Pete Vordenberg: Americans can work together to work against climate change

Political divisions do not have to stand in the way of solutions to climate change.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Snowboarders on the slopes at Brighton during night skiing hours on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.

I raced in two Olympic games and coached in two more. I modeled my career as an Olympic athlete and Olympic coach on what I view as the American model of innovation and collaborative hard work.

As an athlete I sought information, ideas and help from people around the world, runners from Kenya, kayakers in Boston and skiers in Sweden. As head coach of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, I helped guide the U.S. to World Cup, World Championship and eventually Olympic medals – ending an over 30-year drought for the U.S. in that sport.

How did we do it? We brought the entire U.S. ski community together toward a shared goal. We began as individual teams around the country doing their own thing and came together as one team aimed at one goal. We succeeded by communicating with respect, which enables working together collaboratively.

Today the biggest obstacle to solving all our issues nationally is partisan division. The biggest challenge facing the world is climate change. The solution to both is American innovation and our ability, when faced by immense challenge, to work hard together. This is something we have done, can do, and must now do. This is our calling.

Often the words climate change act as an immediate dividing point. Some see climate change solutions as obstacles to economic growth and jobs, others as an insurmountable global challenge. Many believe climate to be an issue separating the left and right. We have been convinced that this divide is a reality, when in reality we all face the same challenges, and necessarily must all collaborate together on the solutions.

There is a bipartisan bill in Congress right now called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This act is bringing people together from all sides of the political spectrum to create a climate solution that is revenue neutral — it doesn’t grow the government. It is good for the economy — creating 2.1 million new jobs. It is effective – cutting our emissions by over 40% in the first 12 years. It is good for people – helping keep our air and water clean for everyone. And it has support from both sides of the aisle.

I call on Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney to support this legislation when it is introduced. As his constituent, I urge Rep. Chris Stewart to join the supporters of this bill, to help the United States lead the world with our innovation and ability to come together.

I call on our representatives to rise above our perceived divisions, and work across the aisle for the betterment of our country and the world. It is again time for the U.S. to take the lead, and to do that we must to unite in our goals and actions.

Please check out the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. And, as important, let’s communicate together with respect and dignity so that we can successfully collaborate on the challenges we all face together. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is a concrete opportunity for us to do exactly this.

Pete Vordenberg

Pete Vordenberg, Salt Lake City, a two-time Olympic athlete and two-time Olympic coach, retired U.S. Ski Team coach, a volunteer with the Utah Nordic Alliance as a coach and trail groomer, board member of Hartland Community for Youth and Families, a volunteer climate activist and a professional photographer and writer.

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