Healthy Climate

Our climate and atmospheric resources are under threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable land use changes. We are bringing leading climate science and economic analysis to the U.S. policy debates on carbon pricing as described in Addressing Climate Change Using a Carbon Tax & Dividend Plan within a Global Compact (authored by past Presidential advisors Dr. Roy Wehrle and Dr. Don Wuebbles). We assist the University of Illinois and its Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES), which brings cities solutions to urban stresses through its growing network of research and practitioner partners, in building a partnership network to serve the region.

Read the report here.

Climate Change and Economic Policy - Addressing Climate Change Using a Carbon Tax & Dividend Plan within a Global Compact

Greenleaf works with Professors Roy Wehrle (former senior economist for President Kennedy and professor emeritus at University of Illinois-Springfield) and Don Wuebbles (leading climate scientist and professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) to address the urgency in addressing climate change and to inform carbon pricing discussions. The report and supplemental materials, Addressing Climate Change Using a Carbon Tax & Dividend Plan within a Global Compact, builds on the National Energy Transition Plan, released last year, which compared the merits of carbon tax and dividend plans and identified a path forward for the United States to rapidly decarbonize while ensuring a fair transition. This new report combines a domestic climate policy with a new international approach, led by the U.S., to protect current and future generations from catastrophic climate impacts. Watch Francine van den Brandeler and our climate science and policy partners speak about effective carbon pricing here.

Recommendations on a Climate Club and Carbon Surcharge Transfer

Climate scientists and policymakers warn of deep and irreversible damage to Earth if we do not take immediate global action on climate change. In this report, Dr. Roy Wehrle, Dr. Francine van den Brandeler, and Dr. Don Wuebbles make recommendations for successful negotiations at COP26 based on extensive research for domestic and global climate policy.

COP26 in Glasgow will be a historical turning point if the Parties to the Paris Agreement address three imperatives:

  • Guarantee major greenhouse gas reductions. Nations need to go beyond volunteered pledges to required commitments. Many actions are needed, but by far the most effective will be to put a price penalty on carbon emissions. Over 65 countries, regions and sub-national jurisdictions are adopting carbon pricing mechanisms; those failing to act will be left behind in global trade and technology.
  • Create a level playing field so that exports of large carbon reducing nations remain competitive with nations still using mostly fossil fuel energy.
  • Assure substantial financial assistance to developing countries so they can protect themselves through adaptation and mitigation.

These commitments can be achieved at Glasgow by creation of a Climate Club, or Compact, and adoption of a Carbon Surcharge Transfer to bind all countries in solidarity and purpose.

Addressing Climate Change and Urban Stresses with Sustainable Urban Infrastructure

While we maximize efforts to mitigate climate change, we must also adapt to threats and disruptions already occurring, with special attention to the disadvantaged communities that are disproportionally impacted. For example, Greater Chicagoland is vulnerable to a range of climate-related risks, from more intense storms to more extreme heat. These risks are unequally distributed across its population; solutions must integrate equity concerns. Greenleaf’s current focus is on mitigating heat stress and associated air quality issues in part by advancing the planning and development of green infrastructure, clean energy technologies, and cooling centers among other improvements to underserved communities. By collaborating with researchers, urban planners, funders, and entrepreneurs with deep community ties, we aim to support communities in developing their adaptation to climate change.

Greenleaf supports the University of Illinois’ new Center on Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES), led by Dr. Don Wuebbles, a Greenleaf board member. The university-wide initiative will help cities address urban stresses with solutions informed by its leading research and its network of partners. Since its inception in late 2017, Greenleaf has met with and advised the Center on strategy, partnerships, and development efforts and continue doing so to establish program work. Greenleaf supported the August 2019 workshop at the Discovery Partners Institute with research and practitioner experts to address energy, water, and climate issues faced by cities of all sizes.

Protecting People from Exposure to Environmental Toxins

Our work with investigators on the links between environmental toxins and human health is guided by Dr. Janet Hock, Greenleaf board member and past lead of the Maine Institute of Health. While the connection between soils and nutrient delivery to crops is of special interest, so are concerns over chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Greenleaf board member Dr. Sabina Shaikh is co-leading research into endocrine disrupting chemicals and their association with diabetes. And we are working with researchers who are investigating the association of neurodegenerative diseases with cyanobacteria from algal blooms, such as in Lake Erie. Their work is representative of what Greenleaf will bring to its Healthy Soils network of policy and practitioner leaders as we work to mitigate the unintended harmful causes of prevalent human illness associated with environmental exposures.

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