This federal program helped clean up the Great Lakes. Could it work for the Mississippi River?

Read the full story from New Orleans Public Radio.

Flooding is happening with more frequency and lasting longer, changing floodplain habitats. Invasive species are working their way further up the river and into its tributaries. And despite efforts to curb pollution running off land and into the river, the dead zone where the Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico still persists.

Advocates for the river are hoping that a proposed federal funding program, modeled after an effort to clean up the Great Lakes, could change that trajectory.

The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) was introduced last June by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from the Twin Cities. It’s based on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) which launched in 2010.

State Climate Policy Dashboard

The State Climate Policy Dashboard is an information hub on the Climate XChange website that establishes a framework for state climate policy. It also tracks the status of and provides educational resources for each policy. It is comprised of two components: the State Climate Policy Tracker and the State Climate Policy Resource Hub.

The State Climate Policy Tracker tracks the passage of climate mitigation and adaptation policies across all 50 states. Each state has its own page on the tracker with an identical policy framework and provides information on which policies within the framework have passed in that state.

The Resource Hub is an educational counterpart to the state policy tracker. It has information on each of the policies included in the State Climate Policy Tracker, grouped into seven policy areas:

  1. Climate Governance and Equity
  2. Adaptation and Resilience
  3. Electricity
  4. Buildings and Efficiency
  5. Transportation
  6. Agriculture
  7. Industry, Materials, and Waste Management

You can navigate between the policy areas and jump to individual policies on each page to learn more about them. Each policy has an explanation, resource links, and model state examples.

Support for housing efficiency upgrades, urban parks, drought resilience poised to become law

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

With the House sending the Inflation Reduction Act to the president’s desk, some climate leaders say the onus will shift to local governments to execute on key initiatives.

Leaked: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy

Read the full story in The Guardian.

One industry consulting firm has influenced politics across Florida, Alabama and at least six other states.

Justice or overreach?: As crucial test looms, Big Greens are under fire

Read the full story at Politico.

The environmental movement embraces a broad array of progressive causes while its own agenda hangs in the balance.

Battery Policies and Incentives Search

Use this tool from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy to search for policies and incentives related to batteries developed for electric vehicles and stationary energy storage. Find information related to electric vehicle or energy storage financing for battery development, including:

  • grants, tax credits, and research funding;
  • battery policies and regulations; and
  • battery safety standards.

50 years of UN environmental diplomacy: What’s worked and the trends ahead

Negotiations over the years have aimed to protect forests, biodiversity and the climate. Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images

by Mihaela Papa, Tufts University

In 1972, acid rain was destroying trees. Birds were dying from DDT poisoning, and countries were contending with oil spills, contamination from nuclear weapons testing and the environmental harm of the Vietnam War. Air pollution was crossing borders and harming neighboring countries.

At Sweden’s urging, the United Nations brought together representatives from countries around the world to find solutions. That summit – the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm 50 years ago on June 5-16, 1972 – marked the first global effort to treat the environment as a worldwide policy issue and define the core principles for its management.

The Stockholm Conference was a turning point in how countries thought about the natural world and the resources that all nations share, like the air.

It led to the creation of the U.N. Environment Program to monitor the state of the environment and coordinate responses to the major environmental problems. It also raised questions that continue to challenge international negotiations to this day, such as who is responsible for cleaning up environmental damage, and how much poorer countries can be expected to do.

A conference hall filled with seated people and a person at the podium in the front.
The Stockholm Conference began on June 5, 1972. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata

On the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference, let’s look at where half a century of environmental diplomacy has led and the issues emerging for the coming decades.

The Stockholm Conference, 1972

From a diplomacy perspective, the Stockholm Conference was a major accomplishment.

It pushed the boundaries for a U.N. system that relied on the concept of state sovereignty and emphasized the importance of joint action for the common good. The conference gathered representatives from 113 countries, as well as from U.N. agencies, and created a tradition of including nonstate actors, such as environmental advocacy groups. It produced a declaration that included principles to guide global environmental management going forward.

A U.N. video captured scenes in and around the Stockholm Conference, including young protesters and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s speech.

The declaration explicitly acknowledged states’ “sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.” An action plan strengthened the U.N.’s role in protecting the environment and established UNEP as the global authority for the environment.

The Stockholm Conference also put global inequality in the spotlight. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi questioned the urgency of prioritizing environmental protection when so many people lived in poverty. Other developing countries shared India’s concerns: Would this new environmental movement prevent impoverished people from using the environment and reinforce their deprivation? And would rich countries that contributed to the environmental damage provide funding and technical assistance?

The Earth Summit, 1992

Twenty years later, the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – in Rio de Janeiro provided an answer. It embraced sustainable development – development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. That paved the way for political consensus in several ways.

A person in a costume of the Earth holds a child's hand on a beach in Rio. The photo is from 1992
U.N. conferences like the Earth Summit, held June 3-14, 1992, draw global attention to environmental problems. Antonio Ribeiro/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images, 1992

First, climate change was making it clear that human activities can permanently alter the planet, so the stakes were high for everyone. The imperative was to establish a new global partnership mobilizing states, key sectors of societies and people to protect and restore the health of the Earth’s ecosystems.

Second, economic development, environmental protection and social development were treated as interdependent.

Finally, while all countries were expected to pursue sustainable development, it was acknowledged that developed countries had more capacity to do so and that their societies placed greater pressures on the environment.

A young person a nuclear symbol on a contamination suit hugs another person wearing a gas mask in front of a dark illustration of Earth.
Young people at the Earth Summit in 1992 protested against nuclear power. Antonio Ribeiro/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images, 1992

The Earth Summit produced the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, laying the foundation for global climate negotiations that continue today; the Convention on Biological Diversity; nonbinding Forest Principles; and an overarching action plan to transition to sustainability.

Progress, but major challenges ahead

The increasing awareness of environmental challenges over the past 50 years has led to the spread of national environmental agencies and the growth of global environmental law.

The world has pulled together to stop the destruction of the ozone layer, phase out leaded gasoline and curb the pollutants from burning fossil fuels that create acid rain. In 2015, U.N. member countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals with measurable targets and signed the Paris climate agreement. Countries in 2022 committed to develop a treaty to reduce pollution from plastics. Climate change and sustainable resource use have also become higher priorities in foreign policymaking, international organizations and corporate boardrooms.

But while environmental diplomacy has demonstrated that progress is possible, the challenges the world still faces are immense.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are still increasing, and rising temperatures are fueling devastating wildfires, heat waves and other disasters. More than a million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, potentially leading toward the worst loss of life on the planet since the time of dinosaurs. And 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds World Health Organization guidelines for pollutants.

The next 50 years: Trends to watch

As environmental diplomacy heads into its next 50 years, climate change, biodiversity and effects on human health are high on the agenda. Here are a few newer trends that also bear watching.

The idea of a circular economy is gaining interest. People produce, consume and throw away billions of tons of materials every year, while recycling or reusing only a small percentage. Ongoing efforts to create a more circular economy, which eliminates waste and keeps materials in use, can help mitigate climate change and restore natural systems.

Advocacy for rights of nature and animal rights is becoming more prominent in environmental diplomacy.

Outer space is another theme, as it increasingly becomes a domain of human exploration and settlement ambitions with the growth of private space travel. Space junk is accumulating and threatening Earth’s orbital space, and Mars exploration raises new questions about protecting space ecosystems.

The 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference is an important opportunity to think about development rights and responsibilities for the future while using environmental diplomacy today to preserve and regenerate the Earth.

Mihaela Papa, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Sustainable Development and Global Governance, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How an organized Republican effort punishes companies for climate action

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Legislators and their allies are running an aggressive campaign that uses public money and the law to pressure businesses they say are pushing “woke” causes.

Payments for Pollution: How federal conservation programs can better benefit farmers and the environment

Download the document.

In IATP’s 2021 report Closed out: How U.S. farmers are denied access to conservation programs, we showed that for years, farmers have been turned away from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) two flagship conservation payment programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Between 2010 and 2020, only 42% of CSP applicants and 31% of EQIP applicants were awarded contracts.1

This new report examines how EQIP in particular pays for agricultural practices that are not environmentally beneficial or in some cases actively make the environment worse. Specifically, this report examines the implementation of the program in the 12 states most frequently classified as “The Midwest:” Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

We look at 2020 USDA data by state, analyzing number of contracts awarded, dollar amounts awarded and which practices are most popular. We also incorporate data gathered by others examining whether or not EQIP serves farmers of color well.

This report finds that current resources are being misdirected to large, polluting operations while thousands of farmers are being turned away from contracts that could help them pay for conservation improvements and help their bottom lines. Reforms are needed to ensure that EQIP funds only go toward truly environmentally beneficial practices. USDA can better allocate finite resources to those who need it most, including those who integrate more climate friendly, agroecological practices and systems.

US transportation sector could cut carbon emissions 34% by 2030: analysis

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

State, local and federal emissions policies already in place will reduce carbon emissions from U.S. transportation sources in 2030 by 19% from 2019 levels, according to an analysis released Thursday by America Is All In, a climate advocacy coalition supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“We’ve actually made a lot of progress,” said Nate Hultman, corresponding author for the report and director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland. But additional action could further reduce transport emissions, bringing the country closer to meeting President Joe Biden’s overall goal of a 50% to 52% reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2030.

Separately on Thursday, the Federal Highway Administration announced a new program, part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, called the Carbon Reduction Program, making available $6.4 billion in formula funding for states and localities over five years.