Catalyst Fall 2016

Progress and the Election

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Photo: adamkaz/iStock

By Ken Kimmell

UCS President Ken Kimmell

All eyes are naturally on the US presidential election, but the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is currently celebrating three hard-won and less-reported victories—all of which are covered in this issue of Catalyst.

This summer, the Obama administration issued rules to boost the fuel efficiency of our nation’s trucks by almost 40 percent. UCS pushed hard for this measure, which, over time, will cut global warming emissions by more than 1 billion tons, reduce our oil consumption by about 2 billion barrels, and save consumers roughly $150 per year in reduced shipping costs.

In Massachusetts, a Republican governor recently signed a bill to ensure that by 2030, almost 40 percent of the state’s electricity will come from clean, renewable sources including offshore wind, a new industry that is poised to grow. UCS put its muscle behind this bill with solid economic analysis showing the advantages of this approach compared with an overreliance on natural gas.

And in California, the state legislature enacted a UCS-backed law requiring a reduction in global warming emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030—one of the most ambitious targets adopted by any state or country. UCS helped lead a coalition to ensure that California maintained its worldwide leadership in addressing climate change and growing its economy.

On the eve of this most consequential election, these victories underscore how critical governmental leadership is when it comes to tackling our most pressing problems. But UCS staff, members, and supporters have long demonstrated our ability to press for vital changes, grounded in science, in many different political climates. With many other states poised to follow the examples set by California and Massachusetts, we take heart that momentum for clean energy—for our transportation and energy systems—is on our side.

Ken Kimmell Photo: Richard Howard