by Joshua Peklo
Climate Change has been a topic of discussion for a while now, but why are there some countries as well as individuals that regard climate change as more threatening than others? When the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted by 196 parties, one would assume that most nations are advocating the fight against rapid climate change. If we take a look at the Climate Action Tracker, we can examine each country’s current target for projected policies that address climate change to meet expectations of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The majority of developed nations are classified as highly insufficient or critically insufficient in regards to projected policies that address climate change. Why are developed countries less-likely to meet expectations of the Paris Climate Agreement? Could it be due to these countries not directly facing economic or environmental problems regarding climate change, maybe it is due to the certain aspects of life enjoyed by individuals of developed countries and not wanting to do away with these for the protection of the plant, or possibly it could be that some developed countries are not faced with the problem of thousands of climate refugees trying to seek asylum in these countries or being displaced within these countries.
In the first half of 2020, 9.8 million people were displaced due to disasters. This is interesting because the Climate Action Tracker displays India as one of the few countries that are meeting expectations, and India also had the highest percent of internally displaced individuals due to disasters in the first half of 2020 standing at 2.7 million people. Could it be that India is meeting expectations of the Paris Climate Agreement because they are experiencing the effects of climate change firsthand? On the other hand, there is the costly byproduct of environmental disasters and the damage that is done is only increasing as climate change progresses.
The Natural Resources Defense Council published a paper in regards to the cost of climate change if it continues to go unchecked within the United States. This paper speaks of the trillions of dollars in damages that will occur in the U.S. yearly if climate change is not addressed. These damages would include more intense hurricanes, rising sea levels destroying infrastructure on the coasts, real estate loss, as well as energy and water costs. As water levels rise and creep up the coast, storm surges and flooding will intensify.
Other areas of the U.S. will be experiencing severe drought conditions which will negatively impact agriculture within the United States. The purpose of this article is to begin thinking about the future, as Americans, are we suppose to take initiative and begin voicing our concerns to advocate for policy that focuses on climate change or are we suppose to wait till the problem is exacerbated before we shift our focus to fixing the problem?
This is not a problem that can be solved over night or through a single policy, this problem will require small steps through legislation that focuses on several areas of importance. Ideas to start advocating for that would positively impact climate change would include renewable resources and slowing the process of extracting natural resources, voting for electric vehicle credits to incentivize switching from gas, or just encouraging afforestation and discouraging deforestation.
Only a few ideas are suggested but there are countless things that can be done on the individual level while voicing concerns to address climate change on the federal level. Federal legislation coupled with state initiatives will be a driving factor in order to properly start addressing the global issue of climate change.
Ackerman, Frank, Elizabeth A. Stanton, Chris Hope, and Stephan Alberth. The Cost of Climate Change. Natural Resources Defense Council, 2008. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/cost.pdf.
Climate Action Tracker. “Climate Action Tracker.” Accessed March 09, 2021. https://climateactiontracker.org/.
Migration Data Portal. “Environmental Migration.” October 27, 2020. https://migrationdataportal.org/themes/environmental_migration.
 “Environmental Migration,” Migration Data Portal, October 27, 2020, https://migrationdataportal.org/themes/environmental_migration.