The Australian bushfires are displaying the effects of climate change. We found a few headlines that show signs of progress in curbing human carbon emissions, like a proposed natural gas ban in Bellingham. These particular stories show that climate action is incremental and requires a good deal of effort.

To Fight Climate Change, One City May Ban Heating Homes With Natural Gas

By Mike Baker, The New York Times, January 5, 2020.

  • Bellingham, Wash. City Council is considering a natural gas ban on all residential heating to drastically reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
  • Bellingham adopted its first climate plan in the 2000’s, putting the city on track to carbon neutrality by 2050. It’s looking accelerate that timeframe to 2035.
  • The proposal is facing heavy opposition, including a $1 million campaign from a Northwest coalition to promote the use of natural gas. It also faces questions about the costs of heating alternatives, namely electric heat pump systems.

Bike ridership hits record highs on 2 Seattle routes

By Michelle Baruchman, Seattle Times, January 6, 2020.

  • The Fremont Bridge and Second Avenue bike lanes saw record bike traffic in 2019, according to automate counters. Ridership increased 12% across Fremont Bridge and nearly 79% on Second Avenue, compared to 2018 counts.
  • Analysts and cycling advocates identified three contributing factors: “Traffic congestion frustrating drivers and bus passengers last year from the three-week Highway 99 closure and eviction of buses from the downtown transit tunnel, expansion of the city’s protected bike-lane network, and the popularity of electric-assist bicycles.”
  • Additional protected bike lane projects are schedule for this summer along “Ninth Avenue North between Denny Way and Harrison Street and a block of Bell Street just south of Denny.”

Preliminary US Emissions Estimates for 2019

By Trevor Houser and Hanna Pitt, Rhodium Group, January 7, 2020.

  • The Rhodium Group estimated that US greenhouse gas emissions dropped 2.1% in 2019. This is due largely to the decline of coal consumption.
  • While coal dropped to its lowest level since 1975, a sharp increase in natural gas consumption and stagnancy in transportation, industry, building and other emissions handcuffed further GHG reduction.
  • The US has reduced GHG emissions by 12.3% from 2005 levels, but are not on track to achieve goals set by the Copenhagen Accord (17% by 2020) or the Paris Agreement (26-28% reduction by 2025).

Feature photo by Wei Zeng on Unsplash.