Mr. President, I rise today to talk about something that is such an urgent challenge for our Nation and the world; that is, climate change. Over the weekend, we received the most recent and most dire warning of the costs of inaction yesterday when the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its report. It wasn't easy to break through the news in the last week. We all know there was a lot going on, but this one did. Why did this break through the news? First of all, it was such a comprehensive report. It was a product of 91 scientists from 40 countries. They looked at more than 6,000 studies, and they concluded, absent major changes in our greenhouse gas emissions, the devastating consequences of climate change are coming much sooner than previously expected. I think that is why it made front page news--because of the timeline. I think a lot of times people think of something that maybe their grandkids or great-grandkids are going to have to deal with, but, no, actually the pages in this room--young people today, people even in my generation--are going to have to be dealing directly with the frontline consequences of climate change. The report predicted that the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040. That is just over 20 years. Think about the pages in this room. Twenty years from now might seem long, but it is not that long at all. Just 20 years ago, we could see persistent droughts--we are already seeing a number of droughts now--food shortages, worsening wildfires-- think of what we have already seen in Colorado and California on the west coast--and increased coastal flooding, damage that could cost $54 trillion. This is about loss of life, loss of quality of life, and this is about loss of money and loss of people's incomes. As the authors of the report make clear, it will take immediate action to avoid these catastrophic consequences for our country and our world. First, by 2030, we must reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 45 percent from 2010 levels. Second, by 2050, we must increase our use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, by as much as 47 percent. Do you know what? We can do this. If we don't do anything, we are going to face dire consequences. When I first came to the Senate, we started hearing from military people and from scientists from all over the world about what we could see even in the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. So much of that has already come true. Imagine if we do nothing, and we keep on this trajectory. The American people understand it. I hear about the climate issue everywhere I go in my State--from hunters in Northern Minnesota to people who like to snowmobile and cross-country ski, to business leaders in the Port of Duluth, to students at the University of Minnesota. Increasingly, warmer temperatures are having dramatic effects all over the northern part of our country. Lyme disease has spread further north. Aspen forests are shrinking. Moose range is declining. There is thirty-seven percent more rainfall as a result of mega rainstorms than we saw 50 years ago. The ragweed pollen season has extended 3 weeks in the Twin Cities in just the past 20 years. Those are facts. When you think about the effect that has on animals, think about the effect that has on our daily lives, and then think about what would happen if we kept going that way, not just this way but that way in the next 20 years. This is in stark contrast to comments made by some who still suggest the climate change debate isn't settled. I couldn't disagree more. I know we had a vote in this Chamber where something like 98 or 99 Senators voted that climate change is occurring. There may not be agreement on what we should do about it, but there better be soon. I am a former prosecutor, so I believe in evidence. As this U.N. report shows us, the facts and the science couldn't be clearer. I suggest that everyone read about it or read summaries, which are easily available. Every week seems to bring fresh evidence of the damage climate change is already causing, and Americans will feel the consequences. My State may be miles and miles away from rising oceans, but the impacts are not less of a real threat to my State. Climate change isn't just about melting glaciers, although we sure have seen those. Anyone who visits Glacier National Park--I went with my family--can literally see over time, decade by decade, the changes to those glaciers. I once visited Greenland with a number of Senators, including Republican Senators, and you could see what is happening there as major icebergs and parts of their ice sheets are breaking off and disappearing. You can see the physical evidence of this. You can see the photographs of this. It is not just about that. Recently, we have seen the devastating impact of natural disasters, like Hurricane Florence and the catastrophic flooding this summer throughout Southern Minnesota in Duluth. There may be some political division around climate change; that is putting it mildly. But there isn't any real scientific division because nearly all of the scientists in this world believe this is happening. I will never forget an episode from the John Oliver show, which is a humorous program to watch, but it brings [[Page S6707]] real issues to light. To show that kind of scientific division, he decided to have a bunch of scientists on the stage with him. They were wearing their white coats. He had something like 97 or 98 scientists on one side in their white coats and 1 or 2 on the other side. That is the division. It is not real division if you are someone who believes in evidence. Climate change is occurring, and this latest report is from the scientists all over the world who would have no reason to do this except to warn people about the truth. That is why they are doing this. As citizens, we have an obligation to learn about it, to understand it, and to support ideas that will not hold us back dramatically but will allow us to tackle this head-on. If we don't tackle this issue, we are going to continue to struggle with the far-reaching economic and environmental consequences. This report makes clear that those risks aren't far off in the future for your great-great-great-great-great- great grandchildren; no, they could become a crisis as soon as 2040. Shifting global trends have the potential to wreak more subtle, long- term havoc on our businesses and industries. That is why so many businesses in my State support doing something about climate change. Sometimes it is because they have customers all over the world--all over the world in areas that are going to be the first hit by tsunamis and other weather events or it is because they simply want to be good corporate citizens or it is because they see their bottom line and how it is going to be affected if we don't do something about this. The U.N. report details the economic damage that will happen if we fail to act, including losses of roughly 1.2 percent to our gross domestic product for every 1.8 degrees of warning. As it gets hotter, the GDP does go down. As a Senator from a State with a strong agricultural industry and a tradition of hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing, climate change is not only a direct threat to our State's economy, it is also a threat to our quality of life, to the way we grew up, to enjoying the outdoors with our friends and our families. When President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the international climate change agreement last summer, I heard a lot from people in our State. As you all know, 195 countries made a pledge to come together to combat climate change, and in withdrawing, the United States was initially one of only three countries that would not be in the agreement. The other two countries that weren't in the agreement were Syria and Nicaragua. Well, now Syria and Nicaragua have signed the accord, so the United States is now the only country not to sign the accord. Our decision to leave this agreement sent the wrong message to the rest of the world--the wrong message. The lack of leadership has led to other countries discussing backing out of the agreement. That is not leadership. That is not leading from the front. We can't have this happen. America should be leading and helping the world move forward. By the way, there is such an innovation space here, so much money to be made by responding to this in a smart way and developing new vehicles and developing new energy and new ways to deal with this challenge. It isn't just a challenge; it is also an opportunity. If we don't seize that opportunity by getting our own act together, by admitting that it is a problem and giving incentives to our businesses to go in the right direction and to bring other countries with us, we are going to lose that opportunity to other countries that are part of this international coalition. I have already talked to people who work in government or who work for businesses that have gone to international meetings and who have said: Do you know what some of these people in other countries say? I think we are going to work with China on this. They are part of that agreement. Hey, we are going to buy our solar panels from them, or we are going to do work with them on this. You can't hide from the fact that we withdrew from that agreement, and it hurts not just our environment, it hurts our economic opportunities going forward. Look at Minnesota and what has happened because we were out front on this. I am proud that our State has taken an incredibly proactive and innovative approach to energy use and sustainability, which is critical to addressing carbon emissions. Our State's renewable energy standard requires that 25 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2025. We passed that way back in 2007 with--get this--a Republican Governor, Governor Pawlenty. He helped lead the way on that and worked with the legislature of Democrats and Republicans to pass what was at the time seen as a very aggressive standard. We did it by combining it with doing something about biofuels--something that is important not just in Minnesota but in the Presiding Officer's State of North Dakota. We were able to put together that kind of coalition--the leaders in our legislature and the Governor, farmers and workers, environmentalists--to move forward on biofuels so we would have diversity in our fuel supply as well as diversity in our energy supply. So we don't rely on just one type of energy, and we reduce greenhouse gases by having an ``all of the above'' energy approach. The legislation back then in 2007 received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the Minnesota House 123 to 10 and the Minnesota Senate 63 to 3. It has been a while since we have reached that kind of consensus on the Federal level when it comes to energy. What has happened? We have more than met those goals. What has happened nationally? Well, there was progress made during the Obama administration. When I first got here in 2007, I personally thought that we should move to some kind of a renewable electricity standard for the whole country, maybe making differences by geographic areas and regions. Sadly, the decision was not made to go that way. I think we lost it by one vote. We lost it by one vote. Instead, the decision was made on one side that we wanted to be more aggressive--and we tried with cap and trade, but that didn't end up getting passed in the Senate--and then on the other side, to kind of say: Well, let's just see what happens. As a result, in my mind, we have not done nearly enough. What has happened instead? Well, the States, our laboratories of democracy, have moved ahead--many of them, like Minnesota--and are coming up with their own standards or doing it by region. Our universities have moved ahead, our cities have moved ahead, and our businesses have moved ahead. By 2015, 154 companies, including companies I am very proud of--major companies in my State, such as Target, Best Buy, General Mills, and Cargill--had signed a pledge demonstrating their support for action on climate change that takes a strong step toward a low-carbon, sustainable future. These companies collectively employ more than 9 million people and represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue. Last month at the Alliance to Save Energy gala, I got to present an Energy Efficiency Award to Target because of the work they have done with sustainability and righting the impacts of climate change. They have created an electric car program that is up and running in 5 States, and they plan to expand that number to 20 in the next 2 years. They signed a virtual power purchase agreement with the Stephens Ranch wind farm in Texas as part of their goal of sourcing 100 percent renewable energy in their U.S. operations. Like so many companies in the United States, they have started a major solar program and are committed to establishing rooftop solar panels on 500 of their stores by 2020. As of last year, they had already finished 436 of their projects. They are not alone. Xcel Energy, Minnesota's largest utility, was an early supporter of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. If we had allowed that to go through and had that in place, imagine what a better position we would be in when we read headlines like those from this morning about the U.N.'s report and the dire predictions of what we are going to see in 20 years. But, no, we are in what I consider a state of paralysis. Maybe we are not making things worse, although when we took away those gas mileage standards--when the administration went back on that--we made them worse. We sure aren't making them better. Thanks to cities and [[Page S6708]] States, we are making progress, but we should be doing this together as a nation. Xcel Energy is another example of a company that appears to be ahead of the Federal Government. They supported the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan and announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the next 15 years. I look at it this way: If companies like Target and Xcel Energy understand the need to reduce our use of fossil fuels and embrace the energy of the future, then so should Members of Congress, and so should this administration. We know that energy innovation can't take root--not in any serious way--without certainty and stability on what those incentives are. That is what that Clean Power Plan was about. It took what I considered a more moderate route than some people thought it was going to take, but then it got pulled back by this administration. It is very hard to start planning for the future if we don't have a route for these companies to go. The rest of the world is getting on board. We don't want to be following; we want to be leading in America. As this week's report made clear, inaction is not an option for our economy, for our environment, for our country, or for the world. Military and security experts have repeatedly reminded us that climate change is a threat to our national security, increasing risks of conflict, humanitarian crisis, and damage to critical infrastructure. We see the stories of some of the refugees who are not coming up from conflict but are coming up from parts of Africa where they used to do subsistence farming but can no longer do that kind of subsistence farming because it is too dry, there are too many droughts, and the world has changed. We are going to see these humongous movements of people because they can't live where they used to live. It is much better for us if we take this on as a world and do something about it than deal with the repercussions of it--more severe weather, heat waves that could reduce our water supply, extreme rainfall that could damage critical infrastructure, and a decrease in agricultural productivity that could threaten my State's $20 billion agricultural industry. People around the country understand the stakes, but this place--I think it needs just a little more imagination. If you ever visit my office, I have a picture on the wall, and it is a picture of an angel, and she is handing off the world to some outstretched hands. The words on the picture read: ``The angel shrugged, and she said, `If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination.' '' That is what we need right now in Washington, DC-- imagination to deal with a very clear threat that the scientists have put right in front of us. Twenty years from now, it is going to be worse than those wildfires we see raging in California and Colorado. Twenty years from now, it is going to be worse than what we are seeing when it comes to the hurricanes and the tsunamis and all of the icebergs melting and what we are seeing in our national parks. Why would we just let this happen? We are America. We are leaders. It is time to act. I yield the floor.