All Things Considered

Minnesota Rep. McCollum at Madrid climate meeting: 'We're still in it'

A U.S. congressional delegation at the COP25 climate conference.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a U.S. congressional delegation, including Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, speak to the media while visiting the opening day of the COP25 climate conference on Monday in Madrid, Spain.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum is among the thousands of leaders and climate activists who are attending the United Nation's COP25 meeting in Madrid this week.

COP is the “Conference of the Parties” that have signed onto the Paris climate agreement, which commits them to reducing carbon emissions enough to keep the earth from warming more that 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In his opening statement Monday, UN Secretary General António Guterres said that means reducing emissions by 7.6 percent each year.

“So, it is imperative that governments not only honor their national contributions under the Paris agreement, they need to substantially increase their ambition,” he said.

McCollum, who represents Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District, said she and many of her colleagues in Congress are still committed to that goal, despite President Trump’s move to pull the United States out of the agreement.

“The U.S. will remain engaged and active until after next year’s election. With a different president, we could find ourselves reentering [the Paris agreement],” she said. “So, we’re here to say that we're still in it. We're still working in Congress to reduce emissions, to build green infrastructure. And as you know, our Twin Cities are doing everything they can do to combat climate change, as well as many other cities.”

The process of removing the U.S. from the agreement won’t be complete until the day after the 2020 election. Until then, the president or a president-elect could stop the process.

In the meantime, McCollum said the House is hearing testimony on the effects of climate change and hopes to deliver a plan for reducing emissions by the end of the legislative session. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office has also purchased carbon offsets to counteract emissions from the delegation’s trip to Madrid, a spokeswoman for McCollum said.

Four others from Minnesota, including representatives from local environmental nonprofits and a Metropolitan Council representative, are also in Madrid for the meeting.

To hear more of McCollum’s conversation with MPR News host Tom Crann, including whether the impeachment inquiry will get in the way of acting on climate change, click play on the audio player above.