Paris Climate Change Talksby Senator Cory A. Booker
Posted on 2015-12-10
BOOKER. Mr. President, just a brief moment. First and foremost, I
want to thank the group of Senators who went over to Paris on the
codel. It was very important that the United States of America was well
represented there and that this body was well represented there.
I especially thank Senator Cardin for leading that codel. His leadership was critical. As the ranking member of Foreign Relations, to have him lead and understand that this is a critical issue not just in regard to the climate in general but also to our national defense, to our strength as a Nation, and to our economy--it was good to have him leading and understanding the breadth of these issues.
When I was over there, I was moved to see virtually all of the globe represented by leaders, heads of state, members of Parliament, NGOs, corporations--major, global, dominant corporations. Everyone was there. There was an array of the planet coming together, focused on this issue of the impacts of climate change. Conversations ranged from focusing on us being innovative and how we are dealing with renewable technology so that technology can be a great pathway toward sustainability in the future, all the way to resiliency and making sure we were doing the things to protect populations from the effect of climate change, especially when it comes to poor populations who are disproportionately affected.
I had the chance, the honor while I was there of leading a bilateral conversation with Bangladesh, talking to peer leaders--the United States sitting down at a table with and across the table from Ministry and Parliamentary members from Bangladesh.
By many estimates, Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country on the globe to climate change--the most vulnerable large country to climate change. It is about the size of Iowa. It faces serious challenges with melting off the Himalayas as well as rising sea levels.
Due to climate change, right now Bangladesh is losing 1 percent of its arable land each year, and it is projected over the next decade or so--leading into 2030--to lose a large percentage of its land, displacing millions of Bangladeshis, literally creating climate refugees. The sea level rising is predicted to inundate about 15 percent of the land area and create refugees, making it a reality for them that is so urgent that they went there with a large degree of mission to join with other global actors.
I was proud to be able to sit with them and talk to them about New Jersey--not only a State that has 75,000 people who are Bangladeshis but also a State that knows that our economy and our strength as a State will be affected by climate change as well. We are already seeing what is happening with the warming of our oceans, the acidification of our oceans, how it is affecting the many jobs related to our [[Page S8579]] fishing industry. We are already seeing the challenges with our climate in terms of increased weather activity and severe storms.
This is an issue that affects America that we cannot solve without joining with the rest of the globe. We know that the injustices that are happening to our Nation in terms of increased fires, in terms of despoliation of our seas, the challenges being faced with weather activity internally in our country--we know these issues cannot be solved locally unless we deal with them globally. That is why I am grateful for all of those who understand that American leadership is incredibly needed.
I am proud to stand here with colleagues of mine and continue to send a strong message to the rest of the globe that we are here in the United States strongly supporting the ambitious commitments of President Obama, the ones that he is making, and that we will defend those communities that are facing this crisis in the immediate and long term. We will be leaders.
One of my colleagues and someone whom I have come to respect quite a bit was an incredibly strong voice in Paris, someone who is committed to these issues not only in her home State but, as an American, across our country. I wish to now engage and acknowledge Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I am pleased to be here on the floor with my colleagues--those of us who went to Paris, led by Senator Cardin, for this climate summit.
At the conference in Paris, more than 180 countries accounting for over 90 percent of global emissions were there. They all submitted their plans for how they are going to reduce emissions, with the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Centigrade by the end of this century.
One of the things I was impressed with in Paris was that the countries that were there represented everybody from China to the Marshall Islands, and all of them understood that climate change is real, that it is a threat to our planet, and that we have to do something about it. They understand that because they have seen it. They have seen it in their home countries. They have seen rising sea levels, extreme weather events, environmental changes--all linked to global warming.
Here in the United States, we see it too. According to a recent Pew poll, two-thirds of all Americans recognize that climate change is real and that action must be taken to address it. We see it in my home State of New Hampshire, where we are seeing a change in our wildlife population, a change in our snowpacks that affects our ski season, our foliage season is affected, and it has an economic impact on our State. But the exciting thing is--and we saw this very clearly in Paris--that at the local level, mayors, Governors, local leaders around the world understand that we have to take action to address it, and they were there in Paris urging the negotiators to come to some sort of an agreement.
In New Hampshire, we have taken action. With nine other Northeastern States, we have been part of a regional cap-and-trade program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. As a result of that and other actions that we have taken, we are going to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan 10 years early.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has generated $1.6 billion in net economic value. It has created more than 16,000 jobs across the region. That is one of the benefits of the action we can take to address climate change. As we all know here, it doesn't matter what we do in New Hampshire. It doesn't matter what we do in this country. Unless we get a global agreement in Paris so we are all going to move forward together to address the harmful impacts of climate change, we are going to see the continued sea level rise, the continued extreme weather events, all of the continued negative impacts of that global warming.
Finally, I want to say that for me one of the most exciting things about meeting with people when we were in Paris was hearing that they were cautiously optimistic that we will get an agreement, that we will take action, and we will be able to make a difference for our planet and for future generations.
I was pleased to have Senator Chris Coons from Delaware with us on this trip. I know he is going to talk about what he observed when we were in Paris.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.