When the world’s leaders get together in a place called Rusutsu, Japan, and agree to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050, it sounds like something a long way away that could hardly mean anything to folks in Monroe County.
And, it is true, most experts pooh-pooh the move as meaningless rhetoric.
But few places in the world have more at stake than Monroe County. How many other communities have two coal-fired power plants – not to mention a cement plant.
From the perspective of the world, the critics are probably right. It’s too little, too late, and isn’t likely to make any kind of an impact on the health of the planet.
From our perspective here in Monroe County, it could mean a lot if it leads to tougher controls on greenhouse gas emissions.
Most Monroe County residents want clean air. They appreciate the steps that DTE, Consumers Energy and Holcim have made to clean up their emissions. Many probably would support tighter controls that would make the air even cleaner and do our part to slow global warming. And we also have a nuclear plant and another on the drawing boards – one of the best solutions to burning more carbon.
But most Monroe County residents don’t support controls that would cost the community thousands of jobs.
The leaders of the world’s most powerful countries appeared to dodge any real commitment to cutting pollution. There are lots of reasons for their hesitation. Those reasons are understood better in Monroe County than in most places.