Earth and space science association the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has labelled the US Supreme Court’s decision to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate carbon emissions through the Clean Air Act as an “appalling setback”.
West Virginia brought the case forward on behalf of 19 other states and several US coal companies. The court ruled that while the 1970 Clean Air Act granted the EPA the power to write and enforce air pollution rules it did not specifically mention carbon emissions, meaning the agency did not have the authority to set limits on carbon emissions. The judges ruled that it should be up to Congress to decide on what measures are put in place.
AGU has said that the decision directly undermines the efforts of scientists and science-supported policy.
Susan Lozier, AGU president, said, “Climate change presents a clear threat to human health – a threat that scientists were only beginning to understand when the Clean Air Act was passed to address air pollution in 1963. The changing climate will impact us all, and regulating emissions is the best way we have to slow down the path to a dire future.”
Randy Fiser, AGU’s CEO and executive director, said, “AGU’s position on climate change is clear: We believe that immediate and coordinated actions to limit and adapt to human-caused climate change are needed to protect human and ecological health, economic well-being and global security. The only way we can reach the international goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming well below 2°C is for all countries to enforce strict regulations on energy emissions. Eliminating the ability of the EPA to enforce these regulations is an appalling setback in reaching these goals.
“AGU is committed to creating a thriving, sustainable and equitable future supported by scientific discovery, innovation, and action. From our initiatives to develop ethical frameworks for climate intervention, to expanding open access and community science, to creating career pathways for scientists from historically unrepresented communities, our work at AGU is directly tied to supporting scientists who are fighting the climate crisis.
“AGU calls on its membership and beyond to all our colleagues and partners in the sciences to protect, restore and advocate for clean air, clean energy and solutions to climate change to protect the world we all live in,” said Fiser.