Opening Statement U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel
Joint Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
and the Environment and Public Works Committee
Mr. Chairman - Thank you for holding this hearing. This is an opportunity for the Administration to discuss the progress that has been made on these five environmental treaties, all of which have been ratified by the U.S. Senate.
Of course, much of the talk today is also likely to focus on a treaty that was signed by President Clinton but never submitted to the Senate, the Kyoto Protocol.
I would like to remind my colleagues of a bit of Senate history on this issue.
Tomorrow will mark the five-year point since the Senate voted unanimously to provide President Clinton and Vice President Gore with clear advice regarding the Kyoto Protocol. It is unfortunate that the Clinton Administration ignored the Senate's 95-0 vote on S.Res. 98, or the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, but the conditions outlined in that resolution remain the guideposts for U.S. international climate change policy.
I would also remind my colleagues, and this frequently gets forgotten in the discussion, perhaps even more significant than the 95-0 vote was that the Byrd-Hagel Resolution had 65 bipartisan cosponsors.
As we know, the Byrd-Hagel Resolution was very clear. It called on the President not to sign the Kyoto Protocol, or any other international climate change agreement, unless two minimum conditions were met.
First, S.Res.98 directed the President not to sign any treaty "...unless the protocol or agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period." The message was simple. Yet as we know, the Kyoto Protocol does not include a single developing nation. These are the very nations, such and China and India, that will soon lead the world in manmade greenhouse emissions. Any treaty that exempts them from participation is folly.
Second, the Resolution stated the President should not sign any treaty that "...would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." The Kyoto Protocol would have legally bound the United States to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to seven percent below 1990 levels by the years 2008 to 2012. As President Bush stated in February, this would have cost the U.S. economy $400 billion and resulted in the loss of 4.9 million jobs.
The Clinton Administration never submitted it to the Senate for debate and consideration. I suspect it is because they knew what is still true today - if put to a vote in the Senate, the Kyoto Protocol would face resounding defeat.
Other nations are also reconsidering their early ardent advocacy for the Kyoto Protocol. Japan has ratified the treaty, but has no enforceable plan to meet its obligations. The same is true for the European Union. Australia has joined the United States in saying it will not ratify the protocol. Canada and Russia have not made final commitments to ratification.
The Kyoto Protocol is collapsing under the weight of the reality of its economic consequences.
Does that mean the United States should turn its back on international efforts to address potential climate change? No, that would be irresponsible.
In his February 14th announcement of the Administration's climate change policies, President Bush stated, "I intend to work with nations, especially the poor and developing nations, to show the world that there is a better approach, that we can build our future prosperity along a cleaner and better path."
The Administration has backed up the President's words with funding and tangible international cooperation. I'm sure the witnesses here today will expand on these efforts and I look forward to their testimony.
Next month, nations will gather for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. We should stay focused on science, programs and resources that enhance international cooperation to produce tangible environmental benefits for all nations. Not worn-out debates over dead treaties.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.