Last month, young people took to the streets, demanding that our nation and world confront the climate crisis head on.
And they’re right: climate change is the biggest threat of our time, but we can also make it the greatest opportunity. Unfortunately, their strong advocacy is going unheeded in a gridlocked Washington, D.C., where big checks from special interest groups often carry more weight than reality does.
Here in Colorado, we see the impact of climate change first-hand: from more wildfires to less snow, and higher temperatures to more respiratory illnesses. And we know that climate change poses a massive threat, not just to our environment, but to our state’s economy and way of life.
I want to bring an unrelenting focus on combating climate change and growing our green economy to the U.S. Senate. As a trained geologist, I have a fact-based understanding of earth science and will help lead an urgent, global effort to move humanity toward a low-carbon future. As a businessman, I can see the economic possibilities if we seize this moment.
We have the opportunity — and the obligation — to reorient our economy around clean energy with the aggressive but achievable goal of zero-net emissions as soon as possible, but no later than 2050.
To get there, we must reinstate the Obama-era restrictions on methane, vehicle emissions and drilling on public lands. But we must go further than that as well.
We need to reorient our economy around clean energy, using public-private partnerships to spur innovation and create good renewable jobs as well as using smart tax policy to reduce carbon emissions and return that revenue to American taxpayers.
We also need to make historic investments in research and development so that we have the technology for carbon capture, energy storage and modern transmission. We need to make these solutions affordable so that nations around the world can adopt them — because we know the United States cannot solve this global problem on our own.
Our approach to climate change must be international. That includes rejoining and going beyond the Paris Climate Accord, accelerating the implementation of the Kigali Agreement to phase out dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, and enforcing stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards in U.S. trade policy.
We know these ambitious plans can be achieved because here in Colorado we’ve shown what’s possible when we bring people together to solve big problems.
When I was mayor of Denver, I worked with suburban mayors to create the region’s first light rail system. When I was governor, I was proud to help lead the charge to transition our state to a clean energy economy, replacing coal power plants with solar and wind.
We protected public lands and grew our outdoor economy — and in fact, we took our state from 40th in job creation to the top economy across the country.
Colorado became a model for our country by implementing landmark methane regulations. The EPA followed our lead and implemented similar standards nationwide. But two months ago, the Trump Administration announced that it would be rolling back regulations of this dangerous gas that is 84 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.
While President Trump calls climate change a Chinese hoax and rolls back critical protections for our clean air and water, our Sen. Cory Gardner supports him and rubberstamps his dangerous agenda. Gardner has voted with Trump a staggering 98% of the time.
I’m not afraid to stand up to Trump when it comes to protecting our planet. When he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, we announced that Colorado would be doing its part to fight climate change by upholding the standards set by the accord.
Gardner also has the distinction of being the first Colorado senator in more than 50 years to not sponsor legislation to expand wilderness areas in our state, a contrast with Colorado’s priorities that could not be clearer.
Washington could learn a thing or two from Colorado’s leadership on this issue and our ability to bring people together to begin tackling the climate crisis. I’m running for Senate because I want to put an end to the gridlock and dysfunction that has undermined our nation’s efforts to address big problems like climate change.
Colorado deserves a senator who understands that climate change is a massive threat to our economy and way of life and will treat it with the needed urgency. A senator who will fight for our public land. A senator who will reinstate and expand protections that keep our air and water clean. A senator who will expand our clean energy economy. I am running to do just that.
John Hickenlooper is a geologist, brewer, small business owner, former Mayor of Denver and Governor of Colorado. He is running for U.S. Senate.