Why Funding for Climate Change Mitigation Must Stay in the $3.5 Trillion Infrastructure Bill.
Over the next few weeks, the United States Congress will likely reduce the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill funding certain social supports and infrastructure due to its high cost.
How will they determine which issues to fund and which to remove?
While I would love to see all $3.5 trillion of this bill remain under consideration, here are some reasons why funding climate change mitigation and adaptation should remain.
1. The August 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report unequivocally states this is THE LAST decade we can prevent runaway climate change scenarios; any actions we take must be decisive and robust. Delaying is not an option.
2. The US pledged to reduce carbon emissions 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to completely decarbonize by 2050 at the “Leaders Summit on Climate Change” in April 2021. This is a commitment we must uphold. If funding for climate action is removed, what does that say about our commitment to protect the Earth?
3. Many countries look to us to lead on climate change policy. The US is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases (15%) after China. If we do not follow through on our pledged commitments, how can we expect others to? We must lead by example. This is something I do when I speak with others, whether as a clinician, a professor, a climate change advocate, or a mother.
Climate change is not “someone else’s” problem. Climate change is everyone’s problem, and we all must face it head on, doing whatever we can, whenever we can to slow it down, halt it, and hopefully reverse it — stated goals of the Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) that will be held in Glasgow next month.
COP26 is dedicated to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 through the decarbonization of energy and transport, investment in renewables, and improvements in managing sustainable forestry and agriculture. COP26 also is dedicated to financing and enhancing climate resilience in low-income, developing countries, who have barely contributed to climate change but feel the consequences of climate change more intensely and detrimentally than we do.
To support these goals, developed countries have committed to raising billions of dollars year-on-year to finance climate resilience, mitigation, and adaptation.
We cannot turn our backs on Earth and our fellow earthlings.
Every day of delayed action is another day we approach some of the “worse-case” scenarios outlined in the IPCC report, some of which we see now, including the habitat- and wildlife-destroying oil spill that occurred this past weekend off the coast of California, destroying years of work aimed at protecting vital species and key ocean habitat.
Every day there is talk, but no action (or spending) on climate change mitigation is another day that increases the likelihood for bigger, hotter, stronger, and more deadly wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and drought, like we have seen throughout the year.
Delaying action now will cost us far more in the long term and could be a risk to national security as addressed by the Department of Defense this past July.
As a mother to a young child, these issues keep me up at night and leave me to wonder when action WILL be taken.
Will it be with this bill? Will it be with this vote? Will it be at COP26 in Glasgow? And, if not now, when?
What will Earth look like when my son is my age? What will Earth look like in 2030 or in 2050 if we don’t invest in climate change mitigation NOW when we still have time and opportunity?
My hope is that this infrastructure bill and COP26 do not become lost opportunities to take action to slow down climate change (and its harms) because too many countries, like our own, decide it is “too expensive,” because the truth is, every dollar spent on climate change mitigation and resilience now is six dollars saved long-term. This is an investment!
This is why the infrastructure bill that eventually passes in Congress must include funding to combat climate change.
We owe this to our children: a bright future that turns away from fossil fuels and allows Earth to still provide healthy and nutritious foods, guaranteed food-security, clean water, and breathable air.
Guaranteeing this future requires thoughtfulness and choices. Many of us will choose how much we contribute to climate change, from the foods we eat, to the things we buy, issues I discuss in my upcoming book Recipe for Survival: What you can do to live a healthier and more environmentally friendly life.
Of course, guaranteeing this future also relies on the policies and the politicians we vote for. I urge Congress to consider the consequences of reducing or removing climate mitigation funds in this bill. I urge Congress to consider their children, their grandchildren, their nieces, or nephews. Their future could depend on this bill, their vote, and the actions that we take now.
For more information, on Recipe For Survival.