Environment Protection & Climate Change Policies

In the past 70 years, the world population has grown from 2.5B to around 7.5B, a 300% increase. Concurrent with this growth, the consumption of energy per capita has grown to about twice. The global industrialization, and consumer demands have spiked fossil fuel usage, particularly in Asia. Not surprisingly, therefore, the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters are now China (25% of worldwide CO2 emissions) and India (8% of worldwide CO2 emissions). In comparison, the US and Europe (including Russia), are 15% each of the world’s CO2 emissions. To reduce GHG, China must be part of the equation. A prime example of environmental pollution is plastic overuse, burning, ocean dumping, and plastic microparticles found all over the planet that can be a health hazard of large proportion. I will lead efforts to implement sensible solutions that will have a positive global impact with minimal or no economic disruptions.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been raising alarms about climate change for a while now. The 5th assessment report came out in 2014 and set some sobering warnings on disruptions in weather patterns, ocean level rises, acidification of the oceans, and possibly some unique disasters. The culprit is the total or cumulative CO2 in the atmosphere since the beginning of the last century. The natural CO2 removal machinery, which is the plants, has been incapable of doing its job since the ever-growing number of humans used more fossil fuels, burnt and removed more forests, and did not notice the increase in surface temperatures. In addition to CO2, we also produced more noxious gases, particulate pollution, and plastic garbage.

The world is waking up to those facts, yet the solutions are haphazard and the direction for economically non-disruptive action is unclear. The Green New Deal, supported by my incumbent Ro Khanna, is totally impractical, reactive, and shows a lack of scientific understanding.

I intend to lead environment and climate change efforts by proposing a Congressional Environmental Action Panel (CEAP) to propose a national plan for mitigating environmental threats. It is a national security issue that needs a 30-50 year plan.

We must first understand the weather models suggested by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a finer geographical impact sense. Current knowledge suggests that the equatorial Pacific and high-latitude areas will have more rain, and mid-latitude plus sub-tropical dry regions will likely see a reduction in rain. These models have not sufficiently isolated high-impact areas in the world for weather disruptions of storms, and or dry spells. This is important for population preparedness reasons. I intend to push Congress to have scientists study this more carefully for impact on US soil.

The remedies suggested by IPCC are at a high level and leave specifics to the governments of each country. Unfortunately, air is a very shared commodity, and actions of one nation like China can affect the whole world, as it spews out 25% of the total CO2 emissions, mostly from coal usage. I intend to propose that we work with China and India quickly to affect global change. They have to reverse their increased usage of coal in the past. China is investing heavily in solar, yet the US can help transform their electricity generation and industrial plants to use cleaner fossil fuel sources like natural gas from the US. This can be done fairly quickly and has a large impact on CO2 emissions. It also helps in the trade imbalance problems with China.

For mid to longer-term electricity generation and industrial transformation, we must encourage further research on safe nuclear technology. In addition, we need to encourage more efficient solar conversion technology for both industrial and home use. Discoveries in both of these areas will enable the availability of cheaper and CO2-free energy supply. I intend to have federal programs to encourage such technology development and implementation within the next decade.

To transform the land transportation industry, electric vehicle technology is moving forward nicely. As a policymaker, I would create further encouragements in battery and storage technology, and incentivize cross-licensing of such technologies, such that it is adopted worldwide within the next decade. It will create competition and cost reductions, therefore quicker adoptions by people.

For quicker impact on reduced carbon emissions, energy use can be reduced through various means like turning the lights off when not needed, and keeping the thermostat within a more effective range and not heating or cooling unnecessary spaces. Increased usage of good insulation worldwide in living spaces should be subsidized and required by local authorities. These practices worldwide would be useful. As a policymaker, I would encourage such programs and tie foreign aid to the implementation of such practices and technologies.

In my policy for housing, I mentioned smart cities. It is important that with the federal government’s help on creative financial instruments, and other tax-incentivized programs, states and local governments can direct the building of smart cities that have energy self-sufficient buildings with plenty of greenery around. These work, live, play neighborhood concepts will help reduce transportation needs therefore less fuel burning. Within 10-20 years, we may see that most cities are carbon neutral and healthier. The reduction of pollution will result in fewer respiratory, physiological, and cancer-type diseases, therefore reducing healthcare costs as well.

I will lead programs and laws that will reduce plastic misuse and its careless disposal. We need to keep our landfills and water supply clean. We do not need to see broken-down plastic in microparticle size in our water supply, oceans, and the air. The health effects of such carelessness can be immense. The federal government needs to form a sensible policy on plastic use and disposal guidelines.

Ritesh Tandon for California Issues
PO Box 731357, San Jose, CA 95173
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