Maine’s Climate Future, 2015

Sen. Susan Collins is the only Republican to have joined 26 Senate Democrats and two independents in signing a letter calling on the United States to do more to address the growing climate crisis.

“Failing to address the worsening crisis of climate change will wreak damages on all Americans for centuries into the future,” the senators wrote this week to to Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Dec. 9 letter, signed by Collins, who is Maine’s senior senator, and Sen. Angus King, a second-term Maine independent, said, “Now more than ever, the American people are demanding action on climate change from our federal government and our international partners.”

The senators called on world leaders to consider “the full breadth of global solutions to climate change, including technological innovations” to reduce carbon emissions that are causing a rise in air temperature almost everywhere.

There is an international conference underway in Madrid to discuss how to build on the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that President Donald Trump declared he would quit next year, joining a handful of holdouts around the world, including Turkey and Iran.

The Paris deal aimed to bring every nation into a common cause to combat climate change and adapt to its effects — and to help developing countries with more support to meet ambitious goals.

World leaders agreed in Paris to pursue policies to keep global temperature from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to try to keep the increase to no more than 1.5 degrees.

Many states and communities in the United States, including Maine, are sticking by their pledges to help, but the federal government has backed away from the pact.

Trump has often expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus that the world faces a climate crisis because of greenhouse gases pouring into the atmosphere from burning carbon-based fuels, a problem that has continued to worsen despite efforts to combat it.

Collins, King and the other senators wrote in their letter, “In a moment where the commitment of the United States to address climate change seems threadbare, we, the undersigned, assure you that we are working diligently to respond to this global threat and we support your efforts in Madrid.”

Just this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Arctic Report warned of “unprecedented changes as a result of warming air temperatures, declining sea ice and warming waters” in northern regions.

As part of its report, NOAA included commentary from 10 indigenous leaders from the Bering Strait region.

“When we were young, we learned to read the clouds to understand the weather,” they said. “We laid on the ground for hours with our grandparents, looking upwards.

“It is difficult to pass on this knowledge when the subject of our study is changing so quickly. The world from our childhood is no longer here.”

Among the other senators signing the letter: Democratic presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Other New England senators backing the letter include Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Patrick Leahy of Vermont.


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