Over the past two weeks, the cities of Boston, Santa Rosa, Calif., Coral Gables, Fla., and Milwaukie, Ore. passed Climate Emergency Declarations. They join more than 1,300 jurisdictions worldwide and 81 here in the United States that have recognized the severity of the climate crisis and the need for immediate and determined action that matches the scale of the crisis.

On Jan. 29, Virginia’s House of Delegates also declared a climate emergency with the passage of House Joint Resolution No. 136. The Declaration demands an effective and speedy response from our state government to address a situation that has already resulted in rising seas and retreating shores, saltwater intrusion, increased extreme weather events, including flooding, damage to coastal ecosystems, a longer wildfire season and more frequent droughts and increased health risks such as heat stroke and heat-related illnesses.

The climate crisis will continue to imperil the state’s agricultural sector, the largest industry in Virginia. And it will continue to disproportionately affect frontline communities, indigenous communities, communities of color and low-income communities, as well as those more vulnerable to rising temperatures such as children and the elderly. The time for stalling and waffling is long gone.

If the Senate will join the House in passing HJ 136, then it will send a clear signal to people in Virginia, the U.S. and beyond that a crisis of this magnitude demands immediate and comprehensive government action that provides a just transition away from our fossil fuel economy. A just transition will ensure that those people disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis whether due to their proximity to fossil fuel infrastructure, the location of their homes in urban heat islands, flood-prone or fire-prone land, or their dependence on a fossil-fuel industry for their livelihoods are protected.

I ask Senator Edwards to recognize the magnitude of the crisis and join Virginia Organizing in its support for HJ 136.

ELISABETH CHAVES

BLACKSBURG

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