Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Angus King joins climate change panel

Photo Courtesy of USM Office of Public Affairs

Posted on April 26, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Bryer Sousa, Free Press Staff

The Muskie School of Public Service of the University of Southern Maine initiated its 2016-2017 Public Service Speakers Series by way of hosting a panel on April 22, 2016, designated as Earth Day, that was concerned with the Paris Agreement on climate that was signed by 175 nations on the same day. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change was supported by the 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of the Climate Change during COP21 that was held on December 12, 2015.

The Paris accord on climate change, that has been ratified by the 175 nations who signed it at the United Nations headquarters in New York, aims to prevent a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, even though the countries pledged their efforts at halting the rise of global temperature to two degrees Celsius. However, critics such as Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, environmental activist, and author of Eaarth, who spoke to USM community members earlier this semester, have claimed that the COP21 agreement will not enable the international community to achieve the goals discussed in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The panel took place in Hannaford Hall on the University of Maine campus at 3:30 P.M. Free and open to the public, this panel discussion was hosted by Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Susan Sharon. The members of the panel included U.S. Senator Angus King, Dr. Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations for the Nature Conservancy, and Executive Director of Efficiency Maine, Michael Stoddard.

Introducing the panel, Director of the Muskie School of Public Service and Professor of Geography, Dr. Firooza Pavri stated that “it is my privilege to welcome all of you to the Muskie School of Public Service Speaker series for 2016-2017… the theme of our speaker series for the coming year is climate, society, and Maine’s future… from public health… to the development of sustainable urban design. Senator Edmond Muskie’s indelible environmental law legacy is, quite simply put, stunning. Both in terms of its scoop and its positive impact over the past four plus decades, on the importance we play on our nations and our worlds resources.” MPBN’s Susan Sharon introduced the members of the panel to those in attendance.

“The Paris Agreement has been called a lot of things, including, historic, durable, and ambitious… like anything else this agreement has some flaws, so let’s break down the good and the bad and the potential trouble spots.

First of all, let me ask you what do you think were the most significant achievements, Dr. Deutz?” Sharon stated.

In response, Dr. Deutz said “there were 187 countries plus the European Union in Paris, each of whom put on the table their own national commitments to reduce climate change. So we are now in a world where pretty much every country in the world are committed to solving this problem… everyone has agreed that they will come back every five years, review the science, review the actions that countries are taking and agree to comeback with new and more ambitious commitments every five years.”

Thereafter, U.S. Senator Angus King also shared his thoughts on the COP21 climate agreement, expressing that “the agreement isn’t perfect, it probably doesn’t go far enough in terms of what we have to do… to have an international agreement of this scope is really pretty amazing.”

Further into the dialogue that transpired, Meaghan LaSala, who travelled to Paris to attend the climate talks with a delegation called It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm, of Divest UMaine and the Southern Maine Workers Center, raised the following question to Senator King:

“Just this week you cosponsored a bill on biomass. Maine’s biomass, in addition to burning wood, also burn construction and demolition debris from surrounding states, most of which ban the burning and dumping of this debris, so do you support the burning of out of state waste as a renewable energy?” King answered by saying that “Susan Collins and I sponsored an amendment of the energy bill to make sure that the federal government defines biomass in a consistent way across all the agencies… I think that biomass is carbon neutral.”

After the panel finished its conversation, LaSala shared her thoughts and reflections upon the talk, pointing out that “I find it extremely disturbing that Angus King sponsored a bill, just this week, about biomass and that he doesn’t know that biomass incineration includes the incineration of waste… it is a real problem that companies could be getting renewable energy credit by burning waste and debris. There was also a bailout of these biomass companies, by the taxpayers, that happened recently… without any stipulation that would ensure that those companies could not take the money and leave Maine tomorrow.”

For the entire panel conversation, one may follow up with MPBN’s programming to listen to the recorded audio or video of the event.


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