The ‘best’ policies that respond to climate change are the ones that go beyond addressing global warming, they also need to take greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into account, since GHG’s pose a greater threat to society than that of global warming. Thus, the best policies will cut emissions and stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The best policies to address climate change revolve around four categories: economic action, innovation, performance standards, and innovation. The first three categories are mitigation efforts, while the last category is adapting to the level of climate change already present.
All of these categories are irrevocably linked; they may have some success separately, but they work best in concert with each other. Mitigation efforts such as reducing climate change, involve reducing the atmospheric concentration of heat-trapping GHG’s. Reducing the use and source of these gases can do this. The economic approach to mitigating climate change provides economic cues and incentives for the business sector to become more environmentally conscious. The best motivation for this would be a carbon tax. A carbon tax would be a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide and other GHG’s; it would make it expensive to pollute.
The purpose of a carbon tax is to encourage energy producers and consumers to change their behavior by making it more economically viable to pollute less. Revenue generated by a carbon tax could also be put to good use investing in energy alternatives. Other forms of taxes could include taxes on goods and services that generate high-levels of emissions. This could include taxes on gasoline, taxes on driving, transportation usage fees, and taxes on excessive energy consumption. These taxes could also generate revenue for the subsidization of products and technologies that benefit the environment.
The carbon cap and trade system is another economic approach to mitigating climate change. Like the carbon tax, the cap and trade system also uses financial incentives to encourage companies to reduce their emissions. In a cap and trade system, a regulatory committee sets an overall limit, or cap, on annual carbon dioxide emissions. Individual units of this cap are distributed to the companies that pollute the most. If a company exceeds their allotted amount, they would have to buy emission permits from another company that has not exceeded its allotment.
The cap and trade system is beneficial because it provides companies with clearly defined pollution goals and encourages them to reduce their emissions, or pay a heavy price to pollute. These economic policies encourage investment into an industry seeking new ways to address climate change. This could give birth to a new ‘energy economy’, which is directly tied into the innovative approach to mitigating climate change (see how closely linked all these approaches are? ). The innovative approach is even more far-reaching than the economic approach; it spans beyond business and into education and immigration as well.
The innovative approach includes increasing government funding for research and development into emerging technologies geared towards reducing climate change, as well as research into utilizing alternative energy such as biofuel. This could lead to the development of’green energy and the commercialization of renewable energy sources. But increased government funding shouldn’t just be limited to researchers; it also needs to be directed towards the educational system as well. The U. S. education system in its current state leaves much to be desired, but better funding into education would benefit society as a whole.
Institutions of K-12 and higher learning are all educating future leaders, thinkers, and policymakers. They deserve the best education possible. Improving education in STEM fields means more young minds possibly tackling the problem of climate change in their own way. During the Space Race of the Cold War, funding wasn’t just given to NASA. It was also directed towards STEM fields in education as well. The federal government should adopt a similar stance on this issue, because it has a consequence far greater than war with the Soviet Union.
Investing in and enriching the minds of future leaders is crucial to addressing the issue of climate change. Much is the same from improving immigration policies as well. Climate change does not respect the boundaries of any man-made division, be it gender, race, creed, nationality, religion, or territory, though some nations emit higher levels of pollution than others. As such, there are minds from all over the globe the U. S. needs to invest in if it stands any chance of successfully battling climate change.
A nation of immigrants needs to embrace those other immigrants seeking opportunities for scholarship and research into saving the planet. The final mitigating approach to addressing climate change is increasing performance standards. Rather than imposing fines of products that have a negative impact on the environment, performance standards are optimal for specifying a minimal level of performance from energy-consuming products. Performance standards include building codes, appliance energy consumption standards, and, most notably, fuel economy standards on automobiles.
Well-written performance standards are not only beneficial to consumers, but also to manufacturers as well. Performance standards encourage competition and innovation among manufacturers because they are constantly changing and adapting to higher standards. Performance standard policy should be written in such a way that encourages higher standards, but also allows manufacturers time to adjust to these standards as well. Finally, there is the adaptive approach to dealing with climate change. This approach accepts that the world is already experiencing some level of climate change, and involves adjusting to this reality.
The present goal of the adaptive approach is to reduce vulnerability to the hazards of climate change. This approach is firmly rooted in the present, the here and now, whereas mitigation efforts look towards the future. Climate change has become another aspect to plan for. Planning for extreme weather and natural disasters, protecting coastlines (and homes on the coastline) from rising sea levels are another, and planning for droughts and developing drought-resistant crops concern urban planners, contractors, homeowners, and insurance providers alike.
Adaptive approaches would include efforts to recycle and efforts to clean up and reduce rates of littering. Halting deforestation and utilizing scarce resources more efficiently are other good adaptive initiatives to take on. Building defenses against floods and raising dyke levels can help lessen the impact of severe storms. Land use regulations, agricultural management, and modernizing infrastructure are other areas vulnerable to climate change that need to adapt. All in all, adaptive efforts utilize human traits of quickly evolving to varying circumstances and making the most of it.