Opinion | Individual actions cannot stop climate change

The U.S and other countries must make bold actions to decrease global emissions.



A lake in the shape of human footprints in the middle of a lush forest as a metaphor for the impact of human activity on the landscape and nature in general.

Luke Krchak, Opinions Columnist

The Climate Crisis is nearing a point of no return.

People have adjusted to lessen their carbon footprint, but this not enough to tackle the climate crisis.

On the individual level, we cannot stop climate change. Thus, we must make more drastic measures on the national and global levels.

The Paris Agreement was initiated on Dec. 12, 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The main goal of this agreement is to reduce the global greenhouse emissions.

Only eight countries have not ratified the Paris Agreement: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Angola, Sudan, Yemen, and Eritrea.

The U.S. joined the agreement in 2016 under Barack Obama but left in 2020 under former President Donald Trump. It was rejoined in January 2021 by President Joe Biden.

While the U.S. joined the Paris Agreement with ferocity, it has yet to drastically reduce its greenhouse emissions. It has yet to make major changes to the policies that continue to let fossil fuels be the primary method for energy.

The limit of 1.5 degrees came from a calculation from the pre-industrial era to today’s average temperatures with the UN saying the climate would be much harder — if not impossible — to fix past that point.

By 2030, all greenhouse emissions need to be reduced by 45 percent in order to reach Carbon Neutrality by 2050. 

The problem isn’t that every individual is not doing enough to reduce their impacts on the climate. The main factors in this increase come at the international levels.

For example, the idea that people should switch to electric cars sounds good on paper, but without switching the source of electricity production, like coal, it still does not solve the problem.

Policies and actions are not urgent enough. Countries who contribute the most greenhouse gas need to take immediate actions.

One way this can happen is to invest and implement clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar farms. One third of emissions would be cut if countries stopped using coal and started using renewables. 

To enact this change, people need to pressure their senators and representatives to ban or reduce the usage of fossil fuels, oil, and coal. 

A switch to wind and solar would bring jobs and overall would help the climate by reducing emissions and other environmental hazards created by burning fossil fuels. 

The year 2030 is only a little over seven years away. With the midterm elections coming up this November, we need to push for candidates who will meet and exceed goals set in the Paris Agreement. 

We don’t have the time to reduce emissions by individual changes. We need the big emitters to take drastic changes to limit their emissions. 

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.