The Juncture of Politics and the Environment
When announcing his plan to kick-start the U.S. economy in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared that the country had "nothing to fear but fear itself." In just 100 days, through a flurry of legislation and investment, his government dragged the country up off its knees — a towering political achievement.
Today, this kind of bold political leadership seems in short supply, particularly when it comes to dealing with environmental challenges. Many politicians seem unable or unwilling to look beyond short-term electoral concerns to the long-term well being of the planet — something that becomes acutely clear whenever world leaders gather at climate change summits. Even the immediate impacts of a warming climate on food and water security are treated as isolated crises, rather than prompting action to tackle the root causes.
By contrast, it’s not hard to find examples of ambitious local leadership on climate change. In the U.S., for instance, state government has been "much more proactive in taking action on climate change than the federal government," observes Dr. Hu Tao, Senior Associate at the World Resources Institute. He points to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — a cooperative effort by several Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. states to cap CO2 emissions from the energy sector — as well Michael Bloomberg's efforts to improve New York City’s environmental sustainability by 2030.
Many other cities, states and counties across the world are also pressing ahead with innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. For example, Ontario, Canada's largest province, has installed 4.7 million smart meters and its Smart Grid Fund provides financial support for innovative Smart Grid technologies. While in southeast Queensland, local government and utilities worked together to reduce water use among 80,000 "high volume" households, implementing solutions such as rain capture bins and low-irrigation lawn covers.
Read more at ENN affiliate Triple Pundit.