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This must be the year of climate action — we’ve wasted so many
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This must be the year of climate action — we’ve wasted so many

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41 years ago, this month, the Carter administration was closing the door on us, and our work to combat climate change was just beginning. In the ensuing four decades, the actions — and inaction — of our federal successors have proven to be increasingly tragic for our children’s future. We now face a climate emergency.

We’ve learned from these decades that good science and comfortable advocacy are not enough to move the federal establishment off its pro-fossil fuel inertia. Climate scientists and environmentalists have been urgently warning of the dangers of fossil fuel inertia since the Carter administration. They have also presented proposals to significantly increase federal action on renewables, and energy efficiency. Every administration has increased or maintained our U.S. dependence on fossil fuels, often with all the federal levers and authorities.

The Biden administration was the first U.S. government to propose completely eliminating fossil fuels; Goal of net-zero emissionIt is admirable to eliminate all greenhouse gases from all sources by 2050. Despite the fact that Congress has made a few attempts to achieve this goal, it is still in doubt. This administration continues to take contradictory steps like approving hundreds upon hundreds of Each month, drilling permits

We’ve also learned from examining the long-term causes of this persistent federal failure that the climate issue is complicated and sometimes confusing, and its consequences often seem remote or uncertain. For decades, major media outlets did a poor job clarifying for the public the reality of what was going on and failed to link increasingly extreme weather and “natural” disasters to the climate crisis. 

Gleichzeitig, our fragile democracy has been made vulnerable to the enormous political power and money of fossil fuel industry and its allies. Following the Playbook for the tobacco industryFossil giants have succeeded so well Climate deniers and climate doubtersThey captured a Major political partyYou can also find out more about a Presidency

We’ve also seen the growth of an ideology that, to paraphrase President Reagan, sees government action not as the solution to our problems but as the problem itself. This mindset — fusing nativist impulses with a Chamber of Commerce outlook — embraces a visceral pro-market, anti-regulation bias, resulting in deep distrust.  To acknowledge the climate threat, strong government action is required, and this group finds that tolerable.

However, the climate issue has grown too large and devastating to ignore and, over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant increase in media attention and climate activism, the latter led most effectively by youth, Indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities who are demanding a new climate politics.We need a massive civic mobilization to join the hard-nosed activism groups like Sunrise Movement or Extinction Rebellion. We need to raise the demand for action to the highest level of civil society.

The climate movement must also join forces with those who fight to save democracy, including voting rights in America. We must move beyond traditional environmental advocacy to get into the thick electoral politics, which has been neglected historically by environmentalists. 

Our executive and legislative branches have been failing us for 40 years. We must also seek climate justice through the judicial branch. All over the globe, courts are hearing Climate rights claims by young peopleOthers. Even though the United States is a global leader in many areas, it still trails its international peers when it comes to hearing these cases. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), for example, still opposes the right to trial. Juliana v. United States, where 21 young Americans who have been harmed by their government’s actions causing the climate crisis are seeking constitutional protection. These young plaintiffs are acting under the Constitution’s Due Process Clause’s protection of life, liberty and property. They seek a constitutional protection which goes beyond politics and administrations. I believe. President BidenJoe BidenBiden insists that he didn’t ‘overpromise’ Finland PM vows ‘extremely harsh’ sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine Russia: A NATO expansion ban is unacceptable LEARN MORE’s DOJ will end its efforts to impede the progress of this case, and instead view Juliana as an opportunity to fulfill the administration’s expressed commitment to address the climate crisis on behalf of our youngest citizens and future generations.

2021 was a year of catastrophic climate disasters. It was also a time of intense mobilization and citizen action.  2022 is the year we will finally see the federal governments in all their branches fulfill their historical responsibility to provide for the common welfare and ensure the blessings and liberty for our descendants by protecting the climate that has allowed humanity to flourish.

James Gustave Speth was chair of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Carter administration and author of “They Knew: The US Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis.”


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