Obama Must Show Leadership, Set Goals for Upcoming Climate Talks

June 10, 2009

Obama Must Show Leadership, Set Goals for Upcoming Climate Talks

Sensenbrenner: Inconsistent Messages from Administration Will Doom Treaty

Washington, D.C. U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said President Obama must make clear that the U.S. will not accept unrealistic emissions targets and that China, India and the developing world must have an equal role in any climate change treaty.
Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, urged Obama in a letter to clarify inconsistencies in statements members of his administration have made.
“President Obama must make it clear what the U.S. will and will not accept in a climate change treaty by instructing members of his administration to stick to those targets,” Sensenbrenner said. “Sending mixed messages in climate negotiations undercuts U.S. interests and emboldens the Chinese negotiators to persist in demands that even Obama’s chief climate change negotiator said he didn’t “take seriously.”
Negotiators have been meeting throughout the year to prepare for the Copenhagen, Denmark climate talks in December, where the follow-up to the Kyoto Treaty is expected to be completed. The letter emphasizes statements made by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who endorsed emission reduction targets that other U.S. negotiators have said are not realistic.
In declaring that the conclusion of the St. James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium in London was the “consensus of scientists,” Chu was endorsing the group’s goal of a 25-40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, Sensenbrenner said. Conversely, President Obama’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said this “requirement for the United States would garner very little support here” and “insisting on a 25-40 percent cut below 1990 for the United States is a prescription not for progress but for stalemate.”
Secretary Chu also indicated that the U.S. would join a treaty in Copenhagen regardless of whether China participated.  Such a unilateral treaty, however, would burden the U.S. economy and would not lead to meaningful global emissions reductions.
“Secretary Chu’s statements are providing the Chinese with the fodder to continue to insist on deeper cuts in US emissions.  These steep and unrealistic targets will devastate the U.S. economy, and the administration knows this. So why is Secretary Chu endorsing them?” Sensenbrenner asked. “The technology to meet this goal is not ready, and the price of gasoline, electricity, manufacturing, construction and many other goods will soar if we pursue it. By supporting these numbers, Secretary Chu is endorsing a job killer and committing taxpayers to checks they cannot afford to write.”
Sensenbrenner traveled to China in late May and met with the country’s highest-ranking officials, who would not commit to similar mandatory emission cuts being asked of the United States.
“China isn’t giving commitments, it’s giving lip service. China needs to understand right now that if it’s not part of a deal on climate change, then there is going to be no deal,” Sensenbrenner said. “China and other developing nations didn’t sign the Kyoto Treaty, which was a non-starter here in the U.S. Sticking to this script will make this next round of climate talks a waste of time.”

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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