A Call to Action on Climate for All Candidates for President of the United States

04/28/2015 10:37 am ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015

In the months ahead, you will have the chance to lay out a vision of our national future that reflects the aspirations and purpose we all share as Americans.

Despite the political differences among us, when it comes to protecting our environment, the American people are largely of one mind. Responsible environmental stewardship is a core American value that should unite us as a nation.

That's why we urge every presidential candidate -- Republican, Democrat or independent -- to embrace early on the need for assertive action on the central environmental challenges of our time. Chief among those is our obligation to protect current and future generations from the widening dangers of climate change.

Through rising seas, withering drought, catastrophic storms and other hallmarks of climate change, our world is telling us every way it knows how that it's time to cut the dangerous carbon pollution that's driving the climate crisis. Long before history judges our response, voters will decide which candidate best understands the threat we face and the urgency of acting against it.

Acting on climate change isn't just good policy; it's also good politics. Recent polling shows two thirds of likely 2016 voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who vows to fight climate change. The public -- including 54 percent of Republicans -- wants us to cut the carbon pollution from our power plants. And by a 2-to-1 margin, voters prefer investing in energy efficiency and renewable power to anchoring our future in the dirty fossil fuels of the past.

What the country understands is that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create well-paying jobs, make the nation more secure and create a more healthful future for our children by investing today in clean energy solutions.

Some in Congress have turned away from that opportunity by pressing a misguided agenda that puts polluter profits first -- and puts the rest of us at risk. Our next president, whatever his or her party, must reject this big-polluter agenda in favor of the responsible stewardship that the American people expect and deserve.

Accordingly, we call on you, as an aspirant to this high office, to commit to cut carbon pollution by at least 28 percent by 2025, and thereafter to achieve even greater reductions as required by sound science. In addition, we call on you to lead a transition to an economy powered by clean, renewable and efficient energy and to demonstrate the global leadership needed to get our partners around the world to do their part to protect the well-being of the planet through strong international agreements. And finally, we call on you to defend and strengthen the fundamental safeguards that protect our air, water, lands, and wildlife.

No great nation can afford to wait on the imperatives of its time. Creating the will to act will require the kind of leadership that sets great presidents apart from the rest. The nation awaits that kind of leader, one who is ready to stand up today for the future we'll leave to our children.