America is quietly becoming a global climate leader. With China following our lead last week, America has gone from minor climate action to one of the most proactive members joining COP21 this December. And, the nearly 30% reduction in emissions isn’t the only thing changing these days. As Christian Science Monitor staff writer, Henry Gass penned in his article, How America is quietly becoming a climate change leader, “Not only are these actions making an appreciable dent in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, they are beginning to change how other countries see America’s leadership on the issue.” Gallup’s survey reported that 40% of Americans do not believe climate change is manmade, a number that has been predicted to take a drastic fall, largely a result of climate leadership by government and faith leaders in various regions of the US.
By Henry Gass for Christian Science Monitor
When it comes to the fight against climate change, the United States is often cast as a laggard – if not an outright pariah.
But that portrait is quietly changing.
On one hand, the fundamentals of America’s conflict over the human role in climate change remain unchanged. A cap-and-trade bill to reduce carbon emissions remains a nonstarter in Congress, and 41 percent of Americans say global warming has more to do with natural causes than human activity, according to Gallup.
But executive actions by the Obama administration, combined with a host of new laws in key states, mean that the United States is actually already taking significant action against climate change. Not only are these actions making an appreciable dent in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, they are beginning to change how other countries see America’s leadership on the issue.
"The fact that the US is taking these issues more seriously than we were doing five years ago, that means other countries are going to take it seriously as well," says Ricky Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University Law School.
President Obama has made climate change a focus of his second term agenda and a cornerstone of his legacy as a whole. But facing opposition in Congress, he has turned to executive action and regulation, principally through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).