There is no shortage of naysayers — particularly in Congress — who stubbornly insist that action here at home is irrelevant so long as other nations, such as China and India, continue to pollute. This view is as self-indulgent as it is shortsighted. No nation catalyzes global action better than the United States. We not only have an obligation to act, but also to lead all nations to act.
Next year, we will have an opportunity to create a binding international agreement as the world comes together for another round of international climate negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. The United States must come to the table both ready to take action, and serve as a strong moral and practical example. The world is watching to see if this is just a meaningless political maneuver or a pivot to serious American action on a critical issue.
This is why it is imperative that all Americans engage in this process and demonstrate strong support for the standard’s successful implementation. Some in Congress — including Sens. Mitch McConnell and James M. Inhofe — have already signaled their intentions to torpedo this smart move by means of a Congressional Review Act report. Any further efforts to delay and perhaps even invalidate the new standard before it has a chance to produce positive results would be self-serving political posturing.
It is up to mainstream America to push back against these naysayers who would abdicate American leadership. Climate change is a monumental threat recognized by leaders in science and defense — traditionally two of America’s strongest suits. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the first step in a long fight, and Americans must demand action and stave off congressional interference so that we can step up to one of the greatest global challenges of our generation.
Adam Tiffen is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council and a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a co-founder of Tri-Star Collaborative, a firm specializing in sustainable development in emerging markets and post-conflict environments.