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Connolly Releases Climate Report On Benefits to Virginians if America Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement

Today, Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee and co-chair of the House Green Dogs, released a new House Committee on Oversight and Reform staff report on the health and economic effects of climate action.

“From sea level rise in Hampton Roads to increased extreme weather events in Northern Virginia, Virginians see the effects of climate change right now. And the pandemic has demonstrated yet another environmental injustice, with frontline communities exposed to air pollution found to be at great risk to this virus. This report provides even more evidence that this is a crisis that demands bold, progressive action,” said Chairman Connolly.

According to the Committee report, if the U.S. leads in addressing climate change and keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, in Virginia over the next 50 years we could prevent approximately:

  • 160,000 premature deaths,
  • 128,000 emergency room visits and hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and
  • 9.5 million lost workdays.

It is estimated the economic value of these health benefits would exceed $1.2 trillion in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This report provides the first estimate of what achieving this goal would mean for the health of residents in Virginia. These estimates are based on new research findings from Dr. Drew Shindell, Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences at Duke University, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the health effects of climate change and air pollution. Dr. Shindell presented his findings before the Committee on Oversight and Reform in August 2020.

“With a new Administration, we can finally turn the page on President Trump’s climate denialism, and restore our standing in the global community as a leader in reducing climate change. President-elect Biden has pledged to rejoin and strengthen the Paris Climate agreement on the first day of his presidency. As co-chair of the House Green Dogs, I am committed to ensuring Congress is a partner with the Biden administration in providing visionary leadership and historic investment in addressing climate change and its public health impacts.” Connolly added.  

In 2015, nearly every nation of the world agreed in Paris to act together to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (C). In a reckless failure of leadership, on November 4, 2020, President Trump formally withdrew the U.S. from the historic agreement. President-elect Biden has pledged to rejoin on the first day of his presidency.

The report can be viewed here.

A one pager of the report is available here.

Chairman Connolly is a founding member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, also known as the Green Dogs, which represents the largest environmental coalition in Congress.

Connolly is a cosponsor of the Green New Deal, the Environmental Justice for All Act, and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. He helped pass the largest investment in clean energy in American history and continues to push for investments in clean energy and divestment in fossil fuels, as well as other legislation to help us meet our mid-century goals. He led the call for a strong national coal ash standard that protects public health and the environment and has fought the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental protections. He has led efforts to oppose drilling off the coast of Virginia and protect the Chesapeake Bay program and cleanup agreement at the EPA.

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