News Release

Good as news: positive environmental stories you may have missed this week

The Public Interest Network’s Environment America and U.S. PIRG are working on multiple campaigns to help America get through the coronavirus pandemic as quickly and safely as possible. But we're also working to ensure that when the outbreak ends, the United States’ policies and practices ensure a cleaner, safer, better world for all of us.

This weekly newsletter will highlight recent good news on the environmental front. If you have suggestions or comments, please email Ian Corbet (ian.corbet@publicinterestnetwork.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org).

 

Senate committee releases ambitious new climate report

The Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis released a long-awaited report Tuesday, making the case for comprehensive climate solutions that would meet the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This scientific target, set in 2018 by the International Panel on Climate Change, would keep the Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees, avoiding the worst impacts of global warming. 

“As huge swaths of the nation deal with wildfires, hurricanes, excessive heat and flooding, the U.S. Senate's climate plan reiterates the need for swift action to tackle climate change,” says Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions campaign. “To solve the climate crisis, we’ll need bold solutions, including 100 percent renewable energy to power our society and an expedited transition to clean transportation. The Senate committee deserves applause for recognizing the massive problems we face with the changing climate, but we now look forward to bipartisan efforts to get bold climate solutions implemented as quickly as possible.” 

Louisiana sets net zero emissions target for 2050

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order last Wednesday setting a statewide goal for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The order represents the first commitment for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and also establishes a new Climate Emissions Task Force within the Office of the Governor to develop plans to achieve the new target.

“Louisiana’s new net zero emissions target is a key step forward, and we’re so glad to see Gov. Edwards take bold action on clean energy,” says Emma Searson, 100% Renewable Campaign director at Environment America. “We have state leadership to thank for much of the rise of renewables in the U.S., and we need more leaders at that level of government to aim high in order to keep that progress going. Not only will this new goal drive Louisiana toward a cleaner, healthier future, but we also hope it will encourage governors and legislators in neighboring states to jump on the bandwagon.” 

University of California moves to eliminate single-use plastics

The University of California announced Monday that they are phasing out single-use plastics on all their campuses. The phase out is expected to be completed in 2030, bringing the university system closer to meeting its overall sustainability and zero waste goals. Prior to the announcement, CALPIRG student chapters’ Plastic-Free Seas Campaign had collected more than 12,000 student signatures in support of eliminating single-use plastics, which have disastrous effects on oceans and their wildlife.” 

“Students are more conscious than ever of the consumption of plastic and its negative impact on our environment and public health,” says UC Berkeley graduate Nicole Haynes, CALPIRG’s statewide Plastic-Free Seas coordinator. “We're thrilled that our institution, which has so much purchasing power in California, is taking major steps to eliminate single-use plastic.” 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Wolverines return to Mount Rainier National Park: Scientists have spotted three wolverines -- a mother and her babies -- in Mount Rainier National Park. This marks the species’ return to the park after a more than hundred-year absence. 

  • University of Georgia builds new beehives on campus: The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine is building a set of beehives on the university’s campus as part of an effort to protect these valuable pollinators. The new program will give veterinary students clinical training experience caring for these insects. 

  • Massachusetts offshore wind farm moves forward: A large offshore wind farm will use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as the staging area for its development. The terminal is North America’s first-ever custom-built support facility created to assist in offshore wind construction. This wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard will help the state significantly reduce its carbon emissions.

  • Panda born at National Zoo: Giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub this past week at the Smithsonian National Zoo in D.C. Pandas have long been the worldwide symbol for endangered species conservation. The birth of a new baby panda signals more hope for the survival of this species. The newborn won’t be on public display for a couple of months, but live feeds of the baby and mother are available on the Zoo’s website.

Looking for even more uplifting environmental content?

Environment America recently launched our Greener Together project. As people are practicing social distancing, the project aims to help us all foster a stronger connection with the natural world and with each other. The initiative includes engaging events, fun activities and helpful guides for both adults and children. 

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Environment America is a national network with affiliates in 29 states. Our staff and members work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. 

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

U.S. PIRG and Environment America are part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.