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Environmental Policy (Global Warming)


Global warming emerges as one of the most urgent challenges of our era, surpassing national boundaries and necessitating collaborative efforts. The increasing temperatures on earth, linked to the heightened presence of greenhouse gases, pose significant risks to ecosystems, weather patterns, and human societies. Within this intricate problem, the role of individual nations becomes a pivotal aspect for examination. This paper will discuss the complicated issue of global warming, heightened by the U.S.’s contribution to this ecological problem. This research paper considers historical emissions and current policy frameworks and evaluates different perspectives. In this way, we can see better what measures the U.S. government should undertake to acknowledge its contribution to global warming and save our planet from the worst consequences.


As indicated by the US EPA (2023), the essential driver of global warming is the release of ozone-depleting substances, like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, into the environment. These gases trap heat from the sun’s rays in the earth’s atmosphere, warming the planet. Humans produce these gases by burning fossil fuels and participating in different farming and industrial activities. Global warming has prompted severe adverse consequences on the climate, such as unnatural weather changes and rising ocean levels. Higher temperatures are worsening many kinds of catastrophes, including storms and droughts.

A heightened temperature regime fosters an environment capable of aggregating, retaining, and releasing increased quantities of water, thereby altering weather dynamics to render wet regions more saturated and dry areas more arid. As articulated by Denchak (2022), the year 2021 witnessed 20 instances of weather and climate disasters in the United States, encompassing severe storms and wildfires, each causing individual losses surpassing $1 billion. The escalating frequency of droughts, severe storms, and floods, facilitated by the augmented moisture content within our warming atmosphere, poses consequential threats to public health and safety. Beyond the aesthetic degradation of parched lawns, prolonged periods of aridity imperil access to potable water, escalate uncontrolled wildfires, and give rise to dust storms and flash floods across the nation.

U.S. Contribution to Global Warming

The inception of the United States’ impact on global warming can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution, marked by the adoption of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas to fuel economic growth. The nation holds accountability for 25% of worldwide cumulative CO2 emissions from 1850 to 2018, establishing itself as the foremost historical contributor to this greenhouse gas (Friedric et al., 2023). Moreover, the U.S. secured the second position globally in cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 to 2019, following China. These emissions have played a pivotal role in elevating the atmospheric concentration of CO2, escalating from approximately 280 ppm during the pre-industrial era to around 415 ppm in 2020.

The U.S. commitment to global warming can likewise be estimated by its per capita outflows of GHGs, which mirror the typical effect of every person on the environment framework. Although per capita discharges have fallen in the U.S., they are still far higher than in different nations (Tiseo, 2023). This is particularly the situation when contrasted with other major GHG producers like China and India. In 2021, per capita GHG outflows in the U.S. were 17.6 tCO₂e, generally 2.5 times the worldwide normal. Wyoming is the U.S. state with the most significant carbon impression (Tiseo, 2023). In 2020, energy-related per capita CO₂ outflows in Wyoming were 96.4 tCO₂, multiple times the public normal. This is a result of the states contaminating the coal industry. Accordingly, these variables being considered demonstrate that the U.S. is adding to the increasing global warming.

The United States assumes a noteworthy role in fostering global warming, particularly in other nations and geographic areas. Unfortunately, the U.S. is the worst performer in climate policies and actions. The results of these reviews have time and again branded the U.S. as grossly inadequate in playing its role in meeting the goals of the Paris Accord. The first issue is the need for a new or revised nationally determined contribution (NDC) submitted to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. This critical document outlines the country’s strategies and goals for GHG emission cuts (United Nations, n.d.). This implies that the United States still needs to commit to addressing the growing environmental crisis, as evidenced by the existence of no revised NDC, as is the case with many countries that are part of global efforts to reduce climatic change. Thus, the United States is shown as one of the leading cases of the rapid change in global temperatures. The lack of solid commitments and actions from the U.S. makes it even harder to realize the common global climate goals.

The United States significantly contributes to global warming through its energy consumption and production, which are primary sources of GHG emissions. Recently, U.S. emissions have surged by 0.8% or 36 million metric tons. The building sector is a notable contributor to this upswing, with emissions recording the highest growth fueled by higher temperatures. The U.S. witnessed a remarkable increase of 89 million metric tons of CO2. This rise was significant, especially when the nation was experiencing peak summer heat waves for electricity demand. However, the rise in U.S. emissions was mainly due to a massive increase in natural gas consumption that contradicted a universal trend of decline in other parts of the world. The US EPA reported 2017 that 84% of greenhouse gas emitters in the country come from energy production and utilization, mainly on fossil fuels. This emphasizes the United States’ leading position on increasing global warming, which has been due to the high usage of fossil fuels.

In the USA, deforestation and land use changes go a long way towards global warming by releasing carbon that was well stored and restricting its further absorption. Carbon-sequestering trees are removed, while landscapes and ecosystems are destroyed through land clearing for agriculture and urban development. Like in the Amazon and Pacific Northwest, the loss of forests releases more carbon dioxide and reduces the planet’s CO2 absorption capacity. In addition, changed land use can enhance gas emissions from the earth, causing increased emissions of methane nitrous oxide on soil and worsening the effect on the earth’s climate. For example, changes in land use from forest to crop production in the USA result in the release of carbon stored in trees and soil previously, thereby increasing carbon’s footprint and compounding the problems related to global warming.

Governmental Actions and Policies

The U.S. government should first introduce a carbon tax to combat global warming. The carbon tax involves making polluters bear the environmental and societal damage cost. By quantifying the price used in emissions, carbon tax inculcates the urge in individuals, businesses, and governments to reduce their emissions and embrace environmentally friendly forms of production. A carbon tax can also act as a source of revenue to support social programs, invest in clean energy, or even reduce the rate of taxes to the public. A study by the International Monetary Fund in 2019 argues that a global carbon tax amounting to $75/tonne of CO2 by 2030 could yield 28% lower emissions and save 720,000 premature deaths from air pollution. In addition, Carbon tax has been introduced in several countries and has yielded results; for example, in Sweden, it has been expected to reduce emissions by 27 percent from 1991 and double the GDP.

The other step the U.S. state should take is investment in renewable energy, where the energy source is solar geothermal, which does not emit or deplete natural resources. Renewable energy utilizes natural phenomena like the sun, wind, water, and ground to manufacture electricity, heat, or fuel. Renewable energy is advantageous because it does not add more heat-retaining gases into the atmosphere as fossil fuels do. Renewable energy may decrease dependence on foreign oil, generate employment, and cut energy costs. Increasing renewables share in the global energy mix to 36% in 2030 can help save 4.2Gt CO2 emissions – equivalent to the emissions of the whole transport sector (Amin, 2017).

Third, the U.S. government should regulate vehicle and power plant emissions, the two most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Emissions regulations involve setting either caps or goals in emission amounts that vehicles and power plants should stay within and penalties or rewards for failing to achieve those targets. For instance, as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (2023) reveals, the Environmental Protection Agency states that federal greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks from Model Years 2023 to 2026, finalized in December 2021, will avoid over three billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the period to 2050 and save drivers $190 billion in fuel expenditure. Additionally, emissions standards are now in place in many states, of which California has the highest emissions regulations for vehicles in all U.S. states, and this state has reduced the amount of per capita emissions by 14 percent since 2000. Emissions regulations are at the heart of tackling global warming emissions, as they can control emissions from the dirtiest sources and foster innovation and energy efficiency in transportation and energy.

Fourth, the government of the United States should join and adhere to international agreements, such as the Paris Accord, which is an agreement that aims to limit global warming to levels well beyond 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement that took effect in 2016 has been signed by 197 parties and ratified by 191 of them; these comprise those responsible for the emission of more than 99% of human-induced greenhouse gases worldwide (United Nations, n.d.). Additionally, the Paris Agreement has acted as a catalyst for worldwide efforts such as Net Zero by 2050 targets realizing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, an initiative with support from over 120 countries, including the U.S. Ratifying international agreements sets joint objectives, goals, and commitments by which countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, supported with monitoring, reporting and verification mechanisms. The advantage is that international agreements can encourage cooperation and coordination and provide a fair, level playing field for practical actions to control global warming. Such international agreements can also initiate financial and technical assistance to developing countries and promote transparent monitoring of the expected progress for every party.

Finally, the U.S. government should also inculcate a culture of environmental education and awareness to enable the public to understand and engage in matters concerning global warming. The effectiveness of environmental education and awareness is based on providing information, skills, and values that facilitate those teaching to help individuals make knowledgeable decisions and take responsible actions regarding environmental matters. The highest levels of public understanding since 2008 occurred in 72 percent of Americans who think that global warming is happening, and another record high level also happened in 66 percent who think that global warming is caused mainly by human activities (Marlon et al., 2022). Increasing citizen support to reduce global warming encourages the people to demand and support climate policies and action toward the solution of detrimental climatic conditions. It is important to note that environmental education ensures public awareness of global slides of dependence, paving the way forward in understanding how greenhouse gases revolve around society, the economy, and the environment.


The connection of the United States with global warming calls for an explicit understanding and joint dedication toward change. It was evident that moving through the complex equation of economic, environmental, and political considerations, more than one approach can solve the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change. The urgency calls for resetting national policies, focusing on environmentally sustainable practices, and a radical transition to renewable energy sources. Through strengthening international partnerships, committing to ambitious emissions reduction targets, and using the power of public knowledge, the U.S. government can help direct a sustainable and resilient path forward.


Amin, A. Z. (2017). The economics of renewable energy: falling costs and rising employment. HuffPost.,to%20the%20efforts%20to%20stabilize%20the%20climate.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. (2023). Federal Vehicle Standards – Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.,percent%20in%20model%20year%202026.

Denchak, N. (2022). Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad? Natural Resources Defense Council.

Friedrich, J., Ge, M., Pickens, A and Vigna, L. (2023). This interactive chart shows changes in the world’s top 10 emitters. World Resources Institute.

International Monetary Fund (2019). Climate mitigation.,2%C2%B0C%20or%20less.

Tiseo, I. (2023). U.S. carbon dioxide emissions per person 2022-2050Statista.

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United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) (2017). Climate impacts on energy | Climate Change impacts.,of%20U.S.%20greenhouse%20gas%20emissions.

United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) (2023). Greenhouse Gases, what are the trends in greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations and their impacts on human health and the environment?,retaining%20heat%20in%20the%20atmosphere.

Marlon, J, Neyens, L, Jefferson, M, Howe, P, Mildenberger, M and Leiserowitz, A. (2022). Yale Climate Opinion Maps 2021. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.


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