The US has yet to regain its moral authority on climate change after Donald Trump’s presidency but it is on the way to doing so, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said.
The congresswoman spoke at Cop26 in Glasgow where she was part of a US delegation that included the US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Asked if America had fully recovered its moral authority on climate change after the Trump administration, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said: “No, we have not recovered our moral authority, I believe we are making steps.
“We have to actually deliver the action in order to get the respect and authority internationally. We have to draw down emissions to get credit internationally, it’s that simple.”
It’s an honor to join Members of Congress in Glasgow, Scotland’s @COP26 for bilateral meetings, panel discussions & engagements with global leaders on top climate priorities, including the recent IPCC report, gender equity and public-private sector coordination on climate action. pic.twitter.com/KD1GrZTHNc— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 9, 2021
She praised President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, saying the passage of the Build Back Better Act through Congress was a matter of “when”.
“When we pass the Build Back Better Act, we absolutely will then become and regain our position as leading on climate emissions. But there still is more to be done,” she said.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez was speaking at the US Climate Action Pavilion at Cop26 as the summit focuses on women’s equality.
At a later press conference, Ms Pelosi was challenged on the US Government’s move to increase defence spending, despite the fact the Pentagon is responsible for about 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Ms Pelosi said new technologies developed by the US military would help the US decarbonise.
Speaking at a press conference at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, she said: “National security advisers all tell us that the climate crisis is a national security matter.”
She continued: “It is a national security issue because of all of the conditions the climate crisis produces, and I won’t go into all of them, but (issues of) migration, conflict over habitat and resources, and it’s a security challenge globally.”
Ms Pelosi said attempts by the US Government to reduce the carbon footprint of its defence and its transport systems would “make the biggest difference” to overall emissions.
She said there had been a focus on developing new technology to shift the military away from a dependence on fossil fuels.
“That is something we are very, very focused on,” she said.
“The Defence Department sees that systemically. We have to stop (climate change) as a national security issue, and one way to do that is stop our dependence on fossil fuels which exacerbate the climate crisis.”
Earlier, Ms Pelosi introduced Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, at an event on gender equality.
The Democratic Party stalwart led a group of more than 20 US politicians who have travelled to Cop26.
Addressing the conference, she said this was the largest congressional delegation ever to have attended a climate change summit.
She said: “80% of the people displaced in climate change globally are women.
Migrant Justice = Climate Justice pic.twitter.com/3YzF79ULMv— Little Amal (The Walk) (@walkwithamal) November 4, 2021
“Addressing the rapidly changing climate is a matter of justice and equality, with the most vulnerable most affected, including indigenous communities and our focus today – and every day – on women.
“We come here fresh from advancing the most ambitious and consequential climate and energy legislation of all time in our country.”
Ms Pelosi also introduced the First Minister, who went on to chair a panel discussion on gender equality and climate change.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez shared details of her journey to Scotland on her Instagram, saying it was her first ever trip with a “codel” – congressional delegation.
She flew in from the US in a military aircraft, posting: “Despite the craziness and media frenzy, I was still a waitress just three years ago.
“So I still have moments in my life where it hits me that I’m actually in Congress. This was one of those moments.”
Posting a photo of the coronavirus test she took upon arrival in the UK, she said: “Shout out to the NHS, I wish we had you at home. We need #medicareforall.”
As discussions at the conference turned to issues of gender equality, a giant puppet called Little Amal arrived in the “blue zone”.
It is women, girls and those who are already most marginalised that will be most severely impacted by climate changeAnne-Marie Trevelyan, trade minister
The 12ft-tall puppet, which represents a young Syrian girl, has walked 4,970 miles across Europe to raise awareness of the needs of refugee children.
It was present as a session on “advancing gender equality in climate action” began at the conference.
The event was designed to showcase some of the best examples of gender equality in climate action, highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change on women.
On Tuesday, as part of the summit’s Gender Day, Cop president Alok Sharma announced UK Government funding of £165 million for communities and women’s groups to tackle climate change.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK minister who is chairing the flagship Gender Day event, said: “It is women, girls and those who are already most marginalised that will be most severely impacted by climate change.
“But they also have a critical role to play to address the climate crisis.
“The UK is committed to addressing this dual challenge head-on, committing new funding to empower communities and women’s groups to take locally led adaptation action, to build local, national and global resilience.”