Opinion: Yes on 2A, 2B: Governments (and Boulder) should take the lead on climate change

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Learn more about 2A, 2B: Climate Tax and bonds (TABOR)

Want a second opinion? Read No on 2A, 2B: Climate tax funds employee paychecks, not carbon reduction

Monday, Oct. 10, 2022

By Fred Hobbs

I shouldn’t have to do this, but considering some of the discussions around this subject, I feel compelled to start this editorial with a statement of fact: Climate change is real, and it is caused by human activity.

Reasonable people should be able to agree with that statement, and further agree that efforts to curtail climate change are necessary for the long-term health of our planet and the citizens living on it, even if they disagree on how to do so, or who is responsible.

The responsibility part of the equation above is at the root of Boulder ballot issues 2A and 2B, and shows why voters should vote “yes” on these initiatives.

Anders Levermann, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, makes a powerful argument that while the burden of tackling climate change (among other major societal issues) seems to be frequently placed on the individual, we need to recognize, “Personal sacrifice alone cannot be the solution to tackling the climate crisis.” Instead, Levermann posits that “global challenges must be tackled by institutions,” specifically governments.

This isn’t a radical idea. We experience this in our country frequently. Whether it is the Marshall Fire or Hurricane Ian, U.S. citizens have historically looked to their government leaders to help recover and rebuild after environmental disasters. Considering that climate change is considered by many to be an existential threat, logic would dictate that, if possible, governments would play a role in combating a crisis before we are forced to rebuild and recover. Climate change is just such a crisis.

It is evident that world governments have been slow to address climate change. It is then fair to ask why Boulder should be willing to embrace a role in attacking climate change when so few others have stepped up?

Several factors that indicate that Boulder is primed to take a leadership role in fighting climate change on a governmental level.

Not surprisingly, the first factor is Boulder’s overwhelming liberal bent. In the last Presidential election, Boulder County voted overwhelmingly Democratic, 77.2% to 20.6%, and Boulder County has voted Democratic in every Presidential election since 2000. A major part of the Democratic Party’s platform in 2020 was a pledge to combat the climate crisis and pursue environmental justice

Clearly, Boulder voters are generally supportive of the idea of the government taking a leading role in trying to reverse the damage that our planet has endured because of human activity. Voting yes on 2A and 2B will help facilitate that.

Political affiliation isn’t the only reason Boulderites should support these measures. For more than 50 years, Boulder has enacted a number of official policies and unofficial constraints like a new building cap, height limits, and open space program that limit population growth. Supporters of this low-growth approach contend that the constraints are necessary to lessen the consumption of resources and protect the surrounding environment. In essence, Boulder has been paying a climate tax through the economic losses incurred by anti-growth policies for decades.

Even without taking the somewhat difficult to quantify costs of anti-growth policies over the years into consideration, Boulder’s city leaders have already demonstrated that they can successfully invest taxpayer funds into programs aimed at reducing human-caused damage to the environment. According to the city’s Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, despite growth in Boulder’s population, gross domestic product (GDP), and square footage, overall emissions in Boulder have decreased 1.3% per year since 2005. This success, while modest, should be celebrated, and more importantly, built upon.

The phrase “If not us, who? If not now, when?” is very appropriate for this year’s ballot, especially when considering measures 2A and 2B. Boulder is positioned perfectly to continue a leadership role in battling climate change, and urgent action on climate change is needed to secure a liveable future, not just for the citizens of Boulder but for the world.

That is why a “yes” vote on both 2A and 2B is not just a choice, but an imperative.

Fred Hobbs is Director of Public Relations at Imagine!, which serves individuals with intellectual disabilities living in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Beat or its writers, editors or owner.

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