Sustainability Reads: July 6- July 12

The Authority for U.S. Participation in the Paris Climate Agreement
What’s the difference between a treaty and an executive agreement? How have these international agreements been used in the past? And what would each mean as an outcome of the UNFCCC negotiations in December? This article breaks it down for us. It’s interesting to note that executive agreements have made up 94% of international agreements between 1985 and 2014. However, the outcome in Paris this December really depends on how the details of the negotiations materialize. An agreement without legally binding commitments will be considered a weak outcome by many, but it would lend itself to an executive agreement (which doesn’t require congressional approval). Legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be more ambitious and probably necessary to stay below a 2 degree celsius temperature increase, but would entail a steep uphill battle for two-thirds majority approval in the Senate. This situation acts as a reminder of the importance of researching and voting for politicians with a clear stance on environmental issues. By Gwynne Taraska and Ben Bovarnick at the Center for American Progress.

EPA Bans a Gas That Once Helped Save the Ozone Layer
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been used as an alternative to ozone hole-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) since the 1980s. Mainly used for industrial purposes, HFCs are now to be phased out over the next 6 years due to their high global warming potential (GWP). HFCs are up to 12,000 times more potent as carbon dioxide as an agent causing climate change and make up around 3% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Research and discussions on alternatives to HFCs continue to develop. We agree with the commentary in this article that studies need to be thorough and confirm that proposed alternatives will actually contribute to climate change less than HFCs. By Bobby Magill on Climate Central.

Which States Care Most About the Environment?
This is a neat analysis of google search terms related to the environment with the terms acting a proxy for which states care the most. California took the lead for many different environmental terms, but there were some surprises such as Texas taking the lead for the search term “how to save energy.” Here are the analyzed terms, followed by states that searched for that term the most:

  • How to reuse – searched most by California, followed by Hawaii, Washington State, Georgia, and Utah;
  • Wind power – Maine, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, and Connecticut;
  • Solar power – Vermont, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii;
  • How to garden – Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, and Utah;
  • How to compost – Colorado and Washington;
  • Electric cars – California and Hawaii.

Please see the study for more context and other stats. By Save on Energy.

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