Opinion | Colorado must take bold action to cut carbon pollution
Powder turns. Massive avalanches. Even a dusting of snow on the final day of school. This winter and spring made their mark in Colorado’s long history of noteworthy weather. And thanks to all that snowpack, our state dug itself out of a severe and persistent drought, avoiding a repeat of our worst-ever wildfire season along the way.
Climate problem solved, right? Not the case.
Globally, July 2019 set a new record as the hottest month in recorded history, and 2019 is on track to be one of the hottest years on record. Here in Colorado, we kicked off September by breaking heat records at more than 50 individual locations throughout the state. And that drought? In spite of the snow we’ve received, it’s back in three-quarters of the state. The impacts of climate change are only getting started.
But in spite of the Trump administration’s refusal to face the fact that human-caused climate change is here now and causing massive problems, we can act to reduce carbon pollution. This past legislative session, Colorado stepped up, setting science-based targets for pollution reduction in our climate action plan. Now, Congress can follow our lead.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee recently unveiled a bold plan to address the pollution driving climate change by transitioning the United States to a 100% clean economy by 2050. The “100% Clean Economy Act of 2019” is a bill that directs the Trump administration and all federal agencies to use existing authorities to put the United States on a path toward meeting a national goal of a 100% clean energy economy by achieving net zero carbon pollution across the U.S. economy by 2050. This legislation builds on the actions taken by states like Colorado that are already leading the country’s transition to a clean energy economy. Upon introduction, the bill already had 150 co-sponsors, demonstrating its importance in making progress to protect our communities against worsening climate impacts.
Colorado’s climate champions in the U.S. House of Representatives — leaders like Reps. Diane DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter — deserve our thanks for stepping up and co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation. The 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 will spur clean energy development, cut carbon pollution that contributes to climate change, protect Coloradans’ health and create more of the clean-energy jobs that drive our clean-energy economy.
Coloradans are already seeing the impacts of climate change. Even after all the recent snowfall and rain in Colorado, experts said it could take as many as 13 years like this one to fully erase the devastating impacts that droughts have had on the Colorado River. Since 2017, hail storms have cost taxpayers in the state $5.5 billion. On top of that, more than 100,000 people in Colorado under the age of 5 and over the age of 65 and living in poverty are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Without action, this situation will only become worse with heat wave days increasing in Colorado by 50% by 2050.
This crisis does not have to be our future. By taking bold action to cut carbon pollution, we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change, protect the state we love and leave a legacy for future generations. I urge our entire Congressional delegation to stand united in this effort and sponsor the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019.
Jessica Goad is deputy director of Conservation Colorado.
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