Letter to Climate Change Advisor Browner: Sensenbrenner Offers to Brief the Administration on Talks

February 25, 2009

Letter to Climate Change Advisor Browner: Sensenbrenner Offers to Brief the Administration on Talks

February 25, 2009

The Honorable Carol Browner
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
The White House
Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
 
Dear Ms. Browner:
 
Thank you for your February 12 visit.  As I mentioned in a letter dated December 17, 2008, to then-President-Elect Barrack Obama (attached), I was the only member of Congress to attend the full second week of the climate change conference in Poznan, Poland.  I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and share my impressions from the conference.  My invitation to brief the President is still open. 
 
 Energy issues have moved to the forefront of national and global agendas just as the world confronts the worst economic downturn of the modern era.  We are facing historic challenges, and the policies we adopt will affect the world’s economic and environmental climates long after we leave Washington.  I look forward to working with you in the face of these challenges to ensure America’s continued prosperity. 
 
I believe the two fundamental principles we must follow are that our energy policy cannot be divorced from our economic policy and that our international commitments must be globally-shared.  In our meeting, I mentioned the graph from the Battelle Institute, which I had previously shared with Al Gore and Senator John Kerry.  I attached the graph to this letter.  While the economic effects of unequal national commitments would be significant, the graph demonstrates that the need for global participation in emissions reductions goes beyond economics.  We cannot reduce emissions without global participation.  Even if emissions in the developed world were reduced to zero, global emissions, because of the growth in the developing world, would continue to climb. 
 
While frequent press reports celebrate the commitment of the developing world to cutting emissions, my conversations on the ground were discouraging.  While in Poznan, I met with delegations from both China and India and asked if they would accept mandatory emissions reductions.  Both said, “No.” 
 
A recent submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change confirmed that India’s position has not changed.  The Indian government argued that developed countries should not consider funding for adaption or sustainable development to be aid.  Instead, they argued, it is an entitlement.  “There is a tendency to equate such resources to foreign ‘aid’ or Overseas Development Assistance,” the Indian government wrote.  They added that financing decisions should not be left to wealthy nations, nor should they be in the form of loans.  “The providers of finance cannot be discretionary ‘donors,’ but must be legally obligated ‘assessees,’” they said.
 
Accepting foreign investment cannot be recast as a commitment to reduce emissions.  It is not a burden that United States taxpayers can fairly be asked to bear and it will not result in a significant reduction of emissions. 
 
Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide.  I enjoyed your visit and I look forward to a productive and constructive relationship. 
 
Sincerely,
 
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Ranking Member, House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
 


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