On the Issues: Climate Change
Qasim Rashid believes in the crucial need to recognize that harmful climate change is real, it is due to human activity, that we need to invest in protecting our environment, our air, water, and land. He knows that we must listen to scientists when they tell us that the current timelines and steps on the table are not enough to save us, and that we need to take emergency action. Qasim also understands that this means prioritizing the protection of the many over the profit of the few.
The US gives approximately $20 billion in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. We need to end these subsidies and say NO to bailing out fossil fuels. It’s time to return the money to the people through:
- Mandatory LED lights in all publicly funded buildings, streetlights, and traffic lights, with the money and support provided by the federal government for implementation. LED lights reduce energy consumption by approximately 75% and last 25x longer. Every city that has installed LED lights has saved money. An example, Valparaiso, Indiana, a small city of 31,000 is saving approximately $80,000 a year due to the switch to LED lights in their buildings.
- Mandatory solar panels and other green energy measures on all schools and publicly funded buildings, with the money and support provided by the federal government for implementation. Middlesex County, VA is saving $50,000 a year initially from the solar panels that power the district’s elementary and middle schools. Those savings are expected to increase over time. Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, VA has solar panels and a geothermal-well system that heats and cools water. The building produces even more energy than it needs, allowing it to share power with nearby schools.
Current proposals and actions do not match the scientific timelines.
- According to the most recent IPCC Emissions Gap Report we need to reduce emissions globally by a minimum of 76% by 2030 to prevent a temperature increase of over 1.5 C. If we don’t achieve this, we will hit 2 degrees Celsius between 2035-2055
- If we pass 1.5 C we will start hitting tipping points, causing a cascading effect of exponentially increasing dangers beyond our control.
- As America is the second largest polluter in the world and the wealthiest nation, we hold a greater responsibility to far exceed 76% emissions reductions by 2030, and get as close to 100% as possible.
We need a holistic approach that addresses the intersection of the climate crisis, economic inequality, and environmental racism and we need to take action at emergency speeds. The Green New Deal is the only piece of legislation put forth making this commitment, and The Climate Mobilization Victory Plan presents the most detailed set of steps on how to achieve the Green New Deal’s goals. Together they will:
- Repair and upgrade infrastructure while eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and guaranteeing access to clean water.
- Create millions of good paying jobs while protecting our current energy workforce by training fossil-fuel workers in renewable energy jobs. These clean energy jobs will offer competitive benefits, income support, and retirement benefits.
- Require project labor agreements to provide a prevailing wage for clean energy jobs; and protect the right of workers to join a union without employer interference.
- Provide assistance and incentives to farmers transitioning to environmental agriculture practices, and provide more support to small and mid size farms.
- End new fossil fuel exploration, infrastructure, and exportation
- Stop the pollution faced disproportionately by minority and low-income communities, and stop the exploitation and destruction of indigenous lands. Cap and Trade is not the solution, it simply allows a “pay to pollute” system that doesn’t protect front line communities, as well as doesn’t reduce emissions enough to save us in time. The U.S. needs to institute a fair energy rationing system similar to rationing systems used during WWII. Those with higher needs can apply for higher rations, but rations cannot be bought and there will be no loopholes for the rich or well-connected.
- We also must act quickly to save the Chesapeake Bay while there is still time.
As Congressman, Qasim will work to ensure we leave a livable world and a healthy environment for our children.
Prioritizing Rural America
In 2018 the rate of food insecurity in rural areas was 12.7%. Many rural areas are considered food deserts, where people lack accessibility to fresh and affordable food. Adding to this tragedy is that some of these rural food deserts are in the same communities where agriculture is key to the local economy. A key solution to this problem is we must ensure that food can be enjoyed in the same communities where it is grown. This creates healthier communities, reduces costs associated with transportation, lowers the carbon footprint, and helps working families by strengthening the local economy. We can achieve these goals by:
- Promoting Food-Cooperatives: grocery stores in which consumers or workers are also owners, and which focus on sourcing from local farmers. Traditional grocery stores often do not come to rural areas because they don’t anticipate high enough profits.
- Promoting Community Supported Agricultural programs (CSAs): local residents pay local farmers at the beginning of the year and receive a portion of whatever is produced at the time of harvest. Having this money up front helps farmers with operational costs.
- Promoting Farm to School Initiatives: local farmers sell fresh produce directly to public schools or incorporate school gardens into meal programs, ensuring healthy food is served to students and teachers. This also provides further opportunity for education about local farms, gardening, and nutrition.
- Establish a Farmers’ Land Army (based on the Women’s Land Army of WWI and WWII) to quickly train new farmers in environmentally beneficial farming practices. Recruits to the FLA should receive student loan forgiveness.
- Support antitrust protections that safeguard small business farmers from agriculture monopolies.
- We need a US food policy focused on helping farming families, economic equality, creating a healthier population, fighting climate change, and preserving our environment.
- We must improve access to healthcare and mental health care in rural areas. We can do this by guaranteeing healthcare for every American. This will remove many of the financial barriers that keep medical facilities from opening in rural areas, and help remove many of the financial barriers that force currently operating facilities to close.