Op-Ed Climate Action by Lori Singleton

Written by Lori Singleton, President & CEO

Published in the Phoenix Business Journal on March 5, 2021

With record shattering heat waves this summer, the worst wildfire season ever in the West, raging wildfires, relentless drought, and the COVID public health emergency, racial justice issues and attacks on our democracy, Arizona has faced unprecedented threats to its health and economy.

Reduced water flow from the Colorado River could impact millions of Arizonans who depend on the river for their water supply. Drought is more prevalent and lasts longer. Wildfires across the West are increasingly destructive amid drier, hotter conditions. And experts agree, things are only going to get worse — if we don’t act with bold, urgent action.

There could not be a better time – the elections are behind us, 2021 is here, and we are optimistic. Yet, we have a long road ahead to get things back on track. Current and future state and federal leaders must consider not only short-term relief to families, but also ways to kickstart our economy in the months ahead. Together, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen Arizona and make it better and more resilient.

With more than 50 years of history as an organization working on environmental issues in our state, Arizona Forward is continuing to lead the charge for sustainability in Arizona. Now more than ever, as Arizona continues to grow and more people and businesses call Arizona home, it is important that we work together to protect our resources and communities.

Arizona Forward hosted a series of conversations with business leaders in our community, focused on the environment and economy in Arizona. Water shortages, drought, clean energy, and impacts on our military were discussed. As well, we highlighted Arizona’s corporations, municipalities, architects and universities who are implementing future-focused and impactful climate action strategies – APS, SRP, Intel, Wells Fargo, Cox Communications, ASU, the cities of Tempe, Flagstaff, Tucson and Phoenix. What emerged from those conversations was clear: The business community in Arizona, like the community at large, cares deeply about these issues. Being proactive on issues facing our environment makes good sense, and is good for our quality of life, our health, and our economy.

What’s more, the public’s desire for climate action is real and transcends party lines. Four in five Arizona voters (78%) say it should be a priority for the U.S. to pass legislation to address climate change, including 44% who say it should be a top priority. Two out of three Arizonans support moving to 100% clean energy.

What’s next? With climate change at the forefront of Arizona Forward’s priorities, it is time that we set long-term sustainability outcomes for the state which are aggressive, yet achievable and encompass environmental, social and sustainability goals. Arizona’s sustainable future cannot be optimally achieved by any one elected official, municipality, corporation or non-profit. It can only be realized through cooperative and collaborative partnerships of communities, businesses, local, regional, state, and federal governments — all united behind a common set of goals.

The impacts of climate change for Arizona are real and pressing. Working collectively, we all have the power, the knowledge and the innovative thinking to ensure a better future. Our state, our businesses and our communities depend on the work we do today. Let’s get started.