White Paper Proposal: Federal Climate Change Policies

I’ve been interested in environmental issues ever since I first learned of global warming. Over the last hundred years, the earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4°F, with another increase of 2 – 11.5°F expected over the course of the next century. This may not seem like much, but on the grand scale of things, even the slightest increase can cause large shifts in climate and weather. For a period of time, scientists debated whether or not this warming trend was caused by human activities. While the vast majority of scientists now agree that this is true, the issue has grown into a political dispute, with the left and right wings arguing over the legitimacy and importance of the issue. 

Though China recently surpassed the U.S. as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the U.S. is still considered one of the largest offenders in this regard. I plan to examine the United States federal government’s current policies concerning climate change control and identify possible policy changes to improve upon the current policies.

Some of the current policies I looked into:

  • With the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the amount of money appropriated for climate change-related programs increased by five times the regular amount of climate-related appropriations for 2009. $35.2 billion was set aside for technology programs and $0.5 billion for climate science programs according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • The Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of this year, is a collective treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below 1990 levels. Though the Clinton administration helped negotiate the protocol, the Senate voted it down due to the uneven emission reduction targets that would allow developing countries such as China, Brazil, and India to have lower targets.
  • The Obama administration committed to reducing U.S. emissions at least 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. However, his cap-and-trade system proposal failed to pass in the Senate in 2010.
  • A number of other bills, including the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 and the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, failed to pass through Congress.
  • In 2007, Republicans in Congress attempted to pass legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the EPA is required to set limits of emissions through the Clean Air Act.

One thing I am worried about is an excessive amount of information and a lack of variety in terms of thoughts and ideas on the subject. Do I need to narrow my focus further?


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