National Wildlife Federation and Affiliates Call for Climate Leadership

The secretive and magnificent wolverine is threatened by climate change. By Robert Postma.

Representatives from countries around the world are gathered the last two weeks and this week in Bonn, Germany at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s twenty-third Conference of Parties to discuss the increasingly urgent problem of climate change.  This conference is largely focused on the progress that has been made since the world almost unanimously came together two years ago in Paris to agree to take action to keep climate altering emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide below levels scientists tell us will result in catastrophic warming.

Climate change, which is fueling more intense storms, megafires on the western landscape, rising seas, and a host of other impacts, poses on of the biggest threats to the future of people and wildlife.

Sadly, while world takes step forwards to address climate change, the current Administration is in full throttle reverse.  Its withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement makes the U.S. the only country to rebuke the global call for action now that Syria, the only other hold out, has joined the agreement.

The Administration’s withdrawal has been accompanied by seemingly countless administrative actions aimed at rolling back climate progress and propping up polluting and increasingly non-competitive fossil fuels like coal.  These roll backs are eroding U.S leadership on the world stage.  They include efforts to repeal the first ever measures to limit carbon pollution from power plants; an effort to effectively subsidize coal plants with consumer dollars; and efforts to roll back sensible limits on methane waste and pollution from oil and gas operations.

State leadership is resulting in climate solutions like offshore wind power. Photo by NWF

With the Bonn meeting concluding, the National Wildlife Federation and several of its affiliates are urging leaders in Congress, the States and in cities to continue leading on addressing climate change.  Fortunately, we are seeing continued progress and leadership on the state and local level.  For instance, a bi-partisan coalition of governors has created an alliance committed to advancing policies that will meet the goals of the Paris agreement.  Hundreds of mayors have committed to the same goal.  States continue to push forward with solutions like responsible, carbon free offshore wind.  Nine states have agreed to a more ambitious carbon pollution cap for the northeast and mid-Atlantic under a regional carbon trading program, and just last week the state of Virginia took a big step to establishing a cap on carbon pollution based on that program.  Businesses are also calling for clean, affordable energy.

Leadership on the state and local level, plus a changing market, is resulting in remarkable progress in cleaning up our energy sector.  But federal leadership is needed to achieve the pace and scale needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.  In the meantime, it is important to keep state, local and Congressional leadership growing, so progress continues to be made in spite of the direction the Administration seems determined to head.

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