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Climate Legislation isn't So Peachy in the Peach State

​​Summer is in full swing this year, with temperatures soaring to record highs across the globe and July being pronounced as the hottest month in human history. This comes as the UN has dubbed a new term for the increasing average global temperature, replacing the well known phrase of Global Warming with Global Boiling. Though Georgia was lucky enough to escape the heat in June, despite record-setting temperatures worldwide, it unfortunately didn’t last; temperatures regularly hit the high 90s throughout July as a “heat dome” moved east from Texas and led to dangerous conditions in Atlanta and throughout the state. Climate change has also worsened serious economic and environmental issues in the state, with 90% of Georgia’s iconic peach harvest failing due to severe weather events, Georgians’ electricity bills increasing, and hot tub-like ocean water expected to have effects on Georgia’s marshland and oceanic ecosystems. As climate change continues to worsen, storms, heatwaves and droughts are expected to become more common and intense in the state, leading to more issues for Georgia as the world continues to heat up.

While a majority of Americans support prioritizing climate change, only 23% of Republicans would support climate action over prioritizing the economy according to an NPR-led poll, with 70% of Republicans saying the threat posed by climate change is minor to none at all. Republican leaders seem to be in agreement with their base; well-known Republicans in Georgia, including 2022 Senate candidate Herschel Walker and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, have rebuked the worth of pursuing climate change legislation, and have cast doubts on the existence of climate change itself. Republicans in the State Assembly have also been reluctant to voice support for climate resolutions, with climate-related bills facing difficult votes among hesitant Republican representatives over the past few years.

Although Georgia has recently had some small bright spots in climate legislation, including tax incentives to manufacturers of solar panels and electric vehicles, as well as the Peach State’s first ever statewide climate pollution reduction plan funded by the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, Georgia Republicans have so far largely shied away from significant environmental action or directly addressing climate change as an issue. The problem is, Republicans are not doing enough to fight for Georgia’s climate. Half measures and small steps aren’t going to cut it: if real progress is to be made on protecting Georgians from climate change, a Democratic state legislature will be necessary. Georgia Democrats have shown time and time again that they are willing to take action on environmental issues, and they aren’t afraid to say the words “climate change” or “global warming,” unlike their Republican colleagues. By flipping the State Assembly blue, we can turn Georgia green!

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