For the 280th time, senator urges US to 'wake up' on climate

By: AFP
Published: 11:50 PM, 3 Feb, 2022
For the 280th time, senator urges US to 'wake up' on climate
Caption: For the 280th time, senator urges US to 'wake up' on climate
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US senator Sheldon Whitehouse dusted off his dog-eared "Time to Wake Up" poster Wednesday to deliver his 280th climate speech in the upper chamber -- ending a year-long break from delivering weekly addresses urging lawmakers to mobilize on global warming.

Until last year, Whitehouse would put up the same green sign next to a desk on the Senate floor once a week and launch into the monologues pushing for clean-energy initiatives and aggressive action to take on the fossil fuel lobby.

He retired the placard, imagining he had given his last lecture on the topic, when President Joe Biden arrived at the White House with a pledge to slash greenhouse gas emissions. 

"After I stopped these speeches, the Smithsonian asked me if they could have this old poster," Whitehouse told colleagues on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday. 

"It's the most used poster in Senate history, it turns out, and I came pretty close to turning it over to them. But something made me hesitate and, well, here it is back again." 

Whitehouse lamented that Americans "just aren't making progress" on planet-warming gas emissions. 

"We are one year in with no bill, no carbon regulation and no litigation and look at the climate havoc," he said.

Biden was counting on his signature Build Back Better social welfare and climate bill to achieve his ambitious climate goals, including a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within a decade.

But the package withered on the vine in December as Senate Democrats failed to strike an agreement on an overall price tag and the priorities that should be included in the final text or jettisoned. 

The backing of every Democrat is required to advance Biden's agenda in the evenly-divided Senate but moderate Joe Manchin, from the coal mining state of West Virginia, was unwilling to get on board.

Biden told a news conference in January he was confident that large parts of this investment project could be saved. 

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.