PHOENIX – As public concern about extreme weather ramps up, Arizona is proving that we can win the fight against global warming. Clean energy policies, such as the state’s standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, are significantly cutting emissions of carbon pollution – the leading cause of global warming – according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center.
The report, Moving America Forward, showed that Arizona’s energy efficiency standards reduced carbon dioxide pollution by at least 2.1 million metric tons in 2012. That is comparable to the annual emissions from 454,167 cars.
“By using energy more efficiently and generating more power from clean, renewable sources, we are delivering a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Bret Fanshaw with Environment Arizona. “We’ve proven that we have what it takes to protect our children and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We will need firm limits on carbon pollution in order to deliver a knockout blow.”
Scientists say extreme weather like drought and wildfires foreshadow what could be a new normal of weather extremes that could threaten our children and future generations if we fail to act on climate. Coal and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.
Environment Arizona pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Right now EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants – but not carbon pollution. Power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, accounting for about 40 percent of total emissions.
Key findings from the report include:
- Renewable electricity standards have helped Arizona develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as 131,250 cars produce in a year.
- Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as 454,167 cars produce in a year.
- Limits on carbon pollution from power plants would build on Arizona success in using solar, wind and energy efficiency to reduce carbon pollution.
Fanshaw pointed to opposition from power companies, the coal industry, and other big polluters as a roadblock to action. State lawmakers like Senator Chester Crandell of Heber have introduced bills that would limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act authority to limit carbon from power plants in Arizona. Already, groups from the American Petroleum Institute to the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits.
“With enough willpower, Arizona can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round,” Fanshaw concluded. “Our leaders can start by rejecting attacks like Senator Crandell’s effort to roll out the red carpet for big coal in Arizona, and supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.”