Iowa has vested interest in combating climate change

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Linn County this week joined the ranks of local entities from around the country pledging to meet the spirit of the Paris agreement on climate change without the benefit of federal leadership.

A resolution making the county part of the “We Are Still In” coalition earned unanimous approval Monday. The group is a direct and public response by American businesses, local governments, universities, foundations, elected officials and other leaders to President Donald Trump’s decision in June to abandon the international agreement.

While Linn County is one of the newest signatories, it joins several other Iowa entities. Those are the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Grinnell College, Coe College, Luther College, Johnson County, city leaders in Dubuque, Des Moines, Fairfield and Iowa City, Attorney General Tom Miller, and a plethora of Iowa-tied organizations and businesses too numerous to list here.

We applaud the groups and individuals who have volunteered to take on the monumental task of combating climate change, and encourage more Iowa-based entities to openly support this movement or those with similar goals.

Local groups, governments and businesses have good reason to take on leadership roles. Not only can they affect positive changes, they will shoulder the negative effects of climate change. It’s not by chance that the Iowa groups most quickly committing to continued reduction of greenhouse gas and carbon emissions are those living under the threat of extreme weather events like flooding.

As 188 researchers and scientists from 39 Iowa colleges and universities explained as part of their 2015 climate statement, the effects of climate change are not limited to the environment, but affect local economies, communities and residents’ well-being.

Energy efficiency and pollution reduction curtail respiratory and other disease, saving taxpayers money. And because people want to live in places with clean air, local investment is spurred and the economy grows.

The international discussion to reverse the effects of climate change will continue whether or not the Trump administration takes a seat at the table. It’s up to us to make sure Iowa’s economy and people are represented in those conversations.

County by county, city by city, campus by campus, business by business, we can and must make a difference.

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