Close to Home: The view from Glasgow climate summit

November 08, 2021

Climate change is the greatest moral, economic and environmental imperative we are facing as a country — and as a planet — and the policy decisions we make today will impact every future generation. Rising temperatures, severe weather, mass extinction of wildlife, food shortages, historic refugee crises: the consequences of inaction are significant, and the solutions grow more expensive with every passing year.

This is the reality on everyone’s mind as I arrive Monday for the second week of the global climate summit COP26. The world has no time to spare, especially after four years of American inaction and regress during the disastrous Trump administration.

But as we meet in Glasgow, America is back in a big way. Under the leadership of President Joe Biden and his negotiating team, the United States is leading with bold commitments, determined diplomacy and a new sense of urgency recognizing that with the climate crisis, winning slowly is the same thing as losing.

COP26 is one of the largest multilateral diplomatic events in the world, with delegates from over 100 countries working to deliver more than symbolic support for bold climate solutions; the goal here is getting concrete commitments to dramatically reduce carbon pollution. Between the lost Trump years and the postponement of last year’s summit due to the pandemic, the international coalition for climate action is under pressure to make up for lost time and secure a plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The peer-to-peer, face-to-face collaboration and networking of COP26 an important opportunity to do that.

Biden got COP26 off to a good start by making clear that the United States is not only asking other countries to slash emissions, we’re stepping up to share the financial burdens for developing countries, and we’re undertaking bold initiatives like new regulations to comprehensively tackle methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure — the first move of its kind by our federal government.

Congress is also very close to passing Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which is the largest legislative effort to combat climate change in American history. I’ve been honored to play a leading role in shaping, negotiating and in the days ahead passing this critical bill. As part of the congressional delegation in Glasgow, I’m looking forward to sharing the details of the Build Back Better Act with our international colleagues at COP26.

My colleagues and I will do our best to reinforce and amplify the work of our American negotiating team, and as representatives of different states and diverse communities, we will also share our unique stories that showcase how the climate crisis is impacting folks’ lives and how states and local communities — including many in the North Bay — are stepping up with climate solutions. Sonoma County has led the way, and I’m grateful that Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, an environmental champion who is making a difference in our region, will be joining me in Glasgow to tell that story and collaborate with community leaders from around the globe.

The world will be watching what America does in the weeks and months ahead to see if our commitment to climate action is real and politically durable. To meet this crisis, we need unprecedented cooperation from the nations of the world to rapidly transition to clean energy and dramatically cut carbon pollution. American leadership is essential for that to happen.

I’ll keep working with the Biden administration and congressional colleagues to make sure our federal government is taking bold action. But American leadership also includes climate solutions that are increasingly being led at the subnational level — in the private and public sectors and including local climate champions like Hopkins and her colleagues in Sonoma County.

The world is falling short right now of what’s needed to preserve a livable planet, and Glasgow is the kickoff for a make-or-break decade of ambition, action and innovation. It’s worrisome to know that the consequences of failure are so extreme. But if we succeed in meeting this moment, the upside — building back better with clean energy, creating millions of jobs and securing a cleaner, greener, healthier and more resilient future for everyone — is more than worth it.

Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, represents California’s 2nd Congressional District.

By:  Rep. Jared Huffman
Source: Press Democrat