Statement of Senator Jim Jeffords, I-Vt.
Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on Asia Pacific Partnership
September 20, 2006
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. When President Bush announced the Asia Pacific Partnership, he made the following statement in a fact sheet: “We know the surface of the earth is warmer and an increase in greenhouse gases caused by human activity is contributing to the problem.” As that statement demonstrates, the debate regarding the existence of global warming is largely over. We need to turn now to solutions to global warming, rather than questioning established facts. Global warming is here, and everyday we learn more about the severe consequences it can have for all of us. These effects range from sea level rise and dangerous weather patterns to species extinction and increased disease vectors. In Vermont, our maple syrup production is threatened, as is our ski industry, just to name a few impacts. The sooner we act to address climate change the better off we will be, in terms of reducing the environmental harm and overall costs of control. That is why I have introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. Based on the latest science, my bill sets out a series of mandatory requirements, as well as research and development programs, which would provide a roadmap for addressing climate change over the next 50 years. If enacted, my legislation would make it possible for us to address the global warming problem. If, however, we continue to delay, it may become too late. We may go beyond the tipping point and be forced to confront the reality of irreversible climate change. Unfortunately, the Asia Pacific Partnership is little more than an excuse for further delay. It does too little, too late and would commit us to many more years of talk with no binding commitments. In the meantime, emissions will increase and it will be nearly impossible for us to avert some of the worst effects of global warming. Experts tell us that we can act now, using available technologies, to reduce carbon emissions cost-effectively. However, without a system of mandatory limits, research and technology deployment alone is not enough. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office confirms that both mandatory limits and technology-based approaches are required. We know that neither the Asia Pacific Partnership, nor the Administration's voluntary intensity reduction goal, will lead to emissions decreases. A report commissioned by Australia shows that even under the best case scenario for the partnership, emissions will still double by the year 2050. Under the Bush Administration’s voluntary goal, emissions will still increase by 14 percent per decade. We cannot afford such increases, which will result in years of additional impacts. We cannot afford further delay, and we cannot afford to rely entirely on technology-based approaches, such as the Climate Change Technology Program. Those approaches will not get us where we need to be fast enough. If this Administration were really serious about climate change it would propose a system of economy-wide limits on carbon emissions. That would show real leadership, worldwide, which is what we need to address this immensely important issue.