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This week, two key committees held their first climate change hearings of the 116th Congress. Today, the Green New Deal was introduced. The 116th Congress is turning belated and much-needed attention to the existential threat climate change poses to our families, communities, lands and wildlife, our nation, and the future.

For the first time in over a decade, we can see a path forward toward meaningful and just climate policies.

Late in 2018, the world’s top climate scientists presented the planet with a dire prediction. Based on the best data, and the best science, we have a little over a decade to transition away from fossil fuels and keep global warming below 1.5C maximum. Any warming above this threshold will cause more droughts, more food insecurity, more extreme heat, more super storms. Even a half degree above 1.5C could mean life or death for millions of people. Because the threat is so severe and so near, past policy proposals to deal with the problem, even from last decade, may no longer do enough, quickly enough, to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The optimistic side of the climate change coin is that we have the technology and ingenuity to transition our economy away from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and toward cleaner, greener renewable energy sources.

The Green New Deal aims to do just that, helping us achieve our climate goals and economic stability, while ensuring that no one is left behind in the green new future. The plan aspires to cut U.S. carbon emissions fast enough to reach the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious climate goal (1.5C) by 2050. Earthworks supports the Green New Deal — bold new policies coupled with investments in communities, infrastructure, and technology to help the United States justly transition to an economy not tied to fossil fuels. We look forward to working with the 116th Congress to craft more detailed legislation to ensure that Green New Deal signals a clear end to the age of dirty energy.

The urgency of the climate crisis could not be clearer, and Earthworks is keen to support efforts to deliver less climate and air pollution, new, better jobs and more resilient communities. On an ongoing basis we see first hand how dirty air and methane, a potent climate pollutant, impacts the communities we work with across the country. We will work tirelessly to ensure that our climate policies protect the people currently in harm’s way in the oil and gas patch, and to ensure that oil and gas is not a part of our green new future.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” It is time for us to courageously, audaciously and persistently make the changes needed to address the climate crisis. Ensuring a livable planet where our children and grandchildren can thrive is the most important task before us, and the visionaries and leaders of the 116th Congress can help us take the essential first few steps.