Catch the wind

Wind Turbine by Rachel Schowalter, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center via Flickr

Climate change is deadly serious; but it strikes me the word change is too soft a term because the change occurring is not anything like changing your clothes or your diet or your drapes. Rather it’s a climate crisis.

Climate crisis is a better way to think about what is happening to the planet, and after four years of dreadful neglect, denial and inaction from the previous administration, the Biden administration is taking the crisis seriously. And it is taking action.

The White House last week unveiled a goal to expand the nation’s nascent offshore wind energy industry in the coming decade by opening new areas to development, accelerating permits, and boosting public financing for projects.

Then there is Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which includes $85 billion for mass-transit systems, another $80 billion for Amtrak to expand service and make needed repairs, and $100 billion to upgrade the nation’s electrical grid. The infrastructure plan also would allocate $174 billion to spur the transition to electric vehicles, $35 billion for research in emissions-reducing and climate-resilience technologies, and $10 billion to create a New Deal-style Civilian Climate Corps.

The plan will lead to “transformational progress in our effort to tackle climate change,” Biden said, speaking at a carpenters’ training facility outside Pittsburgh.

A Reuters report provided more detail on the offshore wind power plan: “The blueprint for offshore wind power generation comes after the Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leasing auctions on federal lands and waters, widely seen as a first step to fulfilling the president’s campaign promise of a permanent ban on new federal drilling to counter global warming.

The United States, with just two small offshore wind facilities, has lagged European nations in developing the renewable energy technology.

“We’re ready to rock and roll,” National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said at a virtual press conference to announce the administration’s moves.

According to the report, the plan sets a target to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, which the administration said would be enough to power 10 million homes and cut 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

One of the first steps will be to open a new offshore wind energy development zone in the New York Bight, an area off the densely populated coast between Long Island, New York and New Jersey, with a lease auction there later this year.

The industry will employ 44,000 workers directly by 2030 and support 33,000 additional support jobs. Many of those jobs will be created at new factories that will produce the blades, towers and other components for massive offshore wind turbines and at shipyards where the specialized ships needed to install them will be constructed. The administration predicted the nation would see port upgrade investments related to offshore wind of more than $500 million.

The administration said it will also aim to speed up project permits, including environmental reviews, and provide $3 billion in public financing for offshore wind projects through the Department of Energy.

The United States’ two small offshore wind farms include the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island and a two-turbine pilot project off the coast of Virginia. There are more than 20 GW of proposed projects in various stages of development.

Europe, by contrast, has more than 20 GW of capacity already and plans to expand that more than ten-fold by 2050. Many of the companies developing U.S. projects are European, including Norway’s Equinor, Denmark’s Orsted, and a joint venture between Avangrid, the U.S. arm of Spain’s Iberdrola, and Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

So, it is a world climate crisis.

Further reading:

Biden’s Jobs Plan Is Also a Climate Plan. Will It Make a Difference?

To See How Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Will Address Climate Change, Look at the Details

IMO publishes short list of actions for quick carbon footprint reduction in shipping

Hearkening back to go forward

Thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps by Kevin Micalizzi via Flickr CC

The Civilian Conservation Corps was created in the spring of 1933 by a new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a way to put millions back to work. It gave jobs to an eventual three million young men. This was during the Great Depression and prior to the Second World War, which was an employment program of a quite different sort. The CCC left a legacy of trees, trails, shelters, footbridges, picnic areas, and campgrounds in local, state, and national parks across the country.

Now there is a new president, Joe Biden, and another CCC: The Civilian Climate Corps., which the president included in his 27 January 2021 Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, a comprehensive call to action on many fronts. The relevant section on the CCC goes as follows:

“Sec. 215.  Civilian Climate Corps.  In furtherance of the policy set forth in section 214 of this order, the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the Secretary of Agriculture and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit a strategy to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order for creating a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative, within existing appropriations, to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.  The initiative shall aim to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.”

Under Biden’s executive order, the heads of the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture and other departments have 90 days to present their plan to “mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers,” a step toward fulfilling Biden’s promise to get the US on track to conserve 30% of lands and oceans by 2030.

Through its nine-year existence, Roosevelt’s CCC put three million jobless Americans to work. CCC enrollees planted more than three billion trees, paved 125,000 miles of roadways, erected 3,000 fire lookouts, and spent six million workdays fighting forest fires.

“We are conserving not only our natural resources but also our human resources,” Roosevelt said back then.

The CCC was a great idea then, its time has come around again.

Further reading:

“The Civilian Climate Corps Is a Big-Government Plan That All Americans Can Embrace,” Jim Lardner, New Yorker, 7 March 2021.

“Biden’s new conservation corps stirs hopes of nature-focused hiring spree,” Paola Rosa-Aquino, The Guardian, 9 Feb. 2021.

“Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps comes straight out of the New Deal,” Kate Yoder, Grist,  8 February 2021.