Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. I welcome our witnesses, especially Lord Nigel Lawson and Professor Michael Grubb, who have traveled from Britain to testify before us today. Thank you for your attendance, and I look forward to hearing from you.
As Chairman of the Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, I feel that it is my responsibility to put this hearing into context with what the U.S. is doing to address the issue of climate change. Our nation is often attacked for not doing anything – but this criticism is not warranted.
First, this Administration is taking action on many fronts. President Bush has established a national policy to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of our economy by 18 percent over the next 10 years. The Administration will have spent over $20 billion by the end of 2005 for climate change activities, including extensive technology and science programs – more than any other nation!
Additionally, it is a little known fact that the United States is by far the largest contributor to activities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since I do not have time to go into everything, I will insert into the record a summary of these many activities.
Second, Congress recently passed and the President signed an energy bill that deals with climate change in several ways. It provides research and development funding for long-term, zero, or low emitting greenhouse gas technologies. These include fuel cells, hydrogen fuels, and coal gasification. The bill includes extensive provisions to increase energy efficiency and conservation. It also promotes the growth of nuclear power, which is emissions-free power.
Third, on top of all of these initiatives, I worked with Senators Chuck Hagel and Mark Pryor to include an amendment specifically on climate change. Our amendment passed by a vote of 66 to 29 and was enacted as part of the energy bill. It promotes the adoption of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas intensity both domestically and internationally and directs the Department of State to work with developing countries.
This amendment addresses one of the main weaknesses of the Kyoto Protocol. I recently visited China and saw firsthand that their involvement in any initiative is critical as they are planning to build a substantial amount of new coal-fired power plants. As a developed economy, we are willing to do our part, but if other nations increase their emissions exponentially, what have we gained?
I have also spoken with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London and most recently at a breakfast he hosted at their embassy – which brings me to my fourth point. I recommended that he sit down with President Bush and the world’s top emitters to work out something realistic because the Kyoto Protocol will not work.
I was pleased that the G-8 Leaders – including Prime Minister Blair and President Bush – agreed this summer to a Plan of Action on Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Sustainable Development to speed the development and deployment of clean energy technologies. Furthermore, the United States recently joined with Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea to create a new Asia-Pacific partnership on clean development, energy security, and climate change. These are exactly the kinds of initiatives that we need to be promoting.
The fact of the matter is that our nation continues to take comprehensive action both domestically and internationally to address climate change.
Mr. Chairman, I again thank you for holding this hearing and look forward to hearing from our witnesses.