Environmental groups call for McSally to support climate change proposal

PHOENIX – Environmentalists gathered Tuesday outside Sen. Martha McSally’s office to demand she support legislation requiring the U.S. to honor the Paris climate accord, from which the Trump administration intends to withdraw.

“We’re sending a message to Senator McSally that we would like her to act on climate,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter.

About 10 people from climate action groups in Arizona delivered a thank you card to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., for co-sponsoring the International Climate Accountability Act. They later spoke to the news media outside McSally’s office and handed over a card demanding the Republican senator join the effort.

“We want to see them be more active,” said Doug Bland, who directs Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, which brings together people of different faiths to reduce the causes of climate change. “It’s been 10 years since we’ve had any climate change legislation.”

The International Climate Accountability Act, introduced in the Senate earlier this month, would require the U.S. to honor its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement, a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump administration in 2017 announced the U.S. would pull out of that “draconian” agreement, but the earliest that could happen is November 2020.

“We think that it’s a moral issue to act on climate change, not just an environmental or economic issue … but a moral and spiritual issue as well,” Bland said.

The legislation comes on the heels of the Climate Action Now Act , a similar bill that passed the U.S. House in May.

“Other countries have a big responsibility to reduce emissions and to really help lead the way on this,” Bahr said. “And right now, not only are we not leading the way, but we’re getting in the way.”

The goal, she said, is to get the full Senate on board and the bill to the president’s desk.

McSally’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.