Two years ago Tuesday, the United States joined nearly 200 hundred nations and reached a historic international agreement in Paris committing to cut pollution to address the global threat of climate change. And, according to scientists, this agreement was not a moment too soon. Here in Maine, we’re already seeing the warming of the Gulf of Maine from climate change, causing lobster, whales and other marine life to migrate north and disrupt the marine ecosystem.

The main source of human- caused global warming – carbon dioxide concentrations – are rising to levels that haven’t been observed in the past 800,000 years. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred in this century. The price tag of extreme weather disasters is already in the billions and is expected to rise. The evidence that we are devastating our climate is as clear as day. From the wildfires that are now devastating Southern California and those that recently ravaged the northern part of that state, to the record-breaking hurricanes that battered Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, we have had far too many wake-up calls to ignore the problem.

The Our Health at Risk report by Environment Maine’s parent organization, Environment America, also showed that Portland and South Portland experienced 22 days with elevated smog pollution in 2016, which is exacerbated by warmer days. Rising temperatures will continue to increase the number of dirty-air days, resulting in emergency rooms flooded with kids suffering from asthma attacks and placing stress on our most vulnerable. And according to 100 health experts and scientists who contributed to the U.S. government’s 2016 Climate and Health Assessment, climate change presents a major health risk to every American, from worsening allergy conditions to increasing the spread of infectious diseases.

The solution is to shift away from the dirty sources of energy – coal, oil and gas – that are causing the problem and toward a 100 percent renewable energy future. The good news is that Maine is increasing its consumption of renewable energy. From 2007 to 2016, Maine went from 0 to 16.7 megawatts of energy storage capacity, the 10th-largest increase in the United States.

Yet despite the clear and present danger from unchecked global warming pollution and the benefits of moving toward a 100 percent renewable energy future, the Trump administration is turning its back on climate progress. In 2015, the United States was one of the biggest players in the room. Our country’s leadership on cutting emissions through cleaner energy and cleaner cars helped convince others to join in to tackle the climate crisis.

Now two years later, we’re the odd one out; in fact, we’re the only country on the planet now stepping away from this critical global action. Instead of celebrating the two-year anniversary of the agreement, we’re dismayed at the administration’s decision to exit the agreement and attack common-sense measures to clean up our cars and power plants. This reckless move, which will not be official until 2020, will not and should not stop our lawmakers, businesses and institutions from protecting our health and that of future generations and moving forward on climate progress. As a major world power and historically the largest emitter of global warming emissions, we still have a major obligation and opportunity to cut the pollution that is putting all our communities at risk while leading the charge on a clean energy future that fosters economic growth and opportunity.

We would be wise to reclaim our leadership role in the world. Major economic and political leaders are urging action at every level. Already, 400 global investors and 1,100 U.S. businesses and Fortune 500 companies, from Google to Apple, support the importance of the agreement. The We Are Still In coalition – representing 2,500 leaders from state and local governments, both blue and red, and the business community – has vowed to play its part in reaching the agreement.

So on this two-year anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, we urge our leaders to take action on climate. Our U.S. senators should stand up to President Trump’s backward moves and oppose legislation that would roll back progress on clean cars and renewable energy. They should oppose efforts to weaken clean air protections and slash funding for environmental protection, climate science programs and grants to help local communities prepare for the more intense storms and wildfires ahead. Doing so is necessary to ensuring our standing at the table as a world power and ensuring that we can hand off a cleaner, safer and healthier world to our children and to our grandchildren.

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