A zero-emissions economy by 2050? We can get there | Opinion in Free Press
Washington, November 24, 2019
This op-ed originally ran in the Detroit Free Press, click here to read it.
Look at the world: devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, melting glaciers, rising sea levels – and we see it directly in Michigan with ‘Once Every 100 Year Storms’ that seem to be nearly yearly events now. Climate change is changing the world around us causing mass displacement and global health crises, the Great Lakes are at historic high levels, and many countries are experiencing increasing temperatures. Now is the time for the United States to lead the world in confronting and dealing with these serious threats.
Climate change is impacting worldwide economies and international trade, limiting natural resources, causing public health crises and severe weather events, and exacerbating serious issues of environmental justice. It is a threat multiplier. It is one of the most significant issues that our nation and world have had to tackle.
In 2018, The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report recommended the world must rapidly transition to a clean, net-zero emissions economy. On the clear recommendation of the United Nation’s report,
This week in the House of Representatives, I and more than 150 congressional colleagues from every region of the country introduced legislation to achieve a 100% clean, net-zero emissions economy by 2050. This bill sets goals to achieve a clean economy by 2050 with significant progress each year and is technology neutral. To get there, we would have to accomplish a 40 to 60 percent implementation by 2030.
We need comprehensive efforts to innovate in technology, economy, and society. The challenge is difficult. But we can do it with American might and ingenuity.
But we won’t accomplish this without building the coalition that can get it done. We must bring environmentalists, workers, labor, businesses, and activists together. The US will stay at the forefront of innovation and technology and leave a healthy planet for generations to come if we join together – not fight and attack each other.
Part of this aggressive agenda to tackle climate change requires it to be addressed on all fronts. The 100-by-50 bill sets a national goal for achieving a clean economy. I will also be introducing legislation that establishes a national climate bank to publicly finance and stimulate private investments in clean, renewable energy products.
A significant sector we must address is the transportation sector. It generates nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gasses.
We must have a vision for keeping the American auto industry the leader across the world. China and Europe are leading the transition to electric vehicles. It’s the future - it’s going to happen and America needs to lead. We need strong legislation to ensure wider adoption of electric vehicles and a transition across the country to deploy the infrastructure so consumers have certainty they can get a charge when they need it. We also need to invest and support research and development to make sure vehicles are more efficient, look to other technologies, and increase the storage capacity for batteries. We also need one national fuel economy standard; a strong standard that gives the auto industry certainty well into the future, makes significant increases year-over-year, and transitions to the metric of the future.
Our vision is clear. There are many different voices and opinions on the path forward. We won’t get this done without everyone at the table and working in the same direction. All of us, especially the engaged younger generation, have our future at stake. On each of the legislative fronts we are about to introduce, the policy is driven by a strong coalition of groups and continue to ensure everyone’s voice is heard and included throughout the years-long process. It is up to all of us to meet this consequential moment together and build a world that puts public health, environmental protection, and the futures of all generations at the forefront of all we do on climate change.