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Capital Climate Coalition

Maximizing the Local Response to Global Warming

The Opportunity

The Washington and surrounding Virginia and Maryland communities have the unique opportunity to become one of the leading low-carbon regions, thus, setting an example for cities throughout the nation and the world. On average, a District resident emits 18 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, which is roughly in line with the national average of 19.7 tons annually. The Capital Climate Coalition was formed in 2003 to assist the DC metro region in addressing and adapting to climate change and lowering its overall emissions. There is a large opportunity for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to stimulate sustainable economic growth, create green jobs, and reduce the region’s GHG emissions. District residents have already begun taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions through increased locally generated renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, such as the solar coops popping up throughout the District, and the Capital Climate Coalition will work to ensure that the region continues to transition into a low-carbon leader.

The Challenge

The emissions composition for the District of Columbia is unique, allowing the District great economic opportunities and challenges. Approximately 75% of emissions come from buildings – the national average is 40% of emissions. There is much low-hanging fruit that can be achieved with energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building standards. The remainder of emissions is principally from vehicular emissions and principally from the commuters that entire the District from the surrounding regions daily. This creates a unique set of priorities for District residents and policymakers to lower our overall emissions while creating economic and social growth.

DCEN Climate Priorities

  1. Push Development and Implementation of the District and Regions Climate Action Plans – Support the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) (and other jurisdictions) in the creation and implementation of aggressive localized climate action plans to establish energy and water savings, waste reduction, renewable energy, and alternative transportation solutions.
  2. Increase and Ensure Alternative Energy Funding – Ensure funding for the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) and the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bonds, the premiere policy tools to develop sustainable energy initiatives within the District. Obtain new funding mechanisms to finance energy efficiency retrofits and ensure accessibility for low-income families. Work to support and further expand the growing number of community based initiatives, such as the Mt. Pleasant Solar Coop, increasing renewable energy opportunities throughout the District.
  3. Develop Climate Adaptation Policies for All District Residents – Assist those most vulnerable – low-income families and young and elderly citizens – to adapt to the effects of climate change, such as stressed water resources. Take action now to ensure a resilient community and reduce suffering.
  4. Make the District of Columbia and the Broader Washington Metro Region a National Leader in the Reduction of Green House Gases (GHC’s) – Turn our nation’s capital city into a global leader to combat climate change. Convince District residents and decision makers that we should be leading, not following, in efforts to save the planet from global warming. Continue to press the federal government, with hundreds of large buildings in the region, to do all they can to decrease the federal carbon footprint and protect the health and safety of residents.

DCEN Accomplishments
The D.C. Environmental Network has played a leadership role in combating global warming by helping in securing the passage and implementation of the many important environmental programs including (partial):

  • In 2005, the District Council passed a renewable portfolio standard requiring 11% of electricity sold in the District to come from renewable sources (wind, solar, other) by 2022. DCEN, working with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and others, helped put together a broad coalition of NGOs and businesses to support this legislation. DCEN has since helped to again increase the amount of wind and solar power available to District residents to 20% (Tier 1) by 2020.
  • With the DC Environmental Network working to coordinate coalition activities, the DC Council passed the Clean Cars Act in 2008 to adopt California’s stricter tailpipe emission standards. The Act will not only decrease emissions and improve overall air quality within the District but it will also save the average auto consumer approximately $40 a month.
  • “Since 2003 the DC Environmental Network has been active pressing for new laws and programs that have become the core of the District’s strategy to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Network aggressively pushed for a Renewable Portfolio Standard to bring wind and solar to the District, and pushed for California-style emission standards for cars. The Network’s Capital Climate Coalition was there from the beginning to take up the challenge of curbing carbon emissions in the Metro Washington region. “
    Phil Mendelson, DC Council, At-Large
  • The Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 mandated Mayor Fenty establish contracts with private entities to manage sustainable energy programs in the District. Specifically it establishes the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) to assist local residents and businesses in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to reduce carbon emissions and decrease energy costs for residents.
  • The Green Building Act of requires publicly funded – and as of 2012 all privately funded – building construction to meet established LEED standards for environmental standards. This will directly translate into decrease energy and water consumption and an improved indoor environment for occupants.
  • The Capitol Power Plant has been providing power to our nation’s Capitol Hill complex since 1910. In 2008 and 2009 DCEN worked with Earthjustice, Public Citizen, Sierra Club (DC Chapter) and others to successfully convince Congress to stop using dirty coal to power its steam generating power plant.

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