Pope Francis’ address to Congress will go down in history as a day when the needle finally moved on climate change. The pontiff’s timely message of more dialogue and less discord, respect for life in all of its stages, and a call to protect our common home was irrepressible and impossible to ignore. Sometimes you need a friend to tell you the truth. It took someone from outside the U.S. to come and remind us who we are—nd who we are supposed to be.
The choice has never been clearer. If we carry on polluting our planet with dirty energy, our children will pay the greatest price. Filthy air is already killing hundreds of thousands every year. Flooding, drought, wildfires and hurricanes—all you have to do is open your eyes to see the damage being done, and it’s going to get worse.
We can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse for inaction. The jury is no longer out—climate change is real. It is not just a threat for the future, but happening here and now. And as Pope Francis so eloquently points out, climate change is a moral imperative that transcends politics.
My sense of urgency is growing, but so is hope for the future. The clean energy revolution is taking off, creating a healthier future for all our families. California is on the front line of drought and wildfires, but it’s also taking the lead in the race toward 100 percent renewable energy. The mayors of San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose are well on the way to this goal, and Los Angeles could soon join them. Some of the world’s largest companies—Google, Apple and Facebook among them—are all committed to going 100 percent clean, investing billions every year to make this future a reality.
Fifty-five countries around the world already get most of their power from renewables. Villages across India and Africa are being lit up by clean energy. The business case is as strong as the moral argument, with the pope himself saying that fossil fuels need to be replaced “without delay.” But while the dirty establishment still sings its siren song, bold leadership is needed to seize these opportunities.