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Public Statements

Climate Stewardship Act of 2003

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

CLIMATE STEWARDSHIP ACT OF 2003

Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, today the Senate took an important step toward expanding the debate on global warming. Greenhouse gasses and global warming are a real threat to our environment and our way of life. The National Academy of Sciences has verified the scientific evidence backing global warming. And the private sector is facing the real world impact of global warming as they contemplate the insurance costs of rising sea levels and more destructive storms. A decade ago, debate ranged within and without the ivory towers of academia over the hazy science backing claims of global warming. Today, the fog has lifted and we can see the impact that burning fossil fuels has had on the climate.

The changes to our environment are real. Our job now is to decide what to do about it. The approach set out by this version of the McCain-Lieberman bill is a reasonable first step. It is not perfect, and if we would have been able to take up and debate amendments there are several, significant changes I would have supported.

My biggest concern is that this bill would have us move toward reducing emissions without requiring the rest of the world to join us. While we have a responsibility to reduce our own emissions, we need to work with the international community. China, for example, is approaching the United States as a producer of green house gasses and must be a part of any practical effort to reverse global warming. If our unilateral efforts convince China they have no need to act, than our approach could do more harm than good. I vote for this bill today as a message to the administration that it is time to redouble efforts to spark a world effort to address global warning. I do not vote to commit the United States as the sole participant in that effort.

I strongly support including environmental standards as part of our trade agreements. Clean air and water issues should be discussed with our international trade partners during trade negotiations. Letting our competitors avoid environmental issues that impact everyone around the world is shortsighted. It hurts our environment and our business community.

The bill before us has other problems that could be addressed with a longer debate time and the opportunity to offer amendments. The Senate should carefully scrutinize the legislation's timetable and should consider giving industry more flexibility in earning credits. But while these issues need to be addressed, every journey starts with a single step, and this vote is that first step. We have begun seriously to struggle with climate change. And ultimately, inevitably, we need to make some tough decisions about climate change. We must reduce greenhouse gasses to protect our environment and our way of life for generations to come. A yes vote today sets us on the path to confront this issue head on.

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