Awesome news in the Milwaukee papers this morning. As of today, 49 percent of the American people have decided not to wait for China to lead the way on climate protection.
In the heartland:
Six Midwestern governors and the premier of Manitoba will sign an accord in Milwaukee today that will commit those states to working together to slash emissions linked to global warming over the coming decades.
That makes three –count ’em three—big regions of North America that are stepping up to do something about climate change. Andthey’re doing it now, not waiting around and hoping that China or India will show them how. The Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord (pdf) is similar to the Western Climate Initiative and the northeast’s Regional Greenhous Gas Initiative.
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According to the press coverage:
Under the agreement, the region would set up a regional cap-and-trade system for trading emission credits over the next year, with trading of those credits slated to start in 2010. There is no specific target yet identified for how much emissions would be cut, but many states in the region are developing plans that aim to cut emissions by 60% to 80% by 2050.
The states in these compacts are the climate-equivalent of nations—and not just small countries either. Find out exactly what I mean here and here.
In case you’re wondering, the Midwest participants include Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The WCI full members are Arizona, British Columbia, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington; and RGGI has Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
This came as a big surprise to me, and precisely because of that it’s wonderful news. I lived in the midwest just a couple of years ago, and climate change still seemed to be regarded as a vague, in-doubt possibility that wasn’t really worth taking seriously. Moves like this suggest it’s now a mainstream concern, and that’s great to hear.
I live in Seattle, but my family lives in Wisconsin. Initially, I too was excited because it seemed like Midwestern government officials might finally be interested in providing leadership on global warming issues. But then, more than half way through the article, the reporter listed the platform’s goals:* All new coal-fired power plants built after 2020 would be required to capture carbon dioxide and ship it to an underground storage site.* 30% of the region’s electricity would come from renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and landfill gas by 2030.* One-third of the region’s gas stations would be selling the E85 blend of ethanol by 2025.I was immediately confused because I believe that a moratorium should be place on building new coal-fired power plants, and I believe that the idea of shipping and underground storage seem illogical and dangerous. I believe that higher renewable energy goals should be set for the Midwest because it is a section of the coutry that produces more ghg emissions than Japan. And lastly, I can’t believe that the third point has to do with ethanol. Hasn’t the environmental community agree that massive corn production is harmful to the Earth?I am upset that the people are being told by their leaders that they are making strides to fight global warming when it looks to me like business as usual with a green twist. Am I really to believe this is just where the Midwest is at in terms of policy? The people in the Midwest deserve real leadership.Sarah
Massachusetts and Rhode Island have also joined RGGI.
Eric de Place
Thanks, Phil!My bad about Mass and RI. My excuse is this: RGGI’s website isn’t updated: http://www.rggi.org/states.htm; and I’d forgotten that those two states had rejoined early in 2007 after they’d declined in 2005.I’ve updated the post.
Eric de Place
Sarah,The article was confusing. The platform you’re referencing is actually not part of the formal cap-and-trade agreement that I wrote about in this post. The bullet points you list are part of a second agreement—reached with a larger number of Midwestern states—that lays out other energy-related objectives. For the record, I share your skepticism about ethanol and coal carbon sequestration. And I think it’s fair to be concerned about the stringency of the Midwest’s energy plans. Nevertheless, I think it’s cause for real excitement. This is the most coal-dependent region in North America and it has a heavy manufacturing base. Even though I have concerns about some of the elements of the energy plan, I see a carbon cap to be a very big step in the right direction.
Thanks Eric, That makes me feel a little better. I just worry about my fellow Midwesterners because they don’t have many orgs working to provide accountabiliy or information sources, such as Sightline, that work to provide accessable information about global climate change and carbon emissions. Thanks for the clarification, Sarah