O P E N I N G S T A T E M E N T
Senator George Voinovich
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on Risks Associated with Greenhouse Gas Emissions
March 13, 2002
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today on the economic and environmental risks associated with increasing greenhouse gas emissions. I think it is always important to try and understand the risks associated with the various policy decisions we grapple with here in the Senate.
However, I want to make sure we don=t rush past the underlying assumptions on the science of greenhouse gases and climate change and jump immediately to the worst-case scenario effects. In courtroom terms we are in danger here today of passing a sentence before we have fully deliberated the evidence.
Over the last year I have chaired one Hearing on Climate Change and have now attended three others. There is no question in my mind that there is a real difference of opinion between the scientific experts on climate change. It is amazing to me how certain groups have bought into the idea that everything is settled and they close their mind to conflicting evidence.
Greenhouse gas emissions and the climate change debate are real issues which deserve our attention and the attention of the best and brightest scientists in our country and the world. There are a number of issues which need to be addressed before we plan what to do about the worst-case scenarios such as:
< What do the models tell us about the past changes in climate patterns and how well suited are they to predict future changes?
< What do we know about the predicted range of climate temperatures due to man-made emissions over the next 50 to 100 years?
< If something needs to be done today, what are the available technology options and what would the cost be to society to implement them?
< Finally, if we were to implement changes, what would the impact be. I am told if we were to implement the Kyoto Treaty completely, we would only avert the expected temperature change by .06 degrees Celsius over the next 50 years. That hardly seems significant.
I would also like to say a brief word about the President=s Climate Change Initiative. I know today=s hearing was planned for the anniversary of the President=s announcement on Kyoto. Instead of dwelling on Kyoto, which was a failed Treaty and would never have passed the Senate, we should look at his Initiative. To me it seems to be a very reasonable approach and it is the only credible alternative proposed to date.
< It provides the necessary funding for both the science and the technology research.
< It encourages companies to register their CO2 emissions.
< It sets a national goal to reduce our carbon intensity, which is the best way to protect our economy and begin to address the issue.
Finally, in terms of the Multi-Emissions Strategy I have said repeatedly that I would support addressing CO2 in a voluntary way which encourages new technologies and practices such as carbon sequestration. I will not support a mandatory CO2 reduction cap. I think it is important that we do not let the CO2 issue stand in the way of meaningful reduction of SO2, NOx, and mercury.