Remarks as Delivered
“I want to thank all of you for coming tonight, and we’re glad to be screening the film here in Washington, DC. We are just sorry that the one person in Washington who most needs to see the film isn’t here. And unfortunately that person will probably never see it, because it won’t be running on Fox.
“But the President really could learn a lot from the towns and cities featured in this documentary, and which are taking action on climate change right now. If he’s not willing to listen to his own administration’s scientific advisers – and he isn’t – he should at least listen to the people in this film.
“Now in fairness, it is not just the President. The Republican Senate has been blocking climate legislation for more than a decade. But thankfully, we now have at least one chamber of Congress that understands the urgency of this issue.
“In midterm elections, we supported 24 Democratic House candidates who stood up on climate change. All of them ran in competitive districts that had been held by Republicans who had failed to lead on the issue.
“I’m glad to say 21 of them won, including Harley Rouda from California, who is here with us tonight.
“I want to thank all the members of Congress who have joined us for this event: Susan Wild and Brendan Boyle from Pennsylvania, Jan Sakowski and Sean Casten from Illinois, Kathy Castor from Florida, Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas, and Paul Tonko from New York, and we had the pleasure of working with when our team was in City Hall.
“And also we have Shaun Donovan. Shaun did a great job as our housing commissioner, and then President Obama stole him away from us to run HUD and serve in his Cabinet. I did eventually forgive the President, but not 100 percent. Seriously, he’s a phenomenal public servant who was great in New York City and great for the country.
“I know all of them are eager to see climate legislation through the House, and they are far from being alone.
“Democrats in both houses are focused on climate change, and it’s great to see that people are pushing the envelope. But let’s face it, the fact of the matter is with this president, and this Republican-controlled Senate, no major bill is getting passed over the next two years.
“It’s just a fact of life. I wish that weren’t the case. And I know every member of Congress here tonight wishes that wasn’t the case, as well. But the sad and unfortunate reality is number one, Congress will not be able to pass climate legislation during the next two years unless something really changes. And number two, Mother Nature doesn’t care about the political calendar.
“Eighteen out of the last 19 hottest years on record have been since the year 2000. Forest fire season in California is now two months longer than it used to be. And rain levels in extreme storms have increased by 20 percent in this country.
“So while Senate Republicans and the White House block progress, we’ll have two more years of letting the oceans rise without taking action, two more years of letting temperatures break records, and two more years of letting storms get more severe and destructive and kill people.
“We don’t have two years to waste. So as Republicans obstruct and obfuscate I – and mayors and local leaders around the country – will continue to accelerate our work.
“Now, I’m not much for hand-wringing. It’s a luxury we can’t afford right now. We need action and we need results. We cannot wait on Washington, and we can’t wait for inauguration day 2021.
“That is why we made this movie – to continue driving progress outside Washington.
“As you’ll see in the film, outside of Washington the American people don’t view climate change as a left-right, Democratic-Republican issue. Whether it’s conservatives in northwest Iowa or liberals in southern Florida, Americans are finally taking action to reduce emissions and create clean energy jobs.
“They recognize that fighting climate change is good for their health, good for their economies, and good for their communities.
“I believe that by shining a light on the kind of local leadership we are seeing all across the country we can spur even more grassroots action, and we can keep our country on track to honor the commitment that we made under the Paris Climate Agreement.
“This film is one way my foundation is working on that. We’re also supporting mayors and communities that are helping to lead the charge.
“One of those leaders is my friend Bill Peduto, the Mayor of Pittsburgh. When President Trump announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, he said he wanted to help the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris.
“Well, Mayor Peduto quickly corrected him. Pittsburgh is a leader on climate action. So, Bill stood up and said, ‘Actually, Mr. President, Pittsburgh is fully committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement.’ Because as Bill well knows, and you should as well, we all breathe the same air. And climate pollution in Paris – and everywhere else – affects the people of Pittsburgh, and all Americans.
“Hundreds of other mayors – in both red and blue states – have joined Bill in making the same pledge to uphold America’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, and Bloomberg Philanthropies has been helping them keep it.
“We recently invited mayors from America’s 100 largest cities to propose ambitious plans to reduce climate pollution. We called it the American Cities Climate Challenge – and we offered a total of $70 million in support to the 25 best suggestions that came up in that competition. Those cities are now working to implement their ideas.
“I visited one of our winners, Orlando, last week – and you’ll get to see their idea in the movie we’re about to show.
“Together, through the proposals and policies laid out in their applications, the 25 winners of our Climate Challenge are projected to reduce carbon emissions by some 40 million metric tons by the year 2025. That’s like taking more than eight million cars off the road for a year, or shuttering ten coal-fired power plants.
“And closing coal-fired power plants is the single more important step that we can take to clean our air and fight climate change.
“Over the past eight years, our foundation has worked with the Sierra Club and other partners to close coal plants and replace them with energy that is cleaner and cheaper. I’m glad to say that we’ve already retired more than half of all U.S. coal power plants – 282 coal-fired power plants closed or in the process of closing out of a total of 530.
“That has delivered cleaner air and water to communities around the country, and it has helped reduce U.S. emissions to below the levels that were envisioned by the Clean Power Plan, which Republicans have blocked from going into effect at every turn.
“I think it’s fair to say that when the Clean Power Plan was first announced back in 2013, no one believed that we could close that many plants without federal laws – but thanks in no small part to millions of Americans who joined the Sierra Club campaign, we did. And we’re not going to stop until we have replaced every single coal plant with cleaner and cheaper energy.
“Our work with the Sierra Club and mayors and governors and community and business leaders shows that with bottom-up action, major progress is possible.
“But just think about how much more progress we could be making if we had a president working with us, instead of against us.
“As the 2020 presidential campaign gets underway, I believe every candidate who wants to be President of the United States should put forward a plan for fighting climate change. And I believe every voter should ask the candidates not just what do you promise to do? But also what have you done? What have you delivered? And how can we implement in a practical way your proposals?
“There are plenty of leaders in our country who have taken action and already proven that progress is possible. I hope we send more of them to Washington in 2020.
“Until then, I know one thing: cities and towns like the ones featured in Paris to Pittsburgh will continue to step up to the challenge, leading our country, and the world, toward a brighter – and greener – future.
“So enjoy the film. The title comes from when the President said, ‘I want to take care of Pittsburgh, not Paris.’ We’ve come a long way. This country has been completing what we had promised to do – getting our dues to the U.N. to monitor, closing the plants that we said we’d close, reporting, and helping everybody else to do the same.
“We have an awful lot to be proud of. We can go a lot further if we had the President helping and the Republican Congress helping us, but make no mistake about it and you’ll see in the movie, we’re all in.
“Thank you all, and enjoy the film.”