After shifting its position last year to outright oppose natural gas, the Sierra Club, one of the oldest, largest, and most influential environmental groups in the world, is now in the process of setting an even more ambitious global-warming target.
The group’s official position is to oppose any new natural-gas dependence and to wean the country off fossil fuels by 2050. Now, the Sierra Club group is looking to move that date earlier by 20 years, Executive Director Michael Brune told National Journal in an interview this week.
“We’re in the process of moving up the date. We are exploring what it would take to get off coal and gas by 2030 in the power sector,” Brune said. “We’re looking at it sector by sector. We’re first focusing on the power sector.”
Right now, almost 70 percent of America’s electricity is powered by coal and natural gas; nuclear power, which the Sierra Club also opposes, makes up about 20 percent; and wind and solar make up about 3 percent.
The group’s new policy will be final in the first half of next year. The change is still in the internal deliberation phase and has not been approved by the board, so no final commitment has been made.
When asked what’s driving his group’s shifts in position last year and now, Brune said that natural gas is inhibiting, not helping, combat climate change, even though it produces just half the carbon emissions of coal and a third that of oil.
“We think gas offers a false hope of arresting climate change,” Brune said. “Even if it has a lower carbon footprint compared to coal, we can definitively say replacing coal with gas “¦ locks in warming of 6 degrees.”
He referenced a 2011 International Energy Agency report on the “golden age of gas,” which said that an energy mix with more natural gas would put the planet on a path to surpass a 3.5-degree Celsius rise, well above the 2-degree limit most scientists endorse. He also pointed to comments that the study’s lead author, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, made shortly after the report was released: “We are not saying that it will be a golden age for humanity — we are saying it will be a golden age for gas.”
What We're Following See More »
According to the most recent Gallup poll, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally disliked. The poll, conducted between July 18 and July 25, shows both major party candidates for president are viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 58 percent of respondents. This poll is bad news for Clinton, who has received better favorable and unfavorable ratings in nearly every poll over the last year.
The same day that Donald Trump encouraged Russia to hack the State Department and "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," the GOP nominee for vice president took a more serious approach. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences," Pence said in a statement. Trump's comments at a press conference this morning were rebuked by individuals across the political spectrum, while some on Trump's team, including prominent surrogate Newt Gingrich, have called his comments a "joke."
The Federal Open Market Committee today voted to leave interest rates alone, but "upgraded its assessment of the economy’s recent performance and said near-term risks to the outlook have diminished, effectively leaving the door open to raise rates later this year, possibly as early as September."
"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.
Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”