US Senators stay up all night to discuss climate change

Solar PV arrays in Gerlach, Nevada. Photo credit: Black Rock Solar via flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

An initiative named ‘Up for Climate’ saw US Senators stay up all night to discuss climate change, from Monday night through Tuesday morning earlier this month (10/11th March).


No Republicans joined the all-nighter, 28 Democrats out 53 had pledged their attendance – though some were forced to pull out at the last minute.


Here is some extracts of what was discussed on the Senate floor:


On combatting climate change, Patrick Leahy, Senator of Vermont said:


“We have taken some steps in the right direction. This past summer, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun creating new carbon emission standards for future power plants. The Department of Energy is working on ground-breaking energy technologies, and the Department of Transportation is studying transportation planning to address future risks and vulnerabilities from extreme weather and climate change.  Congress needs to lift its blinders and wake up to this problem by enacting legislation that prioritizes renewable energy development, supports energy efficient technologies, and taxes carbon pollution’’.


Senate Leader, the Senator of Nevada, Harry Reid highlighted that dealing with climate change could actually be good for the economy and earmarked his state Nevada as a leader in renewable energy:
“The largest solar plant in the world opened last month on Nevada’s border with California. Dozens of geothermal wells on public lands power the cities of Reno and Sparks, in Northern Nevada. And because some of Nevada’s best renewable energy resources are located in rural areas, we recently completed a power line connecting renewable energy resources with the people and businesses who need them and making the electrical grid more efficient’’.
The Senator for Washington, Maria Cantwell, highlighted the cost felt on the economy in the shape of lost jobs if inaction continued:
We have to not only reduce greenhouse gases now, we have to mitigate the impacts and plan for a more diverse energy source of the future. That’s what we’re talking about today — we’re talking about trying to save jobs in the United States of America by doing a better job of planning on this issue.”
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin insisted that the science on climate change is clear:


“The facts are clear. The science indicates that what we do here on earth is affecting the liveability of our planet and we can do something about it.”

This initiative highlighted that climate change is still largely a political issue in the US, as not one single Republican showed up to discuss the issues climate change brings. The majority of Republicans still refuse to accept man made climate change, while at the same time receive large donations of money from the fossil fuel industry. It was even rumoured that some Democrats pulled out in attending the discussion in fear they would lose funding from the fossil fuel industry.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

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