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April 28, 2020

The climate solutions

Opinion

April 28, 2020

Both our economy and the environment are in crisis. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while the majority of Americans struggle to get by. The climate crisis is worsening inequality, as those who are most economically vulnerable bear the brunt of flooding, fires, and disruptions of supplies of food, water, and power.

At the same time, environmental degradation and climate change are themselves byproducts of widening inequality. The political power of wealthy fossil fuel corporations has stymied action on climate change for decades. Focused only on maximizing their short-term interests, those corporations are becoming even richer and more powerful – while sidelining workers, limiting green innovation, preventing sustainable development, and blocking direct action on our dire climate crisis.

Make no mistake: the simultaneous crisis of inequality and climate is no fluke. Both are the result of decades of deliberate choices made, and policies enacted, by ultra-wealthy and powerful corporations.

We can address both crises by doing four things:

First, create green jobs. Investing in renewable energy could create millions of family sustaining, union jobs and build the infrastructure we need for marginalized communities to access clean water and air. The transition to a renewable energy-powered economy can add 550,000 jobs each year while saving the US economy $78 billion through 2050. In other words, a Green New Deal could turn the climate crisis into an opportunity - one that both addresses the climate emergency and creates a fairer and more equitable society.

Second, stop dirty energy. A massive investment in renewable energy jobs isn’t enough to combat the climate crisis. If we are going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must tackle the problem at its source: Stop digging up and burning more oil, gas, and coal.

The potential carbon emissions from these fossil fuels in the world’s currently developed fields and mines would take us well beyond the 1.5 C increased warming that Nobel Prize winning global scientists tell us the planet can afford. Given this, it’s absurd to allow fossil fuel corporations to start new dirty energy projects.

Even as fossil fuel companies claim to be pivoting toward clean energy, they are planning to invest trillions of dollars in new oil and gas projects that are inconsistent with global commitments to limit climate change. And over half of the industry’s expansion is projected to happen in the United States. Allowing these projects means locking ourselves into carbon emissions we can’t afford now, let alone in the decades to come.

Even if the US were to transition to 100 percent renewable energy today, continuing to dig fossil fuels out of the ground will lead us further into climate crisis. If the US doesn’t stop now, whatever we extract will simply be exported and burned overseas. We will all be affected, but the poorest and most vulnerable among us will bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of climate change.

Excerpted from: 'The Solutions to the Climate Crisis No One is Talking About'. Courtesy: Commondreams.org