Kamala Harris calls for clean energy, innovation to combat climate crisis

Miami, US, Mar 8 (EFE).- The vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, stressed Wednesday on the importance of tackling the climate crisis with the adoption of a new clean energy economy and investment in technology and innovation.

“We need a new economy which is a clean energy economy…investments in technology and innovation…and creativity” to meet the challenge of global warming, Harris said during a conversation with Cuban-origin singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan at the “Aspen Ideas: Climate” forum in Miami Beach, focused on combating the climate crisis.

“The impact is profound in terms of the number of people who will benefit,” from climate action, she added.

The vice president said she felt not only optimistic, but “excited” about the measures to find solutions to this problem.

“The solutions are at hand,” she added.

But this series of climate actions cannot be undertaken “in a reactive way as the emergency issue it is as it happened” but must focus on “smart policy around not only around behaviors”, but also “infrastructure and building.”

Estefan brought up the issue of air pollution and electric vehicles, a matter of which Harris was very supportive.

“I am excited about electric vehicles, and in particular electric school buses,” Harris said.

In this context, the vice president highlighted the recent investments of US President Joe Biden’s administration in the expansion of electric and emission-free school buses, including rebates and tax exemptions for electric cars and solar energy panels on the roofs.

She pointed out that 25 million students travel by bus every day and that 90 percent of the buses are diesel vehicles, something that has an “impact on public health issues like asthma.”

This diesel school transport model especially impacts “low income communities” with the consequent emission of greenhouse gases. Harris said.

One of the obstacles in tackling this issue, she added, was that, although many people are willing to do what they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “not everyone has the means” to do so.

“We have to think about this movement in a way that we are making it affordable for a working family that wants to participate,” she said.

Estefan told Harris, the first woman to be elected as US Vice President, that she was very aware of this problem, as she had two children with asthma, and asked her about the problem of adequate infrastructure and the importance of water resources.

“Access to clean drinking water should be a right, not a privilege of those who can afford,” Harris said, adding that the problem most affected low-income communities.

“Drinking that toxic water is having an impact on the child’s ability to learn,” she said.

Harris pointed out the importance of the Everglades wetland in Florida, which provides drinking water to eight million people in the south of the state, an ecosystem that is at risk, she said, due to the rise in sea level and salinization.

Estefan said that after living in Miami Beach for 38 years, she could see the changes that had taken place.

“Our bays, our coral is dying. We have major fish kills. And being on the water, I’ve seen the water rising to an alarming degree,” she said.

Miami Beach is dubbed by experts and scientists as “ground zero” for the climate crisis, especially when it comes to rising sea levels and increasing temperatures.

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