US Action Towards Climate Change

While carbon emissions continue to drastically increase each year, and the effects of climate change have become much more evident, the biggest question many have is how the United States will act against it. Historically, the United States has been known to deny the reality that climate change exists, with about one-third of Americans believing it is not real. The United States alone produces over 6.347 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, making it the second-largest gas-emitting country in the entire world. The intensified atmosphere has caused an increase in deadly hurricanes, flooding, heat waves, wildfires, tornados, and droughts. In California alone, it is estimated that by 2050, wildfires will have increased by 57%, destroying millions of acres of land. 

Although they may seem insignificant, the United States has made some steps in the right direction. After former President Donald Trump denounced his support for the international Paris Agreement and his eventual withdrawal from the accord, several states that account for around 40% of the nation’s gas emissions established the U.S. Climate Alliance. States that wish to participate in the accord must set a 2025 deadline for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below the levels in 2005. Both California and New Mexico have taken it a step further and decided to aim for carbon neutrality by 2045. 

Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.

— Greta Thunberg, climate activist

President Biden speaking at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Image via Public Domain

While some states continue to push for eco-friendly environments, President Joe Biden has also been attempting to establish more ecological legislation. Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act in August of 2022, the largest climate legislation in history. The act specifically targets reducing emissions, setting goals for clean energy, and an increase in the use of electric vehicles with direct air capture. The Biden administration also started the Global Methane Pledge, committing to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. 

Regrettably, Joe Biden hasn’t always followed through on his pledge to promote significant global warming action. The administration most recently put forth the Willow Project, an effort to drill for oil in Alaska. The project was met with instant backlash from environmentalists because the number of greenhouse gasses emitted would reach 306 million tonnes throughout its 30-year lifespan. The project itself has a ton of support from conservative Alaskan lawmakers who believe it could be beneficial for the future of the Alaskan economy. The Biden administration’s support fundamentally contradicts his campaign promises to cut carbon emissions and achieve net-zero emissions nationally by 2050. Céleste Moreau, a future Cornell college student, when asked if she agreed with Biden’s climate legislation, said, “No, I saw a TikTok edit. He’s destroying something with polar bears.” 

The long-term effects of climate change will continue to have an impact on future generations outside of the United States. Greta Thunberg, a climate activist, gave a powerful speech about her thoughts on the future and said, “So, we can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.” The United States, as one of the strongest nations in the world and most influential, could be the answer to the international reduction of greenhouse gasses and lead the force to an environmentally conscious future.