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Apr 11, 2019

Guest blog post by Ernesto Fonseca, Chief Executive Officer, Hacienda CDC

When discussing matters of universal concern like climate change, facts and figures can be helpful in learning about the scope of the challenge. But, they aren’t very effective when it comes to inspiring the human heart.

By now, you’ve surely heard the frightening predictions -- backed by endless streams of hard data -- on how many millions of people are being affected by climate change. Statistics can be overwhelming and easy to dismiss, but this data translates to real pain for countless individuals and their family members. I see this pain in own community. I hear stories from people every day about how climate change already impacts their lives. As I converse with community members...

  • I hear about how older people deal with excessive heat in the summer and bitter cold in the winter in our far less affluent neighborhoods because they live in houses that are not properly weatherized. The lack of weatherization not only impacts their comfort and wellbeing but results in high energy bills, forcing some families to make the impossible choice between groceries and heat.

  • I hear parents lament that their children can’t play outdoors during wildfire season because smoke and particulates make it dangerous for them to do so. And wildfire season is only getting longer and more severe each year.

  • I hear from families with loved ones who struggle with asthma, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions. They struggle to balance their complex healthcare needs with the demands of work and everyday life. Climate change only makes the struggle harder, leading to more lost work days, unsafe outdoor working conditions, and more trips to the ER due to asthma exacerbations.

In short -- we all will suffer the impacts of climate change, but no one suffers its ravages more than the poor. I have plenty of statistics that prove the truth of this, but it’s the personal stories from my community that compelled me the most to advocate for policy that will change their reality.

Clean Energy Jobs (HB 2020) is a policy that requires big greenhouse gas emitters like oil companies to show the same level of responsibility for cutting pollution that we do by having our car emissions checked or paying to have our trash removed.

Clean Energy Jobs can help us stave off the most destructive impacts of climate change while creating good paying jobs in our local communities, and providing funds to help individuals weatherize their homes, make energy efficiency upgrades, and take advantage of on-site clean energy.

The law will also dramatically reduce the carbon, sulfur, arsenic, and mercury pollution, which doctors and nurses say will mean fewer emergency room visits for asthma, and reduced risk for heart disease and cancer. That’s why the American Lung Association strongly supports HB 2020 too.

Lawmakers are deliberating the policy now, and need to hear from their constituents every day about why it is critical we pass it. Oregon must do its part to combat climate change. We owe our children a better world. With this proposed law, our state will be a leading example for others to follow as states and countries work together to stop climate change.

We still have time to right our course and change our climate future, but the window to do so is closing quickly. My hope is that we can all open our hearts and minds to the reality that we are all in this together. The climate crisis impacts us all. We all want a peaceful, healthy environment within which to nurture our families, which is why we must seize the opportunity before us and pass Clean Energy Jobs into law.