The mid-terms of 2022 have “significant challenges for the climate”. These are the state and local metrics to watch out for.

The countdown to election day is now in single digits, and this year there are a number of major issues down the line. One of these issues could have implications for humanity as a whole: climate change.

“This midterm election has high stakes for the climate,” Geoffrey Henderson, postdoctoral associate at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, told CBS News.

Clean energy, pollution and infrastructure upgrades are all important aspects of climate policy that have made their way to the polls. Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at the nonpartisan research group Climate Central, told CBS News: “The sooner you act, the more effective the actions and the cheaper they are, the more benefits you get.” .

“Even though the scientific consensus on climate change has been really well known for decades, we haven’t really had that action,” he said. “And so every year that we don’t act just means the world is more expensive, and frankly, more dangerous for a lot of people.”

Most Americans are concerned about climate change, but mistakenly believe that most of their neighbors are not. These misperceptions can have real consequences, such as climate silence and inaction.

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Henderson said “on the face of it, climate is a global issue.”

“So typically we think about addressing climate on a large scale,” he said. “…So the question becomes, what can localities do that have a significant impact?”

CBS News found very few local and state actions on the ballot this year aimed at addressing climate and environmental issues. For Henderson, only two stood out: California’s Proposition 30 and New York’s Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Act.

“There are a lot of state and local ballot measures that are focused on the environment, but a lot of it is on things like conserving forests and other habitats, and dedicated space for parks,” said Henderson. “These two [California and New York] are the two that really stand out, alongside Rhode Island, which has a significant adaptation measure, somewhat on a smaller scale. But it’s the two that really stand out for their breadth and depth.”

California – Proposition 30

A recent Bloomberg report showed that the most populous state in the country, California, is on its way to becoming the fourth economy in the world. This growth makes proposition 30 all the more significant. If passed, the measure would raise personal income tax above $2 million by 1.75%, according to Ballotpedia.

According to the Office of the Legislative Analyst, a nonpartisan tax and policy adviser, the tax would be implemented in January and run through January 2043. But if the state manages to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions statewide below a certain threshold sooner, the tax could be lowered sooner.

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Projections of annual mean temperature in Los Angeles under deep emission reductions or continued emissions.

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If passed, the tax is expected to raise between $3.5 billion and $5 billion each year. This revenue would be split three ways: 45% to help individuals, businesses and governments buy new zero-emission vehicles; 35% to help with electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, such as charging stations; and 20% dedicated to the intervention and prevention of forest fires.

Henderson noted that at least half of the money for electric vehicles would go to low-income communities, which is “really important” for the transition to clean-energy vehicles.

But this measure has divided democrats, and it faces opposition from Governor Gavin Newsom, who said it amounted to a subsidy for ride-sharing companies. The California Teachers Association also spoke out against the measure, saying it “undermines funding for public education, health care, seniors and other essential services.”

Ride-sharing companies are already required to begin electrifying their California fleets in 2023.

New York – Environmental Bond Act for Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs

The measure is the only New York statewide ballot proposal this year. It has already been approved by the state legislature and, if voters agree, would allow the state to sell bonds and borrow to fund up to $4.2 billion for projects. aimed at “reducing the impact of climate change”.

Of that money, at least $1.1 billion would go to restoration and flood risk reduction; up to $1.5 billion would go to climate change mitigation; up to $650 million would go to land conservation and recreation; and at least another $650 million would go towards improving water quality and resilient infrastructure. The state would also be allowed to repay the debt if interest rates fall.

There’s no list of projects set in stone yet, but Ballotpedia noted the proposal could bring green building projects, clean energy to low-income housing areas, school buses to zero show and other projects that help reduce urban heat. About 35% of the funds would go to communities exposed to environmental risks and/or those who have been socio-economically marginalized, Henderson said.

According to the Gothamist news site, there was no significant opposition to the proposal other than from the New York State Conservative Party, which opposed the additional indebtedness.

Rhode Island – Question 3, Green Economy Bond

The Rhode Island measure would issue $50 million in bonds for environmental programs and recreation sites. According to the state’s Department of Environmental Management, it would invest in green energy, climate resilience, water quality and more.

Money from the proposal would be used for various environmental and climate initiatives, including $16 million to help communities improve coastal habitats, floodplains and infrastructure; $12 million for a carbon-neutral education center and events pavilion at Roger Williams Park and Zoo; $5 million to help small businesses implement clean energy projects, $6 million for Narragansett Bay and watershed restoration and forest and habitat restoration; and $4 million to clean up old industrial sites.

CBS News found no significant public comments opposing the measure, and no organized opposition is cited on Ballotpedia.

Other local measures

While these are the most important ballot metrics CBS News has found, there are plenty more in play next week. To name a few: Denver will vote on how to spend funds specifically raised to fight climate change, Florida will decide whether or not to offer tax incentives to homeowners who make their properties more flood resistant, and Louisiana will consider allowing local governments to waive water charges for customers who suffer infrastructure damage.

Beyond that, Henderson said, “There could be a lot of ballot metrics that don’t explicitly mention climate, but have important climate implications nonetheless.”

Pershing and Henderson told CBS News that while national and international entities can have broader impacts, local actions are making a difference — at a time when experts say there is growing urgency for action.

Just last week, the United Nations warned that the planet was on track to 2.8 degrees Celsius warming in less than 80 years, as nations fail in their reduction plans greenhouse gas emissions.

“These changes that we’ve seen — more extreme heat, more fires, drought risk, flood risk, all of those things — they’re not only continuing, they’re getting worse,” Pershing said. “…Every degree we can change matters.”

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