U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   10/05/2005
 
Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
Kyoto Protocol: Assessing the Status of Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Thank you Mr. Chairman, I want to extend a welcome to the witnesses, two of whom have traveled across the Atlantic to share their views with us. We appreciate the time they have taken to appear before us today.

Today’s hearing tracks the progress that other nations are making to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force this past February. We are taking this testimony, despite the fact that the United States is not a party to this agreement. The Protocol imposes limits on emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists blame for increasing world temperatures. The Administration decided to abandon the Protocol and any serious international negotiations on the matter in March 2001.

Rather than taking testimony about what other countries are doing to implement the Kyoto agreement, we should be finding ways that the U.S. could join the international community. Other countries are left to wonder why the nation that contributes the most greenhouse gas emissions to the global atmosphere refuses to accept responsibility for those emissions. Even if Kyoto was the wrong solution for the U.S., we should find a way to cooperate with the international community so our country can be a player in efforts to stabilize the world’s climate.

As we will hear from witnesses today, while the international community builds and expands its own carbon markets, American businesses are missing out on new technologies and jobs. That’s why several U.S. states have been developing their own carbon markets, despite the lack of national leadership.

This hearing is not about whether the U.S. should reconsider its decision not to join Kyoto. We have missed that boat for now. It is my hope this hearing will provide insights about the actions we can take to unleash the power of the American marketplace, and allow our companies to fully compete in the alternative energy, energy efficiency and carbon markets. We need to join the nations that have made the decision to address global climate change if we are to see benefits for our health, our economy, and our environment.

On the eve of the Kyoto Protocol entering into force, a White House spokesman stated that the United States has made an unprecedented commitment to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that continues to grow our economy. However, we have yet to see evidence of that commitment, and as we all know, actions speak louder than words. I look forward to hearing more from the Administration’s witness about the current actions taken by the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It would be my hope that this hearing would prompt us to craft legislation that imposes credible deadlines to cap and reduce our nation's sizeable and growing contribution of greenhouse gases. For my part, I have already introduced the Clean Power Act of 2005. I also introduced the Renewable Portfolio Standard Act of 2005 and the Electric Reliability Security Act of 2005, two bills designed to use our resources more efficiently.

Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.