Solar power continues to expand rapidly. The United States now has 121.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, producing enough solar energy to power more than 23 million homes. Millions of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them. America’s major cities have played a key role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. Our eighth survey of solar energy in America’s biggest cities finds that the amount of solar power installed in just nine U.S. cities exceeds the amount installed in the entire United States 10 years ago.
Clean energy is sweeping across America and is poised for more dramatic growth in the coming years. Wind turbines and solar panels made up a tiny fraction of our energy infrastructure 10 years ago. Today, they are everyday parts of America’s energy landscape. The number of homes heated with clean, efficient electric heat pumps increased by 28% in a decade from 2005 to 2015. Just a few years ago, electric vehicles seemed a far-off solution to decarbonize our transportation system. Now, they have broken through to the mass market.
Virtually every day, there are new developments that increase our ability to produce renewable energy, apply it to a wider range of energy needs, and reduce our overall energy use. These developments enable us to envision an economy powered entirely by clean, renewable energy.
Local governments have an important role to play in making clean transportation a reality. Every day, local governments make decisions about municipal purchasing, the use of public streets and parking garages, planning and zoning, and other issues that can either make it easier or more difficult for their residents to own an EV. By using a set of key tools to encourage EV adoption, local governments can help clean up the air in their communities and take meaningful action against global warming.
More than one in six Americans, 58.4 million people, suffered through more than 100 days of elevated air pollution in 2020. Our report calls attention to the very real public health problems air pollution causes in both cities and rural areas across the country, such as asthma, heart issues, and premature death. It explains how global warming will make air pollution worse, and why tackling climate pollution has an impact on air quality.
After years of setbacks on the environment, in the Biden administration’s early days, it is critical that we take swift action to clean up our environment and address the climate crisis. There are several important environmental policies that can be set in motion on day one that will protect our natural landscapes and give Americans cleaner air, cleaner water and a more livable climate. This report lists the First Thigns to Fix.
Environment Arizona Research & Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.