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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, delivered the following remarks at a press conference today with Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several of his colleagues, urging President Trump to keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement and to exercise U.S. leadership in the fight against global climate change. Senator Cardin also joined 39 of his colleagues in writing a letter to the President today on the Paris Agreement:
“Our policies in regards to climate change are not only right for the environment but they’re right for the economy and for our national security.
“I had a chance to lead a delegation to COP21 in Paris. Several of my colleagues that are here today joined me. Ten members of the United States Senate went to Paris in order to underscore the importance of the work being done in regards to climate change.
“We were there a very short period of time. We had to fly in and out over the weekend. But we were able to make an important contribution. What we heard there is that U.S. leadership is instrumental. We saw firsthand that when the United States leads, the world takes notice. And due to the work done by the Obama Administration and the work done by many of us in the United States Congress, we were able to get the international community to come together in a very important commitment to deal with the realities of climate change – one of the greatest risks to our national security and global security. We recognize that.
“As Senator Schumer said, we’re now confronted with a Trump Administration that is considering whether or not the United States should withdraw from that international agreement. It was virtually every country in the world that joined together in COP21. If the United States were to pull out, we would be joining Syria and Nicaragua. That’s not pleasant company for us to be in regarding this issue. We would seriously compromise America’s global leadership and credibility if we were to pull out of the COP21 accords.
“It’s also about America’s responsibility. As Senator Schumer pointed out, the science is clear. We know that human conduct is affecting the climate in our world. We know we have responsibilities to deal with it. If the United States pulls out, it shows that the major country in the world is not going to be a part of the global effort to deal with a global problem. That’s not what America is about – we need to be in the forefront.
“We can be pretty parochial about this – many of my colleagues will talk about circumstances in their own state. In my home state of Maryland I see the consequences of climate change. I represent the people of Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Its future is in question because of rising sea levels and the ability to maintain homes. I see it in the capital city of Annapolis, where tidal flooding is becoming a routine occurrence – jeopardizing, by the way, the Naval Academy, which is located in Annapolis. I see it in the quality of the Chesapeake Bay as we’re trying to deal with sea grasses and protecting juvenile crabs and our crab crop.
“All of that has to do with climate change and so I can see it in my home state as the Senator from Maryland, but I also see it globally. We have migrants that are climate migrants, affecting the stability of countries around the world.
“We have a responsibility to act and the President needs to be at the table. America needs to be at the table. It’s in our environmental interest. It’s in our economic interest. It’s in our security interests. If we don’t do it, as Senator Schumer pointed out, make no mistake about it – the economic opportunities will be grabbed up by other countries, particularly China, and the political leadership will be taken over by countries that may not be in our national security interests. I urge the President to exercise U.S. leadership on this very important global issue.”