Alaska has a high-level representative at the United Nations climate change conference, known as COP 28, in Dubai. Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined a handful of Democrat senators in attending the conference.
The Senate delegation includes Democrat Senators Ed Markey, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Ben Cardin, and Republican Lisa Murkowski.
“We’re here because we know we need action. We’re very concerned about the fact that we have missed a lot of our targets. We are in crisis right now,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin told reporters during a conference call. “We have to mitigate as much as possible the damage.”
“The goals are to take stock of how close we are to the global commitments that were made in Paris, and to recognize that we’re going to need to adjust our climate targets in order to be able to save the planet,” said Cardin, who began attending the annual conference eight years ago.
Murkowski is the only Republican senator attending. She said that world leaders need to be realistic and that while “it’s OK to be aggressive” there needs to be an energy transition from current energy sources.
“I joke but it’s not a joke, it’s very serious — I am the ‘bi’ in the bipartisan and I’m happy to be here,” Murkowski, said on the call. “I am genuinely happy to be here because these conversations are so significant to all of us around the country.”
“To me, coming from an Arctic state, Alaska, a state that is seeing warming at two and a half, three times faster than any other area in the country,” Murkowski said. “And the implications, the ramifications that that has, whether it is food crashes in our food supply, when it comes to return of the fisheries, what it means for our infrastructure on land where we see a more accelerated permafrost, climate change is a very real concern and a pressing issue.”
The conference began Nov. 30 and runs through Tuesday, Dec. 12. The main thrust of the conference is a push to hold the warming of the climate to 1.5 degrees celsius.
Sen. Markey wrote on his official Senate page, “Negotiators have been urged to narrow down their options so they can agree on how to save Earth from disastrous levels of warming and help vulnerable societies adapt to weather extremes as the clock runs down on United Nations climate talks.”
He told reporters there need to be guarantees “that we don’t add to the climate crisis with a nuclear nonproliferation crisis. Any steps forward … have to be accompanied by the very strongest, full-scope safeguards, or else we will see North Koreas, and Irans and Iraqs all across the planet.”
Markey grandstanded with anti-oil protesters, saying the protesters are right and the oil and gas industry is wrong.
“There are a lot of questions about the scale and the persistence of American investment in the global energy transition and in the fight against climate change,” Sen. Coons said. “That will be a sustained effort, regardless of the outcome of our next election.”
“COP 28 is an opportunity to identify global solutions for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, inform countries’ preparations for revised and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (national climate plans) due by 2025, accelerate the green transition that is already happening,” the United Nations writes in its description of the event.
More than 70,000 delegates are attending COP 28, including the U.N. member states, business leaders, climate scientists, indigenous representatives, journalists, and various others.
Read all the news releases coming out of COP 28 at this link.