U.S. falls short of climate goals, but biotech offers help

a plant in a palm

A recently released index ranking shows that the United States, like practically every other country, is falling well short of its climate-change targets. According to Yale and Columbia’s newest Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the United States ranks 43rd out of 180 nations in terms of climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality.

That’s a significant drop from the previous time the researchers ranked countries in 2020, when the United States placed 24th.

When it comes to climate goals alone (the study also takes into account countries’ progress on other types of pollution and measures to conserve ecosystems), the United States dropped all the way to from 15th place to 101st.

The newest EPI reflects Donald Trump’s shift in climate policies from 2017 and 2019, The New York Times reports. During his presidency, Trump repealed hundreds of environmental laws and withdrew the United States from the historic Paris climate accord, the newspaper notes.

A recent report published in the journal Science reveals that the United States is far from meeting its carbon-cutting targets. The Verge comments that, to bring the United States back on track, a massive effort will be required to revamp the country’s power and transportation networks.

Carbon capture, sustainable food, and other biotech benefits

The biotech sector can offer solutions to these problems, including by helping us, among other things, raise crop yields, enhance carbon sequestration, reduce water consumption, reduce food waste, and boost animal welfare.

Biotech can also help us address the challenge of aviation, a significant contributor to global pollution, which accounts for 2% of total carbon emissions and 12% of transportation emissions. Using sustainable aviation fuels can significantly reduce the carbon impact of flying—even to zero.

When it comes to food production, biotech advances plant-based meats that can fulfill a range of diets while also lowering emissions, says Grace Spencer for Bio.News. Depending on the substitutes and biotechnologies used, plant-based alternative meats can produce 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per quarter pound than traditional meat, while using less water.

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