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Democrats Highlight Global Efforts to Combat Climate Change Ahead of Paris Negotiations

Nov 19, 2015
Press Release
International Panel Discusses Unique Challenges in Addressing Climate Change & Expectations for COP21

WASHINGTON, DC — The effects of climate change are being felt worldwide, impacting every corner of the planet and every sector of the global economy.  With the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) just two weeks away, more than 150 countries, representing roughly 90% of global emissions, have already submitted plans for reducing carbon pollution to the United Nations, and over 80 companies from across the American economy have pledged their support for action on climate change.  

Despite this overwhelming support from the international and business communities, Congressional Republicans continue to bury their heads in the sand by refusing to hold even one hearing on climate change or commonsense policy proposals ahead of this historic summit.  With House Republicans refusing to acknowledge the threats that climate change poses globally, Energy and Commerce Democrats, along with members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), convened a forum to hear directly from the international community.

The forum, entitled “Global Solutions to Climate Change,” was led by Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy and SEEC Co-Chair.  Also in attendance were Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18); Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01); Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09); Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-06), SEEC Co-Chair; Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03); Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09); Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-04); Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17), SEEC Vice-Chair; and Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02).

“Climate change is one of the toughest challenges the world has faced, and no nation is immune from its impacts,” said Congressman Tonko.  “To that end, every nation must be a part of the solution. The United States can and should be a strong leader in this effort, and we must build upon the progress already made as we stand on the eve of a historic global conference on climate change in a few weeks. That's what we heard today.  I thank our panelists, Energy and Commerce Democrats, and SEEC Members who took time to bring the attention to this important issue. We will continue to call on our colleagues in the House to act on climate.”

“Addressing climate change is the issue of our time,” said Rep. DeGette. “We need to take immediate, international action to invest in renewable energy production and reverse the damage caused so far. I am committed to working on this with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle because it is not only good for our economy, it is vital to the future of our planet.”

“Our rapidly changing climate is having profound impacts on our planet, with devastating consequences for our local communities,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui.  “In the Sacramento region alone, we are constantly under the threat of flooding which is only exacerbated by extreme weather events. Taking action now will help our economy and our environment, which the clean energy sector is demonstrating in my district. As we approach the climate summit in Paris, our country needs to unite around global efforts to combat climate change.”

Today’s hearing underscored that not only a majority of Americans, but also a majority of nations from around the world, want meaningful action on climate change,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “It’s time for Congress to stop bending to the will of special-interest polluters, and instead, to advance solutions that reduce our carbon emissions and invest in renewable energy.” 

“The climate talks in Paris are the latest opportunity for the global community to commit to real actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.  As a renewable energy expert, I know that these climate solutions are possible, and I’ve seen firsthand how American leadership has moved them forward,” said Congressman McNerney.  “By harnessing innovative technologies we can expand the production of clean energies like wind and solar, that will help make our families, communities, and environment safer. Working together with our international partners, officials at all levels of government, and the business community we can take steps to curb the damage caused by climate change. I look forward to seeing the progress that will be made at these historic negotiations.” 

“When it comes to our environmental future this country is at a crucial crossroads and the consequences of inaction are steeper than they have ever been,” said Congressman Kennedy.  “As the President and international community gather to address climate change next month, today’s forum was a tremendous opportunity to learn more about efforts around the globe to protect our environment.”

“Today's forum was a great opportunity to hear perspectives on climate change from the international community before the Paris climate negotiations begin in December.  Americans are working towards a clean energy future.  We, as a nation, have recognized our moral responsibility to future generations, and we plan to lead the way in addressing this challenge,” said SEEC Vice-Chair Matt Cartwright (PA-17).

“What we heard loud and clear today is that most countries don’t have the luxury of politicizing and trivializing the threat of climate change. Sadly, the Republican leadership in the House has decided that Congress should be the world's last bastion of climate change denial but for today's witnesses and the countries they represent, the science is too obvious and the stakes are too high to delay action, which is why I am so glad that the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition held this Democratic forum to hear these important international perspectives,” said SEEC Member Jared Huffman (CA-02).

It also featured testimony from leading experts and representatives from foreign governments, including Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America; Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, Roving Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues of the Republic of Seychelles; Ms. Kitty van der Heijden, Ambassador for Sustainable Development of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Mr. Bruno Fulda, Counselor for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Energy and Transportation at the Embassy of France; and Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.  The panelists discussed the unique challenges faced by their countries, adaptation and mitigation efforts already underway, and their expectations for COP21.