O'ROURKE: Day one, re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement. On that same day, make sure that we lead the world in going well beyond the Paris Climate Agreement. Ensure that we regulate and enforce reduced greenhouse gas emissions from methane, and then get to net zero on public lands by ensuring we have no new oil and gas leases on federally protected lands and offshore areas that are now being drilled today. Those three steps are a great place to start and a good pace to set. And then we follow that up by making sure that we have legally enforceable standards every single year over which no polluter can emit. We make sure that we get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, earlier if we can. And then we protect the most vulnerable communities, those who are on the front lines of climate change and pollution, making sure that we ensure that there's environmental justice in this country.
O'ROURKE: We should certainly price carbon. I think the best possible path to do that is through a cap-and-trade system. There would be allowances granted or sold to polluters, not just in the energy sector but in transportation as well as our industrial sector--cement, steel, the chemicals that we produce. There would be a set number of allowances that would decrease every single year. Because the clock is running, we have a little more than 10 years left. We don't have time to experiment. So I think that is the best possible path to ensure that there's a price for carbon and pollution in our economy.
Q: Just to be clear, do you support a carbon tax? Yes or no?
O'ROURKE: No. I think that cap-and-trade is the best possible path. I think that's the best way to send the pricing signal to ensure that there is a legally enforceable limit. And so that's the path that I'm going to choose.
My son Henry, who's 8 years old, when I was talking to him the other night, he asked me, "Dad, if you win and you become president, we get to live in El Paso right?" And I said, "No, if we win, the way this works we would live in Washington DC" But he knew because I had told him about the warming that we face, that our community will be uninhabitable, not sustain human life, along this current trajectory, unless something dramatically and fundamentally changes. So the people of El Paso-- and the desert Southwest and the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans--are counting on all of us right now to stand up and be counted and do the right thing to ensure that we do not warm a degree and a half Celsius over those pre-industrial revolution levels.
O'ROURKE: Our involvement and investment in Brazil is one of the pernicious outcomes of Donald Trump's trade policies. This trade war with China is providing an incentive for people to burn down the Amazon rainforest to plant soybeans so that they can sell into China because China right now is looking for new producers for those soybeans that they are no longer buying from the U.S. Our focus [should be] to save the lungs of the planet that produce 6 percent of the oxygen that we breathe and to ensure that we do not trigger a crisis in the Amazon. Once it is set, we will never be able to roll back. This is our opportunity. That is the threat that we face. And so we must be an international leader on these issues.
O'ROURKE: I hope it makes everybody angry the way that we've treated the people of Puerto Rico, our fellow Americans who were left in harms' way without the necessary investment in the infrastructure to mitigate the storms that we knew were going to hit them. There are only more severe and more frequent and more devastating, thanks to our emissions & our inaction in the face of climate change. And to add insult to injury, President Trump is taking money away from FEMA. So I want to make sure that we fully fund those disaster response agencies. I want to make sure that we fully fund pre-disaster mitigation grants because we know the people of Puerto Rico are going to see more storms--only much larger and much deadlier. And so we need to invest ahead of time, not afterwards.
The above quotations are from 2019 CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall .
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