Climate Treaty Negotiations Need New Direction

September 26, 2007

Climate Treaty Negotiations Need New Direction

Sensenbrenner: We Must Not Repeat Kyoto Mistakes

Washington, D.C., Sept. 26- U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, made the following statement during today’s briefing titled, “Forging a Global Solution for Global Warming: International Perspectives:”  

“A decade ago, I traveled with several of my colleagues to Kyoto, Japan as chair of the congressional delegation to the now-famous climate change treaty that was being negotiated there. 

“Early on, I had suspicions that a treaty which targeted emissions by the U.S. and other industrialized countries, but ignored the carbon dioxide released by emerging economies like China and India, would not get a warm reception in Congress or with the American public. In fact, the U.S. Senate made a big statement by voting 95-0 to express opposition to negotiating any climate change treaty that would harm the U.S. economy and fail to include emerging economies. 

“One consequence of that vote was President Clinton decided not to even bother sending the Kyoto treaty to the Senate for ratification, even though he signed it. 

“Perhaps the reason for that is that the head of the Energy Information Administration testified in 1998 before the Science Committee that compliance with Kyoto would result in approximately an 80 percent increase in the cost of energy in the U.S., whether that is electricity, fuel oil, natural gas or gasoline. 

“Those types of increase are neither economically sustainable nor politically sustainable, because no politician in a democracy can get reelected if they support an 80 percent increase in energy prices on their voters. 

“The problem was not with Congress or the Senate, but with an administration that, with help from former Vice President Al Gore, pursued a treaty that while very popular with people overseas, had no chance of ratification at home. 

“We must not make this mistake again. 

“Momentum is building for a new global climate change treaty. Work continued this week with the U.N.’s high-level event on Monday and will continue later this week with the State Department’s meeting of the world’s major economies. 

“These two meetings will help lay the groundwork for more formal negotiations this December in Bali, Indonesia, where diplomats from around the world will try to find what was missed in Kyoto: a treaty that can produce positive environmental results without creating economic havoc. 

“A decade after Kyoto, it is clear to me that the treaty produced far too few results. It is a failure. And I’m not alone. This week, the executive director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dutch diplomat Yvo de Boer, said that from the perspective of the environment, Kyoto could be considered a failure. 

“He said, and I quote: ‘You could, I suppose, say it’s a failure from the point of view of the atmosphere, from the point of view of climate because it’s only managing to reduce greenhouse gases by a little under 5 percent. So in that sense you could call it a failure.’ 

“Mr. de Boer did offer some praise of the Kyoto treaty for putting in place some needed architecture, but this statement alone tells me that Bali must not be a 21st century version of Kyoto. 

“Let me state, contrary to the opening statement of the chair of the committee, if we continue talking about a mandatory cap-and-trade system that China and India will never sign off on, we will have repeated the mistake that began in Berlin in 1995, was continued in Kyoto in 1997, and continues to this day. 

“I give President Bush a lot of credit for engaging the Chinese and the Indians, who have so far stonewalled any type of talk about greenhouse gas reductions. He should be given praise, and not condemnation, for that. 

“I was pleased to hear U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon say on Monday that a complete divorce from fossil fuels is unrealistic and technological development is essential for progress on global warming. 

“I think Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is right when she said on Monday that ‘the world needs a technological revolution.’ I would add that the world also needs a revolutionary new climate change treaty that will keep energy and economic growth abundant while making carbon dioxide scarce. Hopefully, this week’s discussions will move us down that path.”


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