Since our last Sustainability Reads of the Week something momentous happened: the official signing of the Paris Climate Agreement. Wow. On April 22, 2016 (Earth Day) in New York City 174 nations and the European Union signed the agreement and broke the record for the number of countries signing an international agreement on the first day. The fact that the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, signed the agreement is a game changer. However, the work to mitigate and adapt to climate change is only beginning. Countries now have to get the agreement ratified at home and align policies and strategies to meet their greenhouse gas reduction commitments (INDCs). The agreement can enter into force 30 days after 55 countries accounting for 55% of global emissions ratify the agreement back home.
The signing of the international climate agreement takes the cake for news, but here are some other interesting stories from the past few weeks:
San Francisco Becomes First Major City to Require Solar Panels on New Buildings
As of January 1, 2017, new commercial and residential buildings in San Francisco that are less than 10 stories are required to install rooftop solar systems. The new city requirement built on a current state law that requires all buildings 10 floors or less to designate at least 15% of the rooftop for solar use. SF joined two smaller California towns and also France in implementing a requirement for buildings to not only be solar-ready but have installed solar. Whether developers will have the option to install green roofs instead of solar, as they do in France, will be debated in the near future. It’s exciting to see cities show they can act on climate too. By Lorraine Chow on EcoWatch
Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development
The wide-spread benefits of solar energy can only be achieved with the installation of more solar, which depends on solar panels being accessible and affordable. A new report analyzes policies that either support or hinder distributed solar generation (such as on rooftops) and uncovers that there are a number of states with the potential for solar that have policies that make it difficult for it to succeed. The sunny states blocking the solar market development are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The report provides information on how each state is deterring solar across a number of metrics, acting as specific policy recommendations for the states mentioned above. Report by Greer Ryan, Center for Biological Diversity
If you have time, please check out a few (or all) of these 4-minute films that made the final cut of the Real Food Films 2016 contest. Each short film documents the story of a person or group of people dedicated to sustainable food and farming. From NYC to China to Ecuador, these films capture how important it is to rethink our food system and illustrate that it’s possible to do so.
And if you missed our fun Earth Day quiz, it’s available here.