Climate change — we need to prepare our kids for a future we created

Climate change — we need to prepare our kids for a future we created
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Universities are adding go-bags to packing lists this year, ostensibly for use in quarantine. “Go-bags” are a set of supplies, like pajamas, a water bottle and a phone charger that are ready to grab at a moment’s notice in the case of emergency. 

But given the myriad of disasters playing out across the country, kids need to be ready for anything. I have no more an idea of what to put in a go-bag than I have an ability to protect my kid from the mayhem in the world. My daughter is no stranger to disasters; like the millions of Americans who have bared the brunt of massive wildfires in the West, hurricanes barreling through the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts and historic flooding, she’s lived through some of these storms. 

Responding to these climate change-influenced natural disasters is common for many in her generation, but we need a better plan than just packing a go-bag to be ready for what’s yet to come.

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The Trump administration has spent the last three years unravelling plans put in place to address climate change in the U.S. This administration has weakened the National Environmental Policy Act, reversed the Clean Power Plan, blocked California’s vehicle emissions plan and opted out of the Paris Accord, to name just a few. These actions that will significantly increase our greenhouse gas contribution. 

Until this year — an election year —  the GOP’s platform had nothing to address climate change. Current leaders of the Republican Party have made it clear that they don’t believe in the reality of climate change and don’t seem to be on track to addressing it. On the other hand, the Biden-Harris ticket has a comprehensive plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE’s Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice Plan is both technically sound and economically achievable. It’s consistent with the industry’s assessment of the technology, it’s based on solid data and analysis and it demonstrates a clear understanding of the science of climate change. It’s a roadmap that combines American innovation with policy ingenuity to achieve wins for both our economy and our environment. It provides the national leadership that we’re currently lacking.   

In the absence of a federal plan to address climate change, state and local governments have stepped in to fill the void with their own preparation efforts. In the last three years, 12 states and more than 130 cities have adopted plans for meeting 100 percent of their electricity needs with clean energy. According to America’s Pledge, which tracks the plans, more than one third of Americans live in jurisdictions that will be powered by clean energy. Thousands of corporations have also committed to reducing their carbon footprint. These corporate pledges are non-binding but with a large majority of the U.S. population expressing concern about climate change, corporate leaders will think carefully about the impact on their brand if they fall short on their promises. As we await the outcome of the election, it’s comforting to know that, with or without the federal government’s help, significant parts of America are taking steps to provide kids with a different future than the one their parents created for them.  

Our daughters and sons need more from us than just packing a go-bag. They are facing a climate emergency and they can’t escape from it unless we enact a plan now to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This year, instead of stockpiling more canned goods in your basement to prepare for disaster, use your vote to elect candidates with a plan to address climate change. It’s time to take responsibility for our role in the climate crises and enact a plan to lead us away from danger. It’s time to prepare for the future that our children deserve.

Karen Conover is a vice president and senior technical advisor at DNV GL, former board member of the American Wind Energy Association and an ambassador for the Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment Program. She is also a Public Voices Fellow of the OpEd Project and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.