by Victoria Chappell, CHEJ Science & Tech Fellow
Despite the noticeable effect climate change has on health, the Trump administration has rolled back environmental regulations while promoting fossil fuels and downplaying mentions of climate change on government websites.
During the recent June G20 summit that occurred in Osaka, Japan, the U.S. was again split from the other 19 countries during discussions for climate change. While the other 19 countries recommitted to the full implementation of the Paris agreement, President Trump again refused to sign the climate change part of the communique, a recurring event since pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement back in June 2017.
Regardless, more Americans are pushing the government to do more in terms of policies and actions to control climate change. In a 2018 survey released by RFF’s Surveying American Attitudes toward Climate Change and Clean Energy project, public awareness and support for action on climate change has increased and is becoming an ever growing topic of discussion, especially for the 2020 election. Although many Americans are in support of government action, only around a third are in support of an extra tax of $100 a year to help. In Americans demand climate action (as long as it doesn’t cost much): Reuters poll, the author reiterates that support quickly drops when there is a personal price to pay, making it increasingly difficult for both Democrats and Republicans to formulate a plan for cleaner energy.
However, summers are becoming increasingly warmer and with it, the risk to human health rises. In response to the increase in illnesses and deaths, dozens of medical and public health organizations have signed the U.S. Call on Action on Climate Health and Equity in an effort of bringing the topic of climate change back to the forefront. This is one of the issues coming forward for the 2020 campaign season; urging government, businesses and leaders to recognize that climate change will require the coordination and cooperation of government, businesses, and communities alike.
Our generations, Millennials and Generation Z together, are calling climate change the “greatest public health challenge of the 21st century”, and we are aiming to promote policies and support candidates that will move us towards safe climate goals that will reap significant health benefits for future generations. To do this, we must ensure that climate change remain on the political agenda.
As we get closer to the 2020 elections, it becomes imperative that voters of all ages understand the costs affiliated with doing nothing – namely in personal health, environmental deterioration, and the negative consequences resulting in what we are not doing now that will impact future generations.
By the time the 2020 elections role around, even more of our new generation will be of voting age: if you’re angry about climate inaction, inform yourself of the candidate’s climate policies and go vote.