduce carbon emissions and save customers money. In other words, broadband expansion is essential to a successful transition to a clean energy economy. This issue brief will explore the current state of U.S. internet access, how more broadband deployment could improve the equity and well-being of communities, the potential for broadband to unlock greater energy efficiency, and what the United States has accomplished so far in closing the digital divide.

Fact Sheet | Climate Jobs (2021)

September 24, 2021

Responding to the climate crisis provides an immense opportunity for job creation. Those jobs—jobs that help mitigate and adapt to climate change—are climate jobs. In recent years, climate jobs have been on the rise in the United States. However, the economy-wide impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic affected climate employment: eight percent of climate jobs were shed in 2020. Despite this, employment in some climate industries increased in 2020, and many climate jobs are expected to recover in 2021. In total, there were well over 4.1 million climate jobs in 2020.

Autonomous Vehicles: State of the Technology and Potential Role as a Climate Solution

June 24, 2021

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are an emerging technology in surface transportation with tremendous potential to change the way individuals and communities interact with the built environment. The widespread use of AVs could also have a substantial impact on greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which is responsible for the largest share of emissions in the United States at 28 percent. The vast majority of those transportation emissions—82 percent—are from cars and trucks, many of which could be replaced with AVs. A recent study suggests that half of new vehicles could be autonomous by 2050, and half of the entire vehicle fleet by the 2060s. Another, related key trend in transportation is electrification: more than half of all new passenger vehicles will be electric by 2040, according to a BloombergNEF study, and most AVs are expected to be electric. Whether AVs increase or reduce greenhouse gas emissions could help make or break efforts at keeping climate change in check. This issue brief reviews the projected environmental impacts of AVs, the benefits AVs could provide as a form of mass transit, and an overview of AV development, testing, and policies in the United States as well as internationally.

Conservation Corps: Pairing Climate Action with Economic Opportunity

February 23, 2021

As policymakers consider how to revive the economy after the pandemic, make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and accelerate the transition to sustainable, clean energy, many have taken a closer look at a program with a long, inspiring pedigree: conservation corps. Conservation corps are work programs that employ youths, veterans, seniors, and others in conservation, resilience, and sustainability efforts throughout the United States.

Climate Change FAQ

February 11, 2021

Answers to frequently asked questions about climate change and climate action.

How Can Revolving Loan Funds Make Our Coasts More Resilient?

January 21, 2021

A revolving loan fund (RLF) is a self-replenishing financing mechanism that can be used to fund a variety of programs, ranging from small business development to clean water infrastructure. For example, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revolving loans have for years helped states fund clean-water and drinking-water infrastructure projects. Though RLFs can vary greatly depending on their mission and scope, they all share the same basic structure. RLFs start with a base level of capital, often consisting of private investment or grants from the federal government or state. This capital is then loaned out to several borrowers. Over time, as these borrowers make repayments and pay interest on their loans, the capital is replenished. When enough repayments are made, the fund uses its reaccumulated capital to issue new loans.RLFs are often employed by states, municipalities, and nonprofits as a means for property owners to overcome financial barriers to undertaking environmental improvements. The self-sustaining nature of RLFs allows them to operate for decades with little to no additional investment if designed correctly. By providing low-interest loans with long repayment periods, RLFs can help those who may not have funds available to pay for improvements up front. In this way, RLFs can be used as a tool for building community resilience to environmental hazards.

Issue Brief: How Coal Country Can Adapt to the Energy Transition

November 19, 2020

From international bodies to town halls, focus has been increasingly directed toward deploying clean energy and decarbonizing the economy following reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that countries must drastically cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions within the next decade to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F). While widespread, rapid decarbonization is essential, communities that have developed with the coal industry as their backbone are already feeling the burden of the energy and economic transition. Policymakers at all levels of government are interested in mitigating harm to coal-dependent communities. This issue brief characterizes broad issues for communities in transition and surveys federal and regional policies, programs, and proposals intended to provide workforce development opportunities, diversify local economies, and alleviate economic hardship.

A Resilient Future for Coastal Communities: Federal Policy Recommendations from Solutions in Practice

October 26, 2020

Across the United States, coastal communities face increased uncertainty and risks from intensifying coastal erosion, flooding, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts. These threats need to be taken very seriously. Nearly 100 million Americans live in coastal counties making up about 30 percent of the U.S. population; another 30 million people (9 percent) live in the Great Lakes region.Through creative partnerships, innovative program design, and intentional community engagement, practitioners and researchers around the country are carrying out new work to adapt to the rapidly changing coastal environment. These efforts would be enhanced and more successful with increased support and assistance from the federal government.EESI recognized the need to educate policymakers by sharing the experiences of coastal communities that are working to adapt to climate change and enhance their resilience to severe weather and natural hazards. Between June 2019 and June 2020, EESI organized and hosted 16 in-person and online Congressional briefings, which featured 42 coastal resilience experts from Alaska, the Caribbean, Great Lakes, Gulf Coast, Hawaii, Northeast, Southeast, and West Coast. This report represents a distillation of the ideas, findings, and policy recommendations identified during EESI's Regional Coastal Resilience Congressional briefing series.Organized by six major sections—Community at the Forefront, Land Use and Development, Cultural Heritage, Climate Adaptation and Resilience Data, Disaster Preparedness, and Financing Adaptation and Resilience—this report provides a comprehensive overview of regional coastal resilience efforts based on panelists' presentations made during the briefing series. In addition to the 30 specific recommendations, this report offers six guiding principles intended to inform the implementation of coastal resilience policy:Federal policies and programs must be designed and implemented based on the climate of the future rather than the climate of the present or past.Climate justice and equity must be fully embedded into new policies and programs and incorporated into ongoing efforts.The federal government should take a leadership role in connecting science with practice, and support and expand collaborations with state, local, and tribal efforts.The federal government should take a leadership role to ensure that intra- and inter-agency coordination helps states, local governments, and tribes to access available coastal resilience resources.Federal investments in coastal communities must be leveraged to create local jobs and help develop a workforce trained in adaptation and resilience.Climate adaptation and resilience work should complement and, when possible, contribute to a decarbonized, clean energy economy.This report—designed as a usable and practical resource for Congress, federal agencies, and the public—includes 30 coastal resilience policy recommendations. These recommendations are brought to life by specific examples of climate solutions in practice today that also hold promise for the future. These various initiatives, projects, examples of community leadership, and funding mechanisms are models for the work that is still needed to accelerate resilience for all coastal communities.

Fact Sheet: Federal Resources for Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change

February 19, 2020

This fact sheet provides a survey of federal funding and technical assistance available to help state and local governments and agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, universities, and individuals implement nature-based solutions for climate resilience. Many of these sources of federal support allow communities to develop projects which draw on the multiple, interrelated benefits of nature-based solutions.

Fact Sheet: The Growth in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Commercial Aviation

October 17, 2019

This fact sheet begins a series on commercial aviation, by examining the impact the growth of air travel and freight will have on greenhouse gas emissions. In 1960, 100 million passengers traveled by air, at the time a relatively expensive mode of transportation available only to a small fraction of the public. By 2017, the total annual world-wide passenger count was 4 billion. The "hypermobility" of air travel is available to greater numbers of people worldwide, with rapid growth in aviation projected for developing nations and sustained growth in the large established aviation markets of developed countries. While our collective use of automobiles, our production of electricity, and the industrial and agricultural sectors each exceed the climate change impact of commercial aviation, passenger air travel is producing the highest and fastest growth of individual emissions, despite a significant improvement in efficiency of aircraft and flight operations over the last 60 years.