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Boyle: ‘New Deal’ takes on a green tint

February 17, 2016
In The News

Last month, as President Obama was delivering his last State of the Union Address , I sat in the House chamber and reflected on what I believe to be one of his greatest achievements in office: his leadership these last seven years to tackle global climate change.

Gone are the days when the United States either refused to acknowledge the scientific consensus on climate change or commit to a plan to address it.

The year 2015 may one day be seen as a real turning point. It was the warmest year ever according to a recent report. 2015 was also the year that the world united around the realization that it is within our power to protect our communities from the impacts of a warming planet and joined in a real commitment to do just that. December’s Paris Climate Agreement, unanimously approved by 195 nations thanks to strong leadership from the United States, signals to the world that our days of looking the other way are numbered.

In addition to this landmark accord, the president has taken other major actions that will make a difference. Last month, the president also signed into law a renewal of federal tax credits that are instrumental to the growth of wind and solar energy. In October, he canceled oil drilling leases in the ecologically fragile Arctic Ocean. Finally, over the past year the president’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever national limit on climate-changing pollution from power plants.

Pennsylvania’s power plants emit as much carbon pollution as the entire country of Chile. Our collective action here at home is critical to global climate progress and spurring other nations to match our efforts. Thanks to U.S. leadership, last year China pledged to cap its emissions and contribute over $3 billion to help poorer countries finance their own clean energy transition.

Here in Pennsylvania, we’re ready to transform our state into a clean energy behemoth by embracing the future, and the president’s historic climate legacy. We can invest in home weatherization projects that will create thousands of good paying jobs, save consumers money in the blistering hot summer or freezing cold winter, and reduce our carbon emissions through energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources. Philadelphia has committed to installing 20,000 solar roofs by 2025, and there’s potential to go even further.

At the Paris Climate Summit, President Obama said, “Our progress should give us hope that is rooted in collective action.” This climate progress gives me hope that my young daughter will grow up in a more livable world.

Walking this path will not be easy. We–and indeed every country in the world–will have to do much more to get the job done. American leadership is essential, and I firmly believe that our actions today are an insurance policy for future generations.

So as we move forward in 2016, let’s make a resolution as Pennsylvanians to realize the promise of President Obama’s leadership on climate change and the Paris Climate Agreement by leading our nation’s transition to a clean energy future. This year, I hope climate deniers resolve to instead be a part of the solution. Together, we can create the clean energy future that Pennsylvanians deserve.

Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA) represents the 13th Congressional District, which includes Philadelphia and Montgomery County.