Earth Day past and future: U.S. legislation should be next environmental victory

To commemorate today's 40th anniversary of Earth Day, my friend David Bornstein over at asked me two good questions about environmental achievements past and future, and I think they’re worth sharing.

What's been the major achievement in the environmental field since Earth Day 1970?

The decision by Europe to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system. Europe is today the only major geopolitical region that has plateau'd its greenhouse gas emissions and is now on a downward slope. That is where we all have to go. And they have helped to show us the way.

What do you see as the next major step for the field?

The next, and essential, critical step is for the U.S. to pass similar legislation this spring. Earth Day may well coincide this year with the release by three U.S. senators of a draft bipartisan bill to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As I write this, we do not know what the key provisions of this bill will be, and whether it will represent a reasonable compromise between the urgent need to move forward and some of the countervailing political trends it will be necessary to accommodate to get 60 votes. But passing a serious carbon bill and establishing a large global carbon market is the next major threshold for all of us.

See responses of environmental leaders Gillian Caldwell of 1Sky and Majora Carter of the Majora Carter Group at Dowser’s Earth Day Exclusive.

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