Sensenbrenner Statement at United Nations Climate Change Conference

December 8, 2008

Sensenbrenner Statement at United Nations Climate Change Conference

Poznan, Poland, Dec. 8, 2008 – U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, made the following statement today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland:

“This is the fourth conference of parties that I have attended, beginning with Kyoto in 1997.  As Chairman of the Science Committee, I led the delegation from the U.S. House that observed the development of what I consider to be a flawed protocol.  I have come to Poznan to observe the interim negotiations to replace Kyoto in 2013.  I hope that this round of negotiations will result in a new approach to mitigating climate change.
“The United States is often asked for leadership on climate change.  Leadership involves telling people what they don’t want to hear.  Reaching mandatory emissions caps that exclude some of the world’s largest emitters won’t stop global warming.  Reductions across developed nations stand to be completely offset by inefficient growth and deforestation in the developing world.  That fatal flaw is why neither President Clinton nor Bush submitted the treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification.  The Senate had warned President Clinton on a 95-to-0 vote not to negotiate a treaty without global participation.
“Since early last year, I have served as the Ranking Republican Member on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.  This Select Committee was created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to focus on the dual challenges of energy security and climate change that confront our nation and the globe.  I am pleased that Speaker Pelosi will extend the Select Committee for another Congress, because our job is far from finished.  As legislators, we have only begun to understand the enormous challenges we face.  For instance, Kyoto and discussions in Europe focus heavily on CO2, but it is incontrovertible that methane is a more intense greenhouse gas than CO2 and has a much shorter half life.
“Since joining the Select Committee, I have reiterated my belief that there are four fundamental principles that must be met for emissions reductions: 
“First, as I have already stated, binding inclusion of all nations is mandatory.  All studies indicate that actions by developed countries alone will be inadequate to control greenhouse gas emissions.  I am familiar with the principle of ‘common but differentiated’ responsibilities, but it is worth remembering that climate change is a common problem and can only be solved with a common solution.
“Second, with the world and the U.S. economies in recession, it is critical that we do not cause further erosion of U.S. jobs or the economy.  Analysis of recent legislation by several institutions clearly shows that the ‘cap-and-tax’ approach will have an enormous impact on job growth and our GDP.  I call this approach ‘cap and tax’ because that is what it is—a tax on carbon.  The emissions trading system is nothing more than a complex scheme to disguise what is ultimately a transfer of wealth from the private to the public sector—in other words, a tax.  Other approaches must be found.
“Third, actions must result in real and verifiable environmental benefits.  Too much is being made of the effectiveness of offsets (particularly international offsets) in truly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  A much more rigorous system must be in place to assure true additionality of actions.
“And fourth, we will have to advance technological development at a pace that may or may not prove achievable.  And since we can not predict technological breakthroughs, we are going to have to allow flexibility in our system so that unreasonable burdens are not placed on our economy if development proves to be slower than hoped for.
“That concludes my statement and I welcome any questions at this time.”   
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