2009 is the year
2009 is the year
2009 is when the rubber meets the road for the climate movement. After eight years of federal inaction and oilmen running the White House, we finally have the opportunity to exhort and support our national leaders to enact incentives for polluters to embrace renewable energy.
We know the time is now for the United States to assume leadership and act to prevent more global warming. Increasingly it is not just the national environmental groups calling for bold legislative solutions to climate change. Now social justice advocates, people of faith, business leaders, students and insurance industry experts along with smart and visionary leaders in power are asking for serious climate legislation. This year. There are countless motivations, but society-wide, there is a growing understanding of climate risk and the potential of a green economy.
To succeed in enacting serious climate policy before the end of 2009, we need to align all of us who care about our future and recognize the challenge before us. Here are some baseline values that I think we share with the majority of Americans focused on this historic moment.
Climate solutions are economic solutions. We can repower, refuel, and rebuild our economy with clean energy and transportation choices. Climate solutions will drive economic recovery and generate good green jobs. The recovery package President Obama signed into law this week provided a critical “down-payment” on the green economy and our future. But re-building our economy will require a clear, long-term policy commitment: a cap on climate pollution that drives investment in renewable energy solutions.
Get real about reducing fossil fuel dependence: cap climate pollution. For decades, our leaders have warned against the dangers of fossil fuel dependence -- the economic drain, the security risks, and the climate disruption. It is time to step up to this moral, economic, and environmental imperative. Small policy tweaks won’t do it. We need a real, solid policy commitment to reduce fossil fuel dependence, with enforceable limits and timetables: a cap on global warming pollution.
End free carbon pollution. Polluters should pay. As we diminish climate pollution, permission to pollute will become a valuable resource – because companies will have to pay to pollute. That resource belongs to the public -- not to industry. There are debates about alternative ways to return this value to the people, whether in the form of direct rebates or through needed investments in clean energy infrastructure and adaptation for vulnerable communities. But there can be no debate about who owns the sky. All beings on planet Earth “own” the sky -- it is not owned by the companies who have profited while destroying it.
Consumer protection is vital. Rising or volatile fossil fuel costs are an unacceptable burden on our most vulnerable citizens. Climate policy must be designed to protect poor and middle income consumers and ensure that basic energy service is affordable.
We can invest in our future by building a strong new energy economy. We must dramatically accelerate public and private investment in the new energy economy. We can’t just constrain our way out of fossil fuel dependence. I wish driving a hybrid car or changing to energy efficient light bulbs was enough, but it’s not. We must build and invest our way to a brighter future.
Building the new energy economy is the change we need. The new energy transition can mobilize America at its best -- innovative, forward-looking, determined, and compassionate. There is no doubt that this transition is necessary, possible, and full of economic promise. The only limiting factor is our will to work together for change. Big change.Do it now. The U.S. must step up or the rest of the world won’t. We here in the United States have historically consumed and polluted more than any other country. We need to demonstrate leadership rather than obstruction in tackling the problem we helped create. It will not get any easier. Only harder. There will always be an election coming or a crisis that seems more vital to some people, but as the new US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in an interview published Feb. 4, 2009 in the Los Angeles Times, "I'm hoping that the American people will wake up."
1Sky will be working for bold climate policy this year. We want specific goals and timetables that align with the 1Sky solutions. Please join us. Work with us. Bring your faith group, your yoga class, the checker at your grocery store and your neighbor. Become a volunteer Climate Precinct Captain and claim your neighborhood for climate solutions.
To those that say this is not realistic, or politically palatable, or that President Obama has too much on his plate, we say, it will never be easy. If we work together, we can do it now. As President Obama has said and said and said, “Yes, we can.”