‘Mission impossible’ for US cities that want to respect Paris climate deal

Crazy world of climate finance [image credit: renewableenergyfocus.com]

They can tinker at the margins with energy policy, but giving up fuel burning altogether is not a serious option given current dependency on it as a power source. The obvious problem being that the preferred ‘renewable’ replacements are too ineffective and unreliable to deliver power on the scale needed. Wasting money on such futile policies must detract from other projects too.

When President Donald Trump announced the US exit from the Paris climate deal one year ago, the mayor of Philadelphia was among those who vowed to keep carrying the torch, says Phys.org.

“Philly is committed to upholding at (the) local level the same commitment made by the US in the Paris climate agreement,” tweeted the sixth largest US city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, a Democrat.

Since then, the City of Brotherly Love has cut energy consumption in municipal buildings, started replacing street lamps with LED lights, and launched a major green energy overhaul of its celebrated museum of art.

But these actions represent just a drop in the bucket, faced with the 18 million tons of carbon spewed into the atmosphere by Philadelphia each year. Although emissions have declined, there is only so much the city can do.

Here, 85 percent of residents heat their homes with natural gas, a fossil fuel that is abundant in the rocks beneath Pennsylvania. Cars and trucks rumble through downtown—and more than half of the electricity the city gobbles up each day is produced by oil- and coal-powered power plants.

“It can’t be done by cities and states. We do need a completely clean, carbon-free grid to meet this goal,” said Christine Knapp, director of the office of sustainability for the city of Philadelphia.

“We’re going to take the pieces of cleaning that grid up as much as we can, but someone still higher than us needs to set the policy that that’s what’s going to happen.”

‘Still In’

Philadelphia is among some 2,700 cities, states and businesses that declared “We Are Still In” when it comes to the 190-plus nation Paris accord, signed in 2015.

The movement emphasizes progress, such as how carbon dioxide emissions fell in 2017 to their lowest point in 25 years, and how gigawatts of solar and wind energy have been installed as coal use declines.

In Philadelphia, a city of 1.6 million people, such gains are evident, but are also happening at a far slower pace than many would like.

For instance, the mayor is simply not able to close coal and gas-powered plants that fuel the city, since they are connected to a vast network that covers 13 states in the northeast.

Continued here.

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June 1, 2018 at 04:52AM

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