Similar to Ms. Wright ("Eco Talk: Consider some environmental resolutions in 2021"), I too made a number of changes to my environmental behaviors in 2020. I now compost food scraps from my kitchen daily, I eat vegetarian Monday-Thursday, I frequent the CNY Regional Market, and I even fixed my well to provide gardening water for the food I grow myself. These are all changes I’m proud to have made as I’m now contributing, in a small way, to combating climate change. As Ms. Wright notes, individual actions such as these reduce carbon emissions in numerous ways.
However, individual actions alone will not make a dent in solving the climate crisis. A policy solution is needed. Even though global CO2 emissions dropped by 7% in 2020, “the biggest ever,” it was reported by HuffPost that we would need to see this type of reduction every year to reach net zero emissions by 2050. In other words, we would need to be in a global lockdown for the next 30 years. That’s beyond unfeasible.
Yet rather than use pandemic regulations to reduce emissions, there is a far more productive solution: a carbon dividend policy. Not only is this approach agreed upon by economists, but it also has support from both Republicans and Democrats. In 2017 the Climate Leadership Council, comprising of senior advisors from the Reagan and both Bush administrations, published a report titled "The Conservative Case For Carbon Dividends." In which, they detailed the four pillars of a carbon dividend plan they would support.
Now four years later, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is currently in Congress meeting all four of these hallmarks and currently has 86 co-sponsors from both parties. However, one notable bipartisan representative remains absent: Congressman John Katko. Although the direction of the Republican party remains in question in light of this week’s events, the direction of our planet does not. Congressman Katko would send a powerful message to his party and his country by supporting this bill and becoming a leader on climate change.
For 2021, I resolve to renew my environmental efforts both individual and collective. Not only is it our responsibility to take action to reduce our own carbon footprint, but it’s also our responsibility to call for climate policy to reduce carbon emissions at the national level, particularly from our own John Katko.