June 2, 2009
The Honorable Steven Chu
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence, SW
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Mr. Secretary:
According to Bloomberg, you recently indicated that the United States “may accept targets for reducing its greenhouse gases in an international treaty even if China doesn’t.” Further, on May 27, the Financial Times reported that you said “[t]he US remains determined to lead the world to a new global deal on climate change” and this would be the case “[e]ven if China and other developing countries are reluctant to make commitments at December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.”
These statements directly contradict those by Todd Stern, the Obama Administration’s lead negotiator on climate change. In his April 22, 2009 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Stern said that it was “imperative to negotiate a strong new international agreement that will include significant commitments from all countries.” Furthermore, he testified that one “of the principles that guide our thinking and will inform our further refinement of policy positions” is the “need to ensure that the agreement is truly global and includes significant actions by all major economies” for “[t]he simple math of accumulating emissions shows that there is no other way to make the kinds of reductions that science indicates are necessary.”
Your statements would seem to undermine the State Department’s negotiating posture. In its most recent submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, China argued that the United States should cut its emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, send between .5 and 1% of its Gross Domestic Product to Developing Countries, including China, and relax energy-related intellectual property rights so that China can take advantage of American innovations without paying the patent holders. In exchange, China is unwilling to agree to a single mandatory reduction. Instead, they hope to take part in a UN-administered offset program where developed countries pay China for improvements in its efficiency.
China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. As Todd Stern recognized, it is impossible to reduce global emissions if China’s emissions continue to grow. Furthermore, China’s proposal would be disastrous to America’s competitiveness. Handicapping already struggling U.S. manufacturers will lead to a predictable flight of U.S. jobs.
Because emissions are a global problem, it is natural to pursue global solutions. But an agreement that binds the U.S. without placing restrictions on the world’s largest emitter isn’t an agreement at all. It’s simply a one-sided commitment that will harm the U.S. economy and allow global emissions to continue to climb.
I urge you to clarify your statements regarding the U.S. position in international climate talks and emphasize the importance of a truly global agreement.
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress