WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a senior member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, today made the following statement commemorating Earth Day 2016 and the first day that the Paris Climate Agreement opens for signature:

“For nearly half a century, concerned citizens have marked Earth Day by doing their part to protect and restore the environment in their communities.  From its earliest years when students planted trees on college campuses, Earth Day has grown into a global phenomenon as more and more people have focused on the need to preserve our planet—and have come to see the threats our planet is facing.

“So it’s appropriate that on this Earth Day, governments will begin to formally go on record supporting the most far-reaching global climate-change agreement in history.  With the United States leading the way, the number of countries expected to sign onto the Paris Agreement on day one is likely to set a new record for international accords.  Now, nations must begin the hard work of actually living up to the details of the agreement.

“The 190 governments that worked to shape the accord aren’t alone in realizing the grave threat posed by climate change.  With the writing on the wall—March was the 11th consecutive month to break heat records—business and security leaders are firmly behind efforts to meet this challenge.

“In fact, only a shrinking minority, led by the Republican Party, wants to hide its head in the sand when it comes to climate change.  I predict that decades down the road, a generation will look back in utter disbelief that a so-called mainstream political party was so cavalier about so clear a threat.  Hopefully though, with strong commitments and steady leadership in the years ahead, they’ll look back at 2016 as a turning point in the effort to seriously address climate change and mitigate its devastating effects.”