May 7, 2019

States and companies ramp up clean energy targets

A slew of states and electricity companies are committing to aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a trend underway since President Trump took office.

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Data: Clean Air Task Force; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: These actions show that substantive efforts — not just rhetoric — are underway across America in the face of Trump's rollback of climate policy at the federal level.

Between the lines: The actions over the past year signal a subtle, but significant shift away from policies promoting just renewable energy — like wind and solar — toward those that target emissions reductions no matter the technology. This brings into consideration other non-renewable but still clean-burning technologies like nuclear power.

“We’re now focusing on what actually matters, which is the atmosphere, and not the technology pathway, which people have been focused on.”
— Armond Cohen, executive director, Clean Air Task Force

By the numbers:

  • Since last fall, 5 states have enacted standards mandating 100% carbon-free electricity within the coming decades, according to new data compiled by Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group.
  • 4 additional states are actively debating similar measures.
  • More than 20 utilities have committed to carbon reductions of at least 80%, most of which have come since Trump was elected.
  • Added up, these moves represent nearly 40% of U.S. electricity sales and almost a third of national utility carbon dioxide emissions.

But, but, but: These policies only target the electricity sector, which emits the second-most greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., after transportation. Carbon emissions in the electricity sector also went back up in 2018, after a few years of declining.

What to watch: Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is poised to introduce a clean electricity standard as soon as Wednesday, according to multiple sources tracking the policy. A spokesperson for her office says the senator is "still hoping to introduce [the bill] soon."

  • Under the bill, America's electricity could reach around 90% carbon-free by 2050, according to multiple sources familiar with the proposal. Right now, the breakdown is more than 60% coal and natural gas.
  • No Republicans are expected to sign on, at least initially.

Go deeper: Renewable energy mandates have not sparked that much new renewable energy

Go deeper

China approves Hong Kong national security law

Hong Kong riot police round up a group of protesters during a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chinese lawmakers approved a plan on Thursday for a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that would criminalize sedition, foreign influence and secession in the Asian financial hub.

Why it matters: China bypassed Hong Kong's legislature and chief executive to introduce the law, prompting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce Wednesday that the city is no longer autonomous from the Chinese mainland and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law. President Trump indicated Tuesday that he planned to announced further sanctions against China over the move.

Go deeper: Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

16 mins ago - World

Minneapolis unrest as hundreds protest death of George Floyd

Protesters and police clash during demonstration on Wednesday over the death of George Floyd in custody outside the Third Police Precinct. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

A man died in a Minneapolis shooting during a second night of clashes between police and protesters in the city over the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody, per AP.

The latest: Police said officers were responding to reports of a stabbing just before 9:30 p.m. and found a man lying in "grave condition on the sidewalk" with a gunshot wound, CBS Minnesota reports. On man is in custody over the incident.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy