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We can, and must, curtail climate change

A few weeks ago, on an unseasonably warm day in Washington, D.C., I was looking across the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis committee room at young activists who had traveled to Washington to make an urgent plea to Congress: Act boldly to solve the climate crisis.

Most of these young women and men are 18, 19 or 20 years old and have spent their entire lives seeing how global warming and climate change are drastically reshaping the world around them.

It drew a distinct parallel to where the world stood when I was their age in 1990. When I was 18, the polar ice caps were nearly 40 percent larger than today. Seas were roughly 3 inches lower. The average daily temperature was close to a degree lower.

When it comes to climate, those changes are considered extreme and dangerous. And unless we take equally as extreme and drastic actions, the consequences will be dire.

It’s that belief, and my belief in science, that spurred me to take two bold actions on climate. First, last month I signed onto the Green New Deal – a comprehensive set of goals to combat the climate crisis. Last week, I followed up with bold legislation that will put the U.S. power sector on the path toward net-zero emissions by the 2050s, the decade the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment team have pinpointed as critical for ensuring a safe and sustainable world.

The Clean Energy Standard legislation, which I introduced alongside U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., is an ambitious plan that will leverage our nation’s strengths to achieve a clean energy future and grow our economy. New Mexico is already leading the way with the Energy Transition Act, and it’s time we bring that approach to the federal level.

Our plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle the climate crisis by offering more renewable energy to consumers and incentivizing companies to bring innovative, emission-free technologies to market. This process will get us to net-zero emissions without killing jobs or raising costs.

The impact would be dramatic. The science-driven environmental think tank, Resources for Our Future, found the Clean Energy Standard Act could increase renewable energy generation to 56 percent in just 15 years and prevent 30,000 premature deaths from air pollution.

The science is clear, Resources for Our Future found. The legislation would reduce fossil fuel sources of energy to just 26 percent in the next two decades and reduce power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 61 percent.

This legislation is ambitious, and it is possible. I’m ready to do the work to get this done. I will continue listening to New Mexicans about climate change and how we can move forward together. Already, our legislation is proudly supported by labor and environmental groups, and we are building momentum across the country.

New Mexicans understand the urgent need for action on climate change. We have seen severe droughts and wildfires that threaten our way of life and put lives in danger. We have also seen how reckless fossil fuel companies have been with contaminating the water we drink and air we breathe. Things have got to change – our children and families deserve better.

Now is the time when we can lead or we can follow, and I’m choosing to lead on climate change.

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