Ford said the unions are primarily concerned about wages, not the proposed changes that would affect learning inside the classroom.
“Make no mistake about it, this is about compensation,” he said.
When asked if the province would consider salary increases above one per cent, Ford flatly responded: “No.”
The president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said Ford’s comments were an attempt to drive a wedge between union members and their leaders.
“This is a tired old tactic from this premier to try to pretend there’s a division between the membership and the leadership,” Harvey Bischof said. “I challenge him again, if he believes I’m not properly representing the wishes of the members, to exercise his right to have my members vote on their contract proposals.”
Shortly after Ford’s comments, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) reiterated its position that members are taking a stand for students.
In a video posted to Twitter, the union pointed to uncertainties over the future of full-day kindergarten and supports for students with special needs as critical issues not being addressed by the province.
Elementary teachers are set to begin rotating strikes on Monday.
‘Way of the future’
Ontario has partially walked back its planned increase to class sizes, but Ford said proposals to introduce mandatory e-learning will remain because “that’s the way of the future.”
Ford said teachers rely on e-learning for their own career development.
“We’re confident we’ll get a deal and things will be back to normal, hopefully sooner than later,” Ford said.
The Ministry of Education says that as of Thursday morning, more than 33,000 people have applied for compensation. If all the teachers’ unions were to strike at the same time, more than one million children would be eligible for a subsidy.
Sam Hammond, president of ETFO, called the move an “insane bribe” meant to win the battle of public opinion.
In the meantime, parents are planning childcare for next week, while some Toronto-area community centres and libraries are running extra camps and drop-in programs to help out.
“Thank god it’s just one day right now,” said Kristine Gauthier, who has a nine-year-old daughter.
“It’s stressful,” said Gauthier, who said she’s lucky to have a few child-care options. “I can’t just take time off.”
The Royal Ontario Museum is among other organizations offering camps during the strike next week.
Gauthier called the government compensation a “ridiculous use of money” that should go toward negotiations and contract concessions. She urged the government to reverse education cuts.
“It seems like there’s a publicity campaign … to turn the parents against the teachers,” she said.
Kristine Gauthier, who has a nine-year-old daughter in the GTA, is planning her childcare options for when rotating strikes begin next week. (CBC)
Experts say decarbonizing heating through electrification is key to reducing our country’s carbon emissions. But for many of us, giving up our furnaces and boilers is a huge step that we may not be quite ready to take. Fortunately, there are a number of smaller measures that can cut carbon emissions from our homes.
David Turnbull, a former home builder and current manager at Enerspec Energy Consulting and Home Inspections in Edmonton, suggests addressing heating the way we approach waste: first, reduce the demand; then reuse whatever you can; and then tackle full decarbonization.
Turnbull, who is also a board member of Built Green Canada, which focuses on improving sustainability in the residential building sector, recommends first stopping heat from leaving your home by improving the building envelope.
“That’s where you get pretty much the biggest bang for your buck up to a point,” he said.
This can be done by:
Sealing gaps and air leaks with things like caulking and weather stripping.
Improving insulation in the walls, basement and attic.
Installing airtight, well-insulated windows.
Turnbull said the best options for decarbonizing your heating system, such as heat pumps, either won’t meet the home’s needs or won’t be cost-effective unless you’ve already reduced heat loss.
A few other options to reduce demand include:
Setting your thermostat lower, especially when you’re away from home or sleeping. (Turnbull said the latter can save three to six per cent of your energy use.)
Depending on your system, you may be able to do “zoning,” where you heat parts of the house you’re in more than parts of the house that are unoccupied (such as the basement).
Choosing a smaller home.
Low-flow fixtures such as shower heads or tankless water heaters reduce the need to heat water.
There are a couple of devices that can help you reuse “waste” heat:
Heat recovery ventilators. Once your house is air sealed and insulated, you’ll need some ventilation. Heat recovery ventilators provide this while transferring heat from the stale air leaving the house to the fresh air coming in.
Drain water recovery units. Turnbull said that when you typically take a hot shower, “you use that heat for truthfully a second — maybe less — and then all that heat goes down the drain.” This device recovers that heat and puts it back into your home.
All done with those? The next step is looking to replace fossil fuels with efficient electric heating options such as heat pumps. (We’ll have more on this next week.)
Taxpayers are spending billions subsidizing polluting industries.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) at a press conference introducing a resolution calling for a Green New Deal, February 7, 2019. Source: Senate Democrats
To hear the Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel tell it, the Green New Deal would spend trillions of dollars while eliminating jobs, travel, delicious food and family time.
The Green New Deal “means every Democrat in Washington will get to go on the record in favor of abolishing air travel, outlawing steaks, forcing all American homeowners to retrofit their houses, putting every miner, oil rigger, livestock rancher and gas-station attendant out of a job, and spending trillions and trillions more tax money,” Strassel wrote after progressive Democrats put forward a resolution calling for a bold plan to zero out U.S. carbon emissions. “No jet fuel, no trips to see granny…[The Democrats] may not prove able to eradicate ‘fully’ every family Christmas or strip of bacon in a decade, but that’s the goal.”
In the weeks since the introduction of the Green New Deal, much of the right-wing pushback has mirrored Strassel’s. Pundits have dismissed the projected costs and panicked that a shift to clean energy will eradicate the hallmarks of American life. A lot of this hysteria has been in bad faith, based not on the resolution, but on a tongue-in-cheek FAQ that has since been deleted.
Right-wing pundits worried about costly policies that threaten our quality of life might take a look at some of the laws that are already on the books. Taxpayers are currently spending billions to support industrial agriculture, incentivize pollution-intensive air travel, and keep fossil fuels in business. A Green New Deal might actually cut some costs while delivering cleaner energy and healthier food.
Beef and Dairy
Let’s start with dinner. The steaks and bacon Strassel is so concerned about might carry a greater price for taxpayers than she realizes. From pasture to plate, the meat and dairy industries enjoy substantial government support. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation routinely makes a stink about agricultural subsidies.
It starts with raising cows. Ranchers get a big discount from the government to graze on public lands. A 2015 analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity found that taxpayers subsidized grazing on federal lands at a cost of $125 million in 2014.
Commercial cows raised for beef spend the last months of their lives in feedlots, where they feed on corn, soy and grain to fatten up for market. All this food comes at a steep discount: A 2016 analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the Federal Crop Insurance Program cost taxpayers $22 billion total — much of it devoted to corn and soy production — between 2016 and 2018. What’s more, these subsidies tend to disproportionately benefit the largest and wealthiest farmers instead of protecting smaller farms from weather disasters and unpredictable crop prices, as they were intended to do.
The billions of dollars in subsidies for industrial farming indirectly support dairy production, which benefits from additional government support. To offer one small example, in 2016, the USDA bought $20 million of cheddar — equivalent to 11 million pounds —from dairy farmers who were facing a 90 million-pound surplus of cheese. And, as Bloomberg Businessweekrecently reported, a government-sponsored marketing group is busy helping fast food companies develop cheese-packed new products, like Taco Bell’s Quesalupa, for which the chain bought millions of pounds of cheese.
Unfortunately, last year’s wasn’t a one-off cheese buy. As Americans cut down on their dairy consumption, analysts say that continued subsidies from the government are keeping demand artificially high and are not allowing supply to fall naturally. As of January 2019, the industry still has a record-high amount of cheese on its hands — 1.4 billion pounds, enough cheese to wrap around the Capitol building in Washington.
The Green New Deal might eliminate these costly subsidies while also bringing some relief to farmers by encouraging healthier farming practices. And politicians and voters concerned about the decline of beef and dairy operations might listen to the vice president of the Indiana Farmers Union, Randy Dugger, who wrote in The Hill this week that the legislation “calls for support of independent family farms, sustainable farming, and healthy land practices and food systems” while keeping farming from “lining the pockets of corporate agribusiness.” Spending less money on wasted cheese could mean more help for the farm next door.
Like meat and dairy, air travel is also propped up by taxpayer dollars. Commercial air travel in the United States was jumpstarted by the Air Mail Act of 1925, which allowed the air mail industry to get off the ground — literally — through a contract with the federal government to deliver mail. Public money is still being used to support the commercial airline industry — just take a look at the $2 billion being spent on LaGuardia’s remodel.
Or consider the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes flights from more than 160 rural cities where airlines otherwise would not fly. While Americans living in rural and remote places rely on this air travel, the program costs more than $200 million, and subsidized seats on many flights are routinely left empty. The program was targeted for elimination by the Trump administration in its 2018 budget, but it was ultimately saved by the House.
Certainly there’s an easier, cheaper, cleaner way to get folks from point A to point B. The history of the airline industry itself shows that the government subsidizing an expensive new form of transportation can work to create a new cross-country travel system. Rather than subsidize flight, which is a huge source of emissions, the federal government might put money into high-speed rail.
“High-speed rail between New York and Los Angeles will never make sense,” writes travel and tech analyst Geoffrey Morrison in CNET. “But between New York and Chicago? Portland and Vancouver via Seattle? Houston and Dallas? There are many city pairs that do make sense for high-speed rail.
“My guess is most people in the US would also appreciate the option of not having to go through the hassle of an airport to take shorter trips,” Morrison continues. “A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is an added bonus. It just comes down to a serious desire and push to do it, which is one thing the Green New Deal wants to create.”
In early February, the week the Green New Deal was introduced, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on a failed wind farm deal in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “Democrats are pushing a Green New Deal to end the use of fossil fuels and rely entirely on renewable energy,” it began, positing that the example of Falmouth “offers a cold gust of reality on such ambitions with its experience on a $10 million wind-energy investment.”
Ten million dollars is a lot for one town to waste, but it pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars ratepayers in two Southern communities have had to pay to support just two failed “clean” coal plants.
In late 2010, utility Mississippi Power trumpeted that it had broken ground on an innovative new plant in Kemper County, Mississippi. The project would provide hundreds of jobs while “securing long-term, reliable, low-cost energy” for the county once it got up and running four years later, a press release claimed.
Seven years later, the plant finally opened after spending double the projected budget due to a combination of corruption, hubris and technological failures. After the Department of Energy kicked in more than $380 million in grants and the state decreed that $800 million in costs could be charged to ratepayers, the plant finally whirred to life. It ran on clean coal for a grand total of five days before the utility decided natural gas would be less expensive
Taxpayers in Edwardsport, Indiana faced a lower up-front price tag for their clean coal project, but they are paying a different kind of cost. After the plant collected nearly $400 million from ratepayers to finance the project, Duke Energy opened up the Edwardsport coal plant in 2013. Unlike Kemper, the clean-coal technology is still working in Edwardsport — which may actually be worse for the people living there.
“Ratepayers of Duke Energy in Indiana are getting royally screwed” by the pricey plant, said David Schlissel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). An analysis conducted by IEEFA last year finds that the cost of power averaged $145 per megawatt-hour from Edwardsport since its opening, compared to market averages of $32 per megawatt-hour. Edwardsport ratepayers are shelling out more than four times as much for power than other Hoosiers.
Schlissel, who has testified in court with regards to various coal closings, said that the industry invokes the idea of clean coal in bad faith when defending their plants. “The industry would say, ‘Our plant is carbon-capture-ready,’” he said. “What it meant is it had the physical space to put the technology in their plant” — not that the technology itself was ready.
The future, Schlissel says, is clear to those watching the markets.“We will have existing coal plants for decades, but there’s no future. The future is wind, solar, storage, some natural gas.”
With or without sweeping legislative change, the U.S. economy is already chugging towards a green future. By 2020, renewable power is projected to be cheaper than gas and coal. That doesn’t mean, however, that falling prices are going to usher in a clean-energy revolution in time to avert a climate catastrophe. To do its part to keep warming in check, the United States will need to radically overhaul its energy system in just a few short years. The question remains as to whether lawmakers will do what’s necessary to stave off calamity.
The Green New Deal offers an answer. It doesn’t just look at what will work for the next five years, but what will work for the next generation. The Green New Deal, as it stands, is not a roadmap or a set of instructions, but the beginning of an economic reckoning — or, as Washington Post columnist Philip Bump put it, an “intersectionalist delineation of a new U.S. economy, predicated on the existent threats of a warming world.” It aims to invest in projects that will keep us healthy and prosperous while slashing funds spent on polluting industries. Critics say we can’t afford such a proposal, but we are already paying dearly for the status quo. Perhaps we can’t afford not to. SOURCE
Recycling in the United States [and Canada] is broken.
For years, we relied heavily on recycling operations in China to take our waste. But that came to an end in 2018, when Beijing barred the import of recycling materials. The result is a waste crisis that has caused at least dozens of municipalities to cancel curbside recycling programs, with many more implementing partial cuts. Huge amounts of recyclables are now going to landfills.
“When the biggest export market is no longer willing to accept your material, there’s an imbalance between supply and demand,” said David Biderman, the executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America. “That’s just Economics 101.”
So, how can we fix the system?
Experts say that we would need to implement changes across the board. Legislators may need to pass laws requiring manufacturers to use more recyclable materials, companies would need to build much-needed recycling infrastructure and people would need to recycle properly.
Cities can’t do all that. But they can play an important role.
For a possible model, consider San Francisco, which runs one of the most successful waste-management programs in the United States. Through recycling and composting, the city manages to keep around 80 percent of its waste out of landfills.
San Francisco’s program has been years in the making. In 2000, it introduced the “fantastic three” citywide curbside collection program with separate, color-coded bins for recyclables, compost and trash. In 2009, it passed a law requiring residents and businesses to separate their waste.
City inspectors monitor bins to ensure that residents sort their waste correctly and leave tags if materials are found in the wrong bin. They can impose fines if they find repeat offenders.
San Francisco’s system is built on a highly unusual partnership with a single waste company. That company, Recology, has had a monopoly on handling San Francisco’s waste for almost 90 years. That no-bid, no-franchise-fee concession has come under harsh criticism over the years.
Critics say that the city could save tens of millions of dollars if it were to break up Recology’s monopoly and award waste collection and processing contracts separately.
Supporters say, why mess with a system that gets results? Having a monopoly avoids a “race to the bottom,” said Robert Haley, zero-waste manager at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, as companies cut corners to win short-term contracts instead of focusing on broader waste reduction goals.
No matter where you stand on issues like regulation and market competition, the Chinese ban means that the United States recycling system needs an overhaul.
But that might not be as bad as it sounds, Mr. Biderman said.
“The ban is a challenge for recycling programs in the United States,” he said. “But it also creates huge opportunities to invest in domestic infrastructure to receive recovered material.” SOURCE
And yet, 400 million tons isn’t an unprecedented amount nationwide at this point of the year in Australia, where summer bush fires are common, the fire season has been growing longer, and the number of days of “very high fire danger” is increasing.
Wildfires emissions topped 600 million tons from September through early January during the brutal fire seasons of 2011 and 2012, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.
But emissions are way beyond typical levels in New South Wales, where this year’s fires are concentrated. More than 5.2 million hectares (12.8 million acres) have burned across the southeastern state since July 1, according to a statement from the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Climate change doesn’t spark wildfires. But rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall dries out trees, plants, and soil, converting them into fuel that can amplify fires when they do break out.
A 2018 report by Australia’s national science agency and the Bureau of Meteorology concludes climate change has contributed to the nation’s worsening fire conditions, noting that average temperatures have risen more than 1 ˚C.
In turn, these huge fires are fueling climate change. As trees and plants burn, they release the carbon stored in their trunks, leaves, branches, and roots. That creates a vicious feedback loop, as the very impacts of climate change further exacerbate it, complicating our ability to get ahead of the problem.
The fires have had devastating effects on the ground in Australia:
One University of Sydney professor estimates that more than one billion animals have been killed in the fires, based on earlier estimates of mammal, bird, and reptile populations in affected regions.
“It’s probably fairly well known that Australia’s got the world’s highest rate of extinction for mammals,” Chris Dickman, a professor of terrestrial ecology, said in an interview with National Public Radio. “It’s events like this that may well hasten the extinction process for a range of other species. So it’s a very sad time.”
The situation grew more dangerous in recent days, as hot and windy conditions returned. Two giant fires merged into a “megafire” straddling New South Wales and Victoria, and covering some 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres). SOURCE
Mayors are considering waiving fares for bus service as a way to fight inequality and lower carbon emissions. Critics wonder who will pay for it.
Credit…Greta Rybus for The New York Times
LAWRENCE, Mass. — Dionisia Ramos gets on the 37 bus twice a day, rooting through her handbag to dig out the fare and drop it into the slot, so it came as a shock several months ago when the bus driver reached out his hand to stop her.
“You don’t have to pay,” he said. “It’s free for the next two years.”
Ms. Ramos had never heard of anything like this: Someone was paying her bus fare? At 55, she lives on a monthly unemployment check for $235. So saving $2.40 a day, for her trip to and from community college, past the hulking mills of Lawrence’s industrial past — that meant something.
Since a pilot program began in September, use of the buses has grown by 24 percent, and the only criticism Ms. Ramos has of the Massachusetts city’s experiment with fare-free transit is that it is not permanent.
“Transportation should be free,” she said. “It’s a basic need.
Larger experiments are underway in other parts of the country. The cities of Kansas City, Mo., and Olympia, Wash., both declared that their buses would become fare-free this year.
The argument against fare-free transit is a simple one: Who is going to pay for it?
In communities where ridership has been falling, the cost of waiving fares may be less than expected.
Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence, intrigued after hearing his friend Ms. Wu speak about fare-free transit, asked his regional transit authority how much was collected on three of the city’s most-used bus lines. The answer was such a small amount — $225,000 — that he could offset it from the city’s surplus cash reserves.“What I like is the doability of this, the simplicity of it,” Mr. Rivera said. “We are already subsidizing this mode of transportation, so the final mile is very short. It isn’t a service people need to pay for; it’s a public good.”
A handful of experiments in the United States in recent decades, including the cities of Denver and Austin, were viewed as unsuccessful because there was little evidence that they removed cars from the road; new riders tended to be poor people who did not own cars, according to a 2012 review by the National Academies Press.
But in another sense, they were successful: They increased ridership right away, with rises between 20 and 60 percent in the first few months. That statistic accounts for its revival among a new wave of urban progressives, who see transit as a key factor in social and racial inequality.
“Think about who is using our buses: It’s black people, folks who live in communities where there are deep, deep concentrations of poverty,” said Kim Janey, who was sworn in last week as the president of Boston’s City Council and has proposed waiving fares on a key route through some of the city’s low-income neighborhoods.
“I know what it’s like to stand on the bus, all cramped up, so I won’t be late to work,” she said. “When I say more representation matters, that’s why it matters. We will bring new ideas like free buses.”
The idea also appeals to moderates in places like Worcester, which is struggling to persuade residents to use its buses. Ridership has dropped by 23 percent since 2016, and the buses now run half-empty, according to a report released in May by the Worcester Research Bureau, a nonpartisan policy group.
At a City Council meeting last week, a parade of citizens lined up to express support for a proposal to make Worcester’s buses free for three years, as a pilot program. Revenue from bus fares is so low, and the cost of collecting them so high, that it could be replaced by an infusion of $2 million to $3 million a year.
“When I heard the news I sat bolt upright and said, ‘That’s a good idea!’” said Howard Fain, a public-school teacher, who said he often saw people struggling to dig out coins on the 7 bus.
“Even people who can afford to pay for dinner love a free buffet,” he said. “Open up a cash bar and see what happens. We can draw people to public transit because people like free.”
In Boston, the idea has run into resistance from officials who say the cost would be exorbitant.
“We have to have that conversation,” said Mayor Marty Walsh, who was pressed for his position in an interview on WGBH, a Boston public radio station. “It’s easy to throw ideas out there. But when you put ideas out there, we have to back it up with how do we actually pay for it. And that’s going to be the key point to this.”
Brian Kane, deputy director of the MBTA Advisory Board, which oversees expenditures on Boston’s public transit system, said bus fares in Boston brought in $109 million in 2019 and $117 million in 2018.
“There’s no such thing as free,” Mr. Kane said. “Someone has to pay. Boston has the highest-paid bus drivers in the country. They’re not going to work for free. The fuelers, the mechanics — they’re not going to work for free.” Advocates of free transit have suggested that the cost could be offset by a gas tax increase; but replacing $109 million would mean raising the gas tax by 3 and a half cents, Mr. Kane said. And all the while, he said, the system is straining to cope with the current demands.
“I hate to be the guy who says, ‘eat your peas,’” he said. “But that’s where we are.”
“That’s where something controversial or impossible a few years ago now seems possible,” said Stacy Thompson, the executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, a transportation research group.
Scott MacLaughlin, a ticket agent for the Merrimack Valley Transit Authority, which serves Lawrence, is already worrying about what happens when Mayor Rivera’s two-year experiment in free transit ends, in 2021.
“You’re going to take it away after two years?” he said. “When you give someone something for free and then you take it away, that’s always going to be an issue.”
And that, Mayor Rivera said with a smile, was exactly the point.
“To me, it’s not a pilot,” he said. “I want people to get used to it.”
As you read, your chest tightens and a sense of dread washes over you, radiating out from your heart. You feel anxious, afraid and intensely guilty. Just this morning, you drove a gasoline-powered car to work. You ate beef for lunch. You booked a flight, turned on the heat, forgot your reusable grocery bags at home. This is your fault.
As an environmental writer, I’m often asked for guidance on coping with climate change. I have thoughts. Even better, I have a five-point plan to manage the psychological toll of living with climate change and to become part of the solution.
Step 1: Ditch the shame.
The first step is the key to all the rest. Yes, our daily lives are undoubtedly contributing to climate change. But that’s because the rich and powerful have constructed systems that make it nearly impossible to live lightly on the earth. Our economic systems require most adults to work, and many of us must commute to work in or to cities intentionally designed to favor the automobile. Unsustainable food, clothes and other goods remain cheaper than sustainable alternatives.
And yet we blame ourselves for not being green enough. As the climate essayist Mary Annaïse Heglar writes, “The belief that this enormous, existential problem could have been fixed if all of us had just tweaked our consumptive habits is not only preposterous; it’s dangerous.” It turns eco-saints against eco-sinners, who are really just fellow victims. It misleads us into thinking that we have agency only by dint of our consumption habits — that buying correctly is the only way we can fight climate change.
As long as we are competing for the title of “greener than thou,” or are paralyzed by shame, we aren’t fighting the powerful companies and governments that are the real problem. And that’s exactly the way they like it.
Step 2: Focus on systems, not yourself.
Even if we manage to zero-out our own contributions to climate change, it would be practically a full-time job, leaving us little time or energy for pushing for the systemic changes we need. And the avoided emissions would be tiny compared with the scale of the problem. Each person in the United States emitted an average of 16 metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide in 2018, according to the Energy Information Agency. The entire country emitted 5.28 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide that year.
I have chosen to fight against a proposed gas pipeline, liquefaction facility and liquefied natural gas export terminal that the Canadian company Pembina wants to build in Oregon, where I live. If built, the project would result in emissions of over 36.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Some 42,000 people submitted comments to a state agency asking it to deny permits for the project. If we manage to stop construction, each of those people could claim credit for preventing one forty-two-thousandth of those emissions — some 876 metric tons per person! It would take 54 years of individual zero-carbon living to make the same dent.
My point is that the climate crisis is not going to be solved by personal sacrifice. It will be solved by electing the right people, passing the right laws, drafting the right regulations, signing the right treaties — and respecting those treaties already signed, particularly with indigenous nations. It will be solved by holding the companies and people who have made billions off our shared atmosphere to account.
Step 3: Join an effective group.
These sweeping, systemic changes are complicated and will be hard won. No single person alone can make them happen. Luckily, there are already dozens, if not hundreds, of groups dedicated to climate activism. Some are local and focused on stopping particular fossil-fuel projects, like Rogue Climate in Southern Oregon, with which I am working. Others are national and focused on changing federal policy, like Zero Hour and the Sunrise Movement. Still others, like Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future, are international and focused on putting moral pressure on climate negotiators and governments around the world. Groups like Project Drawdown research the nuts and bolts of decarbonizing the world. Climate change is linked to income inequality and injustice, so if your passion is fighting for racial justice, the rights of the poor, or indigenous rights and sovereignty, that works, too. Or you might volunteer for a climate-focused local or national political candidate.
Step 4: Define your role.
The power of these groups is not simply strength in numbers. They work well because they divide up the work that needs to be done and give each task to those best suited to it. This also makes the fight less daunting. Instead of trying to become an expert in international regulatory law, global supply chains, atmospheric science and the art of protest, you can offer the skills and resources you already have, and trust that other people with complementary skills are doing what they can do, too. If you are a writer, you can write letters to the editor, newsletters and fliers. If you are strong, you can lift boxes. If you are rich, you can donate money. Only you know what and how much you can reasonably do. Take care not to overdo it at first and risk burning out. Set a sustainable level of involvement for yourself and keep it up. As a bonus, working with a group will increase the richness and diversity of your personal relationships, and may well temper your climate anxiety and depression.
Step 5: Know what you are fighting for, not just what you are fighting against.
Even though keeping global warming under 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) would absolutely be better than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) of warming, there is no threshold that means that it is “too late” or that we are “doomed.” The lower, the better. It is always worth fighting.
As we fight, it is important for our mental health and motivation to have an image in mind of our goal: a realistically good future.
Imagine dense but livable cities veined with public transit and leafy parks, infrastructure humming away to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, fake meat that tastes better than the real thing, species recovering and rewilding the world, the rivers silver with fish, the skies musical with flocking birds.
This is a future where the economic inequality, racism and colonialism that made decades of inaction on climate change possible has been acknowledged and is being addressed. It is a time of healing. Many ecosystems have changed, but natural resilience and thoughtful human assistance is preventing most species from going extinct. This is a future in which children don’t need to take to the streets in protest and alarm, because their parents and grandparents took action. Instead, they are climbing trees.
This future is still possible. But it will only come to pass if we shed our shame, stop focusing on ourselves, join together and demand it. SOURCE
If you had to guess where the best opportunities are to reduce the cost of EV charging infrastructure, what would you say? The charging station hardware, perhaps? Or maybe installation techniques, like “future-proofing” by installing larger conduit and other elements of the “make-ready” infrastructure that supplies power to the charging stations? Or maybe unbundling contracts for network access fees and cellular data plans from hardware procurement?
Would you believe it’s probably none of the above?
When we began this research project, we expected to find that procuring standardized components in a smarter way, buying them in bulk, and unbundling turnkey packages would be the key recommendations.
But after conducting two dozen original interviews (under nondisclosure agreements) with utilities, hardware providers, software providers, operators of charging networks, transit agencies, states, laboratories, contractors, and consultancies, as well as reviewing the literature and publicly available information on utility procurements, we learned that the biggest and most costly issues were in another area entirely.
The Soft Costs
We found that the EV charging industry needs to do what the solar industry did starting about a decade ago: streamline and de-bottleneck installation. Just as with the solar industry, “soft costs” such as permitting delays, complex utility interconnection processes, compliance with a balkanized framework of regulations, re-engineering projects because they were based on incorrect information, and so on were frequently cited as more significant cost drivers than charging station hardware in the United States. We strongly suspect that these soft costs are a major reason why installation costs are a much larger share of the cost of installing EV chargers in the United States than they are in Europe.
The EV charging industry needs to do what the solar industry did starting about a decade ago: streamline and de-bottleneck installation.
For example, merely locating a site with sufficient grid capacity can take months due to poor information and communication with utilities. Some charging site owners have reported that the process of obtaining an easement for a charging station site in California can take up to 234 business days, incurring additional costs for construction delays. An average of 2.41 revisions of building permits have been reported for charging sites in California, adding engineering costs that should be avoidable.
The Need for Joint Action
These costs are poorly understood, very hard to quantify, and almost entirely undocumented in the literature. Just as it took the combined and sustained efforts over several years of the US Department of Energy, multiple US national laboratories, and nongovernmental organizations, including RMI, to discover and present comprehensive findings on soft costs and how they can be reduced for solar projects, the authors believe it will take a similar level of effort to understand the soft costs of EV charging infrastructure and how they can be reduced.
Once the problem areas are identified, the efforts of a wide variety of actors, including regulatory agencies, civic officials, the staff of local building and planning departments, utilities, private sector charging network operators, and legislators will be needed to solve them.
If transportation electrification is to proceed, we must ensure that recharging an EV at a public charger is no more expensive than refueling a conventional vehicle. Getting there will require particular attention to the cost of every element involved in charging infrastructure and squeezing out costs wherever possible. Our new report aims to contribute constructively to that effort, and we invite researchers working in the transportation electrification sector to begin exploring the soft costs of charging infrastructure and identifying specific ways that they can be reduced. SOURCE