Huffman’s trip reveals positive signs, continuing obstructions as climate fight continues – Marin Independent Journal

Not long ago, it felt like dire warnings were necessary to get people to even think about climate change. Today, it’s a different challenge.

Worst-case scenarios climate scientists have warned about for decades – including crippling droughts, extreme heat waves, catastrophic wildfires and rising sea levels – are unfolding. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, I saw how the reality of our worsening climate crisis is changing the conversation.

The fossil-fuel industry and its allies can no longer credibly deny climate change, so they’ve pivoted to delay, distraction and obstruction. That agenda was on display at COP27: glitzy “green” Saudi exhibits, a Republican “climate solutions” group pimping natural gas and hundreds of embedded fossil-fuel industry delegates. There were attempts by “petro states” to weaken language in the COP27 document and undermine stronger decarbonization commitments in the developing world by stoking conflict over who should pay for “loss and damage.”

Thankfully, there’s growing momentum for climate action. COP27 buzzed with excitement about the Biden administration’s climate achievements, especially the Inflation Reduction Act’s $369 billion in clean energy and climate resiliency investments. Our indefatigable “special climate envoy” John Kerry worked tirelessly to lock in major deals to increase other countries’ ambition while demonstrating our commitment to helping developing nations decarbonize and adapt to climate impacts.

I’ve been to three COPs (Conferences of the Parties) during my time in Congress. My experiences run the gamut – navigating the anxiety of COP25 as we assured the world that America was “still in” even as Donald Trump wreaked havoc, managing skepticism at COP26 based on promises of climate action under new Democratic leadership and, now, cautious enthusiasm Because America is starting to deliver on our promises.

There is nothing simple about the path forward. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires transforming a global economy running on fossil fuels into one producing net-zero carbon pollution by mid-century. We must do this in a world riven by wars, disasters, geopolitical rivalries and mounting resentment that impoverished nations are bearing the brunt of a climate crisis caused mainly by wealthy nations. And this new climate-forward course must be in motion by the end of this decade.

Achieving these audacious goals requires a lot of things, none more important than American leadership. It felt good to hold our heads high knowing the US is back in a climate leadership position. The fact that we are fulfilling our promises helps other nations step up.