A Rundown of Recently Proposed Climate Policy Initiatives
Although it’s crucial to focus on personal actions for improved sustainability, it’s also a good idea to stay up-to-date on potential climate policy initiatives in the works on a larger scale. Here are some of the ones you should keep in mind during the year ahead and for the foreseeable future:
The Green New Deal
This is arguably the environmental policy that most people know about even if they aren’t particularly planet-conscious. The term “green new deal” was first used more than a decade ago by a Pulitzer Prize winner named Thomas Friedman. Speaking generally, the phrase connects to initiatives intended to cause systemic change.
The most recent media mentions of the Green New Deal focus on a non-binding resolution that seeks to fight climate change during a decade-long mobilization plan. It covers numerous aspects such as renewable energy, improved transportation and guaranteed jobs for all Americans. It’s still too early to say how — and if – the Green New Deal will pan out, but at least it signals that some politicians want to take drastic action to stop climate change and transform the economy.
Many eco-minded people feel discouraged when thinking about the environmental legacies of the Obama Administration versus those of President Trump. Indeed, they are sharply different — and numerous decisions made during the Trump era don’t have environmental sustainability in mind. But the Green New Deal could be the start of a positive change.
Beto O’Rourke’s Climate Policy
Now that candidates are gearing up for the 2020 U.S. elections, some of them have started detailing what they’ll do to help the planet if elected. One of the latest candidates to give specifics is Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke. Some of his strategies are similar to those contained in the Green New Deal, but the initiative he revealed doesn’t have a jobs component.
It does indicate he’s not afraid of putting substantial investment towards reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, among other things. O’Rourke put forth a plan that entailed $1.5 trillion in federal spending, plus state, local and private investments totaling $5 trillion. Like the Green New Deal, O’Rourke’s plan aims for a net-zero emissions goal by 2050.Some of the other components include using the funds to clean our air and water, assist the communities most affected by moving away from fossil fuels and investing in clean energy research.
As 2019 continues, people will no doubt continue to hear about more environmental initiatives from O’Rourke and other candidates. Then, just as 2018 had both positive and negative environmental news, ranging from climate-change-resilient crops to climate-related illnesses, interested persons will have plenty to pore over this year.
Food Brands Band Together to Demand a Federal Climate Tax
In November 2018, an initiative in Washington State to impose a carbon tax failed. Despite that result, analysts insisted the carbon tax debate was just beginning. People who advocate for carbon taxes say they’d encourage companies to prioritize low-carbon and carbon-neutral activities.
A recent development shows that the push for carbon taxes may center on specific industries. In one example, brands including Mars and Unilever teamed up to create the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.
As one of its aims, this Alliance is asking the federal government to make a carbon-pricing system that aligns with the Paris Agreement. The brands in the Alliance believe they can leverage collective leadership to stimulate positive changes at a faster pace than individual companies could alone.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Climate Agenda
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has its own ideas for tackling climate change. It revealed some of them through an arm called the Global Energy Initiative (GEI). According to a press release about the plan, it will work on furthering “continued economic growth and environmental progress through sustained focus on technology development and innovation in the energy industry.”
Also, instead of accomplishing those things through more government regulation, the idea is to get them done by capitalizing on innovation and not necessarily do away with fossil fuels in favor of cleaner kinds of energy. The press release also cited a survey of 1,000 respondents that mentioned how only 15 percent of people think it’s highly feasible to eliminate emissions within ten years as the Green New Deal and O’Rourke’s plan hope to do.
The Chamber of Commerce’s example shows how organizations and people will no doubt come up with several ideas for fighting climate change. Some of those proposals may seem surprising at first.
A New Global Effort From the Cool Coalition
Something helpful to keep in mind is that, although climate change is undoubtedly a crucial topic now, it’s by no means a new issue. A realization arrived in 1969 as CO2 emissions climbed and Americans took action. They established new regulations and created Earth Day as a start. The United States has a long history of change — climate and otherwise — and citizens often take action accordingly.
But making progress with climate change requires an international effort. In early April 2019, more than 20 world leaders pledged to work together to find clean and efficient cooling technologies.
Dubbed the “Cool Coalition,” this movement also takes into account the people who live in the countries most affected by climate change and who cannot keep their homes at comfortable temperatures as the thermometer readings rise because they don’t have electricity.
The members of the Cool Coalition recognize that emissions from air conditions and their coolants are not sustainable. That’s why many of the group’s plans involve figuring out better ways to keep people cool in ways that simultaneously stop the planet from getting too hot. Although it’s not possible to stop climate change through a niche strategy like this one, dedicated efforts could limit it.
Lots of Exciting Things on the Horizon
Consider this breakdown of climate policy initiatives your go-to guide for keeping updated on how people in power are doing what they can to minimize climate shift. We have the data to know that the warming of the planet is an urgent matter.
The efforts mentioned here show that groups are willing to work on the issue in a variety of ways. It’s not possible to know which of them might work yet. But the positive takeaway is that a growing number of people realize there’s no time to waste when it comes to stopping climate change, and the way to do it is likely through widespread, collaborative options.
About the author
Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.