By U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan and PennEnvironment
Last week, as local residents celebrated Earth Day, 2019, we used it as a crucial opportunity to put a bright and necessary spotlight on one of the most critical issues affecting Pennsylvania, our country, and our world – climate change.
Let us be frank: Climate change is happening. The effects will be disastrous. And it’s caused by human activity.
But this recognition cannot be reserved to one day a year. We need to be acting every day from here on out to combat climate change and reverse the negative impacts it has had on our world and will continue to have if we don’t take aggressive action quickly.
Exhaustive scientific research has provided us with hard data about the culprits of climate change: predominantly fossil fuels like gas, coal, and oil.
Yet here we are in 2019, where, incredible, some are still debating climate change. Science is not partisan. The fact that climate change threatens our economy, national security, health care, and, of course, environment is not partisan.
At home in Pennsylvania, we can expect to see things like increased downpours, elevated levels of insect-borne diseases like Lyme disease, and worsening air pollution if we don’t start taking bold action now.
The small but urgent silver lining in all of this is that we have achievable solutions. It’s time for our elected bodies in Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg to catch up to the science and the public’s desire to start implementing these solutions. This means putting policies in place that will directly address the threats posed by climate change and will disincentive the activities that are triggering climate change.
The most important step we must take is a transition to clean, renewable energy.
At the federal level, we’re working together to aggressively support the Climate Solutions Act. If passed into law, this legislation would require that 100% of our electricity come from renewable resources by 2035.
At the state level, Pennsylvania has recently joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 24 states dedicated to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. Additionally, Governor Wolf has announced an ambitious but achievable goal for our Commonwealth: cutting carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, using 2005 as a baseline.
Locally, we are also taking giant leaps. Thanks to Ready for 100, the Sierra Club program that helps municipalities and townships focus on transitioning to renewables, seven Chester County boroughs and townships have passed resolutions committing to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Seven more are currently discussing passing such measures.
We’re also proud that the majority of our Commonwealth senators and representatives whose districts are found in the Sixth Congressional District support tackling climate change. Eleven of our Chester County legislators are currently cosponsoring legislation in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly that would also require Pennsylvania to transition to 100% clean energy by 2050.
What’s more is that we as Pennsylvanians are on the side of science, data, and truth. Recent polls show that more than 7-out-of-10 voters in the Pennsylvania would support a switch to clean, renewable sources of power. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in PA understand that, if we do not take initiative, our Commonwealth, country, and world will suffer.
It’s important to note that not only is this transition good for our environment and will help us combat climate change, but it’s also good for our nation’s and Pennsylvania’s economy. A recent study by E2 demonstrates that jobs in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors far outnumber fossil fuel jobs both here at home and around the country.
We’re proud to be working hard every day to advance smart and effective legislation to stop climate change. We owe this to our community, our planet, and our future generations.
Pennsylvania cannot wait. The United States cannot wait. Our planet cannot wait.
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th Dist., represents Chester County, southern Berks County and the City of Reading in Congress.
PennEnvironment is a statewide, citizen-based non-profit environmental advocacy organization.