3 crucial policies we need this Climate Week

FILE – An oil drilling rig is pictured at sunset, Monday, March 7, 2022, in El Reno, Okla. A federal appeals court in New Orleans hears arguments Tuesday, May 10, 2022, about whether President Joe Biden legally suspended new oil and gas lease sales because of climate change worries. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

It’s the annual Climate Week NYC, which means environmental activists, policy experts and industry leaders are gathering in the City That Never Sleeps.

Climate Week NYC, which coincides with the UN General Assembly, is a collection of programming both live in New York City and around the world to bring attention to climate action and the many forms climate action can take. While many themes will be touched upon during this week, there are a few crucial policy areas that climate advocates simply do not discuss enough.

1. Nuclear and natural gas will help power our future

In climate conversations, renewable forms of energy, like wind and solar power, are the most discussed portions of our clean energy future. But the fact is wind and solar alone will be insufficient solutions, even with ever-advancing innovations.

On the other hand, nuclear energy can be generated 24 hours a day, seven days a week and already supplies the United States with 55 percent of our clean electricity. Expanding nuclear energy’s role in our energy grid will make American energy affordable, abundant and clean.

Natural gas, while a fossil fuel, is significantly cleaner than coal and provides a cheap, baseload source of energy. Even more importantly, natural gas produced in the United States is cleaner than that of Russia or China. American energy is cleaner energy.

What’s standing in our way? Believe it or not, the government actually makes it extremely difficult to build new energy projects — whether they be clean energy or fossil fuels. To solve climate change, we must build cleaner, faster, which is why the current conversation about wonky “permitting reform” is actually so important.

2. Restore ecosystems to restore our climate

We cannot underestimate nature’s ability to fight back against climate change. By harnessing the power of natural ecosystems like wetlands, marshes, grasslands and forests, we can significantly reduce emissions and create a more resilient planet.

Ecosystem restoration is a bipartisan priority that goes beyond party politics and talking points. For example, Everglades restoration has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike in Florida because not only is the ecosystem iconic to the state’s identity, but Floridians also recognize its environmental significance.

3. Local environmental action cannot be underestimated

It’s easy to get lost in the big picture of climate change — but taking action on the local level can be just as important as federal legislation. Both state and city governments have power to make real impacts for climate, but in the quest for top-down, sweeping action, we often forget about anything but the presidency and Congress.

The fact is local action matters. Whether it’s West Virginia reversing a law that banned the conversion of coal plants to nuclear plants or Miami incentivizing clean energy within the city, these actions have an impact.

This Climate Week, we have to go beyond the talking points and what sounds good for our climate — we have to actually do what’s good for our climate.

Benji Backer is the president and founder of the American Conservation Coalition (ACC). Follow him on Twitter: @BenjiBacker

Tags Benji Backer Climate change Fossil fuels Global warming
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