U.S. reps in Glasgow aim to bolster climate-rescue efforts at global conference
Climate-induced weather disasters include record wildfires in the West, record-setting heat waves and droughts, and aggressive hurricanes. Here, smoke plumes and hurricane clouds are visible at once. (Image by NASA Earth Observatory
A delegation of congressional Democrats told conferees Wednesday at the global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, that the United States is not just talking, it is acting to reduce pollution, gird against vulnerabilities such as extreme storms, heat and flooding and demonstrate how major polluters can change.
“America is back and we are ready to lead on the climate crisis,” said Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, who chairs the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
The recently passed bipartisan $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill includes funds to address climate change. For example, funding would allow transit agencies to swap out 10,000 fossil fuel-powered buses for those that run on battery electricity or other lower emissions fuels, according to the Florida Phoenix.
“Our congressional delegation comes here fresh from advancing legislation to Build Back Better … which represents the most ambitious and consequential climate and clean-energy legislation of all time,” said U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leading the delegation Tuesday.
Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Virginia Rep. Don McEachin are members of the select climate crisis committee and are in attendance at the Glasgow climate summit.
After arriving in Glasgow Tuesday, the delegation conducted a series of press conferences and addresses Tuesday and Wednesday, with another scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re now on a pathway to meeting the scientific imperative and the goal that President Biden set out that we need to reduce our greenhouse gas pollution by 50 to 52 percent by 2030 to keep us on track for net zero no later than 2050. Once we pass this historic package, finally, it will help the world keep 1.5 alive,” Castor said at one of those events.
But by Wednesday, analysts said world leaders are nowhere near achieving that goal, in large part because several of the world’s top polluters, including China, are not participating.
“Keep 1.5 alive” is the theme of the conference, called COP26, which aims to nail down plans to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Pelosi, Castor and other members of the delegation said at a news conference that the United States intends to use financial and technical support to help other nations be more ambitious about cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
U.S. Rep. Earl Bluemenauer of Oregon said Wednesday at a news conference that slowing the degradation of Earth’s climate is a matter of life and death and pledged to support financial aid for programs that reduce carbon and methane emissions.
“We are in a race against time,” Bluemenauer said. “It took on new urgency for me this with year with the horrific events. There was one day this summer in Portland where temperatures in the heart of my district hit 180 degrees. People died.” (There was a report of pavement in Portland reaching 180 degrees; the city’s high temp was 116 degrees.)
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, who chairs the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, said the storms, wildfires, heat waves, droughts and flooding being caused by climate change are a threat to national security.
“We’re very focused on national security, and climate change and what’s happening around the world is very much a part of that security footprint,” McCollum said.
She said the defense appropriations subcommittee proposes substantial investment in science, technology , clean energy, and resilience to reduce U.S. vulnerability to the ravages of climate change, such as storm damage, excessive heat, and flooding of coastal military installations.
“We know we have to reduce our footprint on fossil fuels. We need to reduce our footprint on greenhouse gas emissions. And most importantly, we need to work on energy resiliency and conservation.
The U.S. Democratic delegation in Glasgow also includes Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania and Rep. Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva.
Other U.S. House lawmakers at the conference are from California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Massachusetts.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify a comment about high temperatures in Portland, Ore.
About this report
States Newsroom’s special reporting on climate will continue throughout the COP 26 global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
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