December 05, 2018

Following Recent Federal Climate Report, Udall Urges Immediate Action to Combat Climate Change

Joins 24 Senate colleagues in signing resolution backing IPCC report and National Climate Assessment on the devastating consequences of climate change, already harming NM

WASHINGTON – Following the recent release of a federal climate report, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined a group of his Senate colleagues in calling for bold action to combat climate change. Along with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Udall and 23 other senators introduced a resolution affirming findings from the recent National Climate Assessment, along with the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) report, and urging decisive action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

On October 8, the IPCC released a report outlining the consequences of rising global temperatures and the ways in which climate chaos will become substantially worse as the planet continues to experience post-industrial levels of warming. The report showed that the difference between warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius is substantial, and limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is affordable, feasible, and necessary to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change. The report concludes that unless the current path of climate change is slowed, massive impacts—such as limited water supply availability, sea-ice free Arctic summers, mass die-offs of coral reefs, and intense and unprecedented heat waves—will become reality as soon as 2040. 

On November 23, the Trump Administration released the National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated report from American climate experts throughout the federal government. Despite the Trump Administration’s attempts to bury the report on Black Friday, the report has gained widespread attention for its alarming findings—which include evidence that the U.S. is already feeling the effects of climate change, and conclusions that our nation will suffer thousands of deaths and over $500 billion per year in crop damage, lost labor, and extreme weather damages by 2100. 

“These latest reports only confirm what New Mexicans have known for years: climate change is real, and the Southwest is in the bull’s eye,” said Udall. “New Mexico has had a front-row seat to the havoc wreaked by climate change – we’ve seen more frequent and severe droughts, reduced snowpack, catastrophic wildfires, and ever-increasing temperatures devastate our way of life. These consequences will disproportionately affect Native, rural, and border communities across our state that are particularly vulnerable to the effects these changes will have on water resources, agriculture, air pollution and public health.”

“The need for action has been clear for a long time, and I have championed legislation to cut greenhouse gas pollution for over a decade. The latest report confirms we can no longer afford to ignore the science and deny the data. We must heed the staggering weight of the evidence and urgent warnings spelled out in these reports by taking bold action to drastically reduce carbon pollution and confront global climate change in concert with other nations. The Trump administration’s tragic failure of leadership on this front -- from withdrawing from the Paris Agreement to gutting the Clean Power Plan -- has undermined our best efforts to grapple with this existential crisis,” continued Udall. “New Mexicans want and deserve better. With this resolution, my colleagues and I affirm our belief in science over misinformation, and commit to tackling the challenges of climate change head-on.” 

Specifically, the IPCC report found that: 

– The last 50-year period in the Northern Hemisphere has the warmest average temperature of any 50-year period in 500 years;

– At current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, by 2040, Earth will warm by 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

– At a 1.5-degree Celsius temperature rise, the global population exposed to water stress could be 50 percent lower than if the global temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius;

– At warming at or above 2 degrees Celsius, the world could experience loss of greater than 99 percent of all coral reefs on Earth and mass migration from regions most affected by atmospheric changes.

For U.S.-specific impacts, the National Climate Assessment found that: 

– The U.S. is already experiencing impacts from the changing climate, including threats from rising seas and increased flooding;

– 2 degrees Celsius or higher warming would cost the U.S. a 15% drop in corn and soybean yields;

– The U.S. economy will lose over $500 billion annually from lost labor, crop failure, and damages related to extreme weather if we continue on our current course;

– By 2100, climate change could cost the U.S. up to a tenth of GDP, more than double the losses of the Great Recession.

For Southwest-specific impacts, the National Climate Assessment found that:

– Intensifying drought, growing population demands, deteriorating infrastructure, and lower groundwater levels will place even greater stress on the Southwest’s already-strained water supply, leading to pronounced water scarcity

– Water shortage, increased drought, heatwaves, and dropping groundwater levels will affect crop production and livestock, potentially displacing rural and agricultural communities and increasing food insecurity

 Extreme heat events and poor air quality will result in higher health risks, including exposure to infectious diseases and heat-related illnesses

– Tribes and traditional communities are increasingly affected by drought, wildfires, and changing ocean conditions, which could result in the loss of traditional foods, cultural resources, and water scarcity

In addition to Udall and Merkley, the Senate resolution is cosponsored by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). 

The full text of the resolution is available HERE