Local efforts help, but won’t be enough to undo Trump’s inaction on climate change

States and cities across the country, including New York, are making their own efforts to combat climate change in the wake of assaults on the environment by the Trump administration including abandoning the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, encouraging coal power, removing fuel efficiency standards on cars, and other actions by the EPA.

A recent study by Data Driven Yale shows that these sub-national efforts have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and represent a significant step forward in meeting the global temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.  

However, they are still not enough to prevent the dangerous warming that will trigger increased heat waves, mightier storms, rising seas and displacement of people.  Local emissions reductions actions alone won’t be enough to bridge a gap between the scientific community’s recommendation to make sure that the global average temperature increases by less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The study concludes that national governments need to do a lot of the heavy lifting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, abandon fossil fuels and invest in clean energy, and deal with the carbon debt we already have.

The authors recommend emphasizing the negative economic and public health impacts of climate change in order to win support for stricter emissions-reduction regulations, collaborating with financial institutions and developers across the country, and implementing sustainable land-use policies. They also recommend implementing resiliency, disaster planning, and flood mitigation measures in order to prepare for the effects of climate change.

To meet the Paris agreement goal, a renewed global effort among all parties – cities, states, businesses, and nations – will be required.  NYLCV will continue to advocate for both policies that reduce emissions and that ensure we are prepared to meet the threats of climate change.