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A Democratic perspective: What is the most important environmental issues in this election and what actions do you hope to see from the next president?

By Aaron Birnbaum

Section: Features

September 9, 2016

Climate change is the most important environmental issue of the 2016 election.

Climate change is real and caused by humans, and it’s happening right now. The science is settled: These are indisputable facts.

There are some in the political world who claim that they know better than the experts and don’t believe humans have anything to do with climate change. You may hear them say that this is just one phase in a cycle. While yes, there are have been colder and warmer eras in human history, there is always a cause of some sort. The only one that fits the current warming of the earth is the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

We need to take bold and decisive action as a nation and as an international community to stop climate change and minimize its effects, and we need to do it yesterday. The next president must do everything in their power to this effect.

This includes:

–  Stopping the expansion of fracking and construction of oil pipelines

–  Ending subsidies for fossil fuel companies

–  Strengthening pollution and energy-use standards

–  Greatly increasing the production and use of renewable energy

–  Funding research that will make renewable energy less expensive and more efficient

–  Implementing a carbon tax for emissions

–  Phasing out coal mining while protecting and improving the economies of the regions that have been affected by the shrinking of that industry

These are just a few examples of domestic policy initiatives that the next president should set in motion in order to take on climate change. There is also much that can and must be done with the cooperation of our international partners. A large step was taken in that regard this past week as the United States and China jointly agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement. Now the next president should continue in this vein.

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