BONN, GERMANY — A United States Senate delegation has concluded its mission to the annual United Nations climate conference in the wake of President Trump’s intentions to withdraw America from the historic Paris Climate Agreement, an accord now agreed to by every other country in the world to fight global climate change through a mix of carbon emissions reductions, clean energy innovations, adaptation measures, and resiliency enhancements.
The group will travel next to Berlin for meetings with German national security officials and civil society groups.
Led by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the delegation to the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) included U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Ed Markey (D-Mass).
The Senators were briefed by State Department negotiators and officials, met with foreign delegations including Japan, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the European Union, and participated in events with the “We Are Still In” coalition, a group of U.S. states, cities, universities, companies, and nongovernmental organizations working together to achieve America’s commitments to the Paris Agreement despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to the contrary.
“The reality is that the United States will remain party to the Paris Agreement at least through 2020, so I am confident that despite the artificial headwinds caused by the President’s rhetoric and actions America will meet its obligations because of the tremendous commitments made by governors, local government leaders, environmentalists, and the private sector,” Senator Cardin said. “Fighting climate change is not just the right thing to do for the long term health of our planet, it is an American economic and national security imperative. The American people want the United States to continue to be a leader in fighting global climate change.”
“In Bonn, we saw that the world is not turning a blind eye to climate change. It’s confronting it head-on. That is a very hopeful sign,” Senator Whitehouse said. “I was also glad we delivered a message — while our President and his administration have bound themselves to the interests of fossil fuel polluters, the American people and our institutions have not. Rhode Islanders and Americans everywhere care deeply about the goals of the UN Framework and will carry forward American leadership in combatting climate change.”
“The community of nations is gathered in the common belief that climate disruption is the greatest challenge that humankind has ever faced, and that we must address it with great urgency and boldness,” Senator Merkley said. “Our delegation conveyed to the world that the American people ‘are still in’ and on track to meet our commitment under the Paris Agreement.”
“We came to Bonn to send a message to the global community — the President of the United States is a powerful person, but he cannot stop clean energy,” Senator Schatz said.
“Now that Syria has said it will join the Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump’s intention to withdraw the United States is not a policy of ‘America First’ — it is a policy of America alone, as the only nation not working to implement this historic agreement to curb carbon pollution,” Senator Markey said. “But despite President Trump, state and local leaders, the business community, and the American people are demanding action and taking action to address global warming. At COP23, our delegation delivered the message that COP really stands for ‘can’t obstruct progress’ and that we’re still in and we will win.”