Extreme Temperature Diary- Sunday June 28th, 2020/ Main Topic: Stacey Abrams…A Fellow Georgian Who Wants The South To Do More To Tackle Climate Change

Sunday June 27th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Stacey Abrams…A Fellow Georgian Who Wants The South To Do More To Tackle Climate Change

Dear Diary: This is the first post I have done about my fellow Georgian, Stacey Abrams, who Joe Biden should pick for his vice presidential running mate. Yes, I’m showing my partiality for a daughter of my home state, but if you’ve ever heard her speak you know that Stacey is a brilliant woman who is more than qualified to be the Vice President of the United States. This week through the Washington Post we have learned that Stacey is very concerned about the climate crisis and wants the South to do more. Here is that article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2020/06/24/the-energy-202-stacey-abrams-wants-the-south-to-do-more-to-tackle-climate-change/5ef25893602ff12947e93230/

The Energy 202: Stacey Abrams wants the South to do more to tackle climate change

By Dino Grandoni June 24 with Paulina Firozi

The South is behind on climate change, Stacey Abrams says. She has a plan to change that.

The region, already battered by raging hurricanes and sweltering summers, is among the most vulnerable to the dangers posed by rising global temperatures.

But it is lagging behind other parts of the country in taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from a group Abrams founded after losing the Georgia governor’s race in 2018.

“The South is doing bits and pieces,” Abrams said in an interview Tuesday. “We have not taken the concerted and, I would say, persistent action that we need.” 

Stacey Abrams speaks at a Selma, Ala. church in March. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The wave of protests nationwide over racial injustice after the police killing of George Floyd, she added, underscores the “persistent systemic inequities” that lead poor and minority areas to face higher pollution and more difficulty keeping the lights on. 

“Those inequities have one of their strongest grips in the South,” said Abrams, who has pushed publicly to be Joe Biden’s pick for vice president.

Abrams is using her status as the candidate who almost turned Georgia blue to press Southern states to do more to support cleaner electricity and cars.

The report released Tuesday by her think tank, the Southern Economic Advancement Project, offers a road map for the South to catch up to the rest of the country.

Her group is calling on Southern states to pass laws requiring utilities to adopt renewable or carbon-free sources of power.

A majority of U.S. states have set goals for increasing the share of electricity they get from clean sources. But of the 13 states with no targets, even voluntary ones, nine are in the South. 

The transition away from coal wouldn’t break the bank, Abrams’s group argues. All but three of the 77 coal-fired power plants in the 12-state region could be replaced by cheaper wind and solar energy by 2025, the report said.

One area where the South — specifically, Georgia — is leading the country is in nuclear energy. The ongoing expansion of the Vogtle nuclear power plant is the only new construction of commercial nuclear reactors in the United States. 

Yet despite federal support, the project 25 miles southeast of Augusta has run over budget and past deadline

“What we’ve seen from Georgia’s experience is that that is unlikely to be the leading solution across the South,” Abrams said.

At the municipal level, Abrams is calling for cities to enact building codes requiring energy-efficient structures, and to expand and electrify bus and rail networks. 

She is also calling for state legislatures to give residents financial help to purchase electric vehicles. 

Georgia once rivaled California with one of the nation’s largest subsidies for electric vehicle buyers — until state lawmakers repealed it in 2015.

Southern states need to look toward each other — not just toward California or Northeastern states — for inspiration, Abrams said.

Virginia and the Carolinas each have passed renewable energy legislation, she noted. And even Alabama has a loan program for energy-efficient construction.

Southern lawmakers, Abrams said, “have to be armed with that information.” They also need to be told just how vulnerable the region is, she said.

Rising temperatures are making the hurricanes and other storms that the region weathers more intense. And stronger heat waves will further strain electric grids and lead to more heat-related deaths.

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A man walks through floodwater during heavy rainfall in Miami in May. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

Altogether, the South, along with the lower Midwest, will suffer the largest economic losses from climate change in the country, according to a 2017 analysis.

“Instead of arguing about whether climate change is real,” she said, “we talk about what climate change looks like in the South.”

But one reason for the South’s slowness in working to reduce climate-warming emissions, according to Leah Stokes, a co-author of the report, is the political power of investor-owned electric utilities that own coal- and gas-fired plants.

“The reason why we’re behind on renewable portfolio standards and clean energy standards is because electric utilities oppose them,” said Stokes, a political scientist specializing in climate issues at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Abrams demurred when asked whether she is talking to the Biden campaign about the veep pick.

“The Biden campaign is going to run their vetting process as they see fit,” she said Tuesday. “My focus has been and continues to be on the work we need to do to not only recover from covid, but to build the strongest country possible.”

She also declined to tell Axios on Tuesday whether she was still in the running for the No. 2 role.

Last month, Abrams mounted an unusually public effort to get the veep nomination. The competition for the vice presidential slot usually involves contenders feigning they are happy just to be considered.

But the job normally goes to senators and governors. Abrams’s highest office was minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The Biden campaign declined to comment on the selection process.

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No matter who Biden picks to be his running mate we need to support his candidacy. The stakes could not be higher for the United States, the world, and our climate.

Here is more climate and weather news from Sunday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

It’s already beginning to get warm in Canada, as forecast, this week:

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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