An organization based in Oregon called Our Children’s Trust supports minors using judicial and legislative systems to stop climate change. One such teen lives in North Carolina.
Hallie Turner, along with NC teens Emily Liu and Arya Pontula, is in the midst of her second petition to the NC Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Management Commission. The petition consists of a rule requiring a decrease in greenhouse gases in the next 30 years until the state is producing no carbon dioxide emissions.
Four years ago, Turner attempted to petition the Commission to create a rule requiring NC to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 4% each year. She went to court over it when the Commission rejected the petition. Unfortunately, she lost the case.
The Bigger Picture
Our Children’s Trust is involved in a federal case called Juliana v. U.S. where several youths are suing the federal government about the violation of the rights to life, liberty, and property through legislation leading to climate change. A magistrate judge and a district judge have agreed that the case should be tried after the federal government made a motion to dismiss the case. In February 2018, the trial will begin.
Slow But Steady Wins the Race
Such a process is a slow one. The teens involved in the Juliana v. U.S. case began their lawsuit in 2015. Turner’s 2015 case against the Commission lasted almost a year just to determine if the Commission rightly rejected Turner’s petition. However, Turner’s second petition illustrates the minors involved in Our Children’s Trust are more than willing to use the judicial process to create change.
Turner’s petition is more extreme this time around. Perhaps the feelings of the Environmental Management Commission changed in two years. If not, these plucky teens generate publicity about environmental issues affecting their future.
California began a program using the app OhmConnect. The app notifies residents signed up for the program when to turn off and unplug everything consuming energy. Not only are residents helping grid operators manage a grid becoming more and more reliant on renewables, they get paid for it.
Most of the strategies for lowering fossil fuel use consist of replacing fossil fuels with another energy source. However, solutions also lie with consumers of energy. Lowering consumption decreases the amount of energy required of the energy plants.
Transferring a grid from fossil fuels to renewables lowers the reliability of the baseload. The baseload is the minimum amount of energy a power plant generates to provide for their customers. It is easy to maintain a baseload with fossil fuels. Just burn however much the area needs, increasing the amount of coal, natural gas, or petroleum consumed in times of greater demand like the evenings when people are coming home, turning on lights, and making dinner.
Dealing with baseload with a largely renewable grid can be managed in several different ways. One of the best ways is diversifying the grid with solar, wind, hydro, and other energy sources. The creation of the storage battery has also been a help, allowing energy to be produced and stored until needed rather than put on the grid constantly. Importing energy from another area could even be an answer. Finally, baseload problems could be solved by… lowering the baseload which is achieved by lowering consumption.
The best solution is using all tactics. A carbon-free grid will not come from one answer but from several.
How Does This Apply to NC?
North Carolina comes in second to California for solar energy production. As California proves a carbon-free grid is feasible, others will follow suit, and North Carolina could be prepared to follow in its footsteps.
Even with fossil fuels, there are limits to how much power plants can produce. Duke Energy already has a program in place for customers to get bill credits if they sign up for a program to not use their air conditioning during peak consumption times. It is not nearly as in depth as the Californian program is. However, Duke Energy’s program is based in the same principle. Customers can help save the Earth too.
As many know, this summer, President Trump announced that America would be pulling out of the Paris Accord. This caused quite the uproar, and in the months following the announcement, states and cities have made plans to achieve the Paris Accord’s goals.
What’s Been Done
Washington, New York, and California led efforts to create the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators and mayors in response to America’s. America’s Pledge, a group of states, cities, businesses, and universities, and We Are Still In, a declaration of supporting climate action, were also created to include private sector groups in the effort to combat climate change.
North Carolina joined the U.S. Climate Alliance and the We Are Still In campaign. Each state agreed to help make the goal of lowering emissions 26-28% of 2005 levels. States forming the Climate Alliance will probably reach that goal on an individual basis. However, America is on track to reduce emissions by only 15% by 2020 if federal emissions policy is rolled back as predicted.
As uplifting as it is to see states, cities, and organizations come together to protect Earth, there are some downsides to not having the federal government participating in environmental policy. Significant amounts of research and development have been funded and supported by past federal initiatives. There are also possible strategies to lowering emissions no longer available because federal policies are necessary to achieve them. For instance, a national grid would mean that extra solar generated in California on a sunny day could be sent to a rainy Washington. Such a strategy could help make America’s electricity completely renewable, but a completely national grid could not exist without federal policy assisting states.
Though the U.S. Climate Alliance and America’s Pledge may not be able to do everything the entire federal government could do, such groups make sure that there are still parties invested in fighting climate change. Such interest will keep innovation alive, and progress will continue. By the time 2020 rolls around, who knows how many parties, private and public, will have recommitted to the Paris Accord. It may turn out federal involvement is not a necessity at all.