By Mark Dunlea
Green Education and Legal Fund
While COP21 is a flawed agreement, the refusal of the Trump administration to abide by even these limited goals locks us into catastrophic climate change. Congress should – but won’t – rise up and take legislative and oversight action to save the planet.
It is up to average Americans to force elected officials to take effective and timely action on climate disruption.
The path to a safer planet that creates jobs, improves health and strengthens local communities has long existed. The oil and gas barons use their enormous wealth to subvert the popular need and will – to buy politicians and protect their profits.
Yet we already have far more jobs in renewables than in fossil and nuclear fuels, and renewables are the cheaper alternative.
We need to charge corporate polluters for the damage they caused by enacting a greenhouse gas tax, starting at the state level as a model that hopefully leads to national action. We must immediately halt the use of fossil fuels, which means stopping to build out – and invest in – its infrastructure. We need to eliminate fossil-fueled vehicles within a decade, and rapidly transition to buildings with net-zero carbon emissions, including mandatory energy retrofits. We need to adopt regenerative agriculture to build soil and capture carbon. We need solar and wind everywhere. Energy efficiency remains the best investment.
We need a WWII-level mobilization of resources to move the economy to 100% clean energy as soon as possible – within a decade or two. We have seen such rapid transitions before, such as with the automobile replacing horses within a decade.
The longer we delay action, the more catastrophic climate change will be. Water and temperature levels will soar in the next decades. The sixth mass extinction of species will accelerate, which holds great potential harm for humans.
The issue is how many people will needlessly be forced to deal with – to die from – the ravages of extreme weather, droughts, famine, forced migrations, spread of diseases, and wars over access to land and water. And in Trump’s world, it will be the poor and vulnerable communities that most bear the pain, starting with the developing nations that will cross the threshold to catastrophe within the next 5 years.
We need to demand a Just Transition that supports impacted workers and communities, and energy democracy to ensure democratic control of our energy system and future.
We need to demand faster and more comprehensive action from state and local officials such as Governor Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptrollers DiNapoli and Stringer, state legislators and municipal officials.