Cardin, Dems push for cli­mate

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By J.F. MEILS Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

— U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and a group of other Sen­ate Democrats said Fri­day they are go­ing to con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in global cli­mate talks, even though Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump won’t back the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment.

“We are here be­cause it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to be part of the global com­mu­nity,” Cardin said in a con­fer­ence call with re­porters from Bonn, Ger­many, site of the an­nual United Na­tions Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence. “We’re here be­cause it’s in our na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests to deal with cli­mate change.”

On the call with Cardin were Demo­cratic Sens. Shel­don White­house of Rhode Is­land, Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Ed Markey of Mas­sachusetts. No Repub­li­can sen­a­tors made the trip.

“In my per­sonal as­sess­ment, the death grip of the

fos­sil fuel in­dus­try on the Repub­li­can Party pre­cludes their par­tic­i­pa­tion in events like this with­out dire con­se­quences to them,” White­house told re­porters.

The Paris agree­ment, which sets goals for lim­it­ing global green­house gas emis­sions, was fi­nal­ized in De­cem­ber 2015. The U.S. was one of 169 coun­tries that rat­i­fied the agree­ment.

Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced the U.S. with­drawal from the Paris ac­cord in June. At the time, he said: “Not only does this deal sub­ject our cit­i­zens to harsh eco­nomic re­stric­tions, it fails to live up to our en­vi­ron­men­tal ideals. As some­one who cares deeply about the en­vi­ron­ment, which I do, I can­not in good con­science sup­port a deal that pun­ishes the United States ...”

De­spite Repub­li­can in­tractabil­ity on cli­mate is­sues and Trump’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to pull out the Paris ac­cord, the United States can­not legally do so un­til Novem­ber 2020 at the ear­li­est.

“What the pres­i­dent did in my view has been very harm­ful,” Cardin said. “So we are still in (the Paris deal), make no mis­take about it.”

Ac­cord­ing to the sen­a­tors, there no one from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is set to at­tend the U.N. con­fer­ence un­til this week, when ne­go­ti­a­tions around var­i­ous agree­ments re­lated to the ac­cord heat up. And that has left an op­por­tu­nity some sen­a­tors are wor­ried China is all too ea­ger to take.

“When­ever Amer­ica is not as ag­gres­sive as it should be, not as en­gaged as it should be, it leaves op­por­tu­ni­ties for other coun­tries to step for­ward and fill that void,” said Cardin. “We be­lieve that China is one of those other coun­tries that may very well step for­ward and fill that void.”

The an­nual con­fer­ence, called COP, or Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties, is held to as­sess progress to­wards the goal of signees to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, which ne­go­ti­ated the Paris ac­cord as well as sim­i­lar agree­ments that pre­ceded it.

When asked by Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice if the Demo­cratic del­e­ga­tion was be­ing taken se­ri­ously by for­eign at­ten­dees to the con­fer­ence de­spite their role as mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion party back home, Cardin re­sponded, “I think they (for­eign gov­ern­ments) un­der­stand our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem per­haps bet­ter than we think they do, and they rec­og­nize that first of all, cli­mate change should not be a par­ti­san is­sue. And that they rec­og­nize that a lot of the progress that has been made his­tor­i­cally has not been on a par­ti­san line ba­sis.”

BEN CARDIN

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