Letter: The Global Climate Strike and the Energy Innovation Act
This past Friday, local students and community members joined the Global Climate Strike with protests around the county. I was able to attend the protest at Eagle Valley High School and was impressed by the student-led demonstration that demanded action, not just hopeful words, from policymakers, businesses, and every-day Americans. A huge thank you to all our local students who stepped out of their classrooms on Friday to show us that they are indeed becoming global-ready citizens with the power to demand decisive action on global issues.
Our local Climate Action Collaborative is already doing great work to reduce Eagle County’s carbon footprint. However, the youth climate strikers are right: we need more than just local solutions. Fortunately, for the first time in almost a decade, there’s a bipartisan climate bill in Congress that, if passed, would reduce America’s carbon emissions by 40% in the first 12 years.
The Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 763), introduced by Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch with Republican cosponsor Francis Rooney, would enact what’s known as a carbon fee and dividend. A steadily rising fee would be charged to extractors of coal, oil, and gas for every metric ton of CO2 these fuels produce, but instead of this money going to the government as a tax, it would be returned to taxpayers in the form of a monthly dividend check. This check would offset the rising cost of energy for low-carbon users while encouraging individuals and industries to invest in renewable energy sources. Models predict that the Energy Innovation Act would reduce American carbon emissions by 40% in the first 12 years, create 2.1 million jobs, and save 295,000 lives through better air quality.
I traveled to Washington, D.C. this past June to join 1,500 members of the national grassroots organization Citizens’ Climate Lobby to ask members of Congress to support the Energy Innovation Act. (After our lobby day, our local U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse became a co-sponsor.) I left the Vail Valley unsure if my voice mattered; I returned with a renewed source of optimism and a reinvigorated will to act.
I’m 24 years old, barely older than our local student climate strikers. We are the generation that, regardless of our beliefs, political ideology, or background, will have to confront the challenges posed by an ever-warming world. The only choice we have is how we respond to these challenges and how we invite others to join us.
I support the Energy Innovation Act as a bipartisan bill that can dramatically lower America’s carbon emissions. I support the youth climate strikers as the voices of my future. And I invite you to join us to learn about climate change, to reduce your own carbon footprint, and to use your voice to call for national and global solutions. We have all the tools we need to fight climate change. So let’s do it.