For Immediate Release Contact: Peter Rafle, Senate EPW
February 14, 2007 (202) 228-3102 dir./(202) 302-7086 cell
U.S. SENATOR BARBARA BOXER, CHAIRMAN,
SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
Washington Legislators Forum on Climate Change
February 14, 2007
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
I want to welcome all of the members of GLOBE who have traveled, quite literally, around the world to be here in Washington to discuss the important issue of global warming.
The science is in and we now know that global warming is already happening and that it is due to human activities. The recently issued UN IPCC report makes that very clear.
2500 scientists from around the globe participated in the development of the report, which found that the warming of the planet is “unequivocal” and that there is a 90% certainty that most of the warming is due to human activity.
We are already seeing the effects of the warming of our planet -- ice is melting, sea level is rising, there are increases in extreme weather events, including more intense hurricanes, warmer oceans are bleaching our corals and the increased CO2 is making the oceans more acidic.
And the longer we wait, the more severe these effects will be, ranging from more heat waves and droughts, to flooding of coastal areas, loss of snow pack, and increases in diseases and pests. These changes can affect our food production, our forests and soils, our wildlife and our national security.
We also know that the costs of inaction are high and will grow the longer we wait. Sir Nicholas Stern has warned us that we could lose 5-20% of global GDP if we wait to act. He also says that a dollar spent now will save five dollars later.
But there is hope. Yesterday, I had a hearing on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which is a a group of leading corporations and environmental groups who have agreed on a roadmap for next steps to address the global warming challenge.
This group includes some of the world’s largest corporations, such as General Electric, Dupont, BP, Caterpillar, Alcoa, and includes key energy companies such as Duke Power, Florida Power and Light and PG&E, from my home state of California.
They have issued a report titled “A Call for Action” and they have all agreed to seek mandatory emission limits from Congress.
A key part of their message is that there are more business opportunities than risk in moving forward on global warming and that addressing global warming will drive innovation, increase energy efficiency and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
I agree. I believe that instead of confronting this problem with fear, we have reason to hope. I am an optimist, and I believe we can solve this problem, and that in doing so we will be better for it in every way.
We know what we have to do. In order to avoid the worst effects of global warming, 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, substantially reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States must be a world leader in this effort. We must return to the international arena and negotiate with the other countries of the world to solve this truly global problem. The U.S. is currently the world’s largest emitter nation and yet we have done less than almost everyone else in the world in terms of reducing emissions.
That situation needs to change and the U.S. must enact mandatory global warming laws as soon as possible. As Chair of the Senate Environment Committee, I am committed to that goal.
In addition, I have called upon President Bush to convene a summit of the top 12 emitting nations to negotiate a global warming agreement. I hope that President Bush will accept my recommendation. It is clear that we must all join together to address the global warming problem.
In fact, we are not standing still in the United States. I am very proud of my home state of California, which enacted AB 32, an economy-wide global warming bill. The California law sets a mandatory cap on carbon pollution, including a 25% reduction from projected levels by 2020.
AB 32 had broad support from business interests, large and small, from the evangelical community, from environmentalists, teachers, the health community, firefighters, and many others. Californians understand that we need to act to address global warming now, that the effects can be damaging to California businesses and farmers, and to the California wine and recreational industry, among others.
And Californians also understand that there are tremendous business opportunities that arise out of combating global warming and they want to lead the way.
Other states are working to combat global warming. 8 Northeastern states have also agreed to cap global warming emissions and 398 mayors representing over 58 million Americans have signed on to global warming limits.
Amazingly enough, the entire city of Seattle is working on making all its electricity use carbon free.
The consensus on the need for action to address global warming grows stronger every day and in the United States there is also a growing consensus that we need federal legislation as soon as possible.
I am a lead co-sponsor on a bill in the Senate modeled on the California program, the Sanders-Boxer bill. I call this bill the “gold standard” because it takes bold action -- action supported by the facts.
It calls for us to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to reduce emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.
The world must face the threat posed by global warming now. It is one of the great challenges of this generation. With the help of scientists, businesses, and legislators like yourself, this is a challenge that we can and will meet.
I look forward to meeting and working with you as we work on a global solution to this worldwide problem.