Climate Change is the Greatest Threat to Our Planetby Representative Ruben Gallego
Posted on 2015-12-09
GALLEGO. Mr. Speaker, as the world looks to its leaders convened
in Paris this month to act on the greatest threat to our planet, I rise
today in support of a strong and fair global climate agreement. Now is
the time to demonstrate our leadership and our obligation to the
security and protection of our communities and our economy by
committing to a robust agreement that puts us on a safer path for
Last week, Mr. Speaker, House Republicans showed the American people, once again, where they stand when it comes to tackling the threat of climate change. By casting political votes against the Clean Power Plan, their message is loud and clear that any meaningful action will be met with attacks and political theater.
Mr. Speaker, political theater does nothing to stop rising sea levels, extreme weather, and land erosion. Failure to act will risk American economic prosperity and will disproportionately impact the poorest and most vulnerable communities across our Nation.
In the American Southwest, Latino and African American populations are [[Page H9086]] more vulnerable to heat exposure and heat stress due to factors like substandard housing and the lack of affordable utility costs. Native American communities face additional unique challenges. They rely directly on natural resources for food, medicine, and jobs, all of which are expected to be negatively affected by climate change. These communities have all called for action on a national and international scale, and we must listen.
Mr. Speaker, my Democratic colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee have called on the Republican leadership to tackle this problem. But time and time again, we have been met with silence and inaction when it comes to discussing and acting on these critical issues. We must do better. Around the world, nations are looking to the United States for leadership on this serious issue. We must step up and join other nations who have already made commitments to act on climate change.
The facts are clear: Action on climate change will not undermine our economy; it will support economic growth. In fact, acting will produce real benefits for our environment and our economy, including new businesses, better jobs, lower poverty, and reduced mortality rates. And businesses agree.
Last week, in a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal, over 100 top companies, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Sprint, and DuPont, all called for strong action to tackle climate change in order to minimize climate risk and boost the economy. These businesses recognize what I hear from folks in my district from Phoenix and across Arizona: The time to act is now. We must build on the progress made in Paris.
Mr. Speaker, I stand with the scientific, environmental, and public health communities who all agree that Paris must be the floor, not the ceiling, of our ambition. If the world takes a step forward in Paris, our partners will be prepared to build stronger climate policies and agreements moving forward. Local governments, States, and businesses will be empowered to reaffirm their commitments to low-carbon pathways for decades to come.
Some argue that America cannot lead on climate. Mr. Speaker, America led the way into space, to the creation of the Internet and computers, to cellphones and so much more. We can and must lead into this new energy future. Our innovations and our leadership are going to fuel a cleaner and safer environment and economy, and our policies must reflect these realities.
When future generations look back on the progress made in Paris, I hope it will be to thank us for what we have accomplished in order to leave them a healthier and safer environment. Let's not let politics and grandstanding prevent us from taking responsibility for the planet we are leaving behind for our children and our grandchildren.