Brenda Gilmore: A unified local and federal effort is vital to combating climate change | Opinion

·2 min read

World leaders from around the globe have finished their work at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland where nearly 200 nations came together with the goal of averting a climate crisis.

This United Nations conference closed with a tough agreement that calls on countries to return next year with stronger emissions-reduction targets and promises to double the money available to help countries cope with the effects of global warming.

As a Tennessee senator, I have joined with over 490 legislators from 47 states and territories to call on the federal government to raise our ambition and strengthen our national climate commitments.

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The time for action is now

As the largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to lead the world toward achieving net zero emissions by or before 2050.

As a Nashvillian, I see firsthand the impacts of climate change. Since 2010, Tennessee has experienced at least 40 extreme weather events costing the state up to $20 billion in damages.

Across the country this year, Americans have experienced historic damages from massive hurricanes and deadly wildfires to drought, heatwaves and cold snaps.

That’s why we have to make progress on transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels.

Guest Speaker Senator Brenda Gilmore spoke at the graduation ceremony held on Friday, May 21, 2021.
Guest Speaker Senator Brenda Gilmore spoke at the graduation ceremony held on Friday, May 21, 2021.

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Tennessee has made steps

In October, the Tennessee legislature agreed to invest nearly $1 billion to help Ford develop electric trucks. Expanding access to electric vehicles is key to reducing carbon emissions, but it should not be the only action we take in the Volunteer State.

States across the country have been at the forefront of climate action while building a new clean energy economy and addressing systemic inequities.

For example, more than two-thirds of U.S. states and territories have some form of Renewable Portfolio Standard or Clean Energy Standard, and more than a dozen have committed to 100% clean energy. States are also transitioning fleets to zero-emissions vehicles, making buildings more energy efficient, and protecting natural landscapes to enhance carbon sequestration.

Time and again, states continue to fill the void of climate action at the federal level. But in this critical moment, we must stand as united states.

Together, with strong international, national, and state action, we can take the steps that are needed to avoid further climate catastrophe. That is why I encourage President Biden, Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Bill Hagerty to consider this your mandate from Tennessee.

Match and enhance our ambition and dedication in every negotiation room.

While state action is crucial, we can’t do this alone. States rely on the federal government to serve as a strong baseline for climate action.

The U.S. federal government must lead by example in committing to and achieving full decarbonization, just as we strive to do so in our own states.

Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, is the Tennessee chairwoman of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. She represents Tennessee’s 19th senatorial district, which stretches from Whites Creek to Antioch.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Combat climate change with a unified local, state and federal effort

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