The battle to combat climate change and its repercussions: The government must act

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Graphic: Michelle Wang

Countries have long struggled to come to a universal resolution regarding the control and prevention of climate change. Governmental regulation is a guaranteed way to reduce the effects of climate change which, in turn, will benefit Americans’ economy and health.

Last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, provided the world with a clear political decision on climate change. Targets for reducing carbon emissions nationally will be set every five years by the 190 countries who signed the climate deal at COP 21 in order to keep the total global average temperature increase under two degrees Celsius.

Not only will reducing carbon emissions prolong the life of an average American by preventing environmental deaths caused by heat waves, hurricanes, and other erratic weather patterns, but it will also save America billions of dollars in increasingly eco-friendly economic sectors by 2050 as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action. The EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s plan to fight climate change, will save the average American consumer $155 billion from 2020–2030 because of lower energy bills and decreased spending on resources to deal with environmental disasters.

Furthermore, combatting climate change by switching to renewable energy will open up millions of new  jobs in green sectors. Current engineers and manufacturers in the coal industry can make the switch to renewable energy with governmental training. The CPP’s main dissent, however, is the large cost necessary to accomplish its goals. For example, the cost of providing training to educate current manufacturers about their new jobs in renewable energy alternatives or the cost of building updated energy-efficient vehicles and public transport systems.

Some critics, including Republican presidential candidates, Marco Rubio and  Ted Cruz, argue that the  high expense required to implement the CPP’s goals will be detrimental to the economic standing of many tax-paying Americans. However, climate change affects everyone— especially those living in poverty who lack the resources to deal with its direct consequences like prolonged heat waves and frequent flooding. Therefore, the investment to spur the switch to renewable energy should be encouraged and necessary for affluent Americans who will also benefit from the lengthened lifespan and increased job efficiency that comes with environmental protection.

Governmental regulation to reduce the effects of climate change is the only way to keep the world habitable and hospitable and to ensure that change actually occurs. While the short-term economic consequences of these regulations may seem daunting, the long-term health and economic benefits of environmental preservation are worth the toil.

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