WASHINGTON — Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes added a local voice to the national conversation about climate change.

“It’s unfortunate that we are in this climate crisis that we’re in but it is great to see so many people paying attention to it,” said Barnes.

Barnes joined progressive activist Tom Steyer and Senate Climate Change Committee Chair Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii to discuss progressive policies aimed at addressing that crisis at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference in D.C.

They are supporters of the Green New Deal but the efforts to pass that sweeping resolution targeting the environment have come up short in the Senate and at the White House.

“It’s been an issue that they’ve ignored forever, the issue of climate change,” said Barnes. “They wont even say climate change and that’s a big part of the problem: failure to address that there is a crisis that is going on in the United States of America, especially in Midwestern states.”

He placed his Midwest state at the center of this national conversation.

Barnes touted his and Governor Evers’ efforts since taking office in the absence of concern at the federal level.

Some of these changes the administration has made include relaunching the office of sustainability to oversee efficiency changes to all government buildings, joining 20 states in upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and promising to move toward a plan to meet 100 percent clean energy goals for the state by 2050.

Although ambitious, the lieutenant governor said he’s confident it can be cost-cost-efficient as well.

“In a state like Wisconsin, consumers spend $12 billion annually to meet our energy needs, for energy that is generated through fossil fuels, coal mostly. We don’t have any coal in Wisconsin, we don’t have any oil in Wisconsin,” he said. “We do have wind and sun. If we can transfer those dollars, if we can spend our money much more effectively, when you look at the overall costs of consumers, that cost will go down annually.”

Barnes recognized leaders in coastal states historically have been at the front of these conversations but he’s hoping his participation in Wednesday’s event could lead to the inclusion of more Midwest perspectives.