Commentary

We have a moral responsibility to take bold climate action now

Steps in Colorado to combat climate change can serve as a roadmap for federal action

November 11, 2021 4:00 am

A home west of Colo. 125 still burns from open gas lines after the East Troublesome Fire made its way through a community in October 2020. (Thomas Cooper/Special to Colorado Newsline)

Beginning this week, countries across the world are coming together in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss how the world will address our climate crisis. I have joined with 536 other state legislators from 47 states and territories calling on the federal government to raise our ambition and strengthen our national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. The time for action is now, and as the largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to reach net-zero emissions by or before 2050.

As a state legislator, I see firsthand the impacts of climate change in Colorado. We are facing unprecedented drought, extreme wildfires, some of the worst air quality in the world, and a dwindling Colorado River. In recent years, we have faced increased-intensity weather, including economically damaging hail, devastating floods, and an uncertain future for our water reserves.

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That’s why in Colorado we will continue our bold action to reduce greenhouse gasses, increase efficiencies, incentivize and electrify our public transportation, and find innovative ways to reduce our impact on the environment and protect our cherished quality of life. We need to reduce plastic waste, encourage the reduction of water-hogging turf grass, and create pathways for green industry jobs. If you have ideas on how we can accomplish our climate goals, tell your local elected official. We have the responsibility to the next generation to take these actions now.

And Colorado isn’t the only state working hard to combat climate change. We can’t do this alone. States rely on the federal government to serve as a strong baseline for climate action.

Time and again, states continue to fill the void of climate action at the federal level.

Our bold steps can serve as a roadmap for federal action. For example, more than two-thirds of U.S. states and territories have some form of Renewable Portfolio Standard or Clean Energy Standard, and more than a dozen have committed to 100% clean energy. States are also transitioning fleets to zero-emissions vehicles, making buildings more energy efficient, and protecting natural landscapes to enhance carbon sequestration.

Time and again, states continue to fill the void of climate action at the federal level. But in this critical moment, we must stand as united states. Together, with strong international, national, and state action, we can take the steps that are needed to avoid further climate catastrophe and ensure public safety. That is why I encourage President Joe Biden and Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper to consider this your mandate from Colorado: Match and enhance our ambition and dedication in every negotiation room.

The U.S. federal government must lead by example in committing to and achieving full decarbonization, just as we strive to do so in our own state.

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