When it comes to battling the climate crisis, the overriding goal is pretty simple: We need to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, and fast. Unfortunately we’re not making much progress. Except for a slight decrease due to the 2009 recession, global emissions have been steadily climbing.
Then came the COVID pandemic. Researchers are predicting that we will see an 8 percent reduction in global carbon emissions this year, which would be the largest decline on record.
When The Economy Re-Opens, Expect A Surge Of Emissions
The decline in emissions is not a reason to celebrate. A deadly global virus that destroys economies, throws millions of workers out of their jobs, and puts unthinkable stress on our health and food system is the worst possible way to reduce emissions. And researchers offer another warning: This could be temporary. When economic activity begins to recover, we could see a big jump in planet-warming emissions.
That’s not the only problem: While an 8 percent decrease might be producing cleaner air and clearer skies, it still falls well short of what is needed to stave off climate catastrophes. In order to meet our global climate goals (namely, keeping warming under the 1.5 degree threshold), we would need to see this level of reduction — or possibly much more than this — every year for at least a decade.
Reducing Our Energy Usage Isn’t A Substitute For Quickly Moving To 100% Renewables
The fact that not even COVID-19 restrictions can put us on track to beat climate change is sobering. But instead of discouraging us from building the movement for bold climate action, it should motivate us even more.
The real lesson here is that while mandatory changes in our personal behaviors — radically reducing polluting transportation sources like cars and planes — have some impact, they cannot achieve the system-wide changes that we need. It’s pretty simple to understand why: Sheltering in place and working from home doesn’t change the way we produce electricity, or how we heat and cool buildings.
Trump’s Incompetence And Deceit Is Deadly, On Coronavirus And Climate Change
Just like COVID-19, we cannot battle climate catastrophe without a coherent, strategic plan that aims to protect health and safety first. Painfully, we are learning this lesson the hard way right now; the Trump administration has carelessly careened from disaster to tragedy throughout this crisis, showing a total lack of planning, leadership, and investment.
Just like he denies there is a climate crisis, Trump denied COVID-19 was a real threat. His administration failed to plan for adequate testing in the same way he has failed to develop a plan to transition to clean energy. He is steering resources and support to the fossil fuel industry, squandering money that could protect public health and rebuild a more sustainable economy. The Federal Reserve quietly changed the rules of the Main Street Lending Program to ensure failing fossil fuel companies can pay off bad debt, with no requirements that they pay workers laid off during the COVID19 pandemic.
Trump has shown us who he is, and he has proven that he will not lead us out of harm’s way in time in any crisis.
We Must Step In Before CARES Funding Is Gobbled Up By Fossil Fuels
We already know that the failure to address the climate crisis has led to significant suffering that will only get worse. In the past year alone, we have seen climate change induced wildfires rage on the west coast, flooding punish farmers in the midwest, unprecedented heat waves across the country and coastal flooding encroaching on communities.
Going forward, how we respond to the climate crisis must be different than what we have seen during COVID-19. First Congress must pass the ReWIND Act with the next round of CARES funding to prevent the Trump administration from expanding his efforts to bailout fossil fuel companies, expanding fossil fuel leases on Federal Lands, and easing regulations on the oil and gas industry. Congress must guarantee resources go to support families and communities in need, not bailing out a failing industry.
Instead Of Bailing Out Fossil Fuels, Let’s Buy Them Out
As we emerge from this crisis, we need to transform our energy system to end our dependence on fossil fuels. A public buyout of the major fossil fuel corporations, with a plan to wind down their operations and protect the jobs of tens of thousands of people working in these industries, is critical to this transformation.
Why a buyout? Because these companies will never remove themselves from the destructive equation causing our climate crisis. Oil and gas drillers want to use this crisis to expand their destructive business model, pushing for more pipelines and gas exports, while lobbying for rollbacks of public health protections and accountability for poisoning our air and water.
Banning Fracking And Jumpstarting The Green New Deal Go Hand In Hand
The fossil fuel industry's devotion to their dirty agenda means Congress must pass the Fracking Ban Act, the first legislation that will entirely phase out this dangerous form of drilling, while making a just transition for workers in this industry. A fracking ban is the first step to building a sustainable future without fossil fuels, and will be an immediate victory for the people suffering from air and water pollution.
Congress must also jump start a real Green New Deal. UN Secretary General António Guterres has called on all nations to rise to the challenge in their COVID recovery plans, with an emphasis on green jobs and resiliency so that we can create “a path that tackles climate change, protects the environment, reverses biodiversity loss and ensures the long-term health and security of humankind.”
If it’s true that we can learn a great deal from our mistakes, then Donald Trump is giving us a fast and lasting education. We cannot ignore the challenge ahead of us, but we must face it head on with a deliberate effort to build a better world.
Will you add your name now to demand Congress take steps to guarantee that CARES funding goes to the people who need it, and not fossil fuel corporations?
Fight like you live here.