My colleagues, I believe we must act now to address global warming.
I believe it is our responsibility.
I believe it is our duty.
And I believe it is our challenge.
I believe that just as consensus has been built among scientists, it is rapidly building among the American people. A recent Time Magazine/ABC News Poll found that 88 percent say that global warming threatens future generations. We are at a historic moment – the tide is turning. A real consensus is coming together around this issue in a way that has never happened before. Scientists, the public, and even the Bush Administration agree: global warming is real, and humans are making a serious contribution. Let us look at what a growing chorus of voices is saying across the country about global warming:
National Academy of Sciences
N.S. Climate Action Partnership
Evangelicals and Scientists
State and Local Governments
Pentagon Funded Report
-State of the Union
-Department of Interior/Polar Bear
Recent Statement by Tony Blair
We know what is happening-- the science is clear: The planet is getting warmer because humans are releasing too much carbon pollution into the atmosphere.
If we fail to take action on global warming now, we can expect future catastrophic impacts like rising sea levels, more extreme weather events of all kinds, damage to coral reefs and fisheries, and negative impacts on food production and water supplies. We need to act soon, before we reach a tipping point when irreversible changes to the world we know may occur.
We know what sectors in our economy emit these greenhouse gases:
· Transportation = 30% of emissions;
· Power Plants = 40% of emissions
· Industry, Commercial and Other sources = 30% of emissions.
We know what we have to do. In order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, it is important to stabilize emissions and hold temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit from where we are now. In short, we need to cap and eventually, significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
I am very proud of my home state of California which enacted AB 32, an economy wide global warming bill. This law sets a mandatory cap on carbon pollution, including a 25% reduction from projected levels by 2020. The Governor also signed an Executive Order establishing a goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 from 1990 levels. A consensus is developing that we must take action at the federal level now.
On June 22, 2005, a majority of the Republican controlled Senate (53-44) supported action on climate change through the Bingaman Resolution. The resolution was a Sense of the Senate resolution that supported mandatory emissions limits.
There is much to gain in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, increasing our energy efficiency will save us money, make us more energy independent, help clean up our air, and reduce carbon pollution.
In an effort to make the federal government a model, I will be introducing legislation to accelerate the effort to make the thousands of Federal government buildings managed by the General Services Administration models of energy efficiency, starting with lighting systems. The GSA owns or leases over 340 million square feet of space in nearly 9000 buildings located in every state. GSA calls itself the largest property manager in the United States . I am already working directly with the Administration on this effort to see if we can find common ground and achieve the goal of making these buildings a model together. Similarly, energy efficiency standards for appliances can save us lots of energy and will save money for consumers.
Using renewable fuels fights global warming and also will reduce our dependence on oil, and will help clean up our air. I have introduced legislation that would support the development of cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from agricultural waste, grass, and many other plants.
Planting trees and other plants, which absorb carbon, can create carbon “sinks.” This type of “carbon sequestration” also must be considered.
There are many benefits to fighting global warming. As we meet this challenge, new technologies will be invented and exported. Jobs will be created and these new technologies will be needed by the world. The great genius of American entrepreneurship will rise to the challenge.
When we succeed in the battle against global warming the oceans also will be healthier. Right now, the oceans are showing the strains from absorbing so much CO2. Our oceans have acted like a "sink" for the carbon, and scientists are warning us about trouble with coral reef die offs and potential long-term impacts on fisheries.
There are many approaches to the issue of global warming. Several of our colleagues have tackled this issue in a very positive way. Some take an economy-wide approach—others, an industry specific approach. I am sure we will hear their ideas today. I know it is no secret that I call the Sanders/Boxer bill originally written by our dear friend Jim Jeffords, the “gold standard” bill because it is comprehensive and takes bold action that I believe is warranted by the facts. My goal is of course to get us as close as we can to that “gold standard” which is reflected in the California program.
I am a realist, and I know only by working together can we move forward with legislation. I pledge today that all ideas and all Senators will have a seat at the table as we move toward action.
Ladies and gentlemen: I am an optimist. I believe in our ability to act and I am counting on the Environment Committee, which has a distinguished history, to move us forward:
· After the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Ohio in 1969, and many of our lakes and rivers were open sewers, our Committee responded with a comprehensive remedy, enacting the Clean Water Act in 1972. Today we can look with pride on the improvements in water quality across this country. While our work is not done, and we must ensure we do not take steps backward, the positive results speak for themselves.
· When the air was so dirty you could see it and there were few tools to address it, our Committee responded with the Clean Air Act in 1970. Our work is not done, but the air is much cleaner and safer.
· When contaminated tap water was causing widespread waterborne disease and exposing people to cancer-causing chemicals, our Committee enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.
Now we must face the challenge of global warming. It is one of the great challenges of this generation. It's once again our turn again to stand up and lead this greatest country on earth to a bright future that will energize our people here at home and the whole world. This is a challenge we can and will meet.