For Government Regulation of Climate Change

  • Alexia Gutierrez ’20

The international panel on climate change warned that the world needs to keep the increase in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 11 years. How do we get there? Government regulation. The reality remains that market-oriented solutions that curb the effects of climate change are essential to achieving a sustainable future; however, these solutions would be of minimal impact without policy.

Take the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for example. RGGI is the first mandatory market- based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This initiative is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. Following a comprehensive 2012 Program Review, the RGGI states implemented a raw 2014 RGGI cap of 91 million short tons and then the CO2 cap declines 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020. The policy also has created incentive for these states to invest proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs such as a clean energy economy and creating green jobs.

Yes, the market based strategy is great on paper, but it is government regulation and the cooperation of the states that produces the benefits. Right now, our federal government subsidizes the rich agribusiness corporations and the coal, oil, mining, and timber giants at the expense of small farmers, small businesses and our environment. The Green New Deal will redirect our economy to real job creators who make communities healthier, sustainable and secure at the same time. In passing The Green New Deal, our country would be investing in green business by providing grants and low-interest loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community.

The policy promotes 100% clean energy by the year 2030 in prioritizing green research in sustainable, nontoxic materials, closed-loop cycles that eliminate waste and pollution, as well as organic agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry. Penultimately, The Green New Deal calls for a Full-Employment Program, which will directly provide 16 million jobs in sustainable energy and energy-efficiency retrofitting and mass transit. The disheartening reality is that the negligence of our Congressional representatives to address and propose plans to combat climate change is just as malicious as the CEOs of large corporations that have placed profit above the well being of the planet and have yet to be held accountable.

Additionally, we must address the climate crisis with multiple perspectives because racial minorities, women, and impoverished communities are disproportionately affected by climate. Thus, we must advocate for policy that is intentional and considers the common good as well as its effectiveness in handling the climate crisis.

It’s not a question of what will be best, market-oriented solutions or policy, it is a matter of what has to come first; we need the government to crack down on power drunk corporations first.

Photo from the Washington Post

By Axel de Vernou

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