Utah Signs Climate and Clean Air Compact

By Jennifer Roberts

Our Path to Positive Partner, Utah Clean Energy, had exciting news this week – the signing of a new Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact. Progressive and conservative state and local leaders signed this compact in a virtual ceremony in support of a healthy, clean energy, clean air future for Utah.

Journalist Thomas Friedman gave a rousing speech to celebrate the virtual signing ceremony. Friedman framed climate change as a math problem.  There will be a billion more people on the planet by 2030, he reminded us, and we cannot continue to feed and house all of us with fossil-fuel based economies. The market is moving that direction but it needs support to move fast enough.  The Utah Compact, with activists joining bankers and government leaders on both sides of the aisle in support, is a role model for tackling big challenges in meaningful ways: “Big hard things can only be done together.”

Friedman framed the transformation of Utah’s energy economy as a great market opportunity, and a way to lead the globe in new energy technologies. If America does not turn toward this opportunity with the appropriate market incentives and public support, someone else will take the lead – and the profits.  In Friedman’s words, the last thing America wants is to “go from being dependent on Saudi oil to being dependent on Chinese clean energy technology.”

Thomas Friedman speaking on Utah Compact

Friedman laid out four areas where we need to take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  • More energy efficient building standards
  • More stringent fuel efficiency standards
  • De-carbonizing the electric grid
  • Performance standards for manufacturing

Public support will be crucial, and in order to bring people together we need to listen to each other.  In our Path to Positive guidance, Let’s Talk Communities and Climate, we underscore this – you need to respect different views, and to acknowledge the ambivalence around the issue.  When you show respect and build rapport, you can move to fruitful discussion and debate. As Friedman put it, it is important “what you say when you listen.”

To solve a problem, Friedman said you have to name it, frame it, scale it, shape it, and then inspire it. On climate, America needs to name the increasing natural disasters and rising heat we are experiencing for what it is – climate change.  We need to frame it as a human-caused problem for which we have the solutions at hand.  We need to scale those solutions nationally and globally to have the needed impact, and shape them to the culture and geography of the people affected. Finally, and this is what we strive to do at ecoAmerica and Path to Positive every day, we need to inspire Americans to pursue these solutions.  Many of our recent conversations on our Let’s Talk Climate channel have highlighted inspirational climate leaders from around our country. You can view all recorded episodes here.

Congratulations Utah, on moving your state forward with your Climate and Clean Air Compact. Here at Path to Positive we look forward to continuing to work with you as you model the kind of collaborative action that Americans are capable of in solving our toughest challenges. And thank you Thomas Friedman, for being a strong advocate for climate action and solutions. To echo his words, we absolutely have the time and the technology to save the climate, our health, and our futures, starting right now.




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