Gap Widens in Climate Change Policies Between U.S. and Europe
In the latest example of the widening gap in climate change policies between the U.S. and Europe, the Government of Norway last week announced the world’s largest new tax on carbon emissions, stating in explicit terms its desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate against global warming—just two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation which, to the extreme opposite, explicitly bans the regulation of greenhouse gas.
On Oct. 8, the Government of Norway announced that it would nearly double the carbon tax rate for its offshore oil and gas production in 2013, setting one of the highest carbon tax rates in the world. The announcement is part of a comprehensive “Climate Agreement” provision within the national budget plan for 2013. The budget will:
- increase funding for climate research
- increase funding for sustainable technology development
- increase energy use requirements in building regulations
- increase funding for public transport
- increase funding to prevent deforestation
- increase funding to assist developing countries to exploit renewable sources “instead of using fossil energy sources”
- prioritize public transport, including increased funding for footpaths and cycle paths
- increase CO2 taxes for passenger vehicles, along with incentives for public transport, in order to “reduce private automobile use”
Full details of the Norwegian budget can be viewed here.
By contrast, on Sept. 21, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 3409, called "the worst environmental bill in history,” which proactively seeks to prevent greenhouse gas reduction and any measures to mitigate against climate change. The bill is explicit:
- it bans the U.S. EPA from ‘taking any action to address climate change”
- it bans CO2 emission regulations from power plants
- it bans CO2 emission regulations from cars
- it eliminates the EPA’s authority to regulate coal mining waste
This is in addition to other recent votes in Congress which:
- overturn the EPA’s scientific findings that climate change endangers human health
- eliminate language that acknowledges global scientific concerns about climate change
- eliminate climate change education programs administered by the National Science Foundation.
- eliminate funding for U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas registry
- approve the Keystone “Tar Sands” Pipeline (Nebraska version) with exemptions from environmental concerns
- refuse to pay the EU-wide ‘airline carbon emission tax’ on carbon emissions
- ban the U.S. from providing funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- prevent the U.S. from participating in climate negotiations
The Norwegian carbon tax is the latest in an international trend to set national tax rates on carbon, due to the inability to achieve an internationally binding global tax. By 2013, 33 nations will have some form of national carbon taxes in place. (Note: Some ‘sub-national jurisdictions’—taking matters into their own hands as national governments dither—have set their own carbon taxes, including British Columbia and California).
The opposite approaches to climate change policies between Europe and the U.S.—which means, by scientific definition, how these bodies choose to deal with greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels—must take into account the enormous influence of the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. Congress. One of the leading proponents of banning the EPA from regulating fossil fuel emissions, for example, is Senator James Inhofe (Oklahoma)—the recipient of more than $500,000 in contributions from the fossil fuel industries. The fossil fuel sector (Koch Industries, Murray Energy, et. al.) is his single largest industrial financier.
In total, the fossil fuel industries—whose profit margins are directly threatened by increased greenhouse gas regulations—have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to U.S. Congressional campaigns, the vast majority (75 percent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics) going to Republican lawmakers who are, in turn, at the forefront of banning greenhouse gas emission regulations.
- “Preventing dangerous climate change is a strategic priority for the European Union.”
- “Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.”
- “Reining in climate change carries a cost, but doing nothing would be far more expensive in the long run.”
- “The scientific evidence shows that the world must stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020″
In striking contrast, the U.S. House Republicans voted, in March 2011, to eliminate language which stated, simply, that “global warming exists" in a proposed bill.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, during the Presidential debates watched by millions, have both proclaimed support for increased fossil fuel production—while the phrases “greenhouse gas” or “climate change” weren’t uttered—one time—by either candidate.
It’s almost as if Europe and the U.S. live on two different planets, governed by two different laws of science.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE for more related news on this topic.
Don Lieber is a writer whose works and investigative research have been published by the United Nations, The Associated Press, The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, E-The Environmental Magazine and others. He contributes political and environmental writing regularly to several blogs, including PlanetSave.com. He lives in New York.
This article was originally published on planetsave.com.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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