Biden Climate Summit 4/22/2021 President Joe Biden speaks to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Washington. Credit: Evan Vucci / AP

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There should be no doubt that our changing climate is an urgent problem that demands global answers. So far this year, we’ve already seen devastating storms and worrisome drought conditions, even in Maine.

Therefore, it is good news that President Joe Biden announced an ambitious goal of cutting U.S. carbon emissions by more than half by 2030. More important, Biden has returned the U.S. to a leadership role on the pressing issue of combating climate change. Climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions, but that should not be an excuse — as it was during the Trump administration — for U.S. inaction.

Setting aggressive targets to reduce carbon emissions, as other countries and states including Maine have done, is critical. So, too, is meeting them. This is where the U.S., and other countries, have an opportunity to remake their industries and economies in ways that will reduce heat-trapping emissions while also creating new jobs.

Earlier this week, we marked Earth Day, a day set aside beginning in 1970 to bring attention to environmental concerns. The global coronavirus pandemic brought many disparate things into focus this year: The vulnerability of our planet and our own health; our frequent failure to take unseen threats seriously. On the positive side, the pandemic highlighted our interconnectedness as humans, along with our power to innovate.

It is this innovation — which led to rapid deployment of COVID testing and development of several vaccines in well under a year — that should also be at the center of our efforts to address the pressing problem of climate change.

As Biden and others emphasized this week, tackling climate change isn’t an academic exercise. It is about remaking our economy to rely less on dirty fossil fuels and more on cleaner renewable energy. It is about improving our infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation of people and goods. It is about building more resilient and equitable communities.

This translates into jobs: New jobs and reimaged jobs in industries we haven’t imagined or invented yet.

“Climate change is more than a threat,” Biden said on Thursday, the opening day of his global climate summit, which was convened online. “It also presents one of the largest job creation opportunities in history.”

This transition will cost a lot of money, but it is clear that not taking action to address climate change will cost more.

Without significant efforts to rein in rising temperatures, the global economy will lose 10 percent of its value, or $23 trillion, by 2050, according to a new analysis by Swiss Re, a global insurance company. The poorest countries would be hardest hit with damage to agriculture and infrastructure and increased disease and instability.

Too often, tackling environmental issues like climate change have been presented as a choice between a strong economy and clean water and air, along with public health protections. This is not the case. But, even if it were, the American public has long favored environmental regulations.

Polling by the Pew Research Center has found that more than two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change and more than half — a significant increase from a decade ago — believe addressing climate change should be a top priority. There are strong partisan differences in these poll results, with Democrats expressing much stronger support for policies to combat climate change.

A changing climate will impact all the earth’s inhabitants, regardless of their political affiliations. In recognition of this, political leaders, as Biden has done, must build support for changes that will reduce carbon emissions. This can have the added benefit of creating new industries and new jobs.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...