Rep. Raúl Grijalva tries to counter Trump's resistance on climate change
With President Donald Trump pulling the nation out of a key international treaty to address climate change, Rep. Raúl Grijalva tried to signal to a global audience that many in the U.S. also see an emerging crisis.
Grijalva, a nine-term Arizona Democrat, joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on a trip to Madrid, Spain, ahead of a United Nations conference on climate change in a show of support for those pressing for urgent action.
"We were there to represent the Americans who are not being represented by the policies and the withdrawal of any participation of the president of this administration," Grijalva said.
In November, the Trump administration formally withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change that seeks to reduce carbon emissions in nearly 200 nations. That deal was negotiated in 2015 and sets nation-by-nation targets.
Trump has denounced climate change science as a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese and vowed to protect U.S. rust belt economies from unfair rules.
While the U.S. has stepped away from the issue, the international community has ratcheted up its concerns. The BBC reported that an estimated 500,000 demonstrators are set to gather in Madrid for the conference.
On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said: "Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more deadly, more destructive, with growing human and financial costs."
Grijalva, who is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Capitol Hill contingent wanted to make clear that the complexity and urgency of climate change are acknowledged in the U.S.
"It was a statement. And it was very well received," he said.
"It's a consequential issue that we're going to feel in the United States, and we're feeling it already. Forest fires, the droughts and dry periods," Grijalva said. He pointed to efforts such as a drought contingency plan that includes Western states to conserve the Colorado River for the 40 million people in five states who depend on it.
Grijalva said he is determined to keep pushing climate-related bills through the House.
"The expectation is that we need to lead. That's what we're missing," he said.
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