The America Politics of Global Warming

The United States is the second largest emitter of fossil fuels behind China, while policies to quell this have been widely debated due to non-partisanship which began in the 1980s during the Reagan Administration which expressed that environmental protection was an economic burden.


by Krishna Ravinthiren

( November 30, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A poll conducted by Yale University, Gallup, and Clearvision shows that over the years’ a majority of Americans believe that global warming is real, it is caused by human activities and that it is currently or will soon have dangerous impacts on people. When compared to the idea that global warming is being caused by natural changes in the environment.

Three of the most prominent climate change which were struck in the past two years were the U.S. – China greenhouse gas emission reduction deal at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, the January 2014 French, German and Italian backed renewable energy deal at the EU2030 Climate and Energy Framework conference, and at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference where the Paris Agreement was adopted.

The U.S. – China APEC deal where the U.S. hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent in 2025 and China hopes to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around twenty percent by 2030. The EU2030 renewable energy deal set the 2030 targets are at forty percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a 27 percent minimum share of renewable energy consumption, and at least a twenty-seven percent energy savings compared with the business-as-usual scenario. The Paris Agreement was described by U.S. President Barack Obama as a “turning point for the world” since 195 countries came to an agreement to set a goal of limiting global warming to less than 2.0°C. In addition to this the signatories aimed to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.

Bangladesh with the help of foreign donors has done more over the past twenty years to understand and better adapt to climate change than any other country except for the Netherlands and Great Britain. Therefore, what has held back the United States from combatting global warming the way Bangladesh or the Great Britain or the Netherlands has?

It was revealed in 2015 that oil companies knew that their actions of burning oil and gas could result in global warming since the 1970s’ but, they continued to deny these allegations. However, can we blame them entirely for global warming? Since majority of the energy from the U.S. comes from non-renewable resources and without this the U.S. will not be able to lead the lifestyle we do today. However, more steps can be taken to reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources and continue to invest more in renewable energy.

Since coming into office President Obama pledged to support clean energy development in December of 2009, at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, President Obama committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the years of his term. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report in April 2013, showed a 12% reduction during the 2005-2012 period. Within the 2010 Federal Budget President Obama outlined a 10+ year investment of 15 billion dollars per year which will be generated from the sale of greenhouse gas emissions credits under the proposed cap-and-trade program which will be used in transition from oil and coal to alternative sources of energy. President Obama’s actions have been hailed by the UN and climate change activists, while being severely criticized since it has resulted in unemployment at coal-based power generation facilities for example.

The United States is the second largest emitter of fossil fuels behind China, while policies to quell this have been widely debated due to non-partisanship which began in the 1980s during the Reagan Administration which expressed that environmental protection was an economic burden. Even today the Cap and Trade system is fiercely debated in Congress because political ideologies vary greatly between Democrats who are for stricter policies to combat global warming, and Republicans who are more focused on the economy. These opposing ideologies hinder bipartisan legislation to combat global warming. However, after the 2015 Paris Agreement many Republicans are now changing their views on global warming.

It can be argued that there should be policies to control global warming and climate change; however, these policies should be done in accordance with the priorities of the country and the world.

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