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July 18, 2019

King Condemns Inaction on Climate Change: “What Will It Take for Us to Meet This Responsibility?”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus and a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, took to the Senate floor to urge bold and meaningful action to mitigate the threat of climate change. During his speech, Senator King emphasized the need for action to mitigate the threats to climate change, which will permanently alter environments and create massive instability across the globe.

“We’re facing a known, real, unquestionable crisis in terms of the effect on the climate,” said Senator King. “And this is something that we are shamefully passing on to our children. They are the ones that are going to have to deal with the consequences that we won’t face. They’re the ones who are going to have to pay the bills, that are going to shore up the infrastructure. That are going to have to respond to the drastic changes in the climate not only here but around the world. And we’re doing nothing. What will it take, Mr. President, what will it take for us to meet this responsibility? What’s it going to take?

“…This isn’t academic, this isn’t predictions – this is something you can see,” said Senator King. “The people on the water in Maine know that it’s happening. The woodsmen know that it’s happening because they are seeing different species of trees. Bugs are moving further north, ticks are a huge problem in northern New England, in places where they weren’t before. This isn’t something that’s academic. What’s it going to take, Mr. President?

“… I want to meet this responsibility,” concluded Senator King. “I want this Congress to be remembered – as we will be, either way – but I want this Congress to be remembered as people that met the fiery trial, that met our responsibility. [That we] thought about others than ourselves and made a difference in the life of this country and the world.”

During his speech, Senator King worked down a checklist of distressing climate symptoms that should be a call to action for Americans: the high level of carbon in the atmosphere; disappearing Arctic ice; rising sea levels; species northern migration, and increased storm and fire intensity as examples of the impacts of climate change. He also highlighted the potentially millions of climate refugees that could result from distressed regions, emphasized the need to work with the international community through efforts like the Paris Climate Accord, and quoted President Abraham Lincoln to underscore the importance of rising to the occasion to face this challenge.

A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions, Senator King is the lead sponsor on clean and efficient energy bills such as Joint Long-Term Storage Act, which seeks to improve long-duration energy storage technology through strategic collaboration between federal agencies, and the Next Generation Grid Resources and Infrastructure Development (GRID) Act which encourages energy independence, fosters innovation, and leverages federal resources to support a more resilient and modern electric grid. He is also a cosponsor of legislation to urge the administration to meet climate standards set by the Paris Climate Accord, as well as recent legislation that seeks for the U.S. to achieve at least 50 percent renewable electricity nationwide by 2035.

In his speech, Senator King specifically addressed the importance of changes in the Arctic to the American people. Senator King is a staunch advocate for Maine’s interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic region, and has worked in Washington to advance Maine’s leadership in the High North. In May 2018, he joined University of New England students, faculty, researchers, and staff as well as leaders on North Atlantic and Arctic policy at the launch of the Institute for North Atlantic Studies of the University of New England (UNE NORTH). UNE NORTH is an initiative of the University of New England that aims to help the next generation of leaders further responsible stewardship and sustainable economic growth in the region.

In 2015, Senator King traveled to Iceland, where he participated in the Arctic Circle Assembly Plenary Session, speaking to the national security, climate change, economic issues that make the region a significant policy priority for the U.S. In October 2016, Senator King joined Maine people and leaders from around the globe to attend the Arctic Council conference at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland Campus. He also visited Greenland on a fact-finding mission that focused on examining the environmental and security implications of the warming Artic climate and traveled to Iqaluit, Canada to help usher in the United States’ chairmanship of the Artic Council in 2015.

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