Science

2022 is the medium term

countdown to election Day Now in the single digits, and there are several major issues on the line this year. One of those issues could have implications for humanity as a whole: climate change.

“There are important stakes for the climate in this midterm election,” Geoffrey Henderson, a postdoctoral associate at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, told CBS News.

Clean energy, pollution and infrastructure upgrades are all important aspects of climate policy that have found their way onto the ballot. “The sooner you act, the more effective actions are and the cheaper they are and the more profit you get,” Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at the non-partisan research group Climate Central, told CBS News.

“Even though the scientific consensus on climate change has been really well known for decades, we haven’t really taken that action,” he said. “And so every year we don’t take action it means the world is more expensive, and frankly, more dangerous for a lot of people.”

Most Americans are concerned about climate change, but wrongly believe most of their neighbors are not. These misconceptions can have real consequences, such as silence and inaction on climate.

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Henderson said that “on the face of it, climate is a global problem.”

“So generally, we think about addressing the climate at large,” he said. “… so the question becomes, what can the terrain do that makes a significant impact?”

CBS News found very few local and state measures aimed at tackling climate and environmental issues in this year’s poll. For Henderson, only two stood out: California’s Proposition 30 and New York’s Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environment Act.

“There are a lot of state and local ballots that are focused on the environment, but largely on things like conserving forests and other habitats, as well as dedicating space for parks,” Henderson said. “these two [California and New York] There are two that really stand out, along with Rhode Island, which has a significant, somewhat small-scale measure to adapt. But these are the two that really stand out in their breadth and depth.”

California – Proposition 30

A recent Bloomberg report showed that California, the country’s most populous state, is on track to become fourth largest economy in the world. This increase makes Proposition 30 all the more important. According to Ballotpedia, if passed, the measure would increase taxes by 1.75% on personal income of more than $2 million.

According to the Office of the Legislative Analyst, a nonpartisan financial and policy advisor, the tax will be implemented in January and last until January 2043. But if the state manages to reduce its statewide greenhouse gas emissions below a certain threshold before that, it could be lowered quickly.

2021cop-projection-losangeles-a-title-lg.jpg
Estimation of annual mean temperatures in Los Angeles under significant emissions reductions or continuing emissions.

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If passed, the tax is estimated to come in between $3.5 billion and $5 billion each year. That revenue will be split in three ways: 45% to help individuals, businesses and governments buy new zero-emissions vehicles; 35% to help with electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure such as charging stations; And 20% is devoted to wildfire response and prevention.

Henderson noted that at least half the money for EVs will go to low-income communities, which is “really important” for the transition to clean energy vehicles.

but this is the solution divided democrats, and it is facing opposition from Governor Gavin Newsom, who has said it amounts to a subsidy for rideshare companies. The California Teachers Association also spoke out against the measure, saying it “reduces funding for public education, health care, senior citizens, and other essential services.”

Rideshare companies are already required to begin electrifying their California fleet in 2023.

New York – Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environment Bond Act

The measure is New York’s only statewide ballot proposal this year. It has already won approval in the state legislature, and if voters agree, it would allow the state to sell bonds and take loans of up to $4.2 billion for projects to “mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Of that money, at least $1.1 billion will go to restoration and flood risk reduction; up to $1.5 billion will go to climate change mitigation; Up to $650 million will be spent for land conservation and recreation; And at least $650 million will go toward improving water quality and resilient infrastructure. The state will also be allowed to pay back the loan if the interest rates are low.

There isn’t a list of projects set in stone yet, but Ballotpedia said the proposal could bring green construction projects, clean energy to low-income housing areas, zero-emissions school buses and other projects that help reduce urban heat, Henderson said about 35% of the funds will go towards environmental hazards and/or socioeconomically marginalized communities.

According to the Gothamist news site, there has been no significant opposition to the proposal other than the Conservative Party of New York State, which has argued against taking on more debt.

Rhode Island – Question 3, Green Economy Bonds

Rhode Island’s measure will issue $50 million in bonds for environmental programs and recreational sites. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Management, it will invest in green energy, climate resilience, water quality and more.

Funds from the proposal will be used for various environmental and climate initiatives, including $16 million to help communities improve coastal habitats, floodplains and infrastructure; $12 million for a carbon-neutral education center and program pavilion at Roger Williams Park and Zoo; $5 million to help small businesses implement clean energy projects, $6 million for Narragansett Bay and watershed restoration and forest and habitat restoration; and $4 million to clean up former industrial sites.

CBS News has not received any significant public protest comments on the measure, and Ballotpedia does not cite any organized protests.

Other local measures

While these are the most important ballot measures that CBS News has found, they are several others in the line next week. To name a few: Denver will vote on how to spend money specifically raised to combat climate change, Florida will decide whether to offer tax incentives to homeowners who want to make properties more flood resistant, and Louisiana will consider allowing local governments to forgive. Water charges for customers who suffer infrastructure damage.

In addition, Henderson said, “there may be a lot of ballot measures that don’t explicitly mention climate, but still have significant implications for it.”

Pershing and Henderson told CBS News that while national and international institutions can have a massive impact, local actions make a difference — at a time when experts say swift action is necessary.

Just last week, the United Nations warned that the planet is still on track. 2.8 °C warming in less than 80 years, as nations fall short on plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,

“These changes that we have seen – more extreme heat, more fires, drought risks, flood risks, all these things – not only do they continue, but they get worse,” Pershing said. “…every degree we can change counts.”

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