Climate change needs Utah.
It needs Utah to lead locally and forge solutions aligned with our values and strengths. It needs bipartisan solutions that break down artificial political silos. It needs us to act today so healthy communities still exist tomorrow.
As local government leaders from 16 Utah communities, we applaud the state Legislature in its 2018 passage of House Concurrent Resolution 7. The resolution encourages the “use of sound science to address the causes of a changing climate and support innovation …” and it garnered national attention. If Utah surprised the rest of the country by our ability to transcend politics and adopt this resolution, we are excited to see reactions as we act on those intentions.
Utahns' views are aligned with the scientific consensus on climate change and demonstrate a willingness to act. A 2017 poll shows that 71 percent of Utahns say climate change is real and 64 percent believe the issue is exacerbated by human activity.
Along with local concern about climate change, a few other things are warming up in Utah:
- Temperatures: Utah is warming at twice the global rate in recent decades, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This impacts everything from our air quality to our water supplies to the intensity and duration of the wildfire season. This year proves no exception, with extreme events such as the Dollar Ridge and West Valley fires destroying property and costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
- Clean Energy Trends: For the second year in a row, Utah ranks as a top 10 state for solar installations, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. With over 6,000 solar jobs, Utah now ranks fourth in per-capita solar employment nationally. Clean air electric vehicle adoption is also on the rise, and Utah is a leading innovator in the development of EV charging corridors.
- Climate Leadership: A desire to address climate change is also spurring new initiatives and partnerships. Path to Positive Utah is a collaboration platform supporting over 40 leaders across all sectors. The Utah Climate Action Network has convened local experts and solution-seekers since 2016. Additionally, Citizens’ Climate Lobby has six active local chapters inspiring nonpartisan dialogue and optimism.
As Utahns, we clearly have cause for concern, but also cause for hope. Let’s transform that hope into action.
Let’s harness local values of stewardship and accountability to accelerate positive development trends that cut carbon pollution and curtail rising temperatures.
Let’s collaborate across political lines and geographic boundaries to share solutions, encourage thoughtful policy and accelerate innovation.
Let’s lead in ways that continue to surprise and inspire others nationally.
There are not enough examples of Americans coming together to discuss climate change and creatively forge solutions. There are not enough examples like what Utah can offer.
We have already begun implementing climate solutions in our cities, counties and towns. We ask that you support these efforts and encourage other communities and state leaders to join us.
Let’s seize the moment and build from recent breakthroughs. Let’s be the inspiring example that climate change so desperately needs.
Town of Alta, Mayor Harris Sondak; Cottonwood Heights city, Mayor Michael J. Peterson; Grand County, council members J. Hawks and M. McGann; Heber City, Mayor Kelleen Potter; city of Holladay, Mayor Rob Dahle; Millcreek city, Mayor Jeff Silvestrini; Midway city, Mayor Celeste Johnson; city of Moab, Mayor Emily Niehaus; Park City, Mayor Andy Beerman; Provo city, Mayor Michelle Kaufusi; Salt Lake City, Mayor Jackie Biskupski; Salt Lake County, Mayor Ben McAdams; Sandy city, council member Zach Robinson; South Jordan city, Mayor Dawn Ramsey; Summit County, council members R. Armstrong, K. Carson, D. Clyde, C. Robinson and G. Wright; West Valley City, council member Lars Nordfelt.
Correction: An earlier version misspelled an author's name as Lars Nordfeldt. The correct spelling is Lars Nordfelt.