The United States Needs to Step Up Its Climate Action: Sooner Rather Than Later
Updated: Aug 21
H. Younger - April 6th, 2020 - (CHARLOTTESVILLE - DAVINCI) - Once a world leader, America has faded from the world stage in the past few years. In June of 2017, President Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement, which is meant to help combat climate change. In October of 2017, the US retreated from UNESCO, the United Nations backed organization to help educate and encourage the collaboration of nations. Soon after, Trump left the Iran Nuclear Deal, which prohibited the construction of Iranian nuclear weapons in exchange for open ports and lower sanctions. The deal was another Obama Era policy that the new Administration has backed out of. All of these clearly indicate the ‘isolationist America’ viewpoint that has distanced us from our former European allies. In the political skirmish to be on top, one key issue has been left on the cutting room floor: climate change and environmental action.
The science has been here for decades. Sea ice square footage has decreased by almost 13% in the last decade, the temperature has warmed up by almost two degrees since 1880, and sea level has risen over 8 inches in the last century. Yet the U.S. continues to ignore the ever increasing threat and put a political agenda ahead of the future of our world. In the past several years, while countries like Iceland and Norway work towards carbon-neutrality, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency is focusing on rolling back air quality protection legislation, wetland and wildlife protection, clean water regulations, and even widely removing phrases like “Climate Change” from their websites. Climate action is a collaborative effort; yet we continue to distance our European allies and slowly cut ourselves off from the rest of the world.
In addition to the overwhelming proof that action is needed, several countries have begun to implement manageable plans to help ease into a healthier environment. Costa Rica, a member of the Paris Climate Agreement, has set goals to produce all of its electricity from renewable resources by 2050. In a new plan that has been unveiled, these goals should lead to carbon neutrality before 2085. The U.S. has the power and resources to institute a long-term plan to help combat climate change, yet our government chooses not to.
Despite the failure of the federal government to step into action, several states have created the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group which is working to put environmental activism first at a local level. This alliance includes California, Washington, Virginia, and more than twenty others, and currently represents 55% of the U.S. population. Several goals have been set for states in the Alliance, including: demanding goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a push for better energy usage and efficiency, and passing legislation to increase the availability of electric cars. However, the federal government has pushed back against these state led efforts. Recently, the Trump Administration moved to abolish a Californian policy restricting car emissions, which would help directly prohibit the state from setting its own climate standards. California responded by suing the administration for the sixtieth time.
The U.S. needs to start acknowledging the threat of climate change sooner rather than later. UN leaders estimate that we have a little more than a decade before climate change is irreversible, which is barely more than three presidential elections away. The U.S desperately needs to focus less on political vengeance and more on saving our country and the world from the ever present threat of climate change.
If you wish to reach one of your federal representatives, call this number and ask for the office of your Senator/House Member: (202) 224-3121