Boebert fails to face reality of climate change

Representative’s attempt to block Paris Agreement wrong on the science, wrong on the law

An air tanker battles the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs on Aug. 13 (Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team/BLM)

On Thursday, Rep. Lauren Boebert, of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, introduced a bill to block the Paris Agreement, tweeting: “Unilaterally entering the Paris Agreement was wrong in 2016 and its wrong now!”

The tweet included a photo of Boebert smiling righteously, pen poised for dissent — prepared to continue a slew of Trumpian environmental offenses. As the “representative” of a district in which 59% of constituents are worried about global warming, 56% think Congress should do more to address global warming, and 72% think carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant, Boebert’s sweeping, ill-informed bill is not only a rebuke to District 3 — which will suffer the impacts of a warming climate disproportionately — but an abrogation of fact itself.

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The 3rd District spans from Dinosaur National Monument, which saw the greatest warming of any national park in the state of Colorado, to Grand Junction, where summer wildfires set records for the largest in state history, to the Dolores basin, which will see intensifying drought and an average of 44% reduction in its stream flows. Boebert’s district, located on the dry Western Slope, is a direct victim of climate change, and the effects will only compound. It’s time she start answering to the people she represents, not to the whims of partisanship and epistemic climate denial.

I’d like to review a few aspects of Boebert’s press release about her bill. She makes the deceitful claim that entering Paris Agreement will destroy, in fact, “kill,” “responsible energy” jobs, and raise gasoline prices. True responsible, safe and clean energy jobs, those in the renewable energy sector with sight on future generations, have hugely outpaced those in the fossil fuel industry. As the price of renewables plummets to the cheapest energy source on Earth, a recent report revealed that zero-emissions power generation was responsible for creating two times as many jobs as that of the traditional energy sector. Colorado’s 3rd District does support many oil and gas careers, but these are declining vocations, bound to fade into obsolescence, as did coal. It’s time to join the rest of the world in acknowledging the threat of climate change and participate in a competitive renewable energy market with the potential to generate 24 million new jobs. What will really “kill” jobs, as Boebert likes to say, is climate change itself — an estimated 80 million by 2030, according to the International Labor Organization. Speaking of death, pollution from burning fossil fuels kills 3.6 million people worldwide annually. Technological progress and a dire environmental reality demand a just transition from dinosaurs to photons. The buggy whip makers can’t stay in business for eternity.

Then-candidate, now Rep. Lauren Boebert for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks to supporters and the press during a MAGA meet up with the Trump Victory Team at the Old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (Barton Glasser for Colorado Newsline)

Quoting again from the press release, Boebert called the Paris Agreement an economic “handicap” with “no benefit to the environment worldwide.” The agreement, she claims, shifts production to “hostile nations” and shackles the United States, which has been a “global leader in reducing carbon emissions.” Finally, Boebert says, the agreement pursues “unrealistic and unattainable” goals “not based in science.”

“Handicap” is an odd way to categorize an agreement that encourages global innovation, capacity building, and economic and social cooperation guided by the most robust contemporary science. “Global leader,” too, is an aggrandized vision of U.S. climate goals — the Climate Action Tracker gives the United States a solid “barely trying” score on its efforts to meet self-set climate goals. The Gambia has us beat with a “top of the class” rating. On the note of “not based in science” — the Paris Agreement is anchored in three decades of international deliberation, scientific consensus, and research. To categorize the accords as not based in science is to reject the collective belief of nearly every climate expert and nation worldwide.

The Paris Agreement was created in 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and includes 197 nations, nearly every country on Earth. The agreement is a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, a brink beyond which we reach a “tipping point”: drought in some regions, intensification of precipitation in others, mass extinction, fires, increased pestilence, heat-related mortality — the list goes on.

Finally, and consequentially, Boebert’s portrayal of Biden’s executive action as “unconstitutional” is simply incorrect. The very constitutional authority used by Biden to rejoin the accords is the same that allowed Trump to exit them — a power granted by an interpretation of Article II. Biden’s action is no overreach or aberration, either — according to Newsweek, in U.S. history, more executive agreements have passed than have treaties been ratified by the Senate.

As a constituent of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, I am disappointed in the actions of my representative. I’ve seen our snowpack decline year by year, I’ve witnessed warblers and swifts drop from the sky due to wildfire smoke, I’ve watched a stand of aspen trees near my home fade into a lackluster brown year by year as its roots wither from an ongoing drought. No more harsh rhetoric, unmoored from science, reason and fact. No more denying the reality of climate change as a badge of political identity. No more solution aversion and no more rejecting multilateralism. It’s time to face reality, to embrace common cause, to surmount the most significant issue of our time with the mindset of unity — climate change is an issue that calls for global action, not nationalism.

Your constituents are holding you accountable, Rep. Boebert.

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