Florida’s congressional representative at the international climate conference in Madrid said Friday the planet’s climate is in imminent danger and that the United States must retake the lead in fighting to protect it.
“We’re running out of time,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat and chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, speaking at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Friday upon the return of a 15-member delegation to the climate conference.
“We can choose a path of surrender or we can choose a path of hope. Well, the United States of America is a hopeful nation,” Castor said.
“We want to unleash American ingenuity, the can-do spirit, and create a patriotic climate action that will secure for our country a sounder future. We understand we have a moral obligation to our kids and future generations to tackle the climate crisis, and that’s what we intend to do.”
Scientific reports say little time is left to slash greenhouse-gas emissions before the planet’s atmosphere warms beyond the point of no return.
Also on Friday, teen-age climate activist Greta Thunberg was greeted by crowds in Madrid and led a “Fridays for Future” youth rally after a three-week journey to reach the conference by means of the greenest transportation she could find.
Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swede, is traveling the world via green transport to speak pointedly to world leaders about the mess they have made of the planet.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and others thanked outspoken young adults and children for spotlighting the crisis with their activities at the conference and in streets around the world.
“Youth has played an enormous role, a fantastic role, throughout this year in order to raise awareness, in order to impress the need to take action urgently,” Espinosa said, as quoted in a UN press release. “I want to recognize all of you, all of your voices. Each individual voice counts in making this possible.”
Stop The Heat
According to hundreds of climate scientists in the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, gas emissions are on track to heat the planet well over 1.5 degrees Celsius, considered the threshold beyond which cataclysmic changes will occur. The warming is at 1.1 degrees already.
Despite decades of scientific warnings, greenhouse gas emissions have not been curtailed but continue to increase. The WMO reported that gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached a new high last year and that temperatures on land and at sea have set new heat records for successive years.
The WMO and the 200 nations participating in the United Nations COP25 climate conference in Madrid are calling for emergency action to level-off the rate of emissions by next year and to add virtually no new carbon emissions, the greatest of the long-lived greenhouse gases, by 2050.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi convened the 15-member delegation to attend the climate conference to represent the United States in the absence of any White House delegates. She said the mission was to convey to other nations that despite President Donald Trump’s stated view that climate change is a hoax, many leaders in Congress and people throughout the United States can and will fight climate change.
Trump sent no White House officials to the climate conference, has withdrawn the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action, and has rolled back Obama-era measures to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, saying they are too expensive.
The Congressional climate conferees said they have begun work on legislation to slash U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, prepare for climate damage, and bolster the work of American NGOs (non-governmental organizations) working to resist the changes. Castor and other delegates said a rapid transition to clean energy, after failing to engage in a gradual one, will be costly but will translate into green jobs, green industries and sustainable economies that preserve the climate for future generations.
Castor is sponsoring House Resolution 9 to reinstate the U.S. to the pledges it made in the Paris Agreement on climate, reversing Trump’s action to withdraw from the accord. Her select committee is drafting a climate action plan to be announced this spring that she said will make the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050.
Please read the Florida Phoenix report about climate degradation in Florida and how Florida scientists are working to track changes and prepare for the consequences.