Rep. Curbelo, Mayor Gimenez and County Commissioner Sosa Speak Out On Climate Challenges, Need for Solutions
MIAMI, FL | May 23, 2016
Today, South Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa spoke to an audience of business leaders, community leaders and concerned citizens about the challenges climate change presents to the region’s economy and infrastructure, and about potential solutions. Event sponsors included the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center, Defend Our Future and Voto Latino.
Congressman Curbelo (R – Homestead, Florida Keys), along with south Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D – Boca Raton) created a bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which has brought Republicans and Democrats in Congress together to discuss preparing for climate impacts and responsible energy policies.
“Congressman Ted Deutch and I figured out that as long as this is a partisan issue, we are not going to make any progress, and here in south Florida we don’t have the luxury of waiting,” Mr. Curbelo told the crowd. “We know that we do have to reduce carbon emissions. What Ted Deutch and I are working on is building a consensus toward a more market-driven approach to reducing carbon emissions, something that’s more predictable, less arbitrary and something that business and communities can plan for. So, stay tuned for that.”
County Commissioner Sosa talked about the need to work across party lines to address sea level rise and climate change. “Sea level rise has no party. Saltwater intrusion has no party. Drinking water has no party.”
Attendees heard more from the speakers about their plans for addressing climate change challenges, while ensuring the region’s economy would continue to grow.
When asked about the County’s own efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint, Mayor Gimenez responded, “We are committed to reducing our greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050. We don’t burn coal…being green is actually good for our health, being green is also part of livability. With everything that we do, we look to make Miami-Dade County a more livable community and that goes hand in hand with reducing our carbon footprint.”
“Defend Our Future is committed to moving the national conversation about climate change past the old partisan divides and forward to common sense solutions,” said Alicia Prevost, Director of Defend Our Future, a campaign focused on mobilizing young people to change the politics around climate change. “The elected officials here today are listening to their constituents – including a large majority of young people – who want leaders to act on climate challenges, regardless of their political affiliation.”
“South Florida has a lot to lose from the impacts of climate change, but it has a lot to gain from implementing solutions,” says The Nature Conservancy’s Global Policy Director, Lynn Scarlett, who was formerly Deputy Secretary of the Interior under the George W. Bush Administration. “The problems are serious, but many of the solutions – implementing more renewable energy sources, and smarter grid technology and management, for instance – offer incredible opportunities for communities like South Florida, that are well-positioned to take advantage of solar power.”
South Florida is among the most vibrant, fastest growing economic areas in the United States, yet faces some of the most serious vulnerabilities to climate change. Here are some of the risks South Florida faces to its economy and communities:
PROPERTY. Sea level rise poses a staggering risk to South Florida property. According to the Risky Business Project, “$69 billion in coastal property in Florida that is not at risk today may flood at high tide by 2030…That amount is projected to climb to $152 billion by 2050.” (Miami Herald, July 27, 2015)
ENERGY. Extreme storms, sea level rise, heat waves and other climate change impacts threaten the integrity and capacity of Florida’s power grid. (Department of Energy, April, 2015)
TOURISM The beaches of Southeastern Florida attract millions of visitors annually and are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. In 2014, Miami visitors contributed an estimated $23.8 billion directly into the Miami-Dade economy. (South Florida Business Journal, May 15, 2015)
FISHING INDUSTRY Climate change threatens the Fishing Capital of the World and its $9 billion fishing economy. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Commissioner Sosa provided powerful commentary on our moral obligation to act on climate. “Our commitment is and has to be for future generations, for my grandchildren, for your children and grandchildren. We have a commitment, and the commitment is a moral commitment.”
About Defend Our Future
Defend Our Future (defendourfuture.org), an initiative of Environmental Defense Fund, is mobilizing young people to change the politics around climate change so we can make progress on the most important environmental issue of our time. We are building a nationwide movement of student leaders, artists, actors, comedians, companies and others who support action on climate to protect the environment for future generations.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.