Change, real change, toward a clean-energy future is within our sight. President Biden has committed to a government-wide approach to tackling the climate crisis, while also promising to address environmental justice and stimulate the economy.
But we have to act now to make this future a reality.
Last week, alongside five other major regional groups fighting climate change, we signed a letter asking Congress to pass President Biden’s proposal for 100% clean electricity nationwide by 2035. Here are five reasons why Congress should act now to pass legislation solidifying the clean electricity commitment Biden made during his campaign.
1. We need it now more than ever
Each year, we experience more and more climate disasters in our country firsthand — from last year’s catastrophic wildfire season on the West Coast to this winter’s massive freeze in Texas. The scale of the climate crisis is clear, and so is the need to act now.
To prevent the worst effects of climate change, scientists say we must limit warming to 1.5℃. And to get there, we must reduce global emissions by at least 7.6% every year until 2030.
That’s why this decade is so crucial. Without ambitious action on a national level, we won’t reach our goal of a safer planet, cleaner environment and more secure future for all. The power to fight back is in our hands, we just have to make it happen.
2. It’s an issue of public health
This legislation isn’t just about protecting the environment. It’s about protecting our health and saving lives.
Greenhouse gas emissions cause a needless amount of deaths — in the U.S. alone, more than 100,000 people die every year from pollution-related lung cancer, heart attacks, or respiratory diseases. A 63% cut in U.S. energy emissions would prevent an estimated 175,000 deaths by 2030.
And what we’re asking Biden to pass (100% clean electricity) would save even more lives and lead to an overall 70-80 percent reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide, further limiting the negative health impacts of pollution.
3. It would create jobs
Making this legislation a reality wouldn’t just transform our environment, but it would also boost our country’s workforce at a time when it is much needed.
The energy transition resulting from a national clean energy standard could create as many as 15 million jobs in the next 10 years. For some perspective, 6.4 million people were employed in energy jobs in 2019.
At CCAN, we’ve seen firsthand the transformational power of clean energy standards. For nearly two decades, we’ve used similar policy efforts to work toward decarbonizing the power sector on a regional level, and efforts across the country have created 2.5 million jobs from New England to the Pacific Northwest and from the Chesapeake Bay to the Rocky Mountains.
4. It’s an opportunity to invest in our communities of color
This legislation gives us an opportunity to rebuild our country in yet another way — pursuing equity. It’s a chance to work toward a better future by investing in our country’s communities of color.
In our letter, we’re calling on Congress to follow Biden’s overarching commitment to environmental justice and ensure that 40% of all investments and benefits in this transition accrue to historically disadvantaged communities and communities of color.
These communities, along with areas of rural poverty, have carried the brunt of our country’s negative environmental impacts for far too long — from poor air quality to high energy burdens.
It’s why we must commit to equity in every part of our work toward a climate-focused future.
5. We know it’s possible!
Most importantly, we know the tools, ambition and willpower to successfully pass this legislation and make it a reality are within our reach.
Every day in our work at CCAN, we’re inspired by the passion the organizers, activists, leaders and supporters we work with have toward building a safer, cleaner planet. We’re all in this together, to fight toward a more just future for all.
We’ve shown we can create change on a regional level. Now, let’s make it happen on a national level.