Austin leads the way in sustainability; other Texas cities must take action


Olivia Barrett / Hilltop Views

Twenty-four cities in North America scored an A grade in climate change ranking for their new environmental policies, according to CDP.

Austin City Council adopted the “Austin Community Climate Plan” in the summer of 2015. This plan was supposed to “achieve community-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” and would reduce emissions from “energy, transportation, and materials and waste sources.” So far, the city of Austin has made steady strides in achieving this goal. The city of Austin has lowered total greenhouse gas emissions from 14.5 million metric tons in 2010 to 12.5 million metric tons in 2017 and is well on its way to achieving many of their 130 actions to achieve community-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Austin serves as an example for other cities, but we can do more. Austin has a major problem with transportation and vehicles heavily contribute to pollution. A 2013 study found that vehicles contributed over half of the carbon monoxide into our air. Austin is ranked number one in most congested city in Texas, and as anyone who has driven through I-35 at 5 p.m. can tell you: Austin traffic is hell. A logical solution to lower the number of vehicles on the road is to invest in public transportation. 

We can pat ourselves as Austinites on the back all day, but what about the state of Texas? What has our great state done to combat this crisis? Well, the city of Austin’s actions is a sharp contrast to what the state of Texas is doing, which is pretty much nothing. We have a state legislature that thrives in not accomplishing much, and when they attempt to do something about climate change, it doesn’t go anywhere. Back in May, several Democrats in the State Legislature tried to push for bills to study climate change in Texas and their attempts were stonewalled and went nowhere. 

A big problem is that we have over 20 Texan politicians that do not listen to science, and one is already too many. Climate change deniers have a wide variety of brainless responses to people trying to act in response to climate change. Some of these responses go from outright denying its clear existence to saying that humans were not contributing to climate change, to now some saying that we can’t do anything about it so it doesn’t matter. It is infuriating and unacceptable to have a great number of politicians in the state and federal level that do not want to do something to combat climate change.

Not believing in climate change should be an immediate disqualifier for anyone trying to run or hold a public office. We can’t have a bunch of buffoons in charge of anything if  they refuse to listen to scientists. They are driving us off a cliff and we are just sitting in the backseat politely telling them to slow down. We need to take control of the wheel and kick them out of the metaphorical car. Climate change should not be up for debate. Climate change is real, it is here, and we need to do something about it.