The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), confirms what many Arizonans already know to be true — the climate crisis is here and urgent action is needed to reduce carbon pollution. At least 3.3 billion people worldwide are highly vulnerable to increasingly deadly climate-change-fueled heat waves, extreme weather, air pollution, diseases and displacement.
Our state is already experiencing the harms of a climate in crisis. Arizona is facing the worst drought in 1,200 years, our wildfire season continues to increase in length and severity, and heat waves are worsening. Without climate action, communities of color and low-income communities, which are hit first and worst by pollution and climate change, will bear the burden of this crisis and experience more deaths from extreme heat.
Serious action to address climate change and strengthen the U.S. economy for all requires substantial investment in ways that will deeply reduce emissions while building domestic supply chains and creating and protecting good jobs for workers and communities across the nation.
In Tucson, we’re doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our dependence on foreign oil while bolstering our city’s thriving renewable energy sector. While there is tremendous potential for renewable energy to power even more cities and towns across Arizona, including Tucson, the legislative district I represent, this future is still out of reach for many communities and my constituents.
Electrifying our economy with carbon-free technology from solar power to electric vehicles to fully electric high-speed rail is coming, and our global competitors are rushing to capture the economic, jobs and manufacturing benefits of this shift. And our competitors are moving fast.
All of the United States’ major economic competitors, and particularly China, have made significant and strategic investments in the production and deployment of these technologies. If the U.S. fails to make proportionate strategic investments over the next decade, America’s manufacturing and renewable energy sectors and its workers will fall even further behind in the most important global economic race of our time.
Ensuring a brighter future requires policymakers like myself to leverage all the tools at our disposal to facilitate the transition to this clean energy future to ensure that we make renewable energy technology here in the U.S. The actions that Congress takes now will determine whether the U.S. leads in deploying clean energy technologies of the future and whether U.S. workers and communities see economic gains from this transition.
This has the potential to transform not only the vehicles we drive and the homes we live in, but also the lives of the workers who build them — ensuring a clean, prosperous and equitable future for all.
Historic investments, such as those proposed by President Joe Biden and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in late 2021, are essential to getting this job done. It would be a win-win for Arizona, bolstering our state’s growing clean-energy economy and fighting climate change in the process.
However, the $550 billion in proposed climate investments is now stalled in the Senate, at a time when communities across our state urgently need a path forward to fight pollution and build healthier communities.
With so much on the line for Arizona and the rest of the United States, climate action cannot wait. I urge Arizona’s Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to support investments in the expansion and retooling of domestic clean energy, electric vehicles and high-speed rail, and the transformation of our industrial sector to reduce carbon pollution and enhance competitiveness — all while building good jobs right here Tucson and across the nation while investing in the communities that need it most.
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