Sustainability Reads: July 14- July 20

The 10 Most Inspirational Sustainability Initiatives in the U.S
Compiled by Recyclebank, this list of sustainable initiatives in the US provides examples of programs and communities that are taking “steps, big and small, to change America’s environmental path.” From organic food co-ops, landfill rehabilitations to alternative transport programs, these cool initiatives are making progress to reduce the country’s environmental footprint.

Switzerland threatens 40 % carbon tax rise if targets not met
On Monday Switzerland threatened to raise its tax on greenhouse gas output from the energy sector to 84 francs ($94.25) per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) (from 60 francs) if companies do not meet government-imposed emissions reduction targets this year. This means that the power sector in Switzerland will have to slash its CO2 emissions by an additional 2.7 percent below 1990 levels this year for the tax not to increase in 2016. By Michael Szabo at Reuters.

Global outrage as Australia cans carbon tax
This week Australia’s senate voted to repeal the country’s climate tax, without providing any other policy that could replace it. Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott had committed to getting rid of the tax yet over the last few months. President Obama and Senior EU leaders “privately warned the Australian government not to scrap its flagship green programme.” Australia is now the first country to reverse national policy on climate change and is unlikely to meet its 5-25% by 2020 commitment. By Ed King at RTCC.

Thanks to the fracking boom, we’re wasting more money than ever on fossil fuel subsidies
Although Obama’s climate plan illustrates U.S. finally moving forward on climate, efforts being counteracted by 45% increase in fossil fuel subsidies since 2009 (although not really his fault). Article explains that due to tax breaks in place for decades, subsidies specifically for fracking have skyrocketed. Additionally, this is difficult to change since fossil fuel companies have a strong presence in Washington (spent $329 million on campaign contributions and lobbying in 2012). Although legislation for campaign reform is in the works, there are many obstacles to making it through the House and Senate. Author highlights that President can use Cabinet agencies to regulate fracking to minimize negative environmental effects. ‘The EPA, for example, should be regulating methane emissions from natural gas drilling. And he can reject proposals for the Keystone XL pipeline and the exportation of crude oil and natural gas. It would hardly be enough, but it would be a start.’ By Ben Adler on Grist.org.

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