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Monday, November 30, 2020

Columns

Climate change prevention begins at the local level


The climate in Houston needs to be protected locally first in order to best help residents. | Sonny Singh/ The Cougar

Climate change legislation is needed at the local level in order to spur government-wide preventative action.

Legislation to protect Houston, like Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Climate Mayors plan, maintains the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and will lower our carbon footprint in order to positively impact society.

This struggle to control the rapidly deteriorating Earth can be slowed by enacting protective environmental legislation and in giving people the resources needed to make educated choices.

Climate change is one of the contributing factors to rising waters and an increase in natural disasters, like repeated widespread flooding in Houston.  While Houston legislation set to protect its residents from the effects is not called climate change strategy, assistant professor of environmental law, Tracy Hester, says “it looks a lot like climate change strategy response.”

Houston needs more climate-friendly legislation considering the city’s power plant and oil business. Climate change affects more than just the temperature, it affects people and construction. Construction projects using paint, like home and road line painting, can take longer to construct due to humidity melting the materials and keeping them from solidifying. Those same concrete roads are prone to lifting in the extreme heat.

The economic cost across various nationwide sectors is 1.2 percent of gross domestic product each time the temperature rises 1 degree Celsius, according to a 2017 article in Science.

Though the Paris Agreement creates a goal for countries to prevent a global temperature rise over 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must continue to think at a local level. Voters have the most control over local government and have the ability to enact change with the greater influence they have in their own cities.

The Trump Administration withdrew from the Agreement earlier this year, but initiatives like Turner’s prove that that stance is not nationally adopted. Turner hopes to enforce the Paris Agreement on a city level by joining the league of “Climate Mayors.”

This will help Houston tackle its own environment issues with the accountability of over 60 other mayors nationwide, will force the city to keep its emissions under control and will enable more strides toward being environmentally friendly.

Once we begin to develop a local barrier against climate change, we can start thinking about enacting national standards, such as those adapted from the Clean Air Act. By starting at the local level, we are able to increase our control over the local government’s climate change standards.

Climate change is a reality in all cities. It affects people’s lives, the environment and the economy, and the best way to prevent further damage to the environment is by starting with local governments.

Columnist Jackie Wostrel is a public relations freshman and can be reached at [email protected]

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