On Jan. 21, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert introduced a bill to block the Biden administration’s plan to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate, tweeting: “Unilaterally entering the Paris Agreement was wrong in 2016 and it’s wrong now!”
The tweet included a photo of the Rifle Republican smiling righteously, pen poised for dissent — prepared to continue a slew of Trumpian environmental offenses.
Boebert now represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. A study of surveys shows that 59% of her constituents are worried about global warming, 56% think Congress should do more to address the issue, and 72% think carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant.
Her sweeping, ill-informed bill is not only a rebuke to the 3rd District — a mostly dry area that will suffer the impacts of warming climate disproportionately — but an abrogation of fact itself.
The district spans from Dinosaur National Monument, which has seen the greatest warming of any national park in the state of Colorado; to Grand Junction, one area affected by summer wildfires that set records for the largest in state history; to the Dolores basin, which faces intensifying drought and faces major reductions in its stream flows.
It’s time for Boebert to start answering to the people she represents, not to the whims of partisanship and climate denial.
The Paris Agreement was reached in 2015 and includes nearly 200 nations. It’s a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, a brink beyond which we reach a “tipping point”: drought in some regions, intensification of precipitation in others, mass extinction, fires, increased pestilence, and heat-related mortality.
The U.S. joined in the agreement under former President Barack Obama, but his successor, Donald Trump, in 2017 announced plans to withdraw. The pullout became official the day after Election Day 2020.
Let’s review a few aspects of Boebert’s press release announcing her climate bill. She claims that re-entering Paris Accords will destroy “responsible energy” jobs and raise gasoline prices. Yet responsible, safe, clean-energy jobs have been outpacing those in the fossil fuel industry. As the price of renewables drops, Forbes reports that zero-emissions power generation is creating twice as many jobs as the traditional energy sector.
Colorado’s 3rd District does support many oil and gas careers, but these are bound to fade over time as did coal. It’s time to join the rest of the world in acknowledging the threat of climate change and participate in a competitive renewable energy market with the potential to generate millions of new jobs.
What will really “kill” jobs, as Boebert likes to say, is climate change itself — an estimated 80 million lost worldwide by 2030, the International Labour Organization estimates.
Speaking of death, pollution from burning fossil fuels kills an estimated 3.6 million people worldwide annually. Technological progress and a dire environmental reality demand a just transition from dinosaurs to photons. The buggy whip makers can’t stay in business for eternity.
Quoting again from her press release, Boebert called the Paris Agreement an economic “handicap” with “no benefit to the environment worldwide.” The agreement, she claims, shifts production to “hostile nations” and shackles the U.S., which has been a “global leader in reducing carbon emissions.” Finally, Boebert says, the agreement pursues “unrealistic and unattainable” goals “not based in science.”
“Handicap” is an odd way to categorize an agreement that encourages global innovation, capacity building, and economic and social cooperation guided by the most robust contemporary science. And the U.S. is far from being a “global leader” lately; the Climate Action Tracker gives the nation a solid “barely trying” score on its efforts to meet self-set climate goals.
As for being “not based in science,” the Paris Agreement is anchored in three decades of international deliberation, scientific consensus and research. To categorize the accords as not based in science is to reject the collective belief of nearly every climate expert and nation worldwide.
As a constituent of the 3rd District, I am disappointed in the actions of my representative. I’ve seen our snowpack decline year by year, I’ve witnessed warblers and swifts drop from the sky due to wildfire smoke, I’ve watched a stand of aspen trees near my home fade into a lackluster brown as its roots wither from an ongoing drought.
No more harsh rhetoric, unmoored from science, reason, and fact. No more denying the reality of climate change as a badge of political identity. It’s time to face reality, to embrace common cause, to surmount the most significant issue of our time with the mindset of unity — climate change is an issue that calls for global action, not nationalism.
Your constituents are holding you accountable, Rep. Boebert.
Soleil Gaylord of Telluride is a junior at Dartmouth College studying Government and Environmental Studies. When not nose-deep in a book, she loves to mountain run, backcountry ski, and talk environmental policy and history.
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