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US Water Alliance;
Access to water and sanitation services should not hinge on background, geography, or how much money someone makes—but it often does. Studies show that between 2012 and 2019, local water bills increased 31 percent nationally, far outpacing inflation and the consumer price index. Historical declines in federal support for water infrastructure have made this trend even worse. Local officials and water utility leaders have had no choice but to raise local water and sewer rates to pay for the needed operation, capital, and maintenance costs. Without federal and state support, local water and wastewater rates have increasingly become unaffordable for millions of Americans, and utilities have operated with outdated billing systems and often struggled to enroll low-income residents into the modest assistance available.Financial stress incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis has brought water affordability into sharp focus, and innovators have been seeking solutions to meet their communities' rising needs. The water and wastewater utilities in Louisville, Kentucky, provide one such case. Louisville shows how new, smarter solutions to bill relief are helping people in need while improving the utility-customer relationship by balancing care, bill assistance, and debt relief with needed revenue stability to maintain essential water systems. This case study explores key facets of the challenge, what Louisville achieved for its residents, and how the city's approach provides a model for other utilities to consider as they move forward. Sections discuss: How traditional customer assistance efforts have failed to meet customer needs, struggled with enrollment, and overlooked their fundamental purpose of guarding against revenue instability.What a modern, user-friendly approach to bill assistance looks like and how, combined with compassionate messaging, it can shift utility-customer payment and service relationship for the better.Why establishing innovative bill assistance options is especially wise given current and future federal funding opportunities to provide debt relief.Longer-term actions the federal government should prioritize to make safe, reliable water and wastewater service affordable for all.
Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health;
A new study that quantifies the total and interstate deaths from transportation-related air pollution from five vehicle types in 12 states and Washington, D.C. has been published in Environmental Research Letters. The research was led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.The study is part of the Transportation, Equity, Climate, and Health project (TRECH), a multi-university research team from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University, University of North Carolina, and Columbia University, which analyzes policy scenarios to address carbon pollution from the transportation sector.Key TakeawaysOzone and fine particulate matter from vehicle emissions in 2016 led to an estimated 7,100 deaths in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., and pollution from tailpipe emissions is also traveling across state lines, harming the health of people living in cities and states downwind.Region wide, light-duty trucks, which include SUVs, were responsible for the largest number of premature deaths at 2,463 followed by light-duty passenger vehicles (1,881) and heavy-duty trucks (1,465)All states experienced substantial health impacts from vehicle emissions and can gain health benefits from local action.New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey were hardest hit with health damages at $21 billion, $13 billion, and $12 billion, respectively, in 2016 (the most recent data available from EPA).Many states are heavily impacted by out-of-state emissions and some states cause more deaths out-of-state than in-state, including PA and NJ, highlighting the importance of region-wide action to reduce vehicle emissions.On a ton for ton basis, buses in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area had the largest health damages at $4 million for every ton of particulate matter emitted.Ammonia emissions play a stronger relative role in causing health damages compared to oxides of nitrogen. Regionally, ammonia emissions from vehicles were responsible for 740 premature deaths in 2016, more than 10% of the total deaths. Ammonia emissions from vehicles are an unintended by-product of catalytic converters and are unregulated in the U.S., and their role in urban air pollution has been generally under appreciated.
Walton Family Foundation, Inc.;
For the last couple of decades, climate change has been a large, amorphous, existential threat to everything we hold dear. In more recent years, the threat has become increasingly clear and present in the lives of most Americans, who see the reality of the challenge reflected back at us in the most basic ingredient for life: water.Through water, many Americans experience the reality of climate change almost daily. Flooding, drought, record-breaking storms and even wildfires – each in their own way makes the presence of climate change and its impact on both water and everyday life inescapable.The Walton Family Foundation has a longstanding and deep commitment to protecting rivers, lakes and oceans. Our response to the water and climate challenges we face involves building broad coalitions around commonsense ideas.
Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA;
New legislation, corporate action, and public interest have created both an imperative and opportunities associated with rapid and profound CO2 reduction and removal. Net-zero industrial hubs present a pathway to focus investment, innovation, and public policy to create industries and infrastructure toward achieving that goal. Such a hub would require building facilities, plants, and linked infrastructure that would reduce and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions through the application of advanced clean energy, emissions control technology, and possibly CO2 removal technology. This concept, while relatively new, has already gained interest from some nations and companies, most notably in the United Kingdom around net-zero hubs like the Teesside collective.This paper, part of the work from the Carbon Management Research Initiative of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, examines Houston as a potential net-zero hub location. Houston, a major US refining and petrochemical center, possesses a high concentration of industrial sites and fossil-fueled power plants. Regional CO2 storage capacity, low-cost energy, infrastructure like the Port of Houston, and a large skilled labor pool also suggest a possible opportunity for investment, trade, and greenhouse gas reduction in this area. The paper also makes recommendations for policy makers should they seek to pursue a net-zero hub in the Houston area.
Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF);
Climate change is an existential threat to humanity and the planet we call home. As many have reflected, it has no vaccine. Its economic, social and health impacts will dwarf those of the COVID-19 pandemic – unless we step up our response, and fast. We believe a key reason for inaction on climate change by potential funders is the difficulty both in understanding the issue and in finding effective solutions. This resource pack was developed to help funders overcome these challenges. It provides a range of useful and accessible sources of information on climate change: why it is so urgent, how it impacts other charitable causes, what the solutions are, and how funders – whether through grantmaking, operations or investments – can make a difference.
In 2018, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and CEA Consulting (CEA) released the report, "Catalyzing the Growth of Electronic Monitoring in Fisheries." The report highlighted that many of the world's fisheries lack accurate data about what is happening on the water. Even in fisheries with human observers, low coverage rates, basic human limitations that prevent viewing everything happening onboard, and even threats and bribery can limit data quality. This progress update report revisits the original recommendations, assesses the progress and new innovations that have been made, identifies key remaining barriers, and updates the investment blueprint based on what has changed or been learned over the last year and a half.
National Resources Defense Council;
Due to the impacts of climate change, summers are getting are hotter across the globe—but the health impacts of this heat are not felt equally, even within the same city. In New York City and many other cities across the United States, extreme heat disproportionately impacts certain vulnerable populations.Since 1900, New York City has warmed by 4.4°F, more than double the 2°F increase for the state as a whole. While this kind of heat can be uncomfortable for many city residents, it becomes life-threatening for others. That is due in no small part to the temperature variations within a city—trees, parks, and greenery bring temperatures down, while areas packed with concrete and asphalt skyrocket high temperatures even higher. In part due to historical and current patterns of racial discrimination and segregation, people of color often live in areas characterized by abundant heat-retaining surfaces and a lack of canopied vegetation. These residents are less likely to own or be able to afford to run an air conditioner and more likely to suffer from pre-existing health problems that can be aggravated by heat. Extreme heat vulnerability in New York City is, quite simply, an environmental injustice.This report looks at how exposure to extreme summertime heat is distributed unevenly throughout New York City, discusses the health burdens extreme heat imposes on environmental justice communities, and suggests equitable policy solutions that reflect the concerns and experiences of those most impacted by extreme heat.
Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF);
The Funder Commitment on Climate Change is a holistic, high-level framework for foundations - whatever their size, mission, or area of benefit - to play their part in tackling the causes and impacts of climate change. It was launched in November 2019, and since June 2020 has been hosted by the Association of Charitable Foundation (ACF). This UK initiative has inspired foundation networks in France and Spain to develop parallel commitments, and there are also plans for national commitments in other states and a global version. ACF invited all current signatories to respond to a simple survey of actions taken under each of the elements of the Funder Commitment. Funders were invited to make a simple self-assessment of their progress in each area - the collated results of which are shown as bar charts in this report. ACF also took this opportunity to ask signatories about how ACF can best support peer learning and further action, and finally to gather some basic data about the signatories to inform future work.
The Pew Charitable Trusts;
Under the European Union's current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), 2020 had been targeted as the year toachieve a major change in fisheries management: sustainable exploitation rates in place for all stocks. Despiteprogress, the EU did not meet this goal.The story of the policy's implementation begins in 2013, when, after decades of overfishing and ineffectivefisheries management, the European Parliament and the EU's then-28 member state governments agreed onfar-reaching reforms to the previous CFP.1 These included setting sustainable catch limits with the objective torestore stocks, maintain healthy ecosystems and safeguard stable, profitable fisheries for the EU fleet. In 2014,the reformed CFP entered into force, with a focus on bringing fishing pressure in line with scientific advice. Thepolicy required fisheries ministers to ensure sustainable exploitation rates "by 2015 where possible and on aprogressive, incremental basis at the latest by 2020 for all stocks."Now, after the 2020 deadline has passed, it's clear that the reforms have brought progress. But the data alsoshows that policymakers are still setting too many catch limits above the levels recommended by scientists, withdecision-making suffering from a short-term approach and lower ambition than the policy requires.In 2008, The Pew Charitable Trusts began working with 192 organisations in the OCEAN2012 coalition to ensurethat a reformed CFP set ambitious, science-based and achievable objectives. In the years since the reforms cameinto force, Pew and several other groups have pushed to hold decision-makers accountable in the efforts to endoverfishing in North-Western European waters and allow stocks to recover to healthy, productive levels.This report presents eight key lessons learned from this work to help implement the EU's fisheries policy, eachlesson augmented by a deeper look at a specific issue. The experiences in implementing the EU policy show that:1. Good management works.As the experience of fisheries managers around the world has shown, when steps are taken to safeguardthe sustainability of stocks and fisheries for the long term, the results include environmental, economicand social benefits.2. Decreased ambition since 2013 led to under-implementation.Decision-makers approached implementation of most major pillars of the CFP pragmatically, toooften showing less political will than needed to deliver the reforms as intended. This led to diminishedexpectations from stakeholders and EU institutions on what could be delivered, almost from the beginning.3. Decisions often favoured maintaining the status quo rather than changing behaviour.Despite ambitious CFP goals intended to change outcomes in the water, decision-makers often adjustedmanagement measures to fit existing patterns of fishing – to the detriment of achieving the objectives.4. EU decision-making remains siloed.Fisheries policy processes often follow their own internal logic, so a focus on fisheries yields and economicoutcomes may overlook other priorities, such as the urgent need to deliver on wider EU environmentalrequirements and commitments.5. Short-term thinking persists in EU management.A long-term perspective – one of the key aims of the 2014 CFP – often took a back seat to immediatepolitical expediency. For example, fisheries ministers continued to set excessive catch limits on the basisthat they were a "compromise" between short- and long-term aims or were necessary for unexplainedeconomic reasons. 6. Clarity on progress is too often undermined by unclear and inconsistent reporting.Rather than measuring progress against the aims of the CFP, official reporting often uses irrelevant orchanging benchmarks, such as trend comparisons, which frequently do not correspond to the CFP's legalobjectives. This confuses the public about the policy's progress and leads stakeholders to draw differentconclusions on priorities.7. Opaque decision-making hampers progress.A lack of public communication on the scientific basis for European Commission proposals onmanagement measures such as catch limits, and the rationale for legislators' subsequent decisions, toooften prevented scrutiny of decision-making by stakeholders and EU institutions, and undermined trust inthe process.8. Stocks shared with non-EU countries present challenges in achieving CFP aims.Jointly managed stocks require more complex decision-making than stocks that are managed by oneentity. That increases the need for collaborative improvements, especially in the wake of the UK'sdeparture from the EU.To realise the ambitions set by legislators in 2013, EU policymakers need to take the final steps to implementthe CFP in full. The health of marine ecosystems, European fisheries, and the communities that depend on themrequire the sustainable, ecosystem-based management approaches set out in the policy, without exceptions andloopholes. The findings in this review of progress can help guide decision-makers and stakeholders on the workthat remains to fully implement the CFP, and in shaping future priorities for European fisheries.
The reality that COVID-19 was a pandemic became clear by mid-March 2020. Immediately, grassroots, community-led groups organized mutual aid and other COVID response efforts to bridge the gaps created by lack of preparedness as well as inadequate response on the part of the state and federal governments.The Barr Foundation is interested in learning how these community based responses were organized, how they operated, and what the network ecology looked like in Boston, Chelsea, and Revere. The overall goal is to understand how community-focused and community-led responses like these can be built upon and reinforced to support equity-centered climate resilience.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources;
This report presents the results from a trail intercept survey conducted with state trail visitors in summer 2019 to better understand visitor satisfaction, how they used state trails, their opinions on investment and funding, and their demographics.
Environmental Policy Innovation Center;
In this report, we evaluate how states allocate support from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) using national and state-level data from 2011 to 2020. This program already helps address disparities and has even more potential to do so. We find that states address disparities by targeting assistance towards:Health: Communities with more health-based Safe Drinking Water Act violations are more likely to receive assistance.Income: Communities with lower median household incomes are slightly more likely to receive assistance.We also find that states could do more to address disparities by expanding:Reach: 7.1 percent of eligible drinking water systems have received assistance.Additional subsidies: 26.6 percent of total assistance was distributed as principal forgiveness, grants, or negative interest loans, despite a federal ceiling of 35 percent for disadvantaged communities.Diversity: Small communities and more racially diverse ones are less likely to receive assistance.