The climate crisis has not been a stranger in Wisconsin in recent years. While we’ve enjoyed our four beautiful seasons, we have also seen increasingly severe temperature swings and weather events across the state. The climate crisis threatens to upend our Wisconsin way of life, whether through changes to our growing seasons, eroding coastlines or the disparate long-term health and economic effects of extreme weather.
The climate crisis is not just a Wisconsin problem. It is one we need to confront with the rest of the world. Beginning this week, President Joe Biden and leaders from across the world are coming together in Glasgow for COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, to discuss how we will address the climate crisis. I have joined with more than 490 state legislators from 45 states in calling on the federal government to raise our ambition and strengthen our national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.
The time for action is now, and as the largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to reach net zero emissions before 2050.
Across the country, we’ve seen historic damage from hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, flooding, heat waves and cold snaps. I have seen firsthand the beginning of major disruptions in our state’s weather patterns due to the changing climate.
That’s why we have to make sure that Wisconsin and the rest of the country are ready to mitigate climate impacts and adapt to our already changing world. Here at home, we’re identifying key areas of Wisconsin’s infrastructure and economy where it will be necessary to adapt so that future generations of Wisconsinites have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful state. By prioritizing conservation, sustainable agriculture practices, resiliency and family supporting green jobs, Wisconsin has the chance to rein in climate change.
The movement has spread all across the country. Communities in every corner of the United States have been leading the charge on climate action. While state and local action is crucial, we can’t do this alone. If we’re going to tackle the climate crisis on a global scale, we need the federal government to step up too. Our bold steps can serve as a roadmap for federal action.
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, including Wisconsin’s pledge to achieve 100% carbon-free electric energy by 2050. States are transitioning fleets to zero-emissions vehicles, making buildings more energy efficient, protecting natural landscapes to enhance carbon sequestration and addressing longstanding environmental injustices.
Time and again, communities have stepped up to the plate on climate. But in this critical moment, we must take a root-and-branch approach to climate action — at the local, state and federal levels. Together we can take the steps that are needed to avoid further climate catastrophe and reduce environmentally driven inequities.
That is why I encourage Biden and the entire Wisconsin congressional delegation to consider this your mandate from Wisconsin. Match and enhance our ambition and dedication in every negotiating room. The U.S. must lead by example in committing to tackle the climate crisis so our children and grandchildren can enjoy the Wisconsin we know and love.