Senators Introduce Legislation to Maintain US Commitment to Paris Climate Agreement

June 10, 2019, 11:00 AM HST (Updated June 10, 2019, 9:29 AM)
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Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and 40 of their US Senate colleagues introduced legislation that would prevent the US from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, according to a June 6, 2019, press release from Sen. Hirono’s office.

The International Climate Accountability Act would also require the President to provide a plan to describe how the US would meet its nationally determined contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement and honor its commitment to combatting climate change.

“The President’s careless decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement will result in serious economic, social and environmental consequences for communities across the country,” Sen. Hirono said. “In Hawai‘i, we understand why it is important to malama, or take care of, our land, ocean, and air—our way of life depends on it. That is why Hawai‘i was the first state to pass legislation to uphold the agreement in the state. By dropping out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. will be ill prepared to deal with the growing threat of climate change and its direct impacts on our economic stability and national security. Our bill will ensure we remain prepared and willing to uphold our end of this vital deal. America must not abdicate its global leadership role in the climate crisis to countries like China.”

“Warming temperatures, rising seas and extreme weather are taking a significant toll on our communities, with immediate threats to public safety and long-term implications for our wildlife, environment and the vitality of our economy,” Sen.Shaheen said. “The President’s decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Climate Agreement, coupled with his administration’s relentless efforts to unravel protections that safeguard our air, water and land, relinquishes our nation’s global leadership on climate change. We’re feeling the effects in New Hampshire with rising temperatures that threaten seacoast flooding, our moose population, foliage season and maple industry, and we’re seeing similar repercussions in areas throughout the country and world. Climate change is real, it is here and it is time for Congress to act if the president will not.”

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“President Trump’s abdication of leadership in rejecting climate science and ceding advantage in the clean energy economy has increased global risk and seriously disadvantaged US economic and environmental interests,” Sen. Menendez said. “With the foreign relations and national security implications of failing to address the threat of climate change quickly growing, this legislation mitigates the implications of unilaterally withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement. And while the president has failed to keep his promise of seeking a better deal on the Paris Accord, this legislation provides a serious policy framework for reclaiming US leadership in preserving our planet and protecting future generations.”

“Two years ago, when President Trump withdrew from the historic Paris climate accords, the world watched as America shrunk in the face of the world’s greatest environmental challenge,” Sen. Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said. “When America speaks, the world listens. We cannot allow an administration controlled by climate science deniers to speak for the American people, the vast majority of whom want our country to act boldly to address climate change. By rejoining the nations of the world in the Paris Climate Accord, we can restore America’s leadership and propel greater collective action to address this global crisis. Low-lying states like Delaware need real progress on meaningful emissions reductions and, as a country, we should seize the economic opportunity that comes with leading the charge. I’m proud to join Sens. Shaheen and Menendez on this important effort.”

Despite announcing his plans to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement in June 2017, President Trump cannot officially withdraw the US until Nov. 4, 2020. The Paris Climate Agreement specifies that after joining the agreement, a country is unable to leave the agreement for three years, after which there is a one-year waiting period for the leave to be fully in effect. The US legally entered into the agreement on Nov. 4, 2016.

In addition to Sens. Hirono and Shaheen, the International Climate Accountability Act is also cosponsored by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

The full text of the bill is available here.

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