Policy Brief

Policy Brief

Issue Background

Air pollution is a serious problem, and serious problems such as this will require a creative and effective solution. The current policies set in place surrounding the issue of air pollution have been helpful in maintaining current pollution levels and keeping them from sudden spikes on the charts. However, we should not be content with “good enough” when it comes to something as crucial as the air we breathe.

National Geographic defines air pollution as a mix of particles and gases that can reach harmful concentrations both outside and indoors (Essick, 2019). While smoke, mold, and pollen are just some examples of common air pollutants, air pollution is not always visible. Pollutants that aren’t seen with the naked eye can be just as, if not more, dangerous. An example of such pollutant would be fuel combustion from motor vehicles that often visually disappears into our atmosphere, while simultaneously heavily deteriorating our air quality.

Proposed Policy

The bottom line is that we need a significant change to see significant results. One of the main contributors to air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels. One of the main reasons we burn fossil fuels is to fill the tanks of our gas-powered vehicles in order to commute to work. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population commutes to work daily (Lake, 2015).

Therefore, I propose that we enact a policy that grants employees the ability to work remotely whenever possible, and incentivize companies to make switch to fully remote operations.

Policy Benefits

  • Less carbon emissions affecting the air quality in our atmosphere
  • Less energy wasted on powering office spaces nationwide
  • Citizens would be free to relocate away from the densely populated cities in which their company is based, which would improve pollution levels (both air and land pollution)
  • Moving away from crowded cities would improve the housing marking
  • Citizens having the ability to relocate to cities with a lower cost of living would allow them to have more spending money, thus improving the economy

This policy would be low-cost to adopt, yet has the potential to yield some of the significantly rewarding results stated above.

By switching operations to having mostly remote employees, companies would actually save money—and the cost for the government to incentivize them to adopt such a change would be well worth the trade. Additionally, polls suggest that most employees want to have the ability to work remotely.

Statistics to Consider

Ryan Holmes, chairman and co-founder at Hootsuite, recently used his platform to conduct quite interesting and relevant polls regarding working remotely. The following are the most notable results from his research:

  • 70% of 8.3k voters stated they would be open to working from home permanently (8.3k voters)
  • 77% of 11.1k voters stated they feel more productive when working from home
  • 91% of 12.2k voters stated they are saving anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours daily by not having to commute to work
  • 74% of 4.6k voters stated feeling more initiative and creativity since making the switch to remote work

These numbers are certainly promising, and can be indicative of a positive approval rate from the public should this proposed policy be enacted.

Key Players

There are organizations that understand the weight of the serious issue that is air pollution, and focus their efforts on fighting it as well as keeping the public properly informed.

The United States Environment Protection Agency, or EPA, is a key player in environmental policy in the United States today. The EPA is in charge or both setting and regulating many of the policies that we see today regarding air pollution, such as running biennial emissions tests on motor vehicles.

 The World Health Organization (WHO) is another key player. This organization provides the public with free and reliable information on many topics pertaining to out health and well-being, such as the topic of air pollution.

The current environmental policies surrounding air pollution may be helping curb the numbers and prevent a significant drop in the air quality, however, they are not enabling a significant change to the matter, as the state of air pollution has not seen a truly significantly change since the issue was first professionally discussed (over 70 years ago). This is why the proposed policy is needed. Times have changed, so as, too, should our public policies.

Conclusion

While the environmental policies we have in place today may be keeping the levels of air pollution at bay, we need a new policy that is more suitable for today’s world and lifestyle.

Life has drastically changed over the past 70 years, so we must ask ourselves why our environmental policies surrounding air pollution have not.

Enacting a policy that allows employees to work from home, as well as incentivizes companies to adopt this change, would be beneficial countless ways such as a significant decrease in pollution due to the decrease in commuters’ cars on the road, as well as a decrease in the need for office buildings and their sky-high consumption of energy.

Additionally, companies would save a substantial amount of money that they no longer need to use on office space rentals and bills. This money could be reallocated, which would allow companies to raise their employees’ salaries so that they can afford accommodations for a home office.

The positive changes that this policy can yield would go beyond the environment, as they would even trickle down to the economy. Granting employees the ability to work from anywhere would allow them to move away from the crowded, heavily populated cities, which would ultimately improve the economy as well as the housing market.

References

Essick, P. (2019, June 25). Air Pollution Causes, Effects, and Solutions. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/pollution/

Holmes, R. (2020, November 20). I Polled 1.7 Million Professionals Over 6 Months About Remote Work. Here’s The Verdict In 10 Handy Stats [Web log post]. Retrieved December 4, 2020, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-polled-17-million-professionals-over-6-months-remote-ryan-holmes/?trackingId=cbiBQZfZR2C%2BzICLU9ijlg%3D%3D

Lake, R. (2015, November 16). 23 Commute Statistics to Know Before You Go to Work. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.creditdonkey.com/commute-statistics.html

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