Albuquerque Journal

Time is now for all to act on climate

Climate Solutions Act will ensure those who have worked in energy, sacrificed land will have a voice in the transition to green

- BY NENA BENAVIDEZ Nena Benavidez comes from a long tradition of miners and lives in Silver City.

The science is crystal clear. We have less than 10 years to radically change our course or face the great consequenc­es of our ongoing ecological destructio­n spanning from our extractive industries.

According to the 2018 Intergover­nmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s best scientists said we need to drasticall­y move toward decarboniz­ing our energy economy if we want a habitable planet for our future generation­s.

By delaying any action on climate change and its immediate threat to our lives, we are working against our own futures.

The climate crisis is real, and it is impacting the lives of everyday New Mexicans in real ways. Our communitie­s have witnessed bigger wildfires, severe water droughts, and weaker snow packs, all of which are threatenin­g our way of life by depleting our water sources. In fact, according to a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, New Mexico’s major water sources have seen a decrease of up to 37%, compared to the total average throughout the 20th century.

In many ways our communitie­s feel cornered because they understand the need to address the climate crisis but are perpetuall­y told our communitie­s will perish unless we continue to bow down to extractive industries. It is time to take the reins of our future — we the people working and living in the belly of the beast; we who put our lives on the line to extract our natural resources; and we who have been historical­ly abused by corporatio­ns.

Without a doubt we are at a turning point, not only in the history of New Mexico, but in terms of determinin­g the prospect of human existence. We must act swiftly and boldly, before it is too late. And we can’t continue to destroy our children’s homelands and futures, only for the accumulati­on of wealth of a few out-of-state CEOs who could care less about our communitie­s.

But there is good news on the horizon. This is because New Mexico has an opportunit­y to be a role model to the rest of the country in how to act on climate while making sure these decisions are informed by hard-working New Mexicans. The opportunit­y is called House Bill 9 — NM Climate Solutions Act.

HB 9 arose from the need for a just transition to a clean and healthy environmen­t, with a thriving economy that respects our history and tradition of hard work, and one led by us — frontline communitie­s. It is time for us to be first in line for training and access to the high-quality jobs of the future in emission and pollution reduction, and clean energy.

The Climate Solutions Act is oneof-a-kind in the nation. This bill will put us, workers who for generation­s have sacrificed our land and health for extractive industries, at the front of leading N.M.’s economic diversific­ation while also addressing the root causes of the climate crisis.

For far too long, we have not been included in the decision making of N.M.’s energy future. It is time we change that. We must commit to working for the bold, new solutions our communitie­s deserve.

If New Mexico wants to live up to its proclaimed leadership on climate, it is time to show the nation that a healthy and clean environmen­t does not contradict a diverse and sustainabl­e economy. Now is the time to support and pass the Climate Solutions Act.

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