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Benjamin C.
Democrat MD

About Sen. Benjamin
  • Paris Climate Change Talks

    by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

    Posted on 2015-12-10

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    Read More about Paris Climate Change Talks

    CARDIN. Mr. President, I had the opportunity of heading a delegation this past weekend of 10 Senators who went to Paris for the COP21 talks, the climate change talks taking place in Paris. I was very proud of our delegation consisting of Senator Whitehouse, Senator Franken, Senator Markey, Senator Merkley, Senator Udall, Senator Shaheen, Senator Coons, Senator Booker, and Senator Schatz. All of us participated in the meetings that took place in Paris. We were impressed that 150 leaders of the world were in Paris at one time to show their support for a successful outcome on climate change and to express their urgency for dealing with this issue. I think it was a strong followup to the challenge Pope Francis gave all of us as to the moral challenge of our time to protect our planet for future generations.

    At the meeting in Paris, we recognized that our global health is at stake. Whether we are talking about our individual States--and I could talk about the people on Smith Island, as their island is disappearing, or the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and my colleagues in the western part of this country could talk about the wildfires and what is happening there. In Asia, we see climate migrants as a result of climate change. In Greenland, we see the glaciers disappearing. Every nation is at risk as a result of global climate change, and that is why 150 leaders went to Paris.

    The objective is clear. We had a chance to talk to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. He made it clear that our goal at a minimum should be to reduce the increase in warming by 2 degrees Celsius. That is doable. The scientists tell us we can do it. And if we do, we will have a healthier planet, we will create more jobs, and not only America but the world will be more secure.

    It was clear that U.S. leadership was critically important to that moment in Paris. President Obama, in getting China and other countries to submit action plans, encouraged over 180 countries that are participating in the Paris talks to submit their own action plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. That represents over 97 percent of the world's emitters.

    As I mentioned, we met with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. We all met with former Vice President Al Gore. I think we all were inspired by his lifelong dedication to this issue. We had a chance to meet with U.S. lead negotiator Todd Stern, who updated us on what was happening.

    We were particularly impressed with Secretary Moniz, our Secretary of Energy. He had earlier announced, with other world energy leaders, an innovation initiative showing how we can use U.S. technology to make it easier for the world to meet their goals in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time create more jobs in America. It was an impressive display.

    We had a chance to meet with local leaders. Mayor Bloomberg convened a summit of mayors. I was proud that my mayor from Baltimore City, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was there.

    My colleagues participated in bilateral meetings of other countries to encourage them to be aggressive in submitting their obligations and how we could follow up and make sure we achieve our goals.

    It was clear that Paris is heading toward a successful agreement, and it will have U.S. support. We mentioned our commitment to carry not just our individual commitment but to be part of the global agreements in Paris.

    We pointed out that in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was ratified by the U.S. Senate. This is the legal basis for moving forward. We also pointed out that our obligations to comply with our own commitments are controlled by the Clean Air Act, which is the law of our country. We pointed out the actions taken by the Obama administration. We also pointed out that 69 percent of Americans agree that we should have a multilateral commitment to reduce our carbon emissions.

    It was clear to us that by working together, we can have a healthier planet for our children and our grandchildren.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor to Senator Udall, one of the great leaders on the environment and a very active member of our delegation.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.

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