Globally, the public sense of urgency to tackle climate change is strong. We are increasingly overwhelmed by evidence of climate change already happening. The health impacts of air pollution, the rising and warming of our oceans, and damage to our forests, communities and homes paint a bleak picture of what the future will be if we do not shift from our dependence on fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.
It is often our most vulnerable communities and populations that suffer from these impacts of climate change and fossil fuel dependence. We are already seeing the economic benefits of shifting to clean energy and there is more that we can do to help this shift along and to ensure that no community is left behind.
This is why on September 8, I’ll be joining the Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice march in San Francisco. We will show the strong support for bold action from world leaders gathering for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco September 12 – 14, 2018. The Summit is meant to show how the global community is stepping up action in the fight against dangerous climate change.
As countries the world over look to further strengthen their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement by 2020, the summit has the potential to mark a critical turning point. Those who still deny climate change will be held accountable for the damage that today’s climate pollution is already causing. They will be held accountable for their lack of leadership to put the needed clean energy solutions in place.
In most of the world, the public debate over climate change is not about the reality or urgency but about political commitment to the solutions.
However, the United States lags behind and climate change is highly politicized as a proxy for the question of whom to trust. More than a year ago, President Trump announced plans to withdraw U.S. participation from the Paris climate agreement and thereby abandon global leadership on the environmental challenge of our time. He also has moved to undermine four major climate change fighting initiatives through gutting the Clean Power Plan, rolling back clean car and fuel efficiency standards, delaying methane control on existing oil and gas wells and blocking the super climate change pollutant HFC controls.
American federal government action is critical to meeting our domestic global carbon pollution reduction goals and to encouraging climate action progress internationally. Yet, with the U.S. federal government not only sitting this one out, but actively working to reverse progress on climate solutions, we must get as far as we can as fast as we can in the meantime while setting up the framework for when the U.S. again becomes a climate leader in the future.
It is both necessary and possible for countries around the world to strengthen their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement as we work to hold down the rising global temperature. The summit will highlight the positive action that is already underway to combat climate change and put clean energy solutions in. Regional, state and local governments, communities, investors and businesses from around the world: that is where we see real reductions in climate pollution and innovative clean energy solutions emerging.
The Paris climate agreement was an important step toward curbing climate change, but the world needs to go further faster if we are to keep our world habitable in the face of climate change.
On Saturday, we will march to remind our leaders that we have their backs. Tackling climate change is a matter of survival. It is what is right: environmentally, ethically and economically. The march for climate, jobs and justice is a chance to remind ourselves about how critical it is to honor the connections between our natural world and the well-being of our communities and families. It is a chance to demand climate action.