Republican lawmakers from Utah are backing a long-term plan that addresses climate change in order to save the state’s ski slopes and growing economy.
The Republican majority state legislature ordered an economic thinktank from the University of Utah to produce a plan that would reduce carbon emissions that affected local air quality and the global climate.
The thinktank produced the Utah Roadmap, a seven-tier plan to reduce carbon dioxide and criteria pollutant emissions and shift life in Utah to be more resilient and climate-conscious.
The plan was spurred by high school students, who persuaded two Republican lawmakers to endorse a resolution.
The state’s unique air quality issues also pushed legislators to learn to love the plan. The majority of the state’s population lives in mountain valleys, where temperature inversions can trap air pollutants in the winter, putting the lives of children and the elderly at risk.
More than anything, lawmakers backed the plan because it made financial sense for the state to adopt it.
“The economist Adam Smith talked about an invisible hand that guides the economy, and in this particular case, the cost of renewable energy, whether it’s wind or solar, has gone down so rapidly and made itself so market efficient versus fossil fuels, that there is change, and the change can’t be ignored,” said Thomas Holst, the project’s lead analyst.