Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions

by Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)
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Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions
Engaging with Congress on Climate Change Solutions

I hope you had a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season! I know for me, after a very busy and productive 2022, I really needed a break. You probably did, too, and I hope you got one. 

Now we are back in a new year, with a new Congress taking shape and renewed urgency to advance climate solutions

It is hard to believe that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was enacted less than five months ago. (And the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is only a little more than a year old.) 

This historic legislation will do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but there is still a huge amount of work to do on climate.

What are your priorities for climate action? 

Looking at the year ahead, we will start off with a focus on educating new Congressional staff over the course of four all-new Climate Camp briefings (you can RSVP now).  

Then, as policymakers begin to shift their attention to the must-pass Farm Bill, so, too, will our briefings, articles, and podcasts. Also, our upcoming series of side-by-side-by-side comparison charts will help staff on Capitol Hill keep track of all the various amendments and proposals on key Farm Bill provisions.  

But the climate to-do list for Congress goes much further:  

  

I am very grateful to have you as part of the extended EESI family. In 2022, you made possible 26 briefings, 150 articles, 15 podcast episodes, as well as expanded, daily coverage of the United Nations climate negotiations in Egypt, and so much more!  

There is a lot more in store this year. If you would like to keep up with everything, I encourage you to subscribe to our biweekly newsletter, Climate Change Solutions, and sign up to receive all of our briefing notices, articles, press releases, and other publications. Simply click here if you would like to change your subscriptions.

Our strict privacy policy means we never share your information with other groups. You can trust EESI—we have received the coveted Four-Star Charity designation from Charity Navigator and Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid.

Thanks for your commitment to climate solutions. I hope you will continue to partner with EESI this year.

Happy New Year!   

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Happy Thanksgiving! I am very grateful for your continued commitment to advancing climate change solutions.

You are part of our team because you make everything we do possible. This year, you enabled assistance to rural utilities for equitable financing for clean energy upgrades.

You also helped share success stories about sustainable farming practices and bring an electric school bus to Capitol Hill to complement our briefing about climate action in K-12 schools.

I hope you are as optimistic as I am about the good things that have happened recently in climate policy, most notably the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act in August.

I am optimistic about our ability to build on these accomplishments in the new year. EESI was founded on a bipartisan basis. I know we can bring forth some great information that will appeal to policymakers on both sides of the aisle. 

What are some of your climate priorities? Feel free to drop me a line if you would like to share ideas or offer feedback. I always appreciate the chance to learn from you.

I just celebrated my three-year anniversary at EESI. I have enjoyed interacting with you. It means a lot to me and my colleagues to have you part of our team. I am also very thankful to be surrounded by dedicated professionals who share a vision of a sustainable, resilient, and equitable world. 

Many thanks and best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Daniel Bresette
Executive Director

Electric bus at our schools briefing in September
Electric bus at our schools briefing in September

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“I have heard people give Ted Talks on climate change, and they always tend to end with, ‘Well, despite all of this, I'm optimistic.’ And frankly, I’m not. If I was giving a Ted Talk, maybe I would say I was. It’s very hard to be all gloom and doom, but you know, this is not good. I have grandchildren, and I really worry about them. I don't moan and groan in their presence. But this is going to be their life in a much hotter world and a much different world.” Judith Weis, a marine scientist with experience working on Capitol Hill and in academia, knows from firsthand experience that adapting to climate change and curbing plastic pollution is urgent.

Judith expanded, “We scientists started talking about this in the ’80s, when it first became obvious that things were happening with bleaching of coral reefs. So we've been talking about it for 40 years, and the progress we've made is minor. We need it to be much faster, much more, much sooner.”

Judith’s matter-of-fact outlook on the urgency of the climate crisis has fueled her prolific research and outreach on environmental issues ranging from reducing the spread of microplastics to protecting coastal salt marshes through adaptation. Currently a professor emeritus at Rutgers University, she has contributed to several books and published extensively on marine aquatic organisms, tropical mangroves, the effects of contamination, parasites, and invasive species on animals in estuaries, and more.

JUDITH USED INFORMATION FROM EESI'S PREDECESSOR WHEN SHE WORKED ON CAPITOL HILL

Judith told EESI that in the 1980s, “I looked up from my lab and saw things going on in the EPA that I thought were outrageous, so I got involved in policy, And I learned about a fellowship for scientists to work for the federal government, generally on Capitol Hill. I thought I might have an impact on policy by working there.”

“When I became a fellow, I spent a year in Washington working for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. And while there, I got these “green sheets”—literally on green-colored paper—from the Environmental and Energy Study Conference, which was the predecessor of EESI.”

“They were very helpful to me in the work I was doing, and I really was appreciative of this informative news that came to us. And then I followed from a distance as EESI went online, launched a website and all. And I’m still following and donating to EESI because I just had very good feelings about EESI’s importance from my time on the Hill!”

From her work on coastal marshes, Judith knows that people living in coastal New Jersey increasingly understand the importance of marshes, including their role in mitigating floods during extreme weather events such as hurricanes. She noted that it was very clear that during Hurricane Sandy, which caused a lot of damage to New Jersey and New York, the communities that had a more extensive marsh were much less damaged than the communities that did not. Marshes have a protective effect against storm surge and flooding but also help absorb pollutants, resulting in cleaner water. 

To learn more about the climate solutions for marshes and wetlands that Judith recommends in her work as a marine biologist, check out part 2 of this article, coming soon! It will appear in our biweekly Climate Change Solutions, so subscribe here if you don’t already receive it.

 

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Nothing gives me more hope for the future than the enthusiasm of young people for climate action. Society’s ability to advance equitable climate solutions will be limited for as long as diversity goals go unmet.

YOU make possible everything we do at EESI to educate policymakers and help rural households access the multiple benefits of clean energy.

EESI emphasizes equity in our Congressional education, including by assembling panels that represent the diversity of the communities we highlight.

And we put equity at the heart of our work with rural utilities, including by joining forces with the NAACP to make solar energy more accessible and inclusive to communities of color.

We have a responsibility to do more, including by encouraging young people of color who care about the environment to lend their voices, perspectives, and experiences to climate policy-making.

EESI’s Board of Directors had a vision: a Future Climate Leaders Scholarship program to help students of color complete their studies and find their place in climate policy and advocacy. When we made our first award, our vision became a reality; with it came a realization of how much more we have to do.

I hope you will share my commitment and enthusiasm for the EESI Future Climate Leadership Scholarship. Thank you again. 

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Everything we produce has a climate impact at every stage of its life cycle, including production, transportation, and disposal. While recycling and composting are important, preventing waste from occurring in the first place does much more to curb climate change. In the case of food, for example, significant amounts of greenhouse gases are produced from wasted food—food that was produced and perhaps even transported to supermarket and then home or restaurant, but not eaten. And part of those emissions are methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. 

Those climate implications are a reason why both the United States and the United Nations have goals of reducing food waste and loss by 50 percent by 2030. Achieving this goal would have huge climate benefits. It would also help create jobs and, most importantly, feed people who are food insecure. 

The implications of the waste-climate connection for policymakers were discussed through EESI’s briefing series: Reduce and Reuse: How to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Building Materials, Plastics, and Food, which you helped make possible. That series highlighted, for example, the ReFED Insights Engine, a tool for policymakers seeking to reduce food waste. 

Of course, individuals can—and should—do their best to avoid wasting food. Food makes up the largest share of materials deposited in landfills, with a lot coming from households. 

But this is a huge, deeply-rooted societal issue that individuals cannot solve on their own. We need policy interventions to achieve impact on a massive scale—at every stage in the food production and consumption cycle.

It takes so much energy to create and distribute food and other products that people buy. Diverting them from landfills will not diminish the climate impacts much. Waste prevention is a much more effective climate strategy.

Thank you so much for the important role you are playing in ensuring that federal decision makers have all the information they need to enact effective and well-informed policies!

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