Two weeks ago, U.S. Senator Tom Carper's wife returned from a trip to Antarctica.
"She came back and said 'that place is melting.' Last week, the temperature in Antarctica hit 65 degrees, it's never been that hot," said Carper.
As the glaciers melt, wildfires rage in Australia, and the U.S. wraps a year of record warmth.
Carper linked all of it to climate change.
"Australia...last month, was on fire. I was born in West Virginia; I think the fires destroyed a part of Australia the size of the state in which I as born. Billions of animals, birds killed in all of that, and if this doesn't get our attention, something should," he said.
On Capitol Hill, the ranking member of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee introduced the Clean Economy Act Tuesday, February 11, 2020, which seeks to confront the effects of climate change head-on.
"We need to be truthful, and we especially need to be truthful with respect to what's happening on our planet...this should be an issue that unites us, not divides us."
The bill, supported by 33 legislators, seeks to achieve zero-net emissions in this country no later than 2050. Carper called it an "aggressive" yet "achievable" path as he celebrated the Clean Indoor Air Act, the 50th anniversary of the Environmental Protection agency, and said we should be looking forward to the next 50 years.
"The EPA already has the authority, it's got the tools, to reduce climate change emissions, but under this administration, EPA's policy have been used not to decrease harmful emissions, but instead to increase them. Our bill empowers EPA to use the authorities and tools already at their disposal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than the middle of this century."
The Clean Economy Act calls on the EPA to limit greenhouse gases while minimizing costs to consumers and providing regulatory flexibility. The legislation also calls for the EPA to protect front-line communities and prioritize American workers.
"We know climate change disproportionately affects impoverished and disadvantaged communities," Carper said. "Use domestic materials, embrace strong labor standards to get the job done, relying on our country's immigration, our talents, to make the transition [to] net-zero emissions by no later than 2050."
The senator said that the world’s leading scientists have warned that humanity must limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. According to the United Nations annual Emissions Gap Report released last month, collective global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not yet substantial enough to reach that temperature goal.
Carper called for the U.S. to lead the way.
"We can do everything in the book on the planet, and if we're the only one that's doing it, then that's not very helpful. But if we do the right thing, other nations will join in and follow us."
To read the full text of the bill, click here.