Last weekend, millions marched worldwide to demand immediate and consequential action to address the multiple crises caused by climate change. Kudos to Greta Thunberg and the young people who won the day!
Turns out that some nations are doing their best to rise to this moral calling. Others are not even in the game.
Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis, monitors progress toward the international goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Its latest report gives the best grades to Morocco, Gambia, India, and Costa Rica. In last place, classified as “critically insufficient,” are Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
And it’s no wonder we’re last.
For years, Republicans in Congress have blocked all significant measures to address the ravages and dangers of climate change. President Obama and his EPA took critical action from the executive branch, but Speaker John Boehner and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell scuttled broad reform. Obama’s leadership was key to 196 countries signing the Paris Accords in 2016. President Donald Trump, who has called climate change “a hoax,” pulled America out of the pact. The GOP continues to mock the goals and proposals of the Green New Deal. I wonder how may have read it.
So when will the self-named “pro-life party” start protecting life on this planet?
You have to think some Republicans are getting nervous –because the effects of global warming are hitting home for everyday Americans.
Floridians and those who live along the gulf coast and eastern seaboard should know that warmer ocean waters and higher sea levels are super-charging hurricanes; we are seeing more CAT 4 and CAT 5 storms with the accompanying deadlier results.
A conservative Republican from Florida’s 19th CD, Rep. Francis Rooney, said, “Seventy-one percent of the people in my district say that climate change is real. We’re scared of sea-level rise and we want the government to do something about it.”
Rooney and Democrat Dan Lipinski (3rd CD Illinois) have co-sponsored a carbon-pricing bill in the House.
The bill’s $30 per ton price on carbon would not only fund climate action through state grants, but reduce payroll taxes on working Americans.
If someone tells you this approach won’t work, think again.
We used to have a huge problem with acid rain in the East and Northeast. In 1990, the Democratic Congress passed, and President George H.W. Bush signed, an amendment to the Clean Air Act that placed a price on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cause acid rain. This market-based cap and trade system worked! The utility companies fought it and swore that it would destroy the economy and put them out of business. They were wrong.
Large-scale change depends on the grassroots mobilization we saw over the weekend. But that is not enough. We need leadership from those in power.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House. President Reagan ordered them taken down – and allowed Carter’s renewable energy tax credit to lapse. Reagan’s energy agenda was fossil fuel and more fossil fuel.
Ask yourself, “Where would we be today, if Carter’s renewable energy and conservation plans had been enacted 40 years ago?
Now we have a president who pushes dirty coal and ridicules climate science – as wildfires rage with unprecedented ferocity and frequency, our oceans become more acidic, coral reefs die, and more than a million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction.
As young people in the streets reminded you – you have a voice and a vote. It’s time for us to pressure Republicans to act on climate change.
And if they do not, vote them out of office.