A letter to the U.S. Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the climate crisis. My name is Clara Fang and I live in Detroit, Michigan, a city that has suffered half a century of disinvestment and environmental injustice. Our neighborhoods have been exploited by capitalism and ripped apart by racism for generations. We suffer some of the highest rates of air pollution, blight, poverty, and crime in the country. The solutions we need are not more police, or wealthy developers to build expensive condos and shopping malls in our neighborhoods. We need investments that improve the environment and people’s health, measures such as clean energy, affordable housing, access to fresh food and clean water. Climate action can do all of the above for our community.

We know that the impact of climate change in the U.S. is widespread, and this is extensively documented in the Fourth National Climate Assessment (2018). We know that people of color are disproportionately harmed by climate change. Climate change exacerbates air pollution, and according to the NAACP, 68 percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, compared to 56 percent of Whites (NAACP, 2012). African Americans are more likely to live in places with more dangerously hot temperatures (above 105 degrees Fahrenheit) and are twice as likely to die from dangerous heat compared to other groups (Mom’s Clean Air Force, 2020). Among other groups, Latinos are three times more likely to die from asthma than other racial or ethnic groups in the United States (Hennelly, 2014). 

You asked for personal stories of how climate change is affecting Americans. I invite you to explore the Climate Stories Project, an educational and artistic forum for sharing stories about personal and community responses to climate change. You can also view a collection of youth climate stories at https://ourclimateourfuture.org/map/. Another resource is the Carbon Pricing Testimonials Project, where we collected hundreds of testimonials from young people on why they support carbon pricing as a solution to climate change. 

In terms of solutions to climate change, many organizations have analyzed and prioritized climate solutions for decades. The research is not lacking, only the political will. Project Draw Down, led by Paul Hawkens, collaborated with the world’s leading researchers to analyze and prioritize the top 100 global solutions to climate change. Their top recommendations include refrigerant management, reducing food waste, and family planning. The World Resources Institute conducts rigorous, peer-reviewed research to help policymakers identify practical policy solutions. They have published many policy reports on administrative, legislative, and subnational recommendations to address climate change. They recently released 4 Ways to Strengthen Climate Action in the Wake of COVID-19.  I trust these experts in their assessment of the most effective ways we should tackle climate change.

Personally, I believe that a price on carbon such as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is the most powerful legislative measure to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763) is a market-based climate policy that would put a price on carbon pollution and return revenue to American households. Studies show that if implemented, it would reduce U.S. emissions 36% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 while creating 2.1 million jobs. This approach has been identified by scientists and more than 3,500 economists as the simplest, most effective and economically sound first step to address the climate crisis. It is supported by more than 1000 businesses, nonprofits, local governments, and prominent individuals. When introduced on November 27, 2018, The Energy Innovation Act was the first bipartisan climate bill in Congress since 2008. It currently has 84 co-sponsors, more than any climate bill in U.S. history.

All of these measures would not be very effective if we do not end subsidies for fossil fuel companies, ban fossil fuel development, and get fossil fuel money out of our democracy! The lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry has been the number one obstacle to common sense climate solutions, and it is killing us. People all over the country literally can’t breathe. How can this and the destruction of our atmosphere be an acceptable tradeoff for profit?

I do not believe we need any more comments, opinions, or research on what we should do about climate change. 72% of Americans support regulating CO2 as a pollutant (Yale Climate Opinion Maps, 2019). You need to listen to the experts and do as the people demand. So please help us, for the sake of our communities, future generations, and our global brothers and sisters, and don’t anymore delay.

One thought on “A letter to the U.S. Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis

  1. Personally I believe a climate club – Carrot and stick where America and like minded countries promote a 2050 target of zero emissions. You can only join the club and have access the Western world markets. (basically an extension of existing Australia bilateral trade agreements to other countries). Europe, EEC Australia and NZ already have a low tariff regime they just need to extend it to the club. Expulsion will occur if you do not meet certain milestones. It can be achieved by carbon price but could be other means. The current international agreements have no carrot or stick. Those countries that have existing low tariffs agreements between bilateral or multilateral agreements have little to change to establish the club. This way money and technology is transferred to lower developing countries and progressively moves to a free trade environment with the added benefit of lower emissions. a Global Free Trade Agreement that removes pollution in the atmosphere by greater cooperation and access to each others markets. Stick – lose free trade access. Only, USA needs to lead!

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