We know…it’s been a rough year. From the state of the U.S. election, racial injustices, pipeline projects, to other terrible things, the consensus is that this year sucks. Many are questioning whether 2016 was in fact the ‘worst year ever’. While it may seem like 2017 could be even worse, here are 4 reasons we think it will be okay.
Republicans have long been rallying against EPA regulations and their ‘impact on big business’. But dismantling the EPA can’t simply be done overnight. If president-elect Trump, or the nominated head of the EPA Scott Pruitt, wanted to overhaul the EPA, it would require navigating the complex bureaucracy bound by powerful laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Federal government agencies also operate on a legal platform and the courts, even more conservative ones, are not typically amenable to iconoclasts. Reagan and Bush took office with the same desire to dissolve EPA regulations, but were frequently held up by the courts and litigators. Even if the Trump administration presses swift action against the EPA in the courts, the results will be slow.
A Republican-majority Congress could try to legislate changes in the laws that govern the EPA. However, we should bear in mind that President-elect Trump did not win the popular vote. Republican legislators will need to pick their battles carefully, which could mean destruction of climate policy takes a back seat as they dismantle the ACA.
2) Public intolerance has reached new levels
While it may not seem so, Americans’ concern about climate change is growing. Pipelines have taken center stage in the fight over our energy future, concerns about climate change, private property rights, and disenfranchised communities.
What started as opposition from the members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline, has grown to protests on the national level. Previous success in getting the Obama administration to block development of the Keystone XL pipeline was marked a major success for climate activists. Our concerns are not diminished by the President-elect’s comments or appointments of some of the most outspoken bigots. Our concerns only grow louder.
3) State policy is more favorable to renewable energy
States policies are to thank for much of our recent climate progress, and climate policy in 2017 will be much the same. A report from the Brookings Institution shows that from 2000 to 2014, 33 states and the District of Columbia have seen their emissions drop by 12%, while their economies have grown by 22%. Much of this is due to policies promoting the switch to natural gas and renewable energy. To the extent that market forces in the states are behind the process, new federal regulators (or should we say de-regulators?) are going to have a tough time getting the utilities in those states to return to coal.
Massachusetts is a long-standing leader in the fight against climate change. With some of the highest renewable portfolio standards requirements in the country and an effort by many stakeholders to put a price on carbon, the Commonwealth is poised for growth even under a Trump presidency. Massachusetts has been ranked the No. 1 state in energy efficiency for the past 5 years, with other New England states shortly behind it. These policy initiatives have helped New England achieve some of the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in the country.
4) The business sector is leading the way
Elections may change leadership but it can’t change the market. The business sector is investing in renewable energy at a record-setting pace. Renewable markets will continue to run the show as cost-competitiveness improvements increase investment.
U.S. companies have long been pivoting their management concerns to climate change, which poses major risks to natural resources, agriculture, supply chains, infrastructure, and the long-term viability of business operations. Long-term stable financial returns are dependent on a stable climate.
Members of the Climate Action Business Association know this very well and are showcasing their leadership across multiple sectors. Artisan’s Trading, a Cambridge-based furniture company, sustainably sources all of their hardwood furniture from only farmed or reclaimed wood. WattTime, makers of a smart device that can trace who is selling electricity where and when, uses careful timing to reduce emissions of our electricity usage. Eastern Bank, a long-standing actor in the local community, has taken steps to “green” 100% of their electricity usage with renewable energy certificates (RECs) and promote solar projects across the state. If your small business is leading the way on a clean energy future, we’d love for you to join CABA.