The clock is ticking. By the time the next president is sworn into office in 2021, scientists say we will have just nine years until our climate is damaged beyond repair.
Next January, our economy will still be reeling from the fallout of COVID-19 — a disaster that President Donald Trump has only made worse by putting politics over science. In Colorado, 10% of workers are unemployed, and behind each percentage point are families worried about the future.
Recovering from the current economic crisis and building a clean-energy economy that tackles climate change requires bold leadership.
Joe Biden understands the challenges we’re facing and sees an opportunity. We can rebuild our country with better jobs, and we can pave the way for a cleaner and more resilient future.
His clean energy jobs plan does both — and fast. As president, he will lead the United States to a carbon-free energy sector by 2035 and create millions of high-paying, durable jobs in the process.
In Colorado, we know the effects of climate change all too well. Carbon pollution threatens our health. Longer droughts leave us vulnerable to wildfires and weaken the viability of our farms and ranches. Rising temperatures harm our wildlife, public lands and outdoor recreation. All of which hurt our economy and jeopardize the very reasons we enjoy calling Colorado home.
The majority of Coloradans, and the majority of Americans, believe climate change is real and humans are contributing to it. Yet climate deniers keep winning political battles that result in our doing nothing. The Trump administration has consistently and massively downplayed the costs of climate change.
At the same time I was in the Senate securing grants for clean energy innovation and working to reduce methane pollution, President Trump was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and repealing the Clean Power Plan.
Just as he’s ignoring the reality of the current pandemic, President Trump is in denial about the life-altering risks posed by climate change. For the sake of our children’s future, we must ensure he is the last climate denier to ever occupy the White House.
In stark contrast, Joe Biden is clear-eyed about the urgency of the problem and the transition we need to solve it.
His plan centers around workers, putting at least one million people to work on our roads, bridges, schools and water systems to make our nation’s infrastructure cleaner and more energy efficient.
His plan also includes universal, affordable and high-speed internet, so everyone — whether living in a city or rural area — can fully participate in the American economy. These investments will create high-paying jobs in construction, engineering and skilled trades that are open to both people starting out and older workers building on existing experience.
Biden’s plan will follow Colorado’s leadership in the transition to clean energy, which has set a standard for the rest of the country. It will make a historic investment in clean energy innovation, so our own National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other labs can make advancements toward tackling climate change.
It will transition our energy sector away from coal and toward clean power, as we did with the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act. And it will address transportation, setting ambitious clean car standards similar to those Colorado adopted last year, and ensuring U.S. auto manufacturers make zero-emission materials, parts and cars here at home.
Here’s the outcome: modern infrastructure, a resurgence of manufacturing and a thriving middle class. Imagine dramatically cleaner air and clearer views of the Rockies. Imagine equipping the buildings where we live, work and learn to create healthy environments inside, improve air quality outside and lower overall energy costs.
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Imagine thriving farms and ranches that sequester carbon and can be passed down to the next generation. Imagine an America where doing right by our environment also creates pathways to wealth-generating careers and a renewed middle class for people of all backgrounds and from all communities.
Time is running out for bold action on climate change. If Joe Biden takes the oath of office next January, he will put the United States on a durable path to make the ambitious progress that science demands and that workers and our economy need.
Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, is the state’s senior U.S. Senator.
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