Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu (LAW ’94) of California advocated action on climate change.

Charlotte Allen is a staff writer for The Hoya.

Now is the time to discuss climate change policy, according to Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu (LAW ’94) of California.
Lieu spoke at the Social, Economic and Financial Challenges in Energy Inclusion event in the Healey Family Student Center on Wednesday evening.

Lieu, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and on the House of Foreign affairs Committee, gave the keynote address. Because Lieu was unable to attend the event in person because of an unexpected change in Congress’ voting schedule due to Hurricane Harvey, Lieu delivered the address remotely by telephone. Hosted by the Georgetown University & Santander Partnership on Social Economy, the event was part of the Annual Finance and Human Development Series.

The event also featured panels moderated by President of B360, Inc. Peter Karenge, PEPCO’s Vice President of Utility of the Future Karen Lefkowitz, the Director of the Department of Energy & Environment Tommy Wells and Georgetown history professor David Painter and McCourt School of Public Policy professor Paasha Mahdavi.

“Our overall aim of Georgetown University and the Santander Group is to contribute to social justice and to think of economy not just as the bottom line but more about how we can have a responsible economy, and that is how this particular event was conceived,” Mahdavi said.

Lieu advocated the importance of addressing the environment and climate change as a political issue.
“All of you [students] are there because you understand the importance of the environment and climate — not just to America but to humanity,” Lieu said. “One of the first bills I introduced in Congress last term took California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act and tried to make it national and set goals for our country to hit.”

According to Lieu, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act is relatively simple and sets clear goals. Under the law, California is aiming for a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

“Fifteen years ago people were still questioning whether climate change was even happening. Many of them no longer question that. They realize that they cannot simply ignore the measurements and the facts and now the debate has shifted to ‘Well, we’re not really sure what is causing the climate to change,’” Lieu said.

Lieu suggested the increased frequency of extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Irma and Harvey may continue to hasten the public conversation about combatting climate change.

“Hopefully America realizes [the problem] before it’s too late. We’re fighting the fight on Capitol Hill and hopefully with the help of all of you we can continue to change hearts and minds and eventually get some climate change policy done,” Lieu said.

Lieu said efforts to counter climate change should note that it affects poorer communities most severely.

“When it gets hot in California, most of my constituents can turn on an air conditioner,” said Lieu, “But there are districts in America where when it gets very hot there are people who are going to die. Climate change does affect people differently depending on wealth and poverty level and access to resources, so I think it is important that we keep that in mind as we put out solutions to climate change.”

Lieu said his passion for the environment comes from a desire to improve the planet for future generations.

“The reason I’m so passionate about these issues is based on a quote I read long ago. It’s attributed to a Native American and says, ‘We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,’” Lieu said. “I just want to make sure that my children and my grandchildren have an environment that is the same or better than what we have now — that is currently not the case. We’re about to pass on to our children and grandchildren a far worse environment.”

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