by Susan Stephenson
1. Catastrophic flooding from Yellowstone to Pakistan.
In the U.S., record-breaking rainfall caused flooding requiring hundreds of water rescues in Kentucky, St. Louis, and Dallas, and Yellowstone National Park. Pakistan experienced a “monsoon on steroids” that put one-third of the country under water. More than 1400 people lost their lives. Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As I write this, extreme precipitation is hitting the U.S. again, from blizzards that killed dozens in northern New York to landslides and flooding in California.
2. Nearly 200 nations agree to set up a fund for poor and vulnerable developing nations to cope with climate disasters.
The two-week COP27 in Egypt was extended for several days while developing nations led by Pakistan secured an agreement for a long-sought “loss and damage” fund. This fund will benefit nations that have emitted very little of global warming pollution yet bear disproportionate impact. The U.S. was one of the last holdouts, and getting funding through Congress will surely be a challenge, but this historic breakthrough was an important step toward financial accountability for wealthy nations and the fossil fuel industry.
3. U.S. passes landmark climate law.
In July, after more than a year of negotiations, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) cast the deciding vote to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, with nearly $370 billion climate and clean energy investments. Analysts project the bill’s policies will reduce U.S. global warming pollution by 40% by 2030. President Biden has pledged the U.S. will achieve a 50% reduction by 2030.
4. California will ban gas-powered cars by 2035
On August 25, the powerful California Air Resource Board passed the “Advanced Clean Cars II” rule, which will phase out sales of gas-powered cars by 2035. More than a dozen other states follow California’s rules on vehicle emissions, so this could be a bellwether for the shift to electric vehicles.
5. Climate protection is a defining issue for voters
According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, about half of registered voters say climate change is either “very important” or “one of the most important issues” in their vote for Congress, with Democrats, Black Americans and Hispanic Americans more likely to state climate change as a voting priority than independents, Republicans or White Americans. A poll commissioned by Interfaith Power & Light found that overwhelming majorities of both white evangelical Protestants and Black Protestants believe fulfilling their responsibility to protect God’s Creation is an important reason to address climate change. Almost three-quarters of faith voters are worried about climate change and want to see their elected officials take action. That includes Catholics, Jews, and Protestants.