Environment and Health Kushay's Matter Bank

[AK] Overview of Various Proposals to Combat Climate Change

This note will very briefly discuss the pros and cons of multiple proposals to combat climate change.

Scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in 2018 saying that the world only have 12 more years to keep global temperature rise to a maximum of 1,5 degrees Celsius, to prevent extreme climate catastrophes such as widespread drought, floods, heatwaves, and so on. So far, a lot of proposals are being put forth by various politicians to combat climate change. This note will discuss two of it; the “moderate” proposal, and the “radical” proposal Green New Deal.

Moderate policies include what has been done in the Status Quo; nationwide carbon tax, investment in advanced R&D for reducing carbon emissions from industry and agriculture, more government subsidies for low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar, nuclear power, and stricter efficiency rules on buildings.

All these proposals are deeply technical and so won’t be elaborated. Instead, you can do an in-depth research of the above policies to explore more about their features. In general, however, a common feature of these policies is that it causes slow and unpredictable progress. Critics of such policies argues that such moderate policies won’t be enough to stop climate change before it’s too late.

The said critics support a more radical policy, they support what is called a “Green New Deal” (GND). GND is based on the idea that the only way to reverse climate change is by fundamentally changing how the society works. So instead of climate-related policies, GND also has policies to restructure the capitalistic system itself. The manifestation of this includes transitioning to 100% renewable energy before 2030, installing high-speed railway systems, and also non-climate policies like universal health care, a federal jobs guarantee program, and affordable housing and education for all.

GND is tremendously expensive. Universal health care alone is estimated to cost around 3 trillion US$ per year, free college will cost another 1 trillion, and a universal basic income will cost yet another one trillion. Even without considering the climate-related policies, the GND will cost around 7 trillion US$ per year. To put that to context, that’s a third of US’ GDP. Even a 70% tax rate to the wealthiest Americans will only generate around 72 billion US$ in revenue, which means that in order for GND to be truly realized all Americans (not just the rich one) should be extremely taxed, and that will spell the end of a free market system. Another alternative would be taking a tremendous amount of debt that will spin the economy into a recession.

Which policy is the best then? It depends on one’s political ideology, and in-depth research about said issues since what has been explained here are mostly estimates and prediction that has competing interpretations. Climate change is just one of the so many issues that shows that the world is just too complex for us to perfectly simulate.

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