SALT LAKE CITY — A high-profile group of Utah business and political leaders made a new commitment Wednesday to help the state address its air quality problems and do its part to combat climate change.
More than 100 signatories put their names to the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact in a virtual event hosted by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of the 2008 book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded." Friedman noted the vice presidential debate occurring in the city Wednesday evening but said that, in his opinion, it was the "second-most important" event in Utah today after the compact ceremony.
In a presentation, Friedman encouraged Utah to lead out on market-oriented, green energy solutions for the air and climate.
The event was also hosted by compact leaders including Scott Anderson of Zions Bank, Kem and Christian Gardner of the Gardner Company, Pat Jones of the Women's Leadership Institute, Greg Miller of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Tom Love of Love Communications, and Utah Clean Energy executive director Sarah Wright.
Wright singled out Reps. John Curtis and Ben McAdams as early supporters of the compact and examples of bipartisan political support for climate solutions. The representatives, along with Sen. Mitt Romney, gave brief statements at the beginning of the presentation.
"I am so proud of this state for being a leader when it comes to addressing the climate crisis by talking about bold steps like this climate compact today," McAdams said. "I will always support pragmatic, collaborative solutions to addressing climate and air quality issues."
Romney said climate change, along with the emergence of China and the national debt, is one of America's greatest challenges in the early 21st century. "And of those, there's only one that Utah can impact directly, perhaps, and that's the climate," Romney said. He said Utah can't solve the problem on its own, but hopes the state can be an example for others. "Utah technology, Utah innovation, could well lead the world in dealing with one of the great challenges that we face."
The Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact reads, in part:
"We, as leaders from business, government, faith, and civic institutions, care deeply about Utah’s future and the future of children here and around the globe. We join this Compact as responsible stewards. Climate change and air quality represent urgent challenges for our health, families, and economy. We call upon state and community leaders, members of Congress, businesses, and all Utahns to adopt the mileposts of the Utah Roadmap" and six key principles including a focus on health, clean air, the economy, and investment in rural areas that may be especially impacted by the energy transition.
Other prominent signatories of the compact include former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., state Rep. Patrice Arent, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Gail Miller of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, former Salt Lake City mayors Jackie Biskupski and Ralph Becker, the Rev. France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church, and Natalie Gochnour of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.