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Remarks of Chairman Lantos at Hearing, “U.S. Re-Engagement in the Global Effort to Fight Climate Change”

May 15, 2007
Press Release

Verbatim, as delivered

May 15, 2007

We are not here today to debate the existence of global warming. There will be no dueling charts and graphs. There will be no recitation of scientific arguments that point first one way, then the other, like a weathervane gone wild. The time for that is over. That debate is done.

 

The question now is: What are we going to do about the global warming crisis in a concrete, far-reaching way – in a way that will create a truly livable world for my 17 grandchildren, and for all others?

So today, I have an announcement. On May 23rd, I will bring serious, substantive legislation before our Committee to reinvigorate international negotiations to stop global warming and to help developing nations produce energy in a clean and sustainable way. With passage of the bill, this Committee, and this Congress, will send a strong, bi-partisan signal that the time for endless delays to stem global warming is past.

Task number one is to overhaul dramatically the manner in which this Administration, and the Administration that follows it, negotiates with our global partners on climate change. Like the last remaining fan at a sporting event whose team is losing badly, this Administration has stubbornly sat on its hands and refused to acknowledge the score It has dispatched low-level negotiators to international climate meetings armed with simple marching orders: deny, stall, and postpone. Just the other day, the Washington Post revealed that the Administration is trying to soften tough climate change language to be declared at next month’s G-8 meeting.

Under my legislation, Cabinet-level officials will board planes to represent the United States at critical climate change negotiations. Instead of turning their backs on the United Nations, our diplomats will negotiate intensively within the global framework.

And if the White House heeds the call of my bill, our diplomats will have a bold, new mission – to negotiate a post-Kyoto framework that contains binding commitments for environmental action from all of the world’s polluters, including China and India.

As my legislation makes clear, any meaningful post-Kyoto agreement must have three key elements: a viable target for stabilizing carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere; binding emissions-reduction targets; and flexible mechanisms such as carbon trading to make the agreement economically workable.

But given the potentially catastrophic humanitarian consequences of global warming, we can’t wait for the years it will take for such an agreement to be done before we roll up our sleeves and start working. That is why my bill allocates more money to the US Agency for International Development to work with developing nations to improve energy efficiency and to bolster the regulatory and financial environments for adopting clean-energy technologies.

That is why my legislation contains new initiatives to boost American exports of energy-efficient and clean energy technologies – a sector of our economy on the cutting edge of technological innovation.

And that is why I propose the establishment of an international Clean Energy Foundation, a semi-autonomous institution that would leverage the resources that NGOs, private companies, and foreign governments can bring to bear. The foundation will support the most creative and feasible models for implementing renewable energy sources and other energy alternatives.

The good news is that because of the hard work of scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs around the globe, the technology we need to stem global warming is available and is affordable. But to summon the national and global political will to tackle climate change, we need to adopt collectively a new mindset about our planet – an urgent, proactive mindset.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to her enormous credit, has challenged all committees to submit legislation by June. We in our committee will fulfill this most important mandate. And Congress will, at long last, approve far-reaching legislation to revive American leadership worldwide in efforts to curb global warming and to preserve our planet for future generations.