Highlights from Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet by Michael Bloomberg, Carl Pope

 

(As part of a bottom up suggestion and presentation of ideas where the organization might focus next) Lawyer from the Midwest, Bruce Nilles, was proposing that the Sierra Club target the linchpin of the Bush administration’s energy proposal: building more than 150 new coal-fired power plants. Nilles pointed out that coal was the biggest source of climate pollution in the United States. Not only that, the proposed new plants would emit so much climate pollution for the forty years of their expected lifetime that if they were built, it would become mathematically impossible to tame the global-warming monster. This next generation of coal plants, he told us, would lock the United States into 750 million additional tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, just when we needed to be cutting those emissions by that same amount by 2012.

Nilles’ pitch was that we faced what I have heard the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew call a kairos: a supreme moment at which one simply must act, however implausible or inconvenient. His impassioned plea struck a deep chord with the club’s leaders, but the ambition of the task left me uneasy. Afterward, I took him aside. How could we take this on? What was his strategy? “We just fight every single new coal plant,” he replied. “Who is going to help us?” I asked. “I have no idea if anyone will,” he admitted. “Most groups working on this just want to challenge one or two to try to get them a little cleaner.” I was not reassured, but the die was cast. The Sierra Club was now committed to transforming the entire energy sector of the United States, and to prevent it from locking itself into another generation of coal-fired power. Thanks to some initial gifts from small family foundations and the leaders of the nascent solar industry, Bruce was able to hire lawyers for the effort, which we called “Beyond Coal,” and they began looking for planned coal-fired power plants to challenge. What they uncovered was shocking. The relationship between the coal industry and the electric utilities was so incestuous that coal executives simply assumed their plan would be rubber-stamped. Even more disturbing, the government regulators who were supposed to protect consumers and the environment were in many instances (coordinating in development and just assuming approvals) 140

Ultimately, of the 150 coal plants that had been queued up when Bruce Nilles stood before his whiteboard in Tucson, only 30 were ever built. We stopped 100,000 megawatts of new coal power. To put it another way: Had those plants been built, they would have increased America’s coal power production by 30 percent—and locked in at least another generation of pollution and carbon emissions. 199

Those of us in the Beyond Coal campaign began to realize that we were on the way to something big—completely ending the U.S. coal boom. The combined impact of the club’s challenges, Wall Street’s nervousness about whether new coal plants would actually get built, and the declining price of natural gas brought on by the shale boom prompted utilities to lose interest in pursuing the black rock as their energy source. 212

Bruce Nilles designed a new and even more audacious game plan: We would mobilize neighbors and citizens to shut down the 535 coal boilers built before 2000—which were then providing about half the nation’s electricity—and replace them with wind and solar. In 2010, at sixty-five, I stepped down as the Sierra Club’s executive director, but remained on as chairman through 2012. I had stayed in touch with Kevin, and over lunch one day, I told him about the club’s new vision—Beyond Coal Phase II: Shut down the old coal plants. 217

Cities everywhere are increasingly demonstrating a phenomenon I often point out about New York: Talent attracts capital more effectively than capital attracts talent. People want to live in communities that offer healthy and family-friendly lifestyles. And where people want to live, businesses want to invest. 285

I wasn’t surprised when, in 2015, Beijing announced that it would close its last four major coal-fired power plants: Dirty air is a major liability for a city’s business environment. Any marginal financial benefit that the city’s plants offered had been eclipsed by their net costs, including damaging the health of the capital’s inhabitants and driving away foreign investment. Dirty air made it more difficult for Beijing to attract skilled workers and the businesses that rely on them. Beijing is just the latest city to reduce its air pollution for economic and health reasons. One of the biggest changes in urban governance in this century has been mayors’ recognition that promoting private investment requires protecting public health—and protecting public health requires fighting climate change. Why? Because the largest sources of air pollution that threaten public health are also the biggest sources of the greenhouse gases that are warming our planet. 287

In NYC I learned that about 75 percent of our emissions came from buildings. Reducing those emissions meant examining every aspect of how the city worked, and how it could work better. We began looking at every possible option, and very early on, we recognized a central truth that the national debate over climate change got wrong: What was good for people and job growth was good for fighting climate change. Trees and parks give people opportunities for recreation and relaxation, and they also suck carbon and soot out of the air. Strong mass transit connects people to jobs and opportunities, and also reduces traffic and air pollution. Bike lanes connect neighborhoods and help improve public health, and they also help keep cars off the streets by giving people a safe alternative. Energy-efficiency measures save consumers money and clean the air while also shrinking the city’s carbon footprint. Most of the things that make cities better, cleaner, healthier, and more economically productive places also reduce carbon emissions. 366

London, Singapore, and Stockholm: a toll on drivers that enter the center of the city during peak hours, to reduce traffic congestion, encourage the use of mass transit, clean the air people breathe, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Traffic congestion also harms the economy by slowing deliveries, raising prices for consumers and businesses. It was estimated that traffic jams cost the New York metropolitan region around $13 billion each year in higher prices and lost productivity. 381

Giving cities more authority to take action on their own—particularly on energy and transportation—is one of the most important steps we can take to address climate change. 413

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Under the Global Covenant, cities commit to publicly measuring and reporting their carbon emissions using a standard measurement system. Today, our group includes more than 7,000 cities in 112 countries. 457

The Paris Agreement was not achieved through a newfound altruism on the part of nations. It was driven by the realization that cutting emissions held economic and health benefits for nations that they had previously undervalued. Cities had demonstrated that these benefits were real, which encouraged nations to set high goals. 472

Market forces, local (and in some cases state) governments, and consumer demand for cleaner air will, together, allow the United States to meet and exceed the pledges that the Obama administration. 481

America’s ability to meet our Paris climate pledge doesn’t depend on Washington. It depends on cities continuing to protect their residents and invest in the future. It depends on businesses continuing to seek ways to save and make money. It depends on technology continuing to make renewable energy more affordable. And it depends on citizens continuing to demand cleaner forms of energy that won’t harm their health and pollute their communities. 487

Climate change may be the first global problem whose solution will depend on how municipal services such as energy, water, and transportation are delivered to citizens. Cities around the world have only just begun to seize the opportunities available to them to make changes that will yield both local and global benefits. Too often, however, they are stuck in the same position New York City was stuck in with congestion pricing: dependent upon another level of government for approval. Countries must do more to empower their cities to create cleaner infrastructure. Take energy. Mayors in some cities—including Chicago, Seattle, Helsinki, and Toronto—enjoy various forms of leverage over their energy supplies. Some own their own power, others own the distribution system, and still others have the authority to sign contracts with any independent power generator they select. The Chinese government has given major cities, such as Shenzhen, expanded powers to swap out coal for cleaner forms of energy. In Denmark, the national government decided to grant independent regulatory powers to Copenhagen, which is now aiming to reach carbon neutrality, or zero net emissions, by 2025. Thanks to PlaNYC, by the time we left office at the end of 2013, New York City’s carbon footprint had shrunk by 19 percent—putting us ahead of schedule to reach a 30 percent reduction by 2030, even as our population continued to grow. At the same time, air pollution fell to the lowest levels in a half century, and New York City created a record number of jobs. With more autonomy, however, we could have made even more progress. 496

Congress does not lead; it follows. To the extent that the public see things changing, I think you’ll see Congress changing: slowly but surely. The good news is that it’s already starting to happen, as voters all over the country see storms growing stronger and more frequent, as they see floods where they never had them before, and as they suffer through droughts that are worse than they’ve ever experienced. Americans are a lot smarter than the elected officials they send to Washington. Our country’s citizens want to avoid these disasters—and they know they can do something about it. They want to breathe clean air—and they know they can do something about it. They want to reduce their expenses—and they know they can do something about it. That’s why mayors—who are most responsive and accountable to the public—are taking action. Mayors have gotten the message, and eventually national legislators will. 513

It’s really quite simple. We’ve overloaded the atmosphere with heat-trapping gas and the rest are just details. —Prof. Jason Box, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. 525

(Early in Pope’s service at the Sierra Club) A former colleague, Rafe Pomerance, came to see me at the Sierra Club. He explained that the abstract notion initially advanced in 1896 by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius—that carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels would disrupt the planetary climate—was soon going to be a tangible and dangerous fact of life, frighteningly evident in the world around us. My initial reactions were: “We’re going to have to explain this very carefully to avoid a public panic,” and “This is very bad news for the coal industry.” 530

Rather than triggering action, it led to a quarter-century-long ideological war on science by fossil fuel interests and ideological opponents of government action. Nor did I understand that, while coal is, indeed, the largest single source of climate pollution, an entire collection of pollutants was actually driving the problem. 536

CO2 also results when iron ore is converted to steel, or limestone to cement, or oil into chemicals. Such emissions amount to about 20 percent of CO2. Another 15 percent of CO2 emissions come from deforestation. A few years ago, before Brazil began protecting the Amazon much more effectively, that proportion was 20 percent. And poor agricultural practices turn soils, which normally store carbon, into sources, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. 616

Incomplete combustion of fossil fuels—whether the result of dirty diesel fuels in ships and trucks or wood and biomass (often used to cook in developing countries)—emits soot, which scientists call “black carbon.” Soot is a major greenhouse pollutant because, being black, it absorbs and holds solar radiation. It is particularly powerful when it is released near glaciers or ice caps, because it smudges otherwise highly reflective ice surfaces and causes rapid glacial melt. So black carbon is, for now, the second largest force disrupting the climate. After CO2 and black carbon, the third most damaging climate pollutant is methane, a natural gas. Methane has been created for hundreds of millions of years when plants and animals decay in the absence of oxygen in wet environments (like swamps). Methane is still being created in this way, and about a third of current methane emissions come from today’s swamps, bogs, and forests. The other two-thirds result from human activities. As a result, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have soared even faster than CO2. 621

A lot of this additional methane comes from waste and agriculture. Sewage and garbage sent to landfills decay and produce 11 percent of annual methane emissions. Rice paddies, which work like swamps, generate another 12 percent. Cows and other livestock, through their digestive bacteria and rotting manure, produce 21 percent. But more and more of the methane being released into today’s atmosphere was made a long time ago, as part of the process that turned Carboniferous age forests into coal, oil, and natural gas. As we extract fossil fuels from the Earth, we release a lot of methane along with them. Mining and pulverizing coal releases 8 percent of global methane. Oil and natural gas wells and pipelines carrying that gas to your furnace, stove, or a neighboring power plant yield another 12 percent.

Per molecule, the most powerful heat-trapping molecules we know of are the recently invented halocarbons—industrial chemicals that combine carbon with halogens: chlorine, fluorine and bromine. The biggest threat is from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), fast becoming the standard refrigerant in air conditioners and cooling systems. HFCs, ironically, replaced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were destroying the ozone layer. Some of the halocarbons are 7,000 times more effective at storing heat than CO2. So even though we emit a relatively small volume each year, halocarbons have accounted for 17 percent of global warming to date. Fortunately, in 2016 in Kigali, the world community agreed to a phase-out schedule that will eliminate much of the climate risk from these refrigerants, replacing them with safe and affordable alternatives. 629

Soot (black carbon) from forest fires, open cooking, and diesel engines falls out of the atmosphere within six months of being emitted. A molecule of methane holds about 84 times as much heat as a molecule of CO2, but in the atmosphere it encounters various compounds that break it apart, so its average lifespan (as methane) once emitted is only twelve years (from there it breaks down into CO2, which can remain for 1000 years or more). CO2, the pollutant scientists worry about most, lasts in the atmosphere for about a thousand years—unless it is absorbed by the ocean, or taken up by a greedy young plant looking to combine it with sunlight to make a leaf. Halocarbons used as refrigerants are most effective at holding solar heat, and some last thousands of years before breaking down. 642

Was perpetually frustrated by the media obsession with which specific weather events we could safely attribute to climate change. Something big and dramatic—a hurricane, a blizzard, a drought—would devastate communities, revealing starkly just how dependent on a friendly climate we are. But instead of heeding these warnings that we shouldn’t keep running a global chemistry experiment to see how wild we can make the weather, the media would debate whether this particular tragedy could be conclusively attributed to climate change. 657

our inability to predict with specificity the new climate normal for a particular region is not a failure of climate science—it is a warning about how dangerous climate disruption can be. 666

As you keep turning the burner ever higher, you will have a very hard time guessing exactly when and which way the sauce will fly. But splatter it will. The fossil fuel apologists have latched on to this search for predictability to undermine the ample scientific evidence that our climate is at risk: “See,” they say, “they don’t even know if it is going to be drier or wetter in Iowa. How can we believe science that is so imprecise?” But that’s the point: The increased uncertainty is a byproduct of our already changing climate. 681

Water vapor is the biggest storage sink for heat in the atmosphere. More water vapor does mean more clouds, and clouds do reflect sunlight back out to space because they are white. But while cloud cover will reduce warming, there is no reason to believe that the net effect of increased water vapor will automatically stabilize the climate—the geologic record shows that in the past, when CO2 concentrations went up, the climate was disrupted in major ways. 686

even if we got a miracle that solved the problem of CO2 emissions from energy, it wouldn’t solve climate pollution from cement kilns, methane from livestock, or halocarbons from refrigeration. 730

British Academy President Lord Nicholas Stern’s 2006 Review on the Economics of Climate Change estimated that unchecked climate change would cost the world 5–20 percent of global GDP, but that the cost of confronting the problem would run about 1 percent. In the Risky Business Project, an initiative I have worked on with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer, we produced a report called The Economic Risks of Climate Change. The report documented that the costs to the United States would be very significant: In the decades ahead, coastal storm damage could grow to $35 billion annually, agriculture could face yield losses of more than 10 percent, and increasing power demand caused by rising temperatures could cost ratepayers an additional $12 billion annually. 767

According to the World Health Organization, seven million people die from air pollution each year. That’s about as many people as live in the cities of Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco combined—all dying because of the air they breathe. That tragic toll makes air pollution one of the biggest risk factors for death globally, contributing to one in every eight premature deaths each year. And much of that pollution is caused by the same fossil fuels that are warming our planet—especially coal. Particulate matter from burning coal contributes to strokes, heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. If we could eliminate all the coal-fired power plants in China and India alone, we would save half a million lives every year. Of course, we can’t completely make that transition this year or next, or maybe even in the next decade. But every step we take in that direction saves lives. Not in the future—right now. 776

I’ve always believed that the primary responsibility of public officials is to protect people’s well-being. Every day that politicians spend distorting science to protect the interests of fossil fuel companies, people die. And unless we act, as populations increase, the death toll from fossil fuel pollution will continue rising. Fighting climate change by speeding the transition to clean energy is one of the most important things we can do to improve public health around the world. This connection between public health and the planet’s health is what drew me to become involved in environmental issues. And it’s the most important reason why we must act without delay to fight the sources of both air pollution and carbon pollution. But it is far from the only reason. 783

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, sea levels along parts of the East Coast will rise three to four times faster than the global average, and South Florida is already feeling the effects. A 2016 University of Miami study found that high-tide flooding in Miami Beach has increased by 400 percent since 2006. Much of this is “sunny day” flooding, meaning that it is not due to a storm but takes place even when the weather is mild. It’s becoming increasingly easy to predict when and where Miami is going to experience this kind of flooding, based on the tides and the phases of the moon, and more and more Floridians are being forced to take precautions, like moving their cars to safe places and protecting homes with sandbags. Flooding damages homes, businesses, and cars, backs up sewer systems, and creates traffic jams. Floodwaters also gather sewage and dirt before washing back out to sea, contaminating beaches and bays. 803

according to a study by the Boston Harbor Association, a once-in-a-hundred-years storm would inundate about 7 percent of Boston with water, mostly along the edges of the waterfront. By 2100, as a result of rising sea levels, that much of the city could flood twice daily during normal high tides. 824

Our projections showed that by the 2020s, New York’s 100-year floodplain could expand in area by 23 percent. By the 2050s, our 100-year floodplain could include one-quarter of the city. More than 800,000 New Yorkers already live in our projected floodplain for the 2050s—more people than live in all of Boston. 834

Two-thirds of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, including residents of some of the world’s largest cities. Mumbai may have the largest concentration of people at risk from sea level rise. Of the city’s more than 20 million people, 2.8 million already live in areas that flood, but by 2070 the number may exceed 11 million. These numbers matter to everyone—even to people around the world who live far from urban areas. Why? Because nations need strong cities in order to thrive. More than 80 percent of global GDP is generated by cities, and that number will continue to grow as more and more of the world’s population become city dwellers. Cities provide people with access to jobs, health care, schools, and other critical resources. Although many don’t realize this, the growth of cities is a big reason why the world has seen a sharp drop in extreme poverty over the past quarter century. But climate change threatens that progress. 838

But, increasingly, people are coming for another reason: Climate change has forced them from their homes. When rising seas inundate land, they destroy homes and crops and render land infertile. Seawater infiltrates fresh drinking water supplies, leaving people without the most important resource they need to survive. Seawater also ruins water used for irrigating crops. Roads, power supplies, and other critical infrastructure fail. In communities that depend on agriculture, people lose the means to feed their families. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are migrating from coastal and rural areas of Bangladesh to the capital, many because of increased flooding and extreme weather. The majority arrive in the city poor and without jobs, finding refuge in flimsily constructed homes that are often near bodies of water. According to the International Organization for Migration, 70 percent of those in Dhaka’s poorest areas were forced there because of environmental disruptions. 847

for all we hear about violent storms, heat waves are actually the deadliest kind of natural disaster in the United States, killing more people each year on average than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined—and that number is increasing with the concentration of greenhouse gases in the air. In 2015, India’s second-worst heat wave ever claimed around 2,500 lives. By some estimates, Russia’s 2010 heat wave was responsible for more than 55,000 deaths, and the record-breaking heat wave that hit Europe in August 2003 killed thousands more. According to the World Meteorological Organization, heat fatalities during the period 2000–2010 were up more than 2,000 percent compared to the previous decade. These deaths are also probably underreported, since heat is a contributor to many different 872

Hundreds of millions of people earn their livelihood working outside, and billions more depend on the goods and services provided through that labor—most critically, food. Above a certain combination of heat and humidity, it is physically impossible to work outside, because the human body can’t shed excess heat through evaporating sweat, and that failure can result in heat exhaustion, dehydration, strokes, and even death. We can expect to reach this threshold more and more frequently—not just in the tropics, but in many parts of the United States. Already a serious public health issue, heat will also become a major economic risk. Even at the lower end of extreme heat conditions, people grow tired more easily, dehydrate faster, and work more slowly, which drives productivity down. Around the world, the number of working hours lost to excessive heat has been steadily increasing. 881

Since 1970, the average annual number of extremely hot days has doubled in North Africa and the Middle East. By the end of the twenty-first century, that number could multiply fivefold. The number of heat waves could increase tenfold. The hottest days could routinely reach 50 degrees Celsius—about 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The Middle East and Africa are home to more than half a billion people. Like rising sea levels, rising global temperatures could trigger mass migrations from the countryside into cities, which could lead to a host of pressures that have the potential to boil over into violent conflict. 893

In 2010, the UN warned that the four-year drought affecting Syria—one of the worst in the region’s history—was causing major crop failures, threatening food supplies, raising food prices, and forcing many into extreme poverty. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them subsistence farmers, pulled up roots from rural areas and headed to cities, including the capital city of Damascus. 898

Wheat is the single most important crop to the global food supply. Research now projects that every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature will cut global wheat yields by roughly 7 percent. Even a small decrease in wheat yields could mean higher food costs and lower revenues for farmers, which could lead to more poverty and hunger, especially 908

Africa is more economically dependent on agriculture than many other parts of the world, and most of sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture is subsistence farming and heavily dependent on rainfall. Only about 7 percent of the continent’s farmland is irrigated, making Africa’s farms, and the people that depend on them, especially vulnerable to changes in weather. Over the last decade, the region has made great strides in raising living standards and fighting poverty. Climate change threatens to reverse those gains and leave people without a way to feed their families. 912

there. Much of it is absorbed by oceans. Since the dawn of the industrial era about 250 years ago, the oceans have absorbed about half of all CO2 emissions. Oceans sucking carbon out of the air may sound like good news. It isn’t. When CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, it dissolves and becomes carbonic acid. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the oceans absorb more of it and become increasingly acidic. It’s estimated that CO2 produced by humans has increased the acidity of the oceans by nearly 30 percent. Higher acidity triggers chain reactions that ripple throughout marine ecosystems. When CO2 reacts with water, it robs the ocean of compounds that many species use to build their shells and skeletons. Acidic water causes shells to dissolve. It also damages corals that nourish the ocean and provide habitat for millions of species. 925

global. Altering the stability of the climate could carry profound—and unpredictable—political, ecological, economic, and humanitarian consequences. All the data indicates that we’re already living in times of more turbulent climate—and that if we do nothing, there’s far worse to come. We have the opportunity to avoid these harmful effects, while also immediately improving the lives of millions of people. We’d be crazy not to embrace it. 961

In the United States, coal mining accidents regularly killed at least one thousand miners annually through the 1940s. Globally, the numbers remain high. In China, an average of 20 coal miners died each day from 1996 to 2000, an annual toll that exceeded 7,000. It was seen as cause for celebration when the Chinese government reported that coal mining deaths had dropped below 1,000 (to 931) in 2014. 997

Coal pollution was prematurely killing 13,200 Americans a year—36 people a day—through respiratory disease, lung cancer, and other illnesses. Another 20,000 Americans had heart attacks related to coal pollution every year, and 217,000 had asthma attacks. The financial toll in annual health costs exceeded $100 billion. In Europe, coal power production causes over 22,000 premature deaths a year. In India, it causes 100,000 premature deaths a year. Every new coal-fired power plant in Indonesia is projected to kill more than 24,000 over its forty-year lifetime. Burning coal is the largest source by far of the toxic mercury contaminating our fisheries, making it dangerous for pregnant women to eat fish from many bodies of water. And 2,000 miles of streams, creeks, and rivers in Appalachia are already gone, or will no longer exist, because they have been filled with waste from mountaintop removal mining. 1004

The EPA estimates more than 23,000 miles of rivers and streams have been polluted in this way. 1014

Half the toxic chemicals polluting America’s streams and rivers come from coal ash pools. 1015

It is a war—a war to protect innocent lives from unnecessary disease and early death, and the environment from severe harm. Not surprisingly, those who criticize the war on coal never mention the actual death toll. And the trouble is, too often, environmentalists don’t, either. Climate-change campaigners often speak in incomprehensible technical terms, rattling off numbers—tons of carbon, parts per million—that are completely meaningless to most people. It is far more effective to be able to point to the worst power plant in America and say that it kills 278 people a year and causes 445 heart attacks. When you explain that to the public, they understand that this is a war worth fighting—and one we must win. Coal’s supporters counter by saying that coal energy is cheap energy, and cheap energy fuels the American economy and our prosperity. That argument was long true, but not anymore. In 2010, coal power was cheaper than wind and a lot cheaper than solar. Today, coal is simply not competitive. 1060

pocket calculators, introduced in the early 1970s, cost several hundred dollars. By 1978, they were selling for ten dollars. Now they are free to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection. Solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and LEDs are on a similarly sloped downward price curve. As that happens, public and private investment in renewable energy is growing. 1101

some of the nation’s newest, ostensibly cleanest coal plants are white elephants: After spending $750 million to modernize the Homer City Generation Station, one of Pennsylvania’s largest, GE wrote off $800 million of its total $2 billion investment just a year after reopening it. Three years after Colorado’s utilities sorted out which of their coal plants were worth cleaning up, seven of the ten they chose to retain already cost more to operate than it would have taken to replace them with new wind farms. While successfully arguing to devalue a three-year-old coal plant in Texas to $432 million from its original $1.7 billion valuation, an attorney for the plant told the courtroom that it would be the “last coal plant in Texas.” Let’s hope so. He summed it up nicely when he said, “Clean energy and natural gas are the future.” 1116

Proper Regulation. For over a century, mining and energy companies have been able to privatize coal’s profits while socializing its costs. Translation: corporations make money and taxpayers pay the price. This is still largely true. And yet the many ways in which mining and burning coal impose costs on the rest of us are rarely recognized. Coal companies pay neither to care for the people their plants sicken nor to clean the air of the toxins their plants emit, to say nothing of the huge climate costs imposed by carbon emissions. In a properly functioning market, coal companies would have to account for the costs they impose on society. Instead, those costs are still largely borne by society. 1128

in 2010, the Obama administration adopted the Clean Power Plan in 2015, requiring states to reduce emissions by an average of 32 percent below 2005 levels. That would be important progress, but it sounds more impressive than it is. Why? Well, in 2015, emissions were already 21 percent below 2005 emissions, thanks mostly to the retirement of so many coal plants. So the real goal of the Clean Power Plan is only an 11 percent reduction from 2015 levels by 2030. In other words, the plan’s goal is to cut emissions at less than half the rate we achieved over the past decade. Not exactly radical. In fact, we would likely hit the goal even without the Clean Power Plan, as coal plants continue to close. Still, the Clean Power Plan serves as a useful prod to states and utilities that would help strengthen the market forces already driving coal-fired power plants out of existence. It is just less ambitious than it should have been. 1139

And while the Trump administration may gut it, it’s worth remembering what happened from 2010 to 2015, when emissions fell and so many coal plants closed: The price of wholesale electricity fell by a quarter, and there was no increase in the frequency of power outages. We can cut costs and emissions without sacrificing reliability—or human lives. 1146

both Democrats and Republicans, would rather buy clean energy than dirty energy. The reason is simple: They do not want the air they breathe and the water they drink to be polluted with toxic chemicals. That is why citizens all over the country have joined together in pushing their local utilities to phase out coal plants and replace them with cleaner forms of energy. Over the past six years, the Beyond Coal campaign has led to the closure or phase-out of more than 240 plants—one-third of the total U.S. capacity. Individuals, as consumers who are concerned about their pocketbooks and as citizens who are concerned about the health of their communities, have been a driving force in coal’s rapid decline—and a major reason why the share of U.S. electricity generated by coal has dropped from half in 2005 to less than a third in 2017. 1149

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), a local utility, had owned and operated a large coal plant, its North Omaha Station, for more than sixty years. Since it had been built well before the Clean Air Act, it was not equipped with technology to limit its pollution. The act had stipulations for this, of course, mandating that the plant update pollution controls whenever it modernized the plant. But OPPD never upgraded the plant, allowing it to become one of Nebraska’s largest sources of air pollution. A Nebraska state legislative study linked it to 240 asthma attacks, 22 heart attacks, and 14 deaths a year, imposing $100 million in health and environmental costs on the community. Nebraska’s Sierra Club chapter decided that this plant was a prime candidate for the Beyond Coal campaign. The chapter had spent years talking with the community about the plant’s health hazards. But it was only when the club demonstrated to the utility that moving from coal would be cost-effective that the situation changed. In June 2014, OPPD approved a plan to retire three of five coal-fired units at the plant by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, they promised to convert the two remaining units to cleaner-burning gas by 2023. Even better: the utility committed to implementing energy-efficiency measures and investing in substantial new wind power. By 2018, one-third of the area’s power will come from renewable sources. 1156

current rules allow coal companies to buy publicly owned coal at whatever price they set. This not only deprives taxpayers of the true financial value of public coal, but it also enables mining companies to flood the energy market with subsidized coal, unfairly competing with gas and renewables. Taxpayers get cheated out of nearly $3 billion a year in the deal. There was a lot of talk in 2016 about a “rigged” economy. Well, the energy market is rigged in favor of coal. And while coal is still losing badly, it is hurting the rest of us on its way down. The Obama administration finally began to limit these giveaways in 2016, by imposing a moratorium on new leases of coal on public lands. But existing leases, at far below market value, remain intact. One study estimates that just removing the federal subsidy would reduce demand for Powder River coal by up to 29 percent. Ending the sale of coal from public land would raise the price of coal to market levels, forcing it to compete on a more level playing field with cleaner fuels like renewables and gas. 1172

Because of the political power of the coal industry, the federal government props up coal companies in other ways, too—ignoring their use of creative accounting to shift liabilities (like worker pensions and environmental cleanups) to shell companies they allow to go bankrupt. By allowing this scam, our legislatures and regulators hurt coal workers and impose costs on taxpayers. Time and time again, as mining companies run out of money, courts have let them take the money set aside for pensions and use it for their own operations, leaving the public to pick up the uncovered costs. In 2015, for instance, a bankruptcy court allowed a mining company to use funds set aside for the pensions of 208 Indiana miners, spouses, and widows to pay its lawyers instead. Yet even after they go bankrupt and abandon their employees and neighbors, coal companies manage to keep paying the politicians who have protected them. In 2016, bankrupt coal companies gave federal and state candidates nearly $1 million from their corporate political action committees. 1180

Beyond public health and climate change, India has another reason to switch from coal and over to renewables: lack of reliability. India’s coal-fired power plants often sit idle because they lack a reliable or affordable coal supply, or because there is not enough water to run the plants. So the government has agreed that, for the next decade, it won’t build new coal-fired power plants, a pause that may well lead to a longer-term scale-back of the country’s coal ambitions. 1199

Globally most coal is used for electricity—that’s the focus of the Beyond Coal campaign—but a lot is also used to smelt steel and fire cement, and in China a tremendous amount is still burned for home heating, as used to be the case in the United States and Europe. In fact, China accounts for half of the world’s coal production and consumption. But China, like India, has also made important progress in recent years. As public awareness of the dangers of air pollution mounted, the Chinese government moved quickly. It shuttered old coal plants and created new regulations for all new plants. In some regions, it canceled all new coal plants completely. 1202

Coal is declining under the weight of its own flaws: It pollutes, it’s no longer competitive, and, most importantly, it kills people. Meanwhile, market forces, technological advances, and public demand for clean air and action on climate have combined to make alternative sources of energy more financially attractive. “Coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet,” the scientist and early climate change pioneer James Hansen has said. America helped lead the world into the Industrial Revolution. Today, it is helping lead the world out of one of its worst legacies. In 2015, the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies increased our goal for Beyond Coal. We had originally aimed to cut coal power by one-third. Now, we are aiming to cut it in half by the end of 2017. 1222

Our municipal utility will move to 100 percent renewables.… Environmental zealots have not taken over our city council. Our move to wind and solar is chiefly a business decision. —DALE ROSS, REPUBLICAN MAYOR OF GEORGETOWN, TEXAS 1233

India still had 400 million people with no electricity—and therefore no light at night except from candles or kerosene. Globally, about 1.2 billion people live without electricity, and one-third of them are in this one country. 1241

Solar panels, small batteries, and LED lighting make it possible to do away with the whole grid and instead light households, minimally, for a one-time cost that seems to average about $200 a family. (A basic solar lantern, which can replace kerosene lamps, costs only $40.) Pachauri’s Billion Lives vision is to establish village centers to recharge solar lanterns, and to try to get philanthropy to fund the effort village by village. 1250

the government of India subsidized 2 billion liters of kerosene each year, at an annual cost of about $1 billion. 1254

The Indian government was spending enough each year on kerosene subsidies to replace 25 million kerosene lanterns with solar ones. Every three years it spent enough to give solar power to all of the 75 million Indian households without electricity. In other words, the government was paying far more to subsidize kerosene—which is dangerous and toxic—than it would cost to provide villagers with solar power. 1256

In 2011 Ban Ki-moon, then the secretary-general of the UN, who himself had to study by light from kerosene lanterns when he was growing up in Korea, made providing electricity to all the centerpiece of his global energy initiative. It was the UN’s first foray into energy, and since generating electricity accounts for 25 percent of total greenhouse gases, it’s a critical piece of the climate puzzle. 1265

Franklin Roosevelt had decided to fix the problem with a simple solution. The federal government guaranteed that farmers who organized themselves in rural co-ops would be eligible for low-interest loans. Within ten years rural America was electrified. 1272

the poor can afford the daily cost of clean, renewable electricity, because the daily cost over a twenty-year period is minuscule. But they can’t finance twenty years worth of energy up front. They need a banker. Theoretically, the multilateral development banks, led by the World Bank and its regional colleagues like the Asian, African, and Inter-American Development Banks, are supposed to be doing that kind of job—helping the poor finance their needs—but for years, the banks resisted. After all, those who had political power already had electricity. The development banks wanted to write big checks to national governments. You didn’t get ahead at the World Bank by assembling a portfolio of small loans to benefit the least politically connected populations. Still, some money flowed to the energy access sector. Cell phone companies in India and Africa, seeking both a cheaper way for them to power their cell towers and more reliable ways of charging phones for their customers, began investing in new business models for off-grid solar. At the same time, NGOs like Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the Sierra Club kept lobbying the banks to start lending money for solar power for the poor. Foreign aid agencies, tepidly at first, entered the field. America’s private sector aid funder, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, along with the Agency for International Development, created a clean energy financing facility for Africa, and demonstrated that with a government investment of only $40 million, it was possible to leverage $1 billion in private investment in clean energy. What the private sector needed was not subsidies but insurance. 1280

Bangladesh took the business model, human capital, and finance challenge most seriously. Grameen Shakti, a spin-off incubated by the granddaddy of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank, pioneered rooftop solar for households. The government followed with the Infrastructure Development Company’s Solar Home System Program, and by 2014 Bangladesh had three million home solar systems, second only to Germany. In the summer of 2014, a year before the Paris Agreement, India’s Congress Party was replaced by the BJP-led Modi government. Not long after, Modi pledged that every household would have at least a solar light by 2019. India was only at the starting line, but the race was on. 1291

In 2009, Texas was unable to use 17 percent of its wind power—there was no place for it to go. But it turns out that this seemingly enormous barrier has a simple solution. If, like most other nations, we had a national grid that could carry electrons swiftly and cheaply from regions where they are being generated to those in need, it would increase the reliability of our power supply, lower our bills, and enable us to rely on renewable energy like wind and solar for at least 80 percent of our electrical supply. In fact, on a smaller scale, Texas has built enough new connecting transmission lines that it now uses all the wind it generates—a lot more than it had back in 2009. 1346

it turns out that there is enough sunshine and wind across the United States at any given moment to meet our needs, if we can just get it to where it is needed. The solution to the intermittency of solar and wind is therefore connectivity. Here, again, the answer to a climate challenge is to manage our affairs more efficiently. The United States is underinvesting in infrastructure. 1352

Indeed, when scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory researched the cheapest way to meet America’s future electrical needs, they concluded that while building a network of HVDC transmission lines would add about 3 percent to the cost of providing electricity, it would enable the United States to access such abundant and cheap wind and solar that by 2030 the cost of electricity would fall by 10 percent—while the carbon dioxide released by each kilowatt hour (kWh) of power would fall by 80 percent. Think of it this way: A grid with no coal, and 80 percent less carbon emissions, costs less than the one we will have if we just keep on doing business as usual. 1362

utilities need to reinvent themselves. They need to deliver energy services, provide customers with flexibility and reliability, and welcome the idea that homeowners and businesses draw power from each other and from the grid. With this model, they would rely on fees for services customers chose, rather than being guaranteed a return on their investment. This is where most of the economy is heading—utilities need to catch up. Today’s public utilities would need permission from their regulators to convert from a capital rate–based monopoly to one reliant on more appropriate, modern mechanisms. For example, they could be rewarded for performance in delivering energy services chosen by customers. A diversified portfolio of fees could pay for transmission, with a remaining modest recovery from power generation. A utility would look more like a bank, which in today’s world does not look like a bad profit strategy. If utilities insist on clinging to their outdated model for much longer, however, instead of leading the revolution, they will find themselves run over by it. 1395

cities are the source of about 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings are the main culprit. They are responsible for consuming more than half the world’s electricity, along with plenty of gas, oil, and HFCs to power boilers, air conditioners, and refrigerators. In addition, construction materials—cement, steel, plastic, glass, aluminum—are another major driver of emissions. At one point during China’s construction boom, one-third of its carbon emissions were associated with making cement. 1435

Challenge Partners. After we committed to reducing the carbon footprint of municipal buildings by 30 percent in ten years, we invited major property owners to join us in making the same pledge. Many did, and together they have saved more than $175 million on their energy bills while also significantly reducing their carbon emissions. 1460

We always knew that the heating oil used in many residential buildings, #6 fuel oil, was not clean, but we never had good data that could tell us how much it contributed to air pollution. To get answers, in 2008 we placed street-level air quality monitors across the city—and the results were even worse than expected. The #6 oil was by far the largest local contributor to air pollution in the city. And it turned out that just 10,000 buildings—1 percent of the building stock—were responsible for the bulk of the problem, contributing more air pollution than all of New York City’s cars and trucks combined. We considered simply limiting #6 oil, but given the harm it was causing to people and the environment, there was no way to justify its continued use, especially when there were cleaner alternatives available. So we banned it, starting in 2015. The real estate industry was not overly enthusiastic, but building owners also recognized that using more efficient fuels, while requiring some up-front capital spending, would save them (and their tenants) money in the long run. To help them finance the investments, we tapped into a federal program to create low-interest loans. By following the data, making a relatively small change has led to a big impact on the city’s air quality. 1470

In just three years, we lowered sulfur dioxide pollution by nearly 70 percent and soot levels by almost 25 percent. To put that in more meaningful terms: those reductions are saving around 800 lives a year and preventing 2,000 annual emergency room visits and hospitalizations. As a bonus, they are also reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 160,000 cars from our streets. What’s not to like? 1479

A big reason so many buildings remain inefficient is that landlords often don’t pay the heating or electric bills; tenants do. So while tenants would prefer a more energy-efficient building with lower utility bills, landlords have little reason to make the capital improvements. As a result, buildings remain more costly to operate, and more carbon-intensive, than they need to be. Fixing this problem starts with making it easier for landlords to collect data on energy use, in part so that tenants can use the data to shop around and choose energy efficient spaces. Regular energy audits of large buildings, which we required by law, now allow owners to learn ways in which their buildings were wasting energy. And the audits allow tenants to push for upgrades—or find less expensive space. We also required electricity sub-meters, which indicate how much energy each unit uses. In some buildings, tenants split the cost of electricity evenly. As a result, a tenant might feel no compunction about overusing the air-conditioning. It’s like going out to dinner and knowing that others in your party are going to order the most expensive items on the menu, and you’re all going to split the bill. If you have to pay for their indulgence, why shouldn’t they pay for yours? Sub-metering is the equivalent of each diner getting his or her own check. Itemizing the building’s electric costs incentivizes owners and tenants to conserve, which saves them money and reduces emissions. 1486

building engineers told us that they could actually achieve a large share of the efficiency gains we were seeking by doing something called retro-commissioning. (With wonky names like that, no wonder celebrities don’t get involved in this work.) Retro-commissioning a building basically means giving it a tune-up: making sure that the windows are caulked, hot water pipes are insulated, outlets aren’t leaking power. These are simple, relatively cheap fixes that also create jobs for building workers. 1502

When fully implemented, our building energy-efficiency policies will save $750 million a year and reduce emissions by 5 percent. 1507

In the same way that homeowners take out fifteen- and thirty-year mortgages to pay for homes they can’t afford to buy outright, building owners should be able to finance sustainable investments. That has begun to happen through a program called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which allows building owners to pay off the value of their investments through an assessment on their property taxes. A private lender provides the capital, but because the loans are tied to the building’s value, the risk is lower for lenders, and thus the interest rates are lower. Government collects the payments and transmits them back to the lender. If the owner defaults, the lender gains possession of the property. Despite evidence showing the value of this approach, bank regulators have refused to let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underwrite loans on buildings in the PACE program. 1516

cities have stepped into the breach. Fresno, California, formed a partnership with a private financing firm that provides twenty-year financing with no up-front investment from the property owner. In Texas, the state legislature passed a law that gave local jurisdictions the power to develop their own PACE programs. As a result, Houston and other Texas cities now offer PACE financing for renewable energy projects. In fact, Houston, traditionally known as an oil town, has rebranded itself the “Energy Capital of the World.” Its mayor, Sylvester Turner, proudly declares that the city “uses more renewable energy than any other city in the United States.” The same problem facing building owners—a lack of access to up-front capital—also confronts individuals who wish to convert their homes to solar energy. A whole industry has sprung up to help them afford solar panels. It works like this: homeowners essentially allow a solar provider to put panels on their roofs. In return, they purchase electricity from the panel provider at a set price—usually lower than the utility’s price. 1522

The energy needed to meet projected air-conditioning growth in India alone may consume one to two times the electricity currently generated by all U.S. coal-fired power plants. The trouble with all this extra energy is that the more we use, the more heat we generate. 1551

Today, if you add up everything—growing crops, clearing and cultivating land, producing and applying fertilizers, shipping food to customers and keeping it refrigerated until it is eaten—food is responsible for about one-third of the total greenhouse emissions each year, from several different gases. Agriculture generates 30 percent of total methane, mainly from livestock and rice paddies. Cows are the biggest source, because the way in which they turn grass into useful sugars involves methane-emitting bacteria in their rumen. Since 1608

Farming also generates a greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide. Soil microbes create this gas when they digest nitrogen to provide it to growing plants, so the use of nitrogen fertilizer has greatly increased its scale. It is about 6 percent of the total 1614

About three billion people in developing nations lack access to modern cooking fuels, relying instead on biomass: wood, straw, cow dung, or charcoal. Many burn these materials on three-stone fires—just a pit with three stones to hold up a cooking pot. Others use clay stoves. Both turn a large part of the fuel not into heat, but black carbon or soot. The soot produced by biomass cooking is estimated to kill 4 million people every year—more than malaria or tuberculosis. Most are women and children. Cooking—preparing food—is estimated by the World Health Organization to be the fourth largest risk factor for disease in the developing world. Huge efforts have been made over the past thirty years to create an affordable stove that will burn the same primitive fuels more cleanly and efficiently. Engineers can make these stoves, but none to date have proven satisfactory to the women who are the ultimate customers. 1626

Women without access to modern fuels spend one to five hours a day gathering fuel, so the health benefits of clean cooking are staggering. Currently, too little progress is being made on providing access to clean cooking, because there is no magic technology solution like solar to drive the market into remote and poor villages. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t have solutions. 1634

We waste one-third to one-half of all the fruits and vegetables we produce. A desire for standardized, cosmetic produce for marketing purposes drives much of this loss. Eliminating food “quality” standards that are simply designed to make produce look prettier would help. 1654

The solution? Keep garbage separate from recyclable paper and metal. Use landfills only to dispose of inorganic materials like broken bricks. Everything else becomes compost, biogas, or is recycled. The landfills that already dot the landscape will continue to be a methane problem for a few more decades, but we should start separating garbage from other waste immediately and abandon the perverse model of the sanitary landfill—which could not have been better designed to mess up the climate. Some of the countries with the worst solid waste problems today—in South Asia and Africa—have an enormous opportunity to build cities of the future with the right kind of solid waste handling systems, so that waste as a major source of methane becomes a memory. 1680

for nitrogen to be effective, it must be combined with phosphate and potassium—which are not subsidized and quite expensive. 1707

By some estimates, half of the total nitrogen used is simply converted into either air or water pollution, because it is paired with too little phosphate and potassium. 1708

Because methane from rice paddies is only produced when vegetation in the field rots anaerobically, flooding just the furrow (not the entire field), and only when water is needed, cuts methane generation by 90 percent. These practices also save a farmer—and the region—water. 1717

As industrial agriculture, and particularly the fertilizer revolutions, spread across the world’s farming belts, formerly black soils began emitting their stored carbon as greenhouse pollution. They turned red. 1725

the regeneration system also cost less, used less water, generated higher profits, and produced equal yields! Every year, an acre of regeneratively farmed cropland converted 3.5 tons of atmospheric CO2 into stable, fertility-enhancing soil carbon. Tropical tests stored even more, and better management of grasslands turned out to be the most potent potential strategy of all for reducing atmospheric CO2. 1732

Ohio State University agronomist Ratan Lal believes that simply focusing on restoring degraded and desertified soils could store 3.5–11 billion tons of CO2 annually. Even the agribusiness giant Monsanto, which disagrees with Rodale on almost everything, reports that strategies like cover crops could greatly increase carbon storage in soils, particularly in corn and wheat regions. 1736

it was plants that originally created the gentle Holocene climate that nurtured civilization. If we discover that we have threatened that civilization by overloading the atmosphere with greenhouse pollution, it is plants that will most likely bail us out. 1745

The pollution was devastating for public health, causing an estimated 1,000 premature deaths and 35,000 hospitalizations each year. It also had a terrible impact on the city’s business environment. Cities that hope to attract international investment need to create environments that allow companies to draw the talent they need to succeed. For any CEO of a business that employs skilled labor, talent matters more than tax rates in determining where to invest. People want to live in places where their well-being is not threatened. To their credit, Mexico City and the Mexican federal government recognized the problem and took action. They imposed stricter fuel emissions standards on cars and began restricting driving on alternating days, depending on whether a vehicle’s license plate ended in an odd or even number. But the system didn’t work as intended, for the same reasons it hasn’t worked everywhere else it’s been tried. Those who can afford to do so simply buy a second car—often an old clunker without modern emissions controls—and the second car has a different plate. The working and middle classes have a harder time getting to work, and the air typically remains filthy. 1758

Economy. In 2014, American city dwellers spent 6.9 billion extra hours driving because of traffic congestion, costing the economy more than $160 billion in higher costs and lost productivity—to say nothing of the frustration of being stuck in traffic. Health. Particulate matter from car exhaust causes cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and other serious respiratory problems, making it a significant contributor to the more than 7 million annual premature deaths globally from air pollution. Safety. Each year, more than 1.25 million people die as a result of car crashes, many of them in cities. Tens of millions more are injured. As cities continue to grow, traffic will claim more and more lives, unless we do something about it. The number of cars on the road surpassed 1 billion in 2010. By 2035, that number could double. 1786

According to the Health Effects Institute, 137,000 premature deaths each year in China are attributable to transportation pollution. But China is far from alone. Beijing, for all the news photographs of impenetrable smog, is actually ranked fifty-seventh among the world’s cities in air pollution. 1794

In Indonesia, where rising incomes have put more cars on the road, a study showed that 58 percent of all illnesses among residents of Jakarta were related to air pollution in 2011. According to the nation’s health ministry, between 70 and 80 percent of air pollution in Jakarta comes from vehicles. More cars lead to more pollution and more sickness. 1797

The City of Light was dimmed by a toxic cloud, and Mayor Hidalgo swung into action. Public transit was made temporarily free. A partial ban on driving was instituted. After the emergency passed, the city put in place more long-term solutions. Cars made before 1997, when Europe instituted its first emissions standards, are banned during the busiest hours on weekdays. By 2020, only cars built after 2011 will be allowed to enter Paris. Plans are in place to eventually ban all diesel vehicles. 1802

Data from 1.1 million taxi trips showed that traffic times around Times Square improved by 7 percent after the redesign. Most important, the number of people injured in crashes fell by 35 percent, mostly because pedestrians and automobiles were no longer vying for the same space. Before the change, 89 percent of the area in the heart of Times Square was dedicated to vehicular traffic, even though 82 percent of the people passing through Times Square every day did so on foot. By creating the plaza, we helped balance the scales for pedestrians. Businesses around the plazas had initially worried that the new arrangements would hurt their bottom line. Just the opposite happened. By 2013, retail rents along the Times Square plaza had doubled, and for the first time in its storied history, the area became one of the top ten most valuable retail destinations in the world. The Times Square pedestrian plaza exceeded our highest expectations, and we took the model citywide. We built more than fifty other pedestrian plazas, which freed up dozens of acres of new space for people to use. Each brought the same kind of benefits to neighborhoods that closing Broadway had brought to Times Square: more customers for businesses, safer streets for pedestrians, and cleaner air for 1850

cities around the world are rethinking the way streets are used. Paris transformed part of the Left Bank of the Seine into a car-free pedestrian zone in 2013, and plans are under way to convert a section of the Right Bank from the Place de la Bastille to the Louvre—a stretch over which up to 2,700 cars pass per hour—into a walkable park. Madrid, Spain, is slowly expanding the car-free zone it created in 2015, with the goal of making the city center essentially car-free by 2020. Barcelona is creating what it calls “superblocks”: conglomerations of multiple city blocks where there is no through traffic. Intersections are reclaimed as public spaces, and streets are returned to pedestrians and cyclists. Because it’s simple to adapt, the idea has captured the attention of cities around the world—and if superblocks prove a success, it’s easy to imagine them spreading from city to city. 1861

William Bell, the Democratic mayor of Birmingham, Alabama: “This year we’ve rolled out a new bike-share program, introduced electric vehicle charging stations, and more than doubled the number of vehicles running on alternative fuel. We’re also going to transition our remaining fleet of gas-powered buses to 100 percent electric. These actions help our residents, cutting gas bills and improving health. They also show leaders on the national and international stage that change is possible, desired, and beneficial.” Portland, Oregon, has an ambitious vision based on a measurable goal: making it possible by 2030 for 90 percent of Portlanders to meet all their non-work needs either on foot or on bike. Even Detroit—Motor City—is exploring the concept of “20-minute neighborhoods,” where residents can meet all of their non-work needs within a twenty-minute walk or bike ride. In New York City, we transitioned 1879

The last time a New York mayor had built bike lanes, in the 1980s, the experiment didn’t work—largely because too few lanes were built. We built more than 470 miles of bike lanes in twelve years, including protected bike lanes that are separated from car traffic by parking spaces. These steps helped to upend long-held assumptions that biking the streets of New York was only for delivery workers and cycling fanatics. Bike ridership in New York, and in North American cities in general, has historically been fairly low. At around 7 percent, Portland has America’s highest rate of people cycling to work. (In Amsterdam, by contrast, nearly 40 percent of all trips are on bicycles.) For years, many people took it for granted that New York would never be a biking town. But make streets safer, and more people will pedal. From 2001 to 2012 the number of bike commuters quadrupled—without any increase in the number of serious bike crashes annually. On First and Second Avenues, protected bike lanes increased the number of bikes by 177 percent. On Ninth Avenue, where we’d built the city’s first protected bike lane, injuries to all street users fell by 58 percent, even as bike ridership soared. The better the infrastructure, the more ridership will grow. Copenhagen and Amsterdam weren’t always world capitals of cycling—they had to make streets bike-friendly first. More cities are catching on. 1888

Paris launched a subscription-based electric-vehicle (EV) sharing system called Autolib’. The city has started an electric scooter–sharing service, too. Singapore is creating an EV-share program that will include a fleet of 1,000 electric cars and 500 charging stations by 2020. Indianapolis’s BlueIndy program includes plans for 500 electric cars and 200 charging stations. 1908

There are now bus rapid transit systems in more than 200 cities around the world, carrying more than 33 million passengers every day, more than 20 million of them in Latin America. 1928

It’s true that autonomous cars could be the most important safety advance since the seat belt. But remember: the U.S. federal government didn’t require seat belts to be installed in all cars until 1968. And we didn’t start requiring people to actually use them until 1984, when New York passed the nation’s first seat belt law. Think of how many lives could have been saved if we’d acted sooner. We can’t make a similar mistake with autonomous cars. 1959

And since the challenges and opportunities that autonomous vehicles present are local in nature, mayors should take the lead on this issue, just as they have successfully on so many others. Mayors know the challenges and opportunities their cities face, and they are best positioned to explain them to the private sector, to form partnerships that improve people’s lives, and to build public support for policies that put people first. 1967

At the 2016 CityLab conference in Miami, I announced a new initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help cities prepare for driverless cars. We’re bringing together a group of innovative mayors who will create a set of recommendations for autonomous car policies, which can help inform cities around the world. 1970

First, city leaders are talking with each other more and collaborating more than ever before, through organizations like C40 and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. 1975

In the spring of 1970, at 1992

Ten months earlier, the California state assembly had rejected by one vote a bill to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines by 1975, which would have been a truly revolutionary change in the future of the automobile. The auto manufacturers prevailed, arguing that they could not sell cars in California if they could not sell IC engines. Later they conceded that if the bill had passed, they would somehow have complied. Our job was to make sure that similar arguments did not derail the thrust toward a major national cleanup of air pollution. A lead Senate sponsor of the Clean Air Act, Maine Democrat Ed Muskie, was backstopped by Delaware Republican Caleb Boggs. Muskie wanted to be president, so he was bold. President Nixon didn’t want Muskie to own the new, bipartisan anti-pollution issue—so the auto industry could not rely on the White House to weaken the bill. Muskie put forth a proposal forcing the auto industry to devise new cleanup technologies and embed them in every car—a watered-down version of the California bill. The Big Three Detroit automakers sent their CEOs to Washington to explain to Muskie what could and could not be done. It backfired. Although Muskie made concessions to chemical plants and utilities through private lobbying, when confronted publicly by the auto industry, he hung tough. 1995

I did not realize it, but California’s failure to ban internal combustion, combined with Muskie’s success in forcing Detroit to find and adopt new technology, would frame forty-five years of political combat over climate progress. Today, we are still fighting over the future of the combustion engine in transportation. 2005

In the spring of 2016, in both the United States and Europe, oil passed coal as the biggest source of climate risk. Globally, oil now accounts for 34–36 percent of fossil fuel emissions. Numerous analyses point out that finding a substitute for oil in transportation is essential to solving the climate crisis. But—just as it did in California in 1969—the oil industry continues to claim today that no other fuel can power vehicles. And they have worked hard to make sure this remains true. The American public, according to research, would like to break with our dependence on oil—they think that it is dirty and expensive, and that it impairs their health and our nation’s security. They also believe that it is technically possible to replace most oil with better fuels, and they are correct. Yet, while 70 percent of Americans think that the United States should replace oil as a transportation fuel over the next half century, only 50 percent think we will manage to do it, because of the political power of the oil industry. 2018

Let’s begin with a simple step: Use as little oil as we need to move every car and truck. 2027

In order to cut U.S. oil consumption by 50–75 percent—the amounts needed to protect the climate and protect against future oil price spikes—the internal combustion engine must be replaced by zero-emission vehicles powered either by batteries or fuel cells. 2054

On the road, in fact, VW’s new “clean diesels” emitted up to forty times as much nitrogen oxide (NOx) as allowed. 2066

VW revealed the fraud and its market capitalization fell by a third. Sales plummeted. An initial settlement with the federal government is expected to cost $15 billion ($30,000 per car). 2068

diesels allegedly turned off their NOx pollution control systems—albeit only in cold weather. Fiat programmed its diesels to turn off emission controls after twenty-two minutes of driving. Mitsubishi lost half of its market value—and ended up being acquired by Nissan—because for ten years it misrepresented the fuel economy of its fleet. By mid-2016 it was clear that almost all of the world’s diesel passenger fleet was violating pollution control limits under actual highway conditions, at least in some seasons. But, for the moment, and backed in many cases by their home governments, most manufacturers had postponed abandoning diesel cars, even ones that didn’t meet standards. 2071

communities fought back by proposing to ban diesels altogether. The European public, as reflected in the EU parliament, want strong action to move away from oil-fired vehicles and their endless pollution threats. But European governments are divided. Some want to move on to electrification. Many fear that they will lose market share to Japanese and American companies that bet on electrification earlier. 2078

Shipping goods creates about half of today’s transportation emissions, and this volume is projected, unless we get smarter, 2091

The United States has one of the best freight rail systems in the world. It moves a ton of freight almost as efficiently as most ships, carrying 40 percent of U.S. cargo (trucks carry 33 percent). 2095

Globally, trains carry twice as much freight per gallon of fuel used as trucks. 2097

The EU uses rail for only 18 percent of its goods, and allows restrictive and monopoly practices that discourage growth. India used to ship about 70 percent of its goods from the railroads left behind by the British; now that has fallen to a third. Latin America is woefully under-railed, with 1 percent market share of goods while trucks get 30 percent. Africa’s few railroads were built to run from old mines and plantations to the coast, rather than to connect cities and countries. Heavy commodities like iron ore and fertilizer are carried long distances by truck in Africa, raising prices enormously and holding back prosperity. So where are development agencies and banks investing? In road, not rail. Asian Development Bank loans for transportation run 74 percent to 15 percent road to rail; World Bank funds go 60 percent to road, 40 percent for all other forms of transportation combined. 2100

Europe is following suit, after slapping truck manufacturers with a fine of 3 billion euros for conspiring to slow progress on fuel savings. 2116

Aviation accounts for only 3 percent of climate emissions, but it’s the fastest-growing transportation sector, projected to increase three to four times by 2040. 2118

A quarter of airline carbon emissions occur during takeoff and landing, so direct flights cut emissions dramatically. 2128

Why aren’t all carriers as efficient as the best? Well, one reason is that the hub-and-spoke system allows certain airlines to effectively monopolize hub cities. These airlines fiercely resist proposals to let their competitors fly more efficient direct routes. Other steps to improve the industry’s efficiency, including improving air traffic control systems and incentivizing larger planes, would also help reduce emissions. 2129

His goal is to make cars so simple, so light and cheap to build, that we can slash their need for fuel—whatever the fuel—to a fraction of its present level. At the heart of Kuttner’s disruption lies a problem I never knew about: the suspension that today’s cars borrowed, relatively unchanged, from horse-drawn coaches. The standard suspension rests above the axle. Each wheel connects through three stress points—each one of which, in turn, must be rigidly connected to the other eleven. Kuttner put the suspension in the wheel hub, enabling a single connection for each wheel, four for the whole car. A lighter, simpler chassis meant a much lighter car, with fewer parts. Kuttner’s 2013 prototype, electrically powered, was rated at 245 mpg. It weighed one-third of its conventional counterpart, using aluminum instead of steel, and had cut the part count by two-thirds. But Kuttner had still not broken through in the world of automotive manufacturing. The engineers who worked for the auto companies were unwilling to embrace an outsider’s vision. The existing venture capital models for disruptive innovation rejected automotive start-ups as too slow and expensive. Between the fall of 2010 and 2015, most of the truly innovative companies attempting to move from prototype to mass production in the automotive space had failed: 2142

In 2015, I took my first tour of Tesla’s plant. If NUMMI was light-years more innovative than the old GM plant, what I see today is more revolutionary still. The plant was quieter and cleaner than many open-plan offices. The heavy work was done by robots. Tesla CEO Elon Musk outlined the ideas behind this transformation. The internal combustion engine, he argued, “is an enormous kludge—all those cylinders and millions of explosions to manage.” It’s remarkable, he pointed out, that engineers can make these engines reliable—which, in his (and my) youth, they were not. “You didn’t take it for granted that the car would start,” he recalled. 2158

why Tesla customers rave more about its performance than its fuel savings. “The engine block of an internal combustion engine is a very heavy mass, perched high, up front, on a rubber mount,” Musk explained. “It’s like trying to steer a big bobble head around a curve. We get to put the battery, the center of gravity, low and in the center. It’s a totally different experience.” It is. I’ve driven one. 2164

Musk pointed out that it would take 200 such factories to turn out the 100 million EVs needed to replace the gasoline engine. “There’s no choice but to go to scale,” he said. Musk is not alone. Toyota has promised to sell only hybrid and hydrogen vehicles by 2050. China’s biggest car company has invested $3 billion in EVs. 2168

The automotive age that began with the Model T rested on three legs: Cars were gasoline-powered, driver-operated, and privately owned. They were carriages powered by gasoline. But in the last three years all of these legs have been challenged—the power source by Elon Musk, the need for the driver by the auto companies, and the ownership model by Lyft, Uber, and others. This is the “triple mobility revolution” now under way. 2199

During the Paris summit, four European nations, including Germany and the United Kingdom, joined nine U.S. and Canadian states and provinces, including California and New York, in pledging an end to gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by 2050. The German Bundesrat passed a resolution in 2016 calling for an end to combustion vehicles by 2030. 2202

autonomous/shared/electric vehicles is a potent one that will redefine our experience of the road in the near future. The three strands reinforce each other. Driverless cars make an Uber or taxi fleet much cheaper. Such fleet vehicles are driven many times farther each year than personal cars, making the fuel savings of an electric fleet very attractive. And electric cars are easier to design to be driverless. A green overhaul of transportation promises to be the real clean-tech revolution—more significant even than the expansion of wind and solar energy. 2205

In January 2012, I was astonished to hear what Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said to a Clean Energy Summit hosted by the world’s ninth-largest oil power, the United Arab Emirates. Standing in the heart of the global oil industry, Premier Wen called for a revolutionary reform of oil markets, arguing that they are driven by cartels and speculators, with prices unrelated to supply-and-demand fundamentals, and intolerably volatile. He suggested a partnership among the G20 countries, mostly oil importers like China and the United States. His Persian Gulf hosts took notice and placated China with some favorably priced oil sales. But China’s potential partners, the United States and the EU, ignored him and his offer to collaborate to end oil profiteering by OPEC. Nevertheless, the opportunity is still there. Seizing it, and working together to break oil’s monopoly in transportation, would also position the U.S. to lead the looming transportation revolution. But if global competitors outpace the United States in developing EV markets and reducing dependence on oil, the 2009 rescue of General Motors and Chrysler may turn out to have been a brief respite for the U.S. auto industry. As we have with wind and solar, we risk ceding our early advantage in transportation to competitors overseas. The rewards of innovation are not captured by those who merely invent it. The value-added supply chain does not settle where a technology originates, but where the market for it scales. 2217

they must help drive early adoption. Robust markets are what enable the social benefits of new technologies. Societies that don’t adapt to that reality risk getting left behind. OVER A BARREL Understanding the market for oil is critical to solving our dependence on it, which is one of the biggest threats to the climate. Most of the world’s remaining easy, cheap-to-pump crude lies in the Middle East, Russia, and Venezuela, managed by government oil companies. These government oil companies—sometimes to create artificially high prices (OPEC), sometimes because of political mismanagement (Venezuela)—don’t pump nearly as much oil as their reserves would allow. Private oil companies—Exxon, BP, Shell—hold reserves of low-cost “legacy” oil that they discovered years ago. But to meet peak global demand, they have been forced to develop expensive, hard-to-get-at oil that can cost more to extract than the market will pay for it. 2229

Providing this kind of support for electric cars may seem expensive, but only when you consider it narrowly: For major oil-importing countries (the United States, China, India, Japan, S. Korea) and the EU, it functions as an economic boost. Increasing the market share of EVs, combined with extending and improving today’s fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, will reduce demand for oil. Reduced oil demand will mean dramatically lower prices for the oil that we still need. Aggressive support for electrified, efficient cars and trucks could reduce global oil demand by eleven million barrels a day by 2030, cutting oil prices at least 40 percent. That $1.5 trillion annual savings in the cost of fuel will pay for EV subsidies many times over—and provide more savings to be used toward low-carbon infrastructure. But if demand for oil is allowed to surge again, because we don’t invest enough in new technologies like greater-efficiency or electric vehicles, another oil shock will surely once again send the economy into a tailspin. The chance to lock in moderately priced oil and end the cycle of predatory petroleum rents is a stunning opportunity—probably the single biggest economic opportunity our climate problems offer. No other simple market failure costs the world as much as the failure to break oil’s transportation monopoly and create competitive fuels for moving people and goods. Once there is competition, the global economy can transition to a future with clean, renewable transportation. And climate-destroying, remote, and costly frontier oil reserves can remain where they belong—in the ground. 2265

oil industry globally has fought vigorously to keep its leasing contracts with governments confidential, and it is this secrecy that makes such bribery possible. U.S. companies, at least, are forced to disclose their terms and payments, so there is some check on these kinds of corrupt practices—but not enough of one. (Unfortunately, in 2017, Congress voted to roll back the requirements that U.S. oil companies disclose their leases with foreign governments.) We need more rigorous monitoring and measuring of natural gas production and distribution around the world—not more loopholes. 2329

When raw materials are priced below their real cost, we waste them. When they are properly priced because they are produced responsibly, we find that we can make each tree or cubic foot of methane do a lot more work. 2389

From 1995 to 2005, Europe reduced its domestic climate emissions by 6 percent, but offshoring manufacturing meant that its total climate footprint actually got 18 percent worse. 2431

Imagine that Europe, China, the U.S., and other nations formed a Climate Protection Club that agreed to levy a $40 per ton tax on carbon to encourage efficient, low-carbon manufacturing. 2436

The WTO would permit the Climate Protection Club members, citing the Paris Agreement commitment to a low-carbon future, to levy a fee on imported steel (or automobiles containing steel) from countries without carbon taxes equivalent to that $40 per ton. This would eliminate the economic advantage of shifting the production of steel from Europe to, say, South Korea. The Korean government, if its steel is going to be taxed anyway, would almost certainly choose to institute and collect that fee itself, rather than letting Europe receive the revenues. And this would prompt reforms in the plants themselves. 2437

When the ozone layer stabilized post-Montreal, focus shifted to climate, and scientists realized that HFCs were a Frankenstein chemical that could eventually be responsible for as much as a third of all climate change, upping temperatures by almost 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. 2457

All over the world, manufacturing companies, whether they are German, American, Brazilian, Chinese, Finnish, Korean, Japanese, or Australian, are racing toward a third industrial revolution. The first was based on coal and steam, the second on electricity and petroleum, and the third is based on digital- and knowledge-based manufacturing, not just computerized data processing. 2479

ordinary cement, because of the volume we use, is another huge threat, accounting for 5–7 percent of global CO2 emissions. (After water, concrete is the material used by humans in the greatest quantity: three tons a day per person.) Cement is a particular challenge because half the CO2 released in making cement comes from the chemical process of treating limestone; it cannot be eliminated simply by cleaning up the energy used in heating the kiln. 2482

There is also the intriguing possibility of redeploying the recently recovered secrets of Roman cement making, which used far less limestone and heated it to a much lower temperature, while achieving higher durability by mixing in aluminum-rich volcanic ash. This could perhaps yield a 60 percent reduction in the carbon dioxide footprint of cement production. Finally, think about how we use concrete. We throw up concrete buildings intended for use for forty to fifty years or less—with reinforcing techniques that make it effectively impossible to reuse materials when the building is replaced. Almost no effort has gone into creating construction technologies that will enable the concrete (or wood or steel, for that matter) to be reused. Investing more in better forest management and restoration, and using wood in place of cement and steel in buildings, could also make a huge difference in the climate impact of construction. 2488

Wind turbines, for example, have been getting more efficient in part because they are getting taller, reaching heights where the winds are more constant. But taller means bigger steel towers, and there is a lot of carbon in that steel. What about flying lightweight turbine blades, effectively on kites, where the wind can keep them aloft? A number of companies are pursuing this idea, among them Altaeros in Alaska and Makani in California. It opens up the possibility of hugely “dematerialized” wind farms operating at higher altitudes with highly reliable and strong winds. 2497

When we talk about “energy-intensive manufacturing,” a lot of it involves metals—steel, aluminum, copper. And traditional manufacturing technology was “subtractive”: You started out with a big chunk of steel or aluminum and then cut it down into the shape you needed, generating a lot of waste. Pouring it into a mold and casting was less wasteful, but only certain shapes lent themselves to that, and the finished product was invariably much heavier and material-intensive than an ideal structural form. Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, enables computer-generated forms to be built by adding ultra-thin layers of metal or plastic in any shape or form desired. It’s in widespread use only for making prototypes, but GE has begun producing nozzles for jet engines using the technique. It enables GE to use new metals and alloys, and new shapes and forms, that previous technologies precluded. The nozzle is lighter, which saves huge amounts of waste materials. Another approach to reducing resource waste is bio-mimicry: imitating nature. Nature does a lot of things better—consider how little material goes into a spider web, and how much area it can sweep of flies! Designers and scientists are increasingly looking at how various organisms have solved problems similar to those that face human communities, and finding ways to emulate nature’s unmatched design performance. (Current techniques for producing cement from CO2 were inspired by coral reefs.) 2501

we don’t have to come up with all the ideas ourselves. The natural world is an enormous, largely unread, library of solutions. We need to spend more time and energy learning from it. 2519

insurers are amongst the most determined advocates for tackling it sooner rather than later. And little wonder. While others have been debating the theory, you have been dealing with the reality: Since the 1980s the number of registered weather-related loss events has tripled; and inflation-adjusted insurance losses from these events have increased from an annual average of around $10 billion in the 1980s to around $50 billion over the past decade. The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come. The farsighted amongst you are anticipating broader global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security. So why isn’t more being done to address it? A classic problem in environmental economics is the tragedy of the commons. The solution to it lies in property rights and supply management. Climate change is the Tragedy of the Horizon. 2536

In the tragedy of the commons, people use common resources in ways that benefit them individually 2544

In the tragedy of the horizon, people use resources in ways that benefit them without accounting for costs that are likely to materialize down the road. There may be no better example than climate change. Preventing it will require more than goodwill and government regulations. It will require us to employ a force that makes the world go round, but that many environmentalists have traditionally seen as an enemy: profit motive. 2545

Only when self-interested acts are also climate-friendly acts will success be possible. In other words: reducing carbon must offer profit opportunities for us to win the battle against climate change. This is not only possible; it’s already starting to happen. 2551

Carney understood this, and he also saw the biggest obstacle standing in the way of investors and climate-friendly investments: the opacity of the market. Which companies are most vulnerable to climate change? How big a financial impact might climate change have on a business and over what time frame? Which are best prepared? Which are taking action, and which are doing nothing? It is currently difficult or impossible for investors to answer those questions. That’s a market failure. Transparency makes markets more efficient by allowing investors to value companies more accurately. The less transparency there is, the more companies are overvalued and undervalued, and the harder it is to allocate resources to maximize returns. 2557

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB, which develops sustainability disclosure standards across different industries in the United States. 2573

The board is creating an accounting framework that helps companies determine which sustainability metrics should be reported and how. It also helps investors understand how to use that information. Our goal is to standardize disclosure practices among leading securities issuers in ways that are helpful to investors, accountants, law firms, and regulators. 2574

“One side argues morality and polar bears, and the other side argues jobs. You’re never going to win with polar bears.” Risky Business and SASB are focused on the United States. But the marketplace is global. So what about the rest of the world? Three months after Carney’s speech at Lloyd’s, he announced the creation of a task force—led by industry leaders—to develop international standards for voluntary disclosure about climate risks. The creation of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was an official acknowledgment by the Financial Stability Board that environmental variables are no longer the exclusive concern of firms with a social agenda. (The board was set up after the 2008 financial crash by the world’s central banks to monitor and make recommendations about the stability of the global financial system.) Instead, they are of growing concern to general investors and corporate leaders—and important to the financial system’s overall health. It was the right message, and when Mark asked me to chair the group, I couldn’t say no. 2580

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, headed by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, estimates that the world will need $90 trillion in new infrastructure by 2030. It’s hard to predict the future, especially when it comes to forecasting something like infrastructure spending. But any reasonable estimate puts future infrastructure costs for the planet in the trillions of dollars, especially as middle- and low-income countries grow in wealth and population. Building the amount of infrastructure recommended in the report would be equivalent to essentially doubling the infrastructure we have today—in the next thirty-five years. And that would require nearly doubling spending. 2613

lack of capital is not the primary problem. Instead, it’s the lack of attractive projects to invest in. Investors are seeking yield for their capital and not finding it. There are six main reasons for this. First, infrastructure projects require long investments that typically have solid but moderate yields. In today’s market, the steady, boring returns of infrastructure, be it for municipal bonds or clean energy, are often unattractive when compared to start-ups that hold out the promise, however unlikely, of sky-high returns. Second, there is a prevailing misperception that renewable energy is subsidy-driven and therefore subject to the whims of politicians. Given the history of unpredictable regulator intervention in some places, some investors avoid the wind and solar industries altogether. Third, some investors shy away from anything new. This stems from bad experiences, but also from how investment offices are structured. For example, an investment office might have a real estate portfolio but not a clean energy one. Or it might be waiting for energy investments to mature as an asset class. Investors often look for multiyear, or even decades-long, track records, making it far harder to shift into an industry that lacks that history. Fourth, not enough global investment flows from north to south. This often stems from concerns about the integrity of capital markets in low-and middle-income countries. 2618

Fifth, governments are still tilting in favor of fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency estimates that, globally, governments provided $493 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels in 2014. In 2009, the G20 committed itself to phasing out some fossil fuel subsidies, but very little progress has been made. Meanwhile, governments provide renewable energy companies with only about $120 billion in subsidies. So for every dollar that governments use to encourage the development and use of renewable energy, they spend over four dollars to encourage the development and use of fossil fuels. Even the world’s major insurance companies, distressed by the failure of industrial nations to take more aggressive action on climate change, have called on G20 governments to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies. You get what you pay for. And right now, we are paying for a hotter planet. If we are serious about slowing climate change, then we have to start putting our money where our mouth is. At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009, OECD countries committed to delivering $100 billion per year to developing countries to help them transition to cleaner energy and adapt to the changing climate. That commitment has not yet been honored. It must be, and ending fossil fuel subsidies would allow them to do it, with billions to spare. And sixth, sustainable investments are often capital-intensive because they rely on technology rather than natural resources. This makes sustainable infrastructure particularly expensive where borrowing costs are high, which is common in emerging markets where infrastructure investment is most needed. Farmers also need access to low-cost borrowing if they are going to make needed changes in our agricultural system. 2635

So if public spending was going to provide extra benefits to a particular set of landowners, it was reasonable to ask them to chip in. 2674

Hong Kong. Its subway operator, MTR, doesn’t only build trains, it also builds property above its train stations—apartment buildings, malls, and more. As property values rise, thanks in part to proximity to mass transit, MTR is able to capture profit and put it back into the train system. This system helps make Hong Kong’s metro one of the most reliable in the world—and MTR has been winning bids to operate systems in other cities, including in Australia. 2681

Green bonds were initially issued by international bodies like the World Bank. Now they are becoming increasingly common as a way for cities, states, and other public entities, such as transit and power authorities, to raise money. Even private companies can issue green bonds. Apple issued $1.5 billion in green bonds at the beginning of 2016 to finance clean energy and efficiency projects. In 2014, Johannesburg became one of the first cities in the world to issue a green bond. The city raised $143 million for sustainability investments, including hybrid fuel buses. The bond was oversubscribed by 150 percent. Transport for London, which runs the metro and public buses, issued a green bond to fund cycling initiatives, expanded capacity at busy tube stations, energy-efficiency measures, and more. In 2013, $11 billion in green bonds were sold; in 2016, more than $80 billion were sold. This still represents a tiny sliver of the roughly $100 trillion global bond market. But the sliver is growing. 2691

The World Bank estimates that only 4 percent of the five hundred largest cities in developing countries have an internationally recognized credit rating, and only 20 percent have domestic credit ratings. This effectively cuts them off from widely available capital to finance infrastructure. It’s a fixable problem and a great opportunity, if public and private entities work together. A few years ago, Lima, Peru, worked with the World Bank and other agencies to secure an enhanced credit rating. Armed with that rating, the city was able to borrow $130 million to upgrade its bus rapid transit system—money that would have been too expensive to borrow without that credit rating. It’s an incredibly cost-effective fix. The World Bank spent only $750,000 providing the technical assistance to help Peru borrow $130 million. 2703

In Africa, the rapidly growing Ugandan capital, Kampala, crafted a strategic plan to bring more transparency and accountability to city government. Among many other measures, the city overhauled how it keeps track of property records and collects taxes. These bookkeeping details aren’t sexy, but they can make all the difference in a city’s ability to meet people’s needs. In one year, Kampala was able to increase the revenues it collected by 86 percent. This is money the city is now able to invest in vital services. And with a stronger bottom line, and a clear commitment to better governance, the city was able to achieve an investment-grade international credit rating. These and other examples help to drive home a critical point: Cities don’t need a miracle to beat climate change. They don’t need to choose between economic growth and saving the planet. These are not technological challenges. They are challenges of policy, governance, and leadership. 2716

they need to decide whether to invest. Helping cities measure and explain return on investment in sustainability projects will bring more of them to life. Technical assistance—something that the Global Covenant of Mayors helps to facilitate—can often be just as important as technological breakthroughs. 2729

The old railroad barons thought they were in the train business. They weren’t. They were in the transportation business, and soon the automobile displaced rail as the dominant mode of transport. Failing to recognize disruptive innovation is a mistake that corporate leaders make time and again. But while some fossil fuel companies cling to their market share, more investors and CEOs recognize that the earth is shifting beneath their feet. The single most important development in the fight against climate change hasn’t been the Paris Agreement, or the U.S. shale gas boom, or even the advancement of solar and battery technology. All have been critically important. But the most important has been that mayors, CEOs, and investors increasingly look at climate change not as a political issue but as a financial and economic one—and they recognize that there are gains to be made, and losses to be averted, by factoring climate change into the way they manage their cities, businesses, and funds. 2737

Initially they set a redline for warming at a 2 degrees Celsius increase. Above that, it would be difficult for many regions to adapt to the climate disruption they would experience, and the chance of major catastrophes, like the sudden melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, would increase. The current consensus, however, is that serious trouble could begin at the point that temperatures rise only 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists have also estimated that adding another 1,000 gigatons (billion tons) of CO2 to the atmosphere (or adding its equivalent in CO2, methane, black carbon, and other greenhouse gases) will make it likely that we will go over 1.5 degrees over the long term. They call that “the carbon budget.” We are using up about 50 of that 1,000-gigaton budget every year, and, based on what countries pledged in Paris, we might still be emitting that much as late as 2030. If so, we would have only 250 gigatons left for the rest of the century. That means that our 2030 target actually needs to be no larger than 40 gigatons, on our way to zero net greenhouse emissions by 2050. At our present rate, it looks as if we are headed to dangerous levels of greenhouse gas concentrations by 2050. 2765

Marrakech Climate Change Conference, around the time of the 2016 U.S. election, saw the rest of the world setting strong new goals, with Germany submitting a plan to cut its climate footprint by 95 percent, and twenty-nine new regional and local governments (many in China) committing to similarly deep emission cuts. 2776

Natural processes scrub black carbon and methane out of the atmosphere fast—in twenty years, both they and their warming impact on the climate are gone. HFCs and nitrous oxide hang around for a long time—but if we implement the global agreement phasing out HFCs and also phase out excessive fertilizer use, they won’t take us close to the 1.5-degree redline. That leaves CO2. It can last for a thousand years, but only if it remains in the atmosphere, and most of it doesn’t. Right now, only 1 percent of stored carbon is in the atmosphere; 30 percent is in soil and vegetation; 13 percent is stored in reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas; and a whopping 56 percent is in the ocean. 2796

So once we phase out HFCs and minimize methane, black carbon, and nitrous oxide emissions, our task is to store more and more of the world’s carbon not in the sky (where it disrupts climate) and not in oceans (which it causes to become acidified and damaged) but in soils and vegetation, where that CO2 is the key to beneficial results, including higher crop yields and more effective water storage. More carbon in the sky is a threat. Carbon in soils and forests is an asset. 2801

What does it take to trip the biosphere—the globe’s collection of animals and plants—into a massive carbon-storing mechanism? We simply have to protect valuable natural ecosystems like peat bogs and mangroves, start planting and growing more trees than we cut, adopt farming practices that treat soil as a primary asset rather than stripping it of nutrients and carbon, and allow grasslands to be grazed in ways that enhance, rather than destroy, their productivity. Healthier agriculture and forestry, in all their forms, are the keys to reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2. 2807

THE KEY STEPS TO CLIMATE RESTORATION Let’s start with a familiar carbon sink, mangroves. They protect the coastline of many tropical nations from severe storms: half of the coastline in Mexico and India vulnerable to storm surge; more than a quarter in Indonesia, Myanmar, Mozambique, and the Philippines. Mangroves also provide a variety of fish and other seafood with juvenile nurseries. And they suck an enormous amount of carbon out of the atmosphere. 2816

in spite of these benefits, we have been losing 1 percent of mangroves each year in the Asia-Pacific region. Fortunately, the destruction rate has begun to fall in most areas, as governments recognize their value for coastal protection and fisheries enhancement. In regions where we are no longer losing mangroves, we can start restoring them. Restoration is so inexpensive in most tropical countries that the return on investment in better fishing alone is a staggering 10 to 1. Additionally, there are huge carbon benefits. Each hectare of mangrove forest in West Papua, Indonesia, can store an incredible 2,500 tons of CO2 per year. If we simply restored half of the mangroves we have lost since 1980, we would store 6 billion tons of CO2, equal to total U.S. emissions each year. (We would also protect almost 2 million hectares of heavily populated tropical coastline from typhoons.) 2822

peat bogs, amount to 3 percent of the world’s landmass. They store more carbon than the world’s more extensive forests and grasslands. But they are easily disrupted by fires, particularly in Indonesia, Russia, and Canada, where they can burn uncontrollably and cause dangerous air pollution. Protecting them is essential. Forests make the same conversions, and many cities and nations are putting them to work. As part of its Paris pledge, India committed to increase forest carbon storage by increasing the country’s forest cover from 21 percent to 33 percent. The program was launched with a signature Indian big bang, a single-day effort to plant fifty million trees in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. If the trees reach maturity, the carbon stored in them—and, more important, in the associated vegetation and forest soils that surround them— will increase for a long time. If India reaches its goal, it will eventually store an additional 14 gigatons of carbon in its forests—as much as the country currently emits in six years. And, as the government understands, the immediate benefits of forest restoration far exceed the costs, just looking at local dividends such as watershed protection, clean air, and forest livelihoods. 2829

Kenya has announced plans to reforest 9 percent of its landmass, an area as large as Costa Rica. This will more than double Kenya’s forest area and will help restore watersheds that used to feed the country’s hydroelectric projects but no longer store adequate water. One of Africa’s poorest and driest countries, Niger, is making major efforts at ecosystem restoration. In spite of its abysmally weak government, bottom-up grass roots action has succeeded in restoring 5 million hectares of desert for trees and agriculture. The farmers used innovative, low-tech practices such as “half-moon” pits to store water and paid careful attention to the root systems of drought-stressed trees. The average investment: less than $20 per hectare. Finally, agricultural soils can suck up enormous amounts of carbon. Preliminary experiments suggest that modifying agricultural practices to emphasize soil carbon sequestration offers enormous potential for negative greenhouse emissions. New approaches to increase soil carbon content are continually being tested, as discussed in the chapter on agriculture. One 2016 study estimated that annual increases in soil carbon storage could equal 80 percent of today’s fossil fuel consumption, if we optimize such practices as reducing overfertilization, relying more heavily on no-till farming, and using charcoal-based composts. 2839

a major portion of the penalties was set aside to help finance wetlands restoration and make southern Louisiana more resilient. Projects are underway, but most of them are overly reliant on expensive engineering solutions—transporting silt by pipeline and grading it with construction equipment, for example, instead of letting the river and the tides create wetlands naturally. As a result, restoration is not taking place at the needed scale. 2904

to protect large landscapes we need to rely primarily upon natural mechanisms. Increasing resilience at the regional level begins with a search for the natural defenses that historically provided protection. We must invest in strengthening those natural processes, like the Mississippi River’s silt conveyor belt that created south Louisiana, instead of relying primarily on complex and hard-edged engineering projects, to ensure our safety and security. 2914

A new highway built across the peninsula in the 1920s, the Tamiami Trail, created a solid dam preventing water from flowing south, effectively cutting off a large part of South Florida’s freshwater supply. With less freshwater seeping into the Biscayne Aquifer, seawater gradually began to take its place. Wells closer to the ocean had to be shut down. Then later, with climate change, the ocean began to rise, increasing the pressure of ocean water pushing inland into the porous limestone and leaving more of the aquifer salty. Additional sea level rises of only three to five inches, which could occur within fifteen years, would have a dramatic effect on available freshwater. 2931

California faces a similar dilemma. Climate models suggest that in a warmer world, the state may actually get more total precipitation; but far more of it will fall as rain rather than snow, and annual fluctuations will be more severe. Since the state currently stores about one-third of its water supply for free in the form of ice and snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the loss of that storage capacity means that California may have more and more years of extreme water shortage. Storing more water in dams is simply not an option; the good dam sites were taken long ago. The next round of potential reservoirs that engineers have identified would cost $9 billion and yield only 400,000 acre-feet in an average year—less than 1 percent of the state’s annual usage. 2944

When nations are ranked by how hard climate change will hit them (with New Zealand the luckiest, at Number 1; the United States at No. 11), African countries draw the short straw. South Africa, the continent’s least vulnerable, is still almost halfway down at No. 84; Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda are at No. 147, No. 154, and No. 160 out of 180 nations ranked. Africa’s climate is already marginal for agriculture, and it shows. East Africa has higher rates of hunger than any other region—one-third of the population is malnourished. Crop yields are 10 percent of those in the West, and Africa is the only region where food production per capita is already falling. The dryland regions of Africa’s Sahel, the dry belt south of the Sahara, will face significant declines in available water, even as higher temperatures mean that crops will require more water to reach maturity. (Most of the water a plant uses is to air-condition itself against heat.) African crop yields could fall by 20 percent for rice, wheat, and corn; drought could slash the growing season in dry regions by 40 percent. 2981

Africa’s recurrent droughts and crop failures are rarely surprises. Weather reporting and satellite data normally signal—weeks or even months in advance—that crops are at risk of failing. If food relief arrives immediately, most of the damage can be avoided. But if it is even six weeks late, families are forced to kill livestock, pull girls out of school, and sell next year’s seed corn. International relief efforts are almost never timely. To remedy this shortcoming, African nations created, by treaty, the African Risk Capacity program, a risk insurance pool that includes thirty-two nations and focuses on drought. ARC’s objective “is to capitalize on the natural diversification of weather risk across Africa, allowing countries to manage their risk as a group in a financially efficient manner in order to respond to probable but uncertain risks.” The European Union provided seed capital, and each participating African nation then chose the level of risk protection it desired and provided the appropriate premium. The scheme is designed to be commercially sustainable, using standard commercial techniques like insurance and investment of premium. It’s an important lesson in how innovative financial mechanisms can help the world prepare for unstable climate. But Africa cannot self-insure against the full force of the climate challenges it faces. Based on the pledges submitted in Paris, the continent faces a $488 billion shortfall over the next fifteen years to pay for the costs of needed resiliency. 2989

Embrapa is the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, which made Brazil the first tropical agricultural superpower. Like the institutions that created the two previous scientific agricultural revolutions—the 1940s hybrid corn revolution in the United States and the 1970s Green Revolution around the world—Embrapa is open source (i.e., publicly accessible) and publicly funded. It tested and disseminated a broad system of agricultural interventions suited for tropical conditions. In the ten years after its launch, agricultural production rose by 365 percent, without genetically engineered private patents and without destroying rain forest for new cropland. (Rain forest continued to be destroyed, but for other reasons. Deforestation contributed little to the agricultural miracle.) What did Embrapa do? First, it focused on improving soils, discovering that Brazil’s cerrado (savanna) soils needed lots of limestone to counter their acidity. Then, using conventional cross-breeding, Embrapa created an enormously prolific variety of tropical grass, which greatly expanded Brazil’s ability to grow grass-fed beef, again without destroying rain forest. Finally, again using conventional breeding, Embrapa took the classic temperate climate crop—soybeans—and made it suitable for the tropics. It pioneered no-till agriculture and created an integrated farming system using crops, livestock, and trees. 3004

But developing new technology is not the whole solution to agricultural resilience; small holders need to be able to access it. Here innovation is being pioneered by a variety of institutions. One new entrant is the Climate-Smart Lending Platform being sponsored by the Global Innovation Lab (which Bloomberg Philanthropies supports with grants). The Lending Platform will work with farmers and financial institutions to develop a variety of standardized loan products for farmers who agree to adopt new “climate-smart” agricultural practices. Modeling suggests that this combination of climate-smart practices, better measuring, and access to affordable, de-risked capital can enable farmers to increase their profits two- to fourfold. 3019

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. —ALBERT EINSTEIN 3033

The Department of Sanitation had to remove hundreds of thousands of tons of debris to open roads. With public schools shut down, children and parents had their lives thrown out of balance. Many cell phone towers had lost power, so service was out in much of the city. In the hardest-hit neighborhoods, people were cut off from fresh food and water—some of them elderly people stranded on high floors of apartment buildings. We set up temporary centers to distribute emergency supplies, including to the more than six thousand people staying in emergency evacuation shelters, many of whose homes had been damaged or destroyed. Thousands more had to be evacuated from hospitals, nursing homes, and health care facilities, some of which had their power sources in flooded basements, including their backup generators. Thanks to heroic work by many, not a single patient’s life was lost. 3050

if the storm had hit New York a few hours earlier or later, because of the tides, it would have flooded entirely different parts of the city—like parts of the Bronx and northern Queens near the Long Island Sound and the East River—and rendered any huge wall across the harbor practically useless. At the same time, while Sandy’s storm surges were responsible for most of its impacts, the storm brought relatively little rain or high winds. If it had brought more of either, the city would have faced a whole new set of issues. There’s always a tendency to fight the last war. After World War I, France built a fortified line of defense along its eastern border, the Maginot Line, where Germany had invaded. It was, in essence, a wall designed to prevent the advance of enemy troops—but in World War II, Germany simply went around it. In responding to Sandy, we were not going to build the climate change equivalent of the Maginot Line. 3094

As the legend goes, Canute’s subjects believed his powers to be omnipotent, which frustrated him. To show them that even a king had limits, he had his throne brought to the edge of the sea and ordered the waves not to break on his kingdom’s shores. Of course, the tides still rolled in. The press teased me for citing that fable after Sandy, but it still holds a lesson for us: Human power is no match for Mother Nature. The challenge we face is not walling ourselves off from the elements but learning to live with them—and adapting to change, including rising and warming seas. 3106

After Hurricane Irene in 2011, for example, we expanded the mandatory evacuation zones we’d established in 2006 to include new neighborhoods; that adaptation may have saved lives during Sandy. 3115

Interestingly, two of these threatened communities—Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana and Shishmaref, Alaska—are on opposite ends of North America, showing how widespread the effects of climate change have become. Of course, many people don’t want to move, and others can’t afford to. And an agricultural community of two hundred people is different from a modern city of ten or twenty million. More than 500 million square feet of buildings lie in FEMA’s one-hundred-year floodplain for New York City, which is equivalent to the entire city of Minneapolis. In 2012, they were home to almost 400,000 people and more than 270,000 jobs. We can’t pick them up and move them—and we don’t have to. 3121

Grassy coastal wetlands slow waves and reduce the force of their impact when they reach shore. Beaches and dunes put space and barriers between the water and shoreline development. Elsewhere in the world, as Carl has explained, saltwater mangroves provide tropical cities with an even stronger first line of defense. Mangroves can absorb up to 90 percent of normal wave energy, and their protection can mean the difference between life and death. 3129

Since 1900, 50 percent of the world’s wetlands have been lost. Over the course of New York City’s development, 90 percent of our wetlands were destroyed. 3142

homes and businesses in vulnerable areas could pay into programs that fortify local defenses across a given neighborhood. Because this would reduce risks, it would likely reduce insurance premiums, making the fees worthwhile. Cities also have the authority to decide what kinds of structures are allowed in particular areas, and they could consider allowing more development in exchange for private investment in coastal resilience. Under such an arrangement, cities could allow developers or businesses to build taller if they agree to help fund coastal defenses. The steps that cities and towns take to reduce the risks facing homes and businesses, like the ones we proposed after Hurricane Sandy, should also be taken into account in National Flood Insurance Program rates. Doing so would incentivize local governments to make smart investments that protect citizens’ homes and pocketbooks—and encourage residents to hold their leaders accountable when they don’t. 3202

In New York, utilities have to meet benchmarks for reliability, but those benchmarks didn’t include preparation for natural disasters, and they didn’t take climate change into account. After Sandy, I directed our team to assess exactly what it would take to make every essential network capable of withstanding a major hurricane, or a record-breaking heat wave or other natural disaster. What would it take to get there, and how much would it cost? You can’t build a road if you don’t know where you’re going, and without knowing what’s possible, you can’t set priorities. In our plan after Sandy, we recommended more than 250 separate achievable measures. The total cost of everything we proposed was just over $19 billion. It’s a large sum. But the total damage New York City suffered from Sandy was almost exactly that: $19 billion. And that figure could be much larger the next time a major storm hits. 3212

According to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences, every dollar invested in resilience saves four in avoided costs. After Sandy, our projections showed that, if we did nothing, a storm of similar intensity hitting New York in 2050 could cost around $90 billion, thanks to rising sea levels. 3219

Even if climate change were to miraculously freeze in its tracks, the investments we proposed would be worth it. They would protect communities from normal periodic flooding that occurs even during minor storms, as well as from extreme weather. They would leave our city better protected for the future but also a better place to live today, and they would create jobs and strengthen the city’s economy. With some government intervention and expenditure up front, cities and nations can save significantly in the long run. But the less we do now, the bigger the role government will have to play later. 3221

Smil pointed out in his book, Making the Modern World, China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the United States used in the entire twentieth century. 3235

Every inch of rain in New York City equals one billion gallons of stormwater—and that can add up to big problems. In August 2007, heavy rains shut down much of New York’s subway system. In response, we began fortifying the city against the impacts of major rainstorms. Part of this work included overhauling stormwater management—an even less sexy topic than retrofitting buildings. It didn’t make a lot of headlines, but it improved the city in important ways. 3252

San Francisco is working to change this paradigm. The city’s Non-potable Water Program streamlined the permitting process for buildings to collect, treat, and recycle water from rain, kitchen and bathroom appliances, and other sources. It then provided grants to help buildings install such systems, which can reduce demand for outside drinking water by up to 50 percent for residential buildings and an incredible 95 percent for commercial buildings. The city then passed requirements for buildings over a certain size (or that use a certain amount of water) to have water recycling systems, the first such law in the nation. The city’s program diverts water from the sewer system and also saves building owners money. And it is saving millions of gallons of increasingly precious drinking water. 3300

Reform Subsidies. In life, you often get what you pay for. Nations currently pay enormous subsidies to fossil fuel producers and large agricultural interests, thereby overheating the climate, slowing down energy innovation, distorting agricultural markets, depleting natural resources, increasing poverty, and imposing enormous health costs on communities. On top of all that, fossil fuel subsidies deprive governments of funds that could otherwise be used to finance a transition toward a sustainable, climate-friendly future—or to lower taxes. When governments give fossil fuel companies lower tax rates or cheaper loans or other kinds of special favors, they give those companies a competitive advantage over cleaner forms of energy. Reforming these budget-draining subsidies would provide an enormous portion of the $90 trillion necessary to finance the sustainable infrastructure we will need by 2050. Increase Transparency. The more transparent markets are, the more efficiently they perform, the more productively resources are allocated, and the more participants are able to hedge against risk. Transparency requires reliable data, and data on companies’ exposure to climate change has long been lacking. 3348

the U.S. Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and the climate disclosure task force of the Financial Stability Board. For markets to drive our climate policy goals, transparency is essential so that capital will flow to investments that minimize exposure to climate risk. For this reason, we need all economic sectors—including fossil fuel companies, manufacturers, commodity traders, banks, insurance companies, and government regulators—to measure and disclose data on climate-related risks. With the right metrics and indicators, firms can start managing risk, and markets can price in the true costs of inaction on climate change. Force Monopolies to Compete. Markets thrive with competition. They fail with monopolies. On occasion, a government-sponsored monopoly makes sense. For instance, we give utilities monopolies on running electric wires through neighborhoods. But there is no good reason for giving them monopolies on producing and selling electricity. Anyone who produces electricity—from solar panels, for instance—ought to be able to use power lines for a fee. One doesn’t have to own a railroad in order to ship something via its rails. Why should one have to own a utility to sell electricity via its wires? And yet in many states and countries, laws prevent home and business owners from doing just that. 3357

Invest in Natural Resources. We all rely upon natural services that we don’t pay for—sunshine for light, plants for oxygen, rainfall for water, soils for food. When we let industry dump its wastes into these common resources, we all pay the price—in disease or death. To protect the public, we regulate how common resources can be used—but too often, we don’t invest in those resources. Although everyone benefits from cleaner air or more abundant fisheries or better protection against storms from mangroves and wetlands, no one has sufficient personal incentive to invest in improving them. One of the keys to solving the climate problem is to increase our public investments in them—and use incentives to encourage the private sector to do so, too. If farmers who follow regenerative agricultural practices that store more carbon in their fields don’t get paid for that benefit, they won’t be likely to make the shift. 3374

Other profitable investments don’t happen because the investor wants to maximize the life span of its capital stock—factories, machinery, technology, and other resources. If these kinds of assets remain efficient and productive as they age, that’s good. But if investments in newer and better resources are being slowed or stopped by government subsidies, regulation, private monopolies, or other market barriers, that’s bad. It’s bad for the economy, because it hurts productivity—think of a factory that produces less than it could and at higher costs. It’s also bad for the environment, because it prevents the deployment of sustainable infrastructure. Government can help solve this problem by eliminating those market failures, and by offering companies incentives to invest to replace aging factories and machinery. 3387

LED lights, for instance—usually involve borrowing, but interest rates in many of the countries most in need of such investment are high (often in the double digits) and capital markets are thin. 3399

The good news is that the religious movement for action is growing, as more faith leaders rally around the belief that it is our responsibility to care for God’s creation—“creation care,” it’s often called. The World Council of Churches, which represents more than a half-billion people around the world, has divested from fossil fuel companies. Pastors in Appalachia are helping to lead the fight against coal. Polls show that a majority of Christians recognize that there is a scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet. Still, there is a significant minority that believes otherwise. It’s critical that we find ways to reach them. That can mean building alliances between environmental and religious groups—or not. The Evangelical Environmental Network organizes the faithful but avoids groups like the Sierra Club—“a bunch of weirdos,” its leader once called them. (It takes all kinds.) Much more than religion, climate change skeptics and deniers in the United States often hold their position based on partisan reasons (many Republican primary voters view climate change as a Democratic issue); ideological reasons (their goal is to shrink government, and climate change requires more government action); and tactical reasons (they depend on fossil fuel companies and other special interests for campaign donations). 3422

the conservative case for action on climate change is clear and convincing. First, as we have seen, many of the government actions that are most necessary—like opening utilities up to competition from solar panel owners and ending subsidies for fossil fuels—require nothing more than applying the free market principles that conservatives champion. Second, the investments in infrastructure that reduce emissions also make the United States more economically competitive. A study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that infrastructure investments generate a rate of return, in economic expansion and larger tax revenues, of 20 percent. Even if the rate is one-third of that, the investments would pay for themselves. 3432

Historically, Republicans have led the way in building much of the nation’s most important infrastructure, from the transcontinental railroad to the Hoover Dam to the Interstate Highway System. These and other investments in America’s transportation and energy networks were essential to our development as an economic superpower. We need conservatives to renew their commitment to a limited but vigorous government that creates the conditions for commerce to increase and businesses to grow. Third, we don’t know with certainty all the future effects of climate change, but it would be reckless to ignore the possibility that the changes will be costly, and to not take steps to mitigate them. Rolling the dice by taking a wait-and-see approach is betting the farm—and the planet—on long odds. There’s nothing conservative about that. Being conservative means being cautious about the future. It means taking steps now to mitigate events that, if they come to pass, will exact a terrible toll, both in lives and dollars lost. 3438

Fourth, the heart of the word “conservatism” is to conserve. Today, this most commonly involves conserving public dollars and traditional cultural norms. But historically, it has also meant conserving natural resources. The conservation movement was long led by Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt, who created 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments. It was a Republican Congress that passed the Antiquities Act (1906), allowing Roosevelt to dedicate those national monuments. Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, along with other pieces of environmental legislation, including a bill creating the EPA. And while the father of the modern conservative movement, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, occasionally clashed with EPA regulators, he remained an ardent conservationist: “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails,” he wrote, “I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.” 3445

George Shultz, secretary of state in the Reagan administration, played an instrumental role in persuading President Reagan to overrule cabinet members opposed to an international treaty that phased out ozone-depleting CFC gases. He remains a strong supporter of action on climate change, and more conservatives are joining him. 3457

The president of a libertarian think tank, Jerry Taylor, strongly supports a carbon tax, pointing out that there is no “right-wing theory of atmospheric chemistry.” As the Republican mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, says: “I don’t look at climate change through a partisan lens. God knows there’s enough partisanship on the national level. I look at it 3459

special interests in other countries are acting in the same way as special interests in the United States, clinging to their privileges, monopolies, and market positions. 3474

Logging interests in Peru, coal interests in Australia, cattle interests in Brazil, owners of outmoded merchant ships—all try to slow progress toward a cleaner world by extracting political concessions from governments. These special interests will hold on for as long as they can, and many will succeed in extending their profitability far longer than the market would naturally allow. They will oppose the kind of market-driven reforms we have proposed that could enable the world to finance $90 trillion of sustainable infrastructure: ending fossil fuel and agricultural subsidies, cracking down on pollution and resource theft, and breaking monopolies and opening markets. We should invest some of the resulting revenue in natural commons and public goods like research, and then use private sector investment tools to finance the rest. Political leadership is essential to deploy these ideas with the speed and scale we need. 3475

twenty-first-century economies are rapidly substituting knowledge and information for raw materials and commodities. Cities, not rural areas, are the nexus of this new economy—and cities, as we have shown, also have enormous incentives to take action on climate change. 3488

Since markets are centered in urban areas, it makes sense for urban areas to lead the way in addressing market failures. And, fortunately, cities are uniquely equipped to do it. Goods and services that benefit everyone require a collective mechanism to finance them: government. City walls were one of the first public goods that governments were charged with providing. But close behind them were streets and port facilities, drought-proof water supplies, public marketplaces to lower the costs of trading, garrisons, courts, and commercial regulation, including standardized weights and measures. These and other public goods have been provided by and in cities since their inception. Modern cities and towns are now responsible for providing a far broader array of public goods: education, waste removal and sewers, snow removal, storm drains, clean drinking water, police and fire protection, street lighting, parks and playgrounds, communicable disease prevention, and even, in many cases, venues for entertainment and sports. In an era of unstable climate, enormous new investments will be needed in new public goods. Coastal cities should lead in expanding flood and storm protections, promoting better financing, expanding transit services, and designing buildings to minimize the urban heat island effect. The good news is that the special interests that stand to lose from these improvements hold far less sway over mayors than they do over national legislators. 3490

The bad news is that cities often face legal obstacles in financing and implementing these solutions. Many cities don’t have the power to adopt a local sales tax. Most do not have credit ratings. And some even lack the legal authority to borrow for the infrastructure they need and their citizens want. Where cities have the most authority, they have made the most progress—on making buildings and waste treatment plants more efficient, expanding cycling and bus services, and even on generating power. Every U.S. city that has gone outside of its monopoly utility provider to obtain power has been able to get electricity that was both cheaper and cleaner. Yet most cities globally are forced to buy electricity from a monopoly, however dirty it may be, and at whatever price and reliability it provides. 3501

But how much can cities accomplish in the absence of robust national leadership? How much can they change? The answer is: a lot. New York City is a great illustration. Forty years ago, it was in a state of disaster—nearly bankrupt and falling apart at the seams. Congress and the White House refused to come to the rescue, with the Daily News blaring on its front page: FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD. Instead, slowly but surely, and thanks to the foresight and dedication of many civic leaders inside and outside of government, New York City began a comeback that still astonishes all of us who remember the bad old days. Back then, few imagined that the city was capable of the extraordinary rebirth that is now so visible—in waterfront parks full of children; in safe streets where people are not afraid to walk at night; in revitalized neighborhoods with new shops and rebuilt homes; in air that is cleaner than it’s been in fifty years; in more extensive mass transit links that have pushed subway ridership to record highs and yes, even in beach chairs in the middle of Times Square. City leadership—elected officials, business leaders, and citizens—made it all possible, by working together and in partnership with other levels of government. 3524

Technology has disrupted nearly every industry. Factories that once required hundreds of hands are now run by a few that manage robots. Construction projects that once would have required thousands of workers now require only a fraction of that. Computers have reduced the need for clerical staff, researchers, and workers in many other fields. Jobs in growing industries tend to require college degrees or advanced skills, but only about one in three American adults holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. A strong and resilient middle class—one of America’s greatest contributions to the world—is being hollowed out before our eyes, and those in Washington have watched it happen. This has hurt millions of Americans, our sense of unity and optimism, and our ability to fight climate change. We need mechanisms designed to make rapid change fairer to everyone and more palatable to those connected with dying industries. 3537

Today, the coal belt has been left with a legacy of ruined hillsides, clogged streambeds, polluted waterways, and dangerous or abandoned mine shafts. An enormous amount of restoration is required. The same skills that were once used to mine now-exhausted, uncompetitive coal seams—and in some cases the same equipment—could be put to service in this effort. Why not put miners and others back to work rehabilitating the land that the coal companies have left so scarred? Second, a fee of a quarter or half cent per kilowatt hour on transmitted electricity could raise up to about $20 billion a year. This revenue could be used to fund an insurance program for former coal workers at risk of losing their pensions or health care coverage. It could support communities that have experienced job losses, and lost tax revenue, from the transition to cleaner energy—as well as communities that are left with the degradation of strip mining, coal ash dumping, and other environmental disasters created by the coal industries. Think of it as an insurance policy that would be used by those citizens and communities harmed by the transition away from fossil fuels. At the same time, the fee could help fund the transmission upgrades that are needed to increase grid reliability and integrate larger volumes of renewable power sources, which would benefit everyone—by enhancing national competitiveness, cleaning the environment, and protecting the climate. And the customer savings from the grid improvement would outstrip its total cost. 3552

The best way to reach skeptics is for more people to tell climate success stories. How taking action improves our lives in the here and now. How it makes us healthier. How it extends our life span. How it saves us money. How it makes it easier for us to get around. How it helps connect those in poverty with job opportunities. How it helps us compete in the world. How it strengthens our economy. How it helps create jobs. We will never win hearts and minds simply by trying to convince people to stop eating meat or give up their cars, but we can win them by demonstrating how fighting climate change is good for them, their families, and their communities. This is a conversation that must be led by everyday citizens and local leaders. Those in Washington will continue to pander to the extremes so long as the extremes hold power and votes. It’s up to the rest of us to change the tenor and tone of the climate discussion— 3583