This is the most difficult problem we face for several reasons. Politicians don’t want to do a lot about it, not because they don’t believe, but because if the constituents are slightly inconvenienced, they might vote against reelection. Also it is so big and looming that it is hard to comprehend. How do you comprehend death for all of civilization?
The first thing we need to do is stop using fossil fuels. This will take some time, which we have little of. There are some problems with alternates like solar, but they are the only option. Nuclear power is a good option, but suffers from a PR problem. We need to create incentives to do the right thing. Fusion is a good option 15 years from now. The task is to be alive in a recoverable position when it starts to become available.
I’m just going to throw out some random thoughts:
Carbon offsets: As they are currently configured, they allow companies to emit excess carbon if they buy offsets from other companies. This allows continued emissions from an accounting trick. For example, Tesla, whose cars on the surface have no emissions, sells credits to Chrysler so they can sell dirty cars. The thing is Tesla was going to create these zero emission cars anyway. Their total profit in a recent year was the sale of credits. Their cars still cause carbon emissions because they get the electricity from sources with fossil fuels. Until we can charge batteries without fossil fuels, we are deluding ourselves. If you are going to buy the concept of carbon offsets, it must come from a source that wouldn’t have been existent otherwise. Also their should be a time limit on how long these can be used. Either the emissions must be solved, or the use of the product eliminated.
Consumer psychology: We must get away from our obsession with bigness. The pickup truck mentality will be the death of us. Probably only ten percent of the pickups sold in the US need the load carrying capacity. Giant SUV’s are in the same category. We must develop a practical mindset. The planet can’t afford our waste.
Mass transit: We must focus on building more mass transit and push people toward using it. Things like closing areas to cars and making bikes easier to use. High speed rail between cities is an idea whose time come.
Working life: We must focus on more working at home and ditch the commuter culture.
Power grid: In the future, virtually all energy will be transmitted as electricity. Our current power grid is not up to the task. States like Texas should not be allowed to self-regulate their power grid. Everyplace needs to have a strong power grid to allow for easy transfer between areas of surplus and areas with a shortfall. This is just an observation, but I have seen public ownership of power distribution far superior and cheaper than private ownership.
Tax incentives: Tax on fossil fuels: I would propose an immediate $0.20 tax on gas and diesel fuel including off road use. This tax should be increased $0.03 per month until it reaches $2.00 per gallon. The proceeds of this tax should all be directed towards carbon capture facilities. There should be a $25.00 per ton tax on coal. This should also go towards carbon capture. The burning of coal for power should be phased out by 2030. Some sort of tax credit should be established for investment in new, renewable energy sources. We must reward good behavior and discourage bad behavior.
Compliance: The US should use whatever power it has, in conjunction with other countries, to enforce the battle against climate change. This should be both economic and political.