In the United States recent weeks have seen promising policy breakthroughs at both the federal and state levels of government. Receiving the most attention was the climate response package contained in the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law on August 16. Though this package was scaled back during the legislative process, and includes some provisions assisting the fossil fuel industry, it contains hundreds of billions of dollars of renewable energy tax incentives, research dollars, and green funding that together will make significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Then, just two weeks later, the state of California adopted a host of positive new initiatives to address climate change. This is important both because of the state’s size and because it is a thought leader in this area, with other states frequently adopting similar policies to the Golden State’s.
As welcome as these developments are, they are hardly full solutions. The federal policies, for instance, will have the projected effect of helping the country reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent in 2030, relative to the 2005 level. This estimate by a Princeton University research group found that under previous government policies the reduction would have been 27 percent.
So most of the challenge remains. Further, the success of the federal policies are substantially dependent on changes in individual behavior, such as more people buying electric vehicles. If individuals don’t respond to the new tax incentives by changing their consumption patterns, less progress will occur.
The scale of the changes required to avert the worst case effects from climate change will only occur if government policies, business practices, and individual behavior change for the better. You can do your part by taking the NetZero pledge and eliminating your entire carbon footprint today. With each passing day greenhouse gas emissions are adding to global warming and damaging climate changes, steady reductions are helpful, but swifter and more complete responses are necessary.