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Leading International Climate Change Solutions at Home

Dec 1, 2015

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) urged his colleagues on the House floor that the U.S. needs to be a leader and example on climate change in the of midst of the Paris Summit.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.

Mr. Speaker, 

This week, more than 40,000 negotiators from 196 governments have descended on the French capital for the Paris Climate Summit. 

This summit provides the world with a critical opportunity to take a significant step toward creating an ambitious and effective global framework for addressing climate change. 

As I have said many times on this floor, climate change is no longer a problem for future generations. 

It is our problem and we must act now. Paris gives us the opportunity to do just that. 

The science demonstrating the reality of climate change advances by the day. 

In fact, fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000.

And 2015 is on track to be the warmest year of all. 

No country, no matter how large or small, wealthy or poor, is immune to the detrimental effects we will face if we do not address this global climate crisis. 

The good news is that there has been quite a bit of global action over the past few months leading up to the Paris Summit. 

Nearly 180 countries, covering more than 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have pledged to take steps to reduce CO2 emissions. 

A UN report shows that the pledges submitted so far represent a substantial step in global action that will significantly curtail the world’s carbon trajectory. 

If those pledges are implemented, global warming could slow to roughly 3 degrees by 2100.

While this isn’t enough to meet UN targets, it is better than the 4 to 5 degree increase if nothing were done. 

With such a significant and impactful opportunity in front of us, many eyes are on the U.S. 

What will we do? How will WE act? 

As the world’s largest economy and the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, we cannot stand by and do nothing. 

Thanks to President Obama, we have made real progress in advancing our goals of reducing emissions and improving our air quality.  

Earlier this year, the Administration finalized the Clean Power Plan, which establishes the first ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. 

This is a plan that will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays – 

All the while creating tens of thousands of jobs and saving American families money on their energy bills. 

Right now, world leaders at the Paris Climate Summit are working to forge international progress on the climate crisis. 

So it comes as no surprise that my colleagues here in Congress are taking action on this important topic as well – not so much.

In Paris, they are developing a roadmap to gradually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

In Washington, we are voting on resolutions that would nullify the ONLY national plan we have to address carbon pollution. 

In Paris, the burden of slashing greenhouse gases is being shared by everyone, not just the wealthy countries. 

In Washington, we are reluctant to take any of the blame for this growing crisis. 

This all makes perfect sense, right? 

At a time when the world is coming together to address one of the defining issues of our lifetime, 

Some of my colleagues have decided to sabotage American leadership on this critical topic. 

This is not what American families need and this is certainly NOT what the world needs to see from a global leader. 

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you DO what’s right.”

We know that we are running out of time to mitigate climate change,

And if we fail to take meaningful action now, that knowledge will mean nothing.

As with any global challenge, climate change will not be solved in one fell swoop. 

No single action, no single government, and no single summit will decisively address one of the greatest global threats our world has ever seen. 

But Paris does allow us the opportunity to devise a common purpose – to create a better world for future generations. 

I urge my colleagues to do the right thing, vote against these harmful environment riders on the Floor this week, and allow America to be a leader on climate change.