Energy secretary talks global warming as U.S. signs climate change agreement

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Gray DC) -- A historic day in the fight against climate change this Earth Day. Secretary of State John Kerry -- representing the U.S. at the United Nations — signed onto a climate change agreement. It’s known as “COP21,” and was agreed to by world leaders in Paris last December.

It’s a legally binding pact among the nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century.

“We have strong commitments. The president has a strong climate action plan,” said Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy.

Moniz advised Kerry during the COP21 negotiations. Now, his agency is responsible for implementing the plan with what Moniz calls “clean energy technology solutions.”

“At COP21, we had an emphasis on launching – as the president did with 19 other leaders – what’s called “Mission Innovation” – a doubling of energy R&D (research and development),” said Moniz.

While COP21 is a huge agreement on a global scale, Moniz says its impact does trickle down to the small towns across our country.

“Just the efficiency standards that we will have put in place by this administration will save consumers over a half-trillion dollars in energy costs cumulative to 2030,” he explained.

But the climate deal doesn’t come without its critics, who believe it will lead to higher energy bills for Americans as the country weans off fossil fuels.

Some lawmakers, like Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), aren’t happy the president is bypassing Congress on the issue.

“[The president] needs to come back here to America’s house where the Senate has a chance to look at it and then decide if this is in the best interest of the American people,” Kelly told the Gray Television Washington Bureau last December.

Moniz says concerns should be focused instead on what happens if the U.S. and the world don’t act.

“We are already seeing the impacts in extreme weather, and that goes everywhere from affecting coastal cities with sea level rise, it goes to areas of our country that are experiencing drought,” said Moniz.

The Paris agreement will go into full effect once 55 countries -- representing 55 percent of global emissions -- have signed and ratified the deal.

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