By Frances Lamberts
Across the US and the world over, the young are rising in climate-change protests. They “grieve for a future they worry they’ll never have,” as the Associated Press reported, in conjunction with the recent climate summit at the United Nations.
That event also saw the release of yet another report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing that “earth is in more hot water than ever before, and so are we,” unless carbon pollution in the atmosphere is reduced drastically, and quickly.
It is good to note, therefore, the ongoing actions and commitments, by many cities and other entities, to transition away from the heat-trapping energy sources in order to halt runaway climate change, and promising developments toward that goal in the Congress.
The Union of Concerned Scientists and other sources report that more than a hundred cities and countries across the U.S. have adopted 100 percent clean energy goals, most in staged transition by 2050. Some, like Atlanta, Chicago or Downingtown Borough (Pennsylvania) aim for this achievement by 2030 or 2035, some even earlier.
More than half the states have “Renewable Energy Standards” in place and more than 20 have binding goals – through efficiency and carbon-free energy – to reach or be close to “net zero” emissions by mid-century.
And the Congress has been called on by at least 125 cities and communities to address climate change since this urgent problem cannot be solved through local action alone.
An Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, endorsed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, is among relevant bills now in the Congress, as is a resolution to “create a Green New Deal,” whose main proponents seem to be the young. These are demanding of policy makers that they listen to the science and preserve a habitable and prosperous future for the up-and-coming generations.
The Green New Deal, while also seeking improvements to social and economic problems affecting many Americans, is focused on the clean-energy transition, at speed and on the scale needed to lower the carbon emissions quickly and keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the Paris climate agreement aimed for.
While it is ambitious and unlikely to be passed in a single bill, the ongoing clean-energy efforts and commitments by so many state and local governments show the Green New Deal to be realistic with proper planning and political will, and affordable. One would hope it would receive support from our national legislators.