An earlier post on this blog offered some hopeful information about climate change. Here is more good news:
- On November 12 the United States and China announced an agreement to reduce carbon emissions. This is a big deal because the two nations alone are responsible for more than 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and because for each nation the promised reductions are larger than ever before. China committed to reaching a maximum of annual emissions by 2030, while the United States said it would emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than in 2005. In the U.S., opponents of reducing greenhouse gas emissions have often cited China as one reason for their opposition (as in: why should we reduce emissions if the Chinese do not?), and the new bilateral agreement makes that argument far less persuasive.
- State and local officials in the U.S. are often more pragmatic about climate change than national political figures, despite their party affiliation, treating it as a problem that needs to be addressed. For example, the New York Times quotes James Brainard,the Republican Mayor of Carmel, Indiana saying: “I don’t think we want to be the party that believes in dirty air and dirty water,” … noting that the Environmental Protection Agency was founded under President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican. Despite the broad agreement among scientists on climate change, he added, “the problem in D.C. is that a lot of people are making a lot of money keeping people mad at each other.” As another important example, as long ago as 2006 the State of California conducted its own climate risk assessment, which has been updated, and the state maintains a climate change website (http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/) that describes actions to reduce emissions in various sectors (e.g., agriculture) and to safeguard the state.
- Germany and Denmark demonstrate that renewable energy is able to provide a large fraction of electricity right now, with the percentage growing steadily in the future. Germany is poised to supply 30 percent of its electricity via wind and solar power, and Denmark is already above 40 percent.
- The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that registered voters in the U.S. “are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming.” (Unfortunately, voters make decisions based on many factors, not only climate change policies.)
There are good reasons to wonder whether progress on climate change is happening fast enough; nonetheless, these are among the signs of positive steps being taken in the U.S. and around the world. There are significant opportunities for people concerned about climate change to work at the state and local level as well as nationally and in their personal behavior.