Although we know that political partisanship can pose formidable obstacles to the implementation of climate solutions that benefit the general public, more and more Americans are becoming aware of the serious impacts and risks that climate change poses to our local communities. Despite widely divergent approaches toward climate policies – spanning the spectrum from ‘proactive’ to ‘lagging’ to ‘disregarding’ in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, respectively – local leaders can seize the opportunity to leverage increasing bipartisan support for viable and practical energy solutions that create new jobs throughout the U.S. economy.
"I would say that politics has more to do with state policy than geography,” says Columbia Law School’s director of climate change law Michael Gerrard, who points out that both Delaware and New Jersey are similarly vulnerable to climate change. Although Delaware is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, neither New Jersey nor Pennsylvania have joined the nine other northeastern and midatlantic states in their cooperative effort to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector.
Politics aside, there’s no better time than right now to facilitate an open dialogue about climate change within your own communities. The key is to help Americans find meaningful, actionable paths forward and overcome the social, political, psychological, and emotional barriers that hinder progress on climate solutions. For guidance about how to connect with your constituents’ values and worldviews, bring climate impacts close to home, and make climate change personally relevant, check out ecoAmerica’s Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication.
Delaware Gov. Jack Mark Markell announced Monday a new state climate change framework, officially setting a 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction goal by 2030 from 2008 levels and establishing more than 150 climate change adaptation recommendations.
Meanwhile, state representatives in Pennsylvania were laboring to start a conversation about climate change at a committee hearing in Harrisburg.
The contrast exemplifies the way the three states in the region – Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey – differ on climate change policy.
In Pennsylvania, former Gov. Tom Corbett shied away from discussing climate change. Progress was limited on goals set in a change adaptation plan, established in 2011 under Gov. Ed Rendell, and there was no state-level push to set carbon reduction goals.
State Rep. Greg Vitali, who convened the climate change hearing in Harrisburg, hopes that soon will change.
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