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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Continuing the Fight Against Climate Change

Nov 16, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke on the House Floor to encourage bipartisan efforts in the new Congress towards the fight against climate change.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.

Mr. Speaker,

It’s been 32 years since we’ve experienced a single month with a temperature below the 20th century average.

We are now all but certain that 2016 will be the single hottest year on record, replacing 2015 and 2014, which both held that title before it.

As we stand here today, representatives from 195 nations, including our own, are meeting in Morocco to discuss how the world will move forward to implement the historic Paris Agreement forged last December.

Yet, in that same one-year span, the President-Elect used his campaign for our country’s highest office to promote policy ideas that would not only pollute the planet, but expose millions of Americans and billions worldwide to loss of life, livelihood, and property.

If these dangerous ideas are put into action, they will imperil the unique and fragile ecosystems that make the United States a wonder of the world, and saddle our economy with potentially trillions of dollars in increased healthcare, disaster recovery, and adaptation costs, all while preventing American businesses and consumers from realizing the economic opportunities of a low carbon economy.

We’ve heard from the next Commander-in-Chief that climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese – beyond absurdity.

Climate change is real, it is happening, and it is man-made. The science is settled with 97% of climate scientists in strong, steadfast agreement.

Just take a look at last month here in the United States. In October, more than five thousand, six hundred all-time high temperature records were set.

Only three hundred and fifty all-time cold records happened in the same span.

In a stable climate, these numbers would be about even. We do not have a stable climate.

Our next president has also claim that climate action is costing our country money, when in fact, the opposite is true.

Independent analysis has demonstrated that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan could save the United States more than $20 billion a year in decreased costs related to climate impacts and will put more than $80 dollars a year back into the pockets of every day Americans in decreased energy costs by 2030. Not to mention the economic activity that would be spurred by the creation of thousands of new clean-energy jobs.

The federal government has also found damage to human health, agricultural losses, decreased biodiversity, and the physical impacts of sea-level rise, drought, wildfires, and other climate impacts will cost more than $150 billion a year in the United States alone.

We’ve heard talk about bringing back coal and creating new coal jobs like it is flipping a switch.

That fact is, though, that the economic decline in the coal industry and in coal communities is driven by market forces, not government policy.

While coal is still our dirtiest form of fuel, it is no longer our cheapest. Natural gas has now overtaken coal and in some cases, even renewables like wind and solar have become cost competitive.

Coal is in decline because, increasingly, consumers no longer want it, and thanks to technological advances in the industry, it takes fewer people to mine more coal. Coal jobs in West Virginia have been declining since the 1950s, long before any existing climate policy.

At the same time, as extractive industries continue to slash jobs and profits, the solar industry alone has more than doubled its domestic workforce in the last five years and now employs more people than coal.

Jobs in renewable energy exist. They are increasingly available. They pay well. And they cannot be outsourced.

Finally, there has been talk about canceling the historic Paris Agreement and reneging on our international pledges to join the world in acting on climate change.

Doing so would abdicate our position as a global leader.

And it would allow our international rivals like China to set the terms of the new global economy to benefit them at the expense of our people and our businesses.

The fact is that our climate is changing and it will only continue to do so.

We cannot afford inaction. We cannot afford to undo the progress we’ve already made.

I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand up for coastal communities, farmers, vulnerable people all over the world, and future generations,

To not fall victim to self-serving propaganda from those who seek to profit by polluting the world,

To defend the work we’ve done, we must meet the challenge of the global call to act on climate.

Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, we must continue to fight for commonsense action in Congress that will address the pressing environmental threats of today in order to create a more sustainable future for tomorrow.

No partisan rhetoric or repudiations of fact can stand in the way of our important fight to and win this battle.

Thank you, I yield back.