According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we must act now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The report state in no uncertain terms that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” which “could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.”
The science says that we must act boldly. We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions now—based on the latest science and in line with our fair share—to put America on a pathway of reducing its emissions to net zero emissions by 2050.
This won’t be easy, but if we do it the right way we can and will benefit working people across the country. To build that future we must deploy clean and renewable technology nationwide, including technologies like carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), and zero carbon transportation options, as well implementing efforts like natural ecosystem restoration.
Energy efficiency is yet another important aspect of efforts to reduce emissions and massive investments will be needed to increase energy efficiency across all sectors. By wasting less energy in our buildings, energy generation and distribution systems, vehicles, and more we can reduce emissions while also lowering costs for households and communities across the nation and creating jobs here in the United States.
These efforts will get us started, and just as science has told us what we must do, continual scientific review is crucial to refining our progress and making sure that we are on the right path.
These efforts will go a long way to achieving our emissions reduction goals, but there must always be accountability. Such a vehicle for accountability has been developed on the international level in the form of the Paris Agreement, but due to the administration’s decision to leave the agreement, the United States has lost its leadership role in global climate negotiations. To meet the challenge set before us, the United States must recommit to our pledges under the Paris Agreement and once again become a leader in the global fight to address the climate crisis.
The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue, it is an economic issue, a humanitarian issue, and a social justice issue. The nation is already feeling the impacts of climate change in the form of more frequent and severe extreme weather events, like hurricanes, droughts, and flooding, and natural disasters like wild fires, and those communities that are already vulnerable—low-income, and marginalized communities—will be hit the hardest. The time to act boldly is now.