Five Reasons Climate Action Is Needed In Texas

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Originally published on The Climate Reality Project.

To protect our climate, we need action everywhere – especially Texas. Here’s why meaningful steps to stop climate change matter in the Lone Star State.

When you think of Texas, the images that come to mind might include cowboy boots, oil rigs, and footballs. But what about clean energy and climate activists?

Climate Reality held our most recent Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Houston, Texas to provide activists with the tools and science they need to call for action, now more than ever. We just returned from an uplifting and eye-opening three days, and the enthusiasm from over 500 attendees was incredible.

It may have seemed like a longshot at first, but now that there are hundreds of new climate activists in Texas and around the world joining our existing Corps of 10,000, there’s reason to be hopeful that Texas – and any region – can take strides to reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean, renewable energy.

But first – why is taking action in the Lone Star State important, especially when there’s so much entrenched opposition? Here are five reasons we need Texas on board in the transition to clean energy.

1. Because Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Including Its Number of Residents

Texas is one of the largest states in the United States. In terms of area, it ranks second – only Alaska covers more land. More importantly, nearly 27 million people call the Lone Star State home. That means there’s a vast number of families and communities vulnerable to changes in the climate. Plus, the population is projected to keep growing and the deadly impacts of climate change are getting worse at the same time.

All that adds up to a big responsibility for Texas. We need to act now to protect its residents from the harmful health effects that can be caused by climate change including waterborne illness, deaths from heat waves, asthma and respiratory illnesses, and more.

2. … and Including Its Extreme Weather

Here’s one list where Texas is number one: Texas experienced 75 weather and climate disasters between 1980 and 2015, each of which produced at least a billion dollars in losses (across the states in which they impacted), more than any other state.

Climate change is leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of some kinds of extreme weather. This includes heavy precipitation events, heat waves, and drought, which are on an upward trend in Texas and across the world thanks to climate change.

We also know that we can fight this trend by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. With Texas bearing the brunt of costly and life-threatening extreme weather events, it’s absolutely vital the state takes climate action to guard against even more extreme weather in the future.

3. … and Including Its Carbon Pollution Emissions

That brings us to another list where Texas tops the list. The Lone Star State leads the US in energy-related carbon pollution, contributing 641 million metric tons to the world’s atmosphere in 2013 alone! That’s nearly twice as much as the state of California (2013 population: 38 million), and greater than the entire country of Bangladesh (2013 population: 157 million) in 2013.

In fact, if Texas were its own country (and some say it is), it would be the eighth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

But there’s a silver lining on this carbon-emissions cloud. The bright side is that reducing emissions in Texas would contribute enormously towards fighting climate change and decreasing the United States’ overall emissions.

4. … and Including Its Economy

Texas ranks number two when it comes to the size of its economy, contributing over $1.65 trillion to the US GDP in 2014. Again, if Texas were its own country, its economy would be larger than Australia and nearly as large as Canada.

Texas is home to 54 of 2015’s Fortune 500 companies – second to New York for the most in the US. But you know what? Leading companies based in Texas already recognize the threat of climate change and the reasons to make the switch to clean energy. Many corporations are already taking action in their own operations to do their part. For example,

  • Dell’s headquarters in Austin has been powered by renewable energy since 2008, and more than 40 percent of Dell’s internal facilities’ electricity use is purchased or generated by on-site solar.
  • Toyota’s enormous new North American headquarters in Plano will be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity.
  • Whole Foods, headquartered in Austin, powers 25 of its stores and facilities with solar panels, and has purchased renewable energy credits from wind farms to offset other energy consumption.
  • Texas Instruments, headquartered in Dallas, has been focused on energy efficiency from more than 30 years, along with reducing harmful chemicals in manufacturing, and recycling waste – saving the company more than $5 million per year.
  • The Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group, headquartered in Plano, has a LEED Silver certified production facility in California and a LEED Gold certified headquarters. And, through energy efficiency improvements, the group has prevented more than 162 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere since 2009 (PDF).

The facts are clear: climate action makes sense for the planet and for businesses. And Texas is already making strides in the transition from focusing on a 19th-century fuel into leading a 21st-century renewable technology revolution. The best part? If Texas can make the leap to becoming a wind energy producer, it will still maintain its position as an energy leader helping the US gain energy independence – while avoiding the devastating boom-bust cycles prevalent in the fossil fuel industry.

5. Because We Need Climate Action to Keep Texas, Texas!

Right now, all the things that make Texas great – that make Texas, Texas, are at risk due to climate change. What will the state look like if we do nothing? From the coastline to the grasslands – and all the people, flora, and fauna living therein – face an uncertain future. So, what better reason to act than to help protect Texas for generations to come?

Reprinted with permission.

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