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Climate change has the potential to exacerbate existing threats to the Great Lakes and present new challenges. Rising air and water temperatures can increase combined sewer overflows, make the Lakes more habitable for invasive species, dry up coastal wetlands and expose toxic sediments. These changes will impact people, businesses and communities—incurring new costs and harming the quality of life for millions of people.
But by reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions, we can curb global warming pollution and limit the magnitude of changes to the climate and natural ecosystems. The government must move swiftly to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 – a level of reduction that climate scientists have deemed necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
While the nation works to confront climate change, it must also work to restore the Great Lakes and other iconic U.S. waters. A healthy Great Lakes ecosystem will have the resiliency to withstand some of the changes that will accompany rising temperatures that are already occurring.
Climate change legislation must provide significant funding for large-scale aquatic restoration efforts to directly benefit the Great Lakes. We support a cap-and-invest approach, which establishes a national cap on pollution emissions, providing emitters with a choice to either reduce emissions or purchase emission allowances. As the most cost-effective means to reduce emissions, cap-and-invest legislation is widely recognized as the best mechanism to address climate change.