Decades of scientific research have all come to the same conclusion that human activity is responsible for the warming of our planet. Increases in carbon emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels are trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and causing irreversible damage to our planet. Rising sea levels, the melting and loss of glaciers, intense heat waves, and other extreme weather events will continue to take place as some of the worst effects of climate change. Areas of our planet will one day become inhabitable, people will be displaced from their homes due to weather events, and agriculture production will be threatened if we fail to take action.
All hope is not lost. If we work to greatly reduce carbon emissions in our lifetime, we can prevent further damage to Earth. Virginia has the opportunity to be a leader on climate change issues by making the necessary investments in our energy infrastructure and divesting from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Offshore wind power has already been successfully implemented off the coast of Virginia Beach as a clean, sustainable alternative. A substantial solar and geothermal grid in Virginia will further our goal of zero carbon emissions.
A transition of this magnitude will create thousands of well-paying union jobs in Virginia in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and renewable energy. A special emphasis on retraining current workers in the energy industry should be prioritized along with providing training for workers in marginalized communities that have disproportionately been the most affected by the harmful effects of pollution from carbon emissions.
While transitioning to clean energy, we need to also look at our modes of transportation and where we can further achieve our goals. Investments in reliable, energy-efficient public transportation will give workers the ability to live closer to their places of employment and free up carbon-emitting cars from roadways. Innovations in electric vehicle technology will bring down vehicle costs while providing clean alternatives to gas and diesel-powered vehicles.
As Delegate, I’m looking forward to working with environmental allies and partners in the transition to a clean energy economy so that Virginia can lead the nation in renewable energy and create thousands of jobs of the future.