Cities Experience Shows Outdated Kyoto Treaty Sets Unrealistic Goals

June 19, 2007

Cities Experience Shows Outdated Kyoto Treaty Sets Unrealistic Goals

Sensenbrenner: Focus Should Be on Technology, Policies that Work

Washington, D.C., June 19- 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 hearing titled, “Green Cities: Mayoral Initiatives to Reduce Global Warming Pollution:”

“Last week, I gave a speech to the Energy Efficiency Forum where I said that as Congress searches for solutions to global warming, we should be mindful of what works and what doesn’t work. I noted that President Bush’s emphasis on voluntary reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, which helped the U.S. reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 1.3 percent last year, was proving more effective than many European countries efforts to reduce greenhouse gases under the Kyoto treaty.

“From the early indications, it seems that the Kyoto treaty isn’t working. Many European countries are far off their emission goals.

“Unfortunately, meeting the targets set forth in the Kyoto treaty isn’t as easy as it sounds, as is shown in some of the testimony we’ll receive today from mayors across the country.

“The testimony of Gainesville, Florida Mayor Hanrahan shows how exceedingly difficult it is to meet the Kyoto treaty’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 7 percent from 1990 levels. Gainesville has introduced several initiatives to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but is still on path to exceed its target by 1 million tons, or 36 percent.

“The headline of yesterday’s Chicago Tribune suggests Mayor Daley of Chicago is also finding it difficult to meet the city’s green goals. The Tribune article said that the Chicago city government is falling well short of its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since Chicago is one of nine city, state or county governments participating in the voluntary Chicago Climate Exchange, the article notes that Chicago taxpayers could soon be forced to buy greenhouse-gas allowances.

“I am not criticizing Chicago or Gainesville for their efforts. I led the Congressional delegation to the Kyoto treaty negotiations in 1997 and said back then – as I continue to say today – that the Kyoto treaty set forth unrealistic goals.

“In January, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Minneapolis-based non-profit, released a survey of 10 ‘Kyoto cities’ in the United States and their difficulties in meeting the emission reductions that at least 500 mayors have endorsed by signing onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The report estimated that most of these cities will fail to meet these goals.

“The report also notes that many greenhouse gas reduction initiatives are funded from state and federal sources. If cities, counties and states want to take efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that’s great, but residents of these local governments should also share the costs of making these reductions. After all, it’s a lot easier to say you’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions than it is to actually pay for those reductions.

“To paraphrase former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, states and local governments can be laboratories for democracy and policy. As Congress searches for what works in global warming policy, we should closely examine what is working in states and cities across the country, and what isn’t working.

“With that in mind, I’m interested in hearing more from Portland, Oregon Mayor Potter. Portland has been working on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions for more than a decade, and Mayor Potter is able to claim actual greenhouse gas reductions from the city’s 1990 levels while still showing economic growth. However, with all its successes, Portland still isn’t able to meet the Kyoto treaty’s goals.

“I’m sure Mayor Potter has several ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Specifically, I’m interested in hearing from Mayor Potter about what role land management policy played in achieving these results. I am also interested in the economic growth Portland experienced during this period. I believe that any global warming policy should protect jobs and the economy, and I’d like to know more about how Portland was able to achieve this balance.

“In reading the testimony for today’s hearing, I see many references to technological initiatives that could be very promising. As I’ve said before, advancing technology must be a key principle for any global warming policy, and I’m pleased to see city mayors looking for technological solutions. By implementing new technology in their cities, these mayors are giving all of us a chance to see what works and what doesn’t, and I think Congress should pay close attention to the results.”

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Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - Republicans
H2-344 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0110 | Fax: (202) 225-0095

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