What the government can do to help the economy and the environment

A hot debate topic among the prospective nominees for president has been climate change solutions, though some deny it exists altogether. Last Friday, interim president at the World Resources Institute, Manish Bapna, and director general for independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, Vinod Thomas, suggested that just preparing for climate change may actually create economic growth. 

The first idea they proposed suggests that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies could lead to a worldwide initiative to develop more clean energy. According to the Institute for Energy Research, energy expenditure in the United States was slightly more than 9 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008. At nearly 16 percent, only healthcare expenses constituted for a larger piece of the U.S. GDP than energy at that time. But, by reducing spending on fossil fuels domestically, Bapna and Thomas say that the government can spark economic growth in other areas or invest in low-carbon energy resources.

Bapna and Thomas' second proposal was to take advantage of the wooded lands that are still lush, and to restore degraded land that used to be forests. According to the World Resources Institute, up to 15 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from land use change and deforestation. In some places, land is worth more with trees than it is without. By preventing these areas from being uprooted, the two experts suggest that more money can be generated while reducing greenhouse gases. Bapna and Thomas recommended restoring baron areas that were formerly forests, which would increase food production and income for farmers by creating new markets.

Their final suggestion was that the U.S. government invest in cleaner public transportation. According to Bapna and Thomas, transportation is responsible for about 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the U.S. created more initiatives to increase public transportation, not only would the amount of greenhouse gases lesson, it would also create jobs. According to a report by Smart Growth America, U.S. stimulus money spent on public transportation led to 70 percent more job hours than that spent on highways.

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