Should governments take more responsibility for the environment?

| 8th May 2018
Governments have a far-reaching influence over both their countries and the world as a whole. They can have a hand in supporting the needs of their citizens, and one of those needs in this time is climate change, argues EMILY FOLK

As the leaders of their countries, it’s governments’ responsibility to stand up to face the battles their people are fighting.

Climate change is no longer a topic strictly limited to the scientific community. A few decades ago, people didn’t talk about it as much because it wasn’t a concern, but now it’s affecting our present world and near future.

The warming climate is shifting normal weather patterns to create stronger and more frequent storms, and we see the effects of warming seawater in rising sea levels and dying oceanic populations like coral.

Now, there are campaigns raising awareness about global warming seemingly everywhere. People of all ages see ads on TV and via social media, so they learn not only how their habits hurt the earth, but also how they can reverse that damage and start to help. But are the efforts of individuals to decrease their carbon footprint enough change?

Global reach

Many people are arguing for governments to take more responsibility for the environment. While there’s always an opposing side, there are some good reasons to hold the government to higher levels of accountability regarding climate change. Read on for some reasons governments can make a bigger impact if they take more action to help the earth.

When an individual starts using less water or electricity, that does some good for the earth. Anyone who puts effort into living a greener life makes a difference, but a commercial about melting ice caps isn’t going to convince everyone they should drive less and walk more. There should be an authoritative figure pushing people to change: the governments of countries.

If governments get involved with fighting climate change, they can make a world of difference. British Columbia enacted a carbon tax shift on July 1, 2008, taxing $10 for each ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Between 2007 and 2011, BC greenhouse gas emissions dropped six percent overall, proving the government successfully encouraged big businesses to change how they run, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Furthermore, the government can impact renewable energy in countries. In addition to establishing and meeting renewable energy goals, government tax incentives can make renewable energy installation for businesses and residential areas more affordable.

Earth is suffering

A person trying to be more environmentally friendly in their everyday life can make incremental changes, but have little way to see what kind of an impact they’re having. How much are they really helping the earth by composting or using the air conditioning less in the summer?

There’s no real way for a person to measure that, but governments have the resources to create and analyse positive environmental efforts.

To be able to examine global warming on a worldwide level, countries came together to form the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its focus is to make regular assessments of climate change, determine impacts and future risks and then provide some options for how to adapt to those needs.

These reports then go to the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, so world leaders can continue to improve global health. A single person — or even a group of people lacking the resources governments have at their disposal — wouldn’t be able to accomplish this goal.

Ultimately, people who want to help reverse the way the earth is suffering must come together to form one team. People can do that through blogs, social media and even local groups that meet regularly, but there’s no team without a leader.

Radical difference

As the leaders of their countries, it’s governments’ responsibility to stand up to face the battles their people are fighting. In the modern world, that means climate change.

The flip side of this coin is that when governments start getting involved and working to combat global warming, citizens need to realise the decisions they make won’t be perfect.

No one can provide perfection, but anyone concerned about the earth’s health should want to support a group of leaders with far-reaching influence in their efforts to make more change happen, in addition to the everyday efforts of individuals.

When it comes down to deciding what issues the government should have a hand in, everyone will answer differently. The fact of the matter is, climate change shouldn’t be a party political issue. It affects everyone and is going to continue hurting people all over the world.

Governments have shown they can make a radical difference if they get to lead the fight against global warming. Everyone can get behind something that makes such a powerful, positive change.

This Author

Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks.

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