In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • 5 green energy standouts from the Democrats’ climate-crisis town hall
  • Rutgers University releases new study on states, equity, and green energy.
  • 3 ways cities are improving the energy efficiency of homes.
  • Big oil to seal record number of green energy deals in 2019.

EGEB: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

The climate-crisis CNN town hall took place yesterday. Ten Democratic candidates were interviewed by members of the public and network anchors, back-to-back, over seven hours.

Here are five key takeaways from candidates’ stances on green energy:

  • Every candidate wants a moratorium on oil and gas leases on public lands. Kamala Harris wants to “direct the Department of Justice to go after oil and gas companies who have directly impacted global warming. ‘They are causing harm and death in communities. And there has been no accountability,’ she said.”
  • “More than half of the 10 candidates at the forum openly embraced the controversial idea of putting a tax or fee on carbon dioxide pollution, the one policy that most environmental economists agree is the most effective way to cut emissions — but also one that has drawn intense political opposition,” says the New York Times. (For example, Beto O’Rourke backs a carbon cap-and-trade program, Andrew Yang [pictured above] knows exactly how much he wants to charge, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren support a carbon tax, and Amy Klobuchar wants to wait and see who controls Congress before deciding. Interestingly, Bernie Sanders hasn’t called for a carbon tax.)
  • Candidates differed greatly on their nuclear energy views. Cory Booker and Yang argued that it would be impossible to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 without nuclear energy. Harris and Klobuchar addressed the nuclear waste problem. Sanders completely opposes nuclear energy.
  • Nobody wanted coal, but there’s a split on natural gas. Sanders, Harris, and Warren want a complete ban on fracking. Julian Castro says he’d support states who want a fracking ban, and defended his previous fracking support. Klobuchar says she wouldn’t ban fracking because she feels it’s better than oil but not as good as clean energy like wind and solar. Joe Biden opposes new drilling on federal lands but not a nationwide ban.

Oh, and when asked about the Trump administration’s latest environmental rollback — this time on overturning requirements for energy-efficient light bulbs — Sanders’ response to whether he’d kill the reversal was, “Duh!”

US states, equity, and green energy

Rutgers University released an independent report this morning titled, “Field Notes: Equity and State Climate Policy.” Jeanne Herb and Marjorie Kaplan explored what states are doing to integrate equity considerations in state climate change and clean energy policy. (As we’ve pointed out before, states and cities are picking up the slack of the federal government when it comes to green energy initiatives.)

It takes an in-depth look at the challenges and opportunities faced by the states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, MD and DE), plus NJ and VA, to direct benefits of climate programs to disadvantaged communities and households.

A major key finding of the report was:

Meaningful participation matters. Having a seat at the table, transparency, and inclusion in the policymaking process are central to many state efforts. Research indicates that many current measures to mitigate climate change — such as solar energy, home energy efficiency improvements and plug-in vehicles — penetrate less among disadvantaged communities due in large part to financial barriers. For example, a recent survey by the Smart Electric Power Alliance found that less than half of U.S. community solar projects have any participation from low-income households. Of projects that do, only about 5% involve a sizable share.

As this new report documents, states are taking new approaches to tackle and remove these financial obstacles and improve delivery of more clean energy projects to targeted communities. Through pilots, demonstration projects, complementary measures, and sharing information, the report shows how states are trying new ways to ensure program benefits flow to these under-resourced communities.

The executive summary and full report can be found here.

3 ways US cities are making homes more eco-friendly

Residences are responsible for 20% of carbon emissions. And as GreenBiz points out, a cohort of US cities are working to improve energy efficiency in people’s homes. Here are three things these cities are doing to improve residential sustainability, after working with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Residential Energy Plus team on technical support and action planning:

Rental efficiency standards: Efficiency standards for rentals ensure that landlords upgrade the efficiency of their residential properties as a prerequisite for renting a property.

RMI organized a cohort of 27 cities that are also exploring this policy, representing a total of over 1 million rental units. We estimate that this could yield up to $560 million in annual energy cost savings if all 27 cities implement rental efficiency standards.

Residential energy disclosure: Residential energy disclosure policies require sellers or landlords to make home energy performance information available to prospective buyers and/or renters.

This type of information enables cities to drive more energy efficiency upgrades, protect consumers and help them make informed decisions, create jobs and invest in local businesses, and reduce energy burdens for low income households… A cohort of 22 cities serving over 19 million people is participating in the effort.

Zero-energy construction policies: Cities and states are passing policies including codes that support zero energy and “zero-energy ready” specifications for new construction.

Nine cities serving over 2.7 million people participated in a cohort related to these policies.

Big Oil making green deals

Oilprice.com has some rather interesting news about Big Oil: The sector “has already made nearly 70 deals involving renewables and biofuels, compared to 80 such agreements for the entire 2018” [via BloombergNEF].

European oil giants have made seven times as many agreements as US oil companies. Shell is the front-runner in these clean-energy investment deals.

Why are they doing this? Investor pressure.

Earlier this year, more than 99% of BP’s shareholders voted in favor of a binding climate change shareholder resolution, pushing the company to set out a business strategy consistent with the Paris Agreement.

Hey, whatever works.

Photo credit: CNN

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