Press Conference With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Rep. Ed Markey; Rep. James Sensenbrenner; Rep. Earl Blumenauer; Rep. Jay Inslee (As Released By Speaker Pelosi's Office)
Subject: Visit To China
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SPEAKER PELOSI: Good evening.
For the past five days we've had a total emersion on the issue of climate change - addressing the global climate crisis.
The purpose of our visit to China was to listen and learn from the Chinese leadership and members of the business community, non- governmental organizations, students, across the spectrum of opinion on climate change. We heard the vision of the President of China about what China has accomplished and what its plans are for the future and we heard down to the most specific of detail from NGOs and small business people as to what the possibilities were for implementing that vision.
I'm very pleased to be on this visit with Members of our Select Committee on Climate Change and Energy Independence - the Chair, Ed Markey of Massachusetts; the ranking Republican Member, Mr. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin; from Oregon, Earl Blumenauer; and from Washington state, Jay Inslee. Jackie Speier was with us earlier in the week. These Members of Congress have a stunning, a dazzling knowledge of the climate change issue and what the possibilities are for the future. And so, they could listen with great discernment and judgment to what we heard and whether we can make a judgment that is possible to have a U.S.- China agreement in preparation for Copenhagen.
We come to this from the standpoint of the Congress of the United States. We come to China at the invitation of the Chairman of the National People's Congress and with the hospitality extended to us by the Chinese government. We are grateful to them for that hospitality, which has enabled us to have the intensive meetings that we have had over the past five days.
What has happened though, as with all of these plans, allowed me - after we got here the North Koreans decided to test a nuclear weapon - as it has been reported - and some short-range missiles. This of course was a topic of conversation with the President, the Prime Minister, and the Chair of the National People's Congress. We all agree it's important for North Korea to come back to the table for the six-party talks.
In addition to that, an ongoing issue of concern to Congress is the issue of China's human rights - the human rights record in China and Tibet and that was the subject of our conversations as well.
But whether we're talking about climate change and intellectual property and everything that goes into that, the national security of our countries, which is of course our first responsibility as leaders in our countries, or the issue of human rights - the conversation was candid. We spoke in friendship and hope that we could have increased cooperation between our two countries on all of the issues that confront our nations.
With that I want to yield to the distinguished Chair of the Select Committee, Mr. Markey.
REP. MARKEY: Thank you Madam Speaker very much.
We just completed almost a week here in Shanghai and in Beijing and we have had, as the Speaker said, conversations with the top leaders in the country on climate change and energy issues, as well as other subjects that were raised.
On the subject of climate change, what we tried to communicate to them was that just one week ago, on Thursday, we were able to pass out of the Energy Committee in the House of Representatives, a dramatic new change in the way in which the Congress is dealing with the issue of climate change. That legislation, which calls for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses by the year 2020, a 42 percent reduction by the year 2030, and a 83 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses by the year 2050 - is a signal that there is a new direction, which we are taking. It also included a 20 percent renewable electricity standard for our country - 10 billion dollars put aside for carbon capture and sequestration research and development money.
So what we were able to do is communicate to the Chinese government how serious we are about this issue and hopefully it sends a signal that will be received - that we want to work with the Chinese toward the goal in Copenhagen of achieving the proper roles for each country, including the Chinese, so that their appropriate role can also be accepted.
And so, we leave here encouraged that progress can be made heading towards Copenhagen and we hope that in the months ahead we can work cooperatively together in order to bring the world to a point in December where we can achieve the agreement, which will help to reverse the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
And now let me turn and recognize Jim Sensenbrenner who was the Chairman of the Science Committee and the Judiciary Committee and is now the ranking member of the Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence.
REP. SENSENBRENNER: Thank you Ed. Thank you very much.
Since Speaker Gingrich named me Chair of the Congressional Delegation to the Kyoto negotiations 11 1/2 years ago, I have followed this issue very closely. I am very discouraged at the conversations that we have had with all of our Chinese counterparts during this visit.
It's business as usual for China. The message that I received was that China was going to do it their way regardless of what the rest of the world negotiates in Copenhagen.
I point out that in 1997 the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution that that would not ratify a climate change treaty that was not global in application. And while President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, he never submitted it to the Senate for ratification because he knew it would be rejected there. I fear that we are on the same road and if Copenhagen is the son of Kyoto, the same thing is going to happen.
What the Chinese have told us is very interesting math. They have said that they are reducing their carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 20 percent over the five year period from 2005- 2010. Since the Chinese GDP is going up rather dramatically, that will still result in a significant increase in emissions in China - while the Chinese are calling for the rest of the world to reduce their emissions below current levels. That is frankly unacceptable.
Also, last December, China tabled a proposal at the United Nations that called for each nation to put 1 percent of their GDP into the clean development fund. For the United States that's $140 billion dollars a year. That money will be borrowed and we will be borrowing it from China as well as other donor nations. And to borrow this amount of money, to turn around and give it back makes no sense whatsoever and I think the Congress will reject it overwhelmingly if it is submitted.
My Chief of Staff today has passed out to many of you, a copy of an article that appeared in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald, which quotes Mr. Pan Jiahua, who is one of China's top advisors on climate change, as denigrating the Waxman-Markey bill - that 17 percent reduction in emissions is not enough as well as denigrating the efforts that Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Kevin Rudd and his government are making with the 25 percent reduction in emissions. He also has said the China has been too aggressive in reducing their emissions.
We met with Professor Pan today - I brought this issue up with him and if he is really speaking for the thinking of China in the post-Kyoto negotiations leading up to Copenhagen, this is a significant step backwards.
I am concerned. I would hope that there would be a politically and economically acceptable treaty negotiated in Copenhagen but with the attitude that we heard from the Chinese leaders that we met with, as well as the article that Professor Pan put into the Sydney Morning Herald, I am blessed and optimistic.
SPEAKER PELOSI: Mr. Markey is encouraged, Mr. Sensenbrenner is not, and I am hopeful because this is very urgent. On our way to China, we stopped in Alaska and spent a day talking to tribal leaders there, scientists, others who are aware of what is happening to Alaska - one of the 50 states.
And we've seen this in Greenland but to see it in our own country was quite stunning - villages being washed into the sea, melting of the snow, the erosion of the land, the evaporation of the polar caps - we have white reflecting heat, instead now, we have dark blue absorbing heat, changing the thermal balance of the globe.
While China does not border the arctic, you have glaciers melting in the Himalayas, affecting the great rivers of Asia and all the way down to the Mekong delta. You have the encroachment of the Gobi desert, coming closer to Beijing with sand storms leading the way. You have a risk of flooding of the areas that border the sea, including Shanghai.
So, the impact of climate change has a tremendous effect in the United States, in China, and throughout the world. We don't have that much time or margin for error. We must come to agreement. We must act. Copenhagen must be successful. But what we do to get there must work.
So, again, I'm hopeful that we can reach a U.S.-China agreement but much more needs to be done.
We'd be pleased to take any questions.
Q Mrs. Pelosi, what did you tell the Chinese leadership about the human rights situation in China, particularly this time, just a few days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, we had a - as I said, a candid conversation on every subject that we've discussed and in our conversations we've brought up the concern in the Congress on the bipartisan basis, about China's human rights record in China and Tibet. We encouraged a conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives.
Mr. Sensenbrenner, did you want to add anything to that?
REP. SENSENBRENNER: I will just reaffirm what the Speaker has said. There is no partisan divide in the Congress between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of human rights in China and we've brought this issue up in every meeting that we've had with the national Chinese leadership.
Q Thank you Speaker. We've heard very discordant views on what China should be doing in Copenhagen. What's your sense of what kind of a mission trajectory from China is going to satisfy Congress enough so that we can get the deal in Copenhagen?
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, a trajectory that will work.
Mr. Markey, do you want to speak to that?
And as he approaches the podium I will say this: You don't really see a disagreement on what we think needs to be done and the direction that China needs to go. We're just talking about a difference of opinion - not even a difference of opinion - a difference in hope we to how soon we can get to that place. But the questions that Mr. Sensenbrenner raises are legitimate ones and they reflect an attitude in Congress, where eventually in the United States Senate, this treaty will have to be ratified.
REP. MARKEY: This is going to be one of the most complex, diplomatic negotiations in the history of the world. There is no question about that.
We believe, however - I believe, the Speaker believes, that we're laying the foundation in the United States Congress this year in partnership with President Obama that will make it possible for all parties including China to come to the table so that an agreement can be reached that has each country playing its appropriate role.
We realize that China is not Germany and not the United States. We believe however, that there is a significant role for the Chinese to play and ultimately, any treaty which is finally agreed to will have to reflect that reality.
So, we are encouraged. We do believe that there is movement and we see that in the laws that have been passed in China over the last several years. We see a growing recognition of the impact which pollution has on their own society. We see a recognition that their own economy is benefitted by increased energy efficiency and we believe that having Copenhagen in December helps to focus all nations including the United States and China towards reaching an agreement that has each country playing its appropriate roles.
So, we leave here with some sense that we can reach an agreement.
SPEAKER PELOSI: I'd like Mr. Inslee to speak too.
REP. INSLEE: Hey, I'm Jay Inslee from Seattle, Washington.
I'll just mention two reasons to be both hopeful and determined. Number one: We have two new countries since Kyoto. Number two: We have a new America since last Thursday [date of Energy and Commerce Committee markup]. After eight years of moribund intransigence during the Bush Administration, we have a plan to move America forward to again become a leader and are co-equal with other countries in fighting and defeating global warming. This removes any excuse for China or any other country not to join the rest of the world to move forward.
That's number one. But the second new country that we have seen with such profound drama in the last week is a new China since Kyoto. We saw cranes everywhere we looked. We rode on the fastest passenger railroad in the world today. We went to an electric car manufacturing company using Chinese technology - right next door was a wind-turbine manufacturing center.
We now know that China is playing in the major leagues. When they were in Kyoto, they were in the minor leagues economically. But now that China has experienced the most rapid growth of any economic engine - perhaps in human history - they're fully capable of joining the rest of the world as a new star in the constellation and it is out job to help China to have the confidence to realize they no longer are in league with Uganda, they are unique to China. And we were looking forward and we are going to work with our friends in China to find that unique mix of their contribution that can continue the tremendous progress they have made and indeed they have made progress and we intend to get a deal so that gets written in stone.
REP. BLUMENAUER: The experience that you are hearing summarized here, I think reflects the complexity and vastness of the Chinese nation. There are causes for optimism, for pessimism.
We have found illustrated throughout our visit three things: One, that our fates are inextricably linked. Mr. Sensenbrenner mentioned the economic connection. In terms of our economic relationship, we are linked at the hip and we are having a shared future where we are both interdependent and require both countries to be successful. Second, this is not going to work in terms of the future of the world unless the US and China are able to align their interests in being able to move forward as the two largest emitters-and, let's be frank, the two largest polluters-of carbon in the world. We have to get this right. Last, but by no means least, what we've seen in terms of the complexity of the Chinese nation. We are mindful of the fact that in Shanghai we saw advancement that is parallel...parallel to anything in the world. And at the same time we are keenly aware that the number of rural poor underdeveloped Chinese aggregated would be the third largest nation in the world.
All of this together for me leaves me very determined that we must move forward, and everything I have heard in the course of this week reinforces the fact that China and the US can, if we are determined, make this work.
SPEAKER PELOSI: I'd just like to say another word about North Korea. I don't know if anyone is going to ask that question, but the actions taken by North Korea in the last week are unacceptable. They are in violation of the UN Resolution 1718, and they must be addressed. It is essential that China and its good offices, and all the other countries in the six - the other five countries in the six party talks, do so to bring North Korea to the table. Whether North Korea intends to use its capability or to export it, it represents a danger to the security of the world. The world is watching. A nuclearized Korean peninsula is not in the interest of China, Japan, the United States, Russia, or any other country in the world.
And so this is an issue of the highest importance because it affects the national security of all of our countries. And those states which would aspire to be nuclear states are watching to see what the strength of our response will be. China is key here because of its proximity geographically, because of its relationship with North Korea, and again that was a major subject, a topic of conversation with the Chinese leaders. I was encouraged in that regard, that everyone knows how important it is to get the North Koreans back to the table, back into negotiations, and stopping whatever purpose this saber rattling has.
We have time for one more question.
Q Madam Pelosi, hi, I'm with NPR, and I bear greetings from Professor [inaudible], who said to say hi, and to say welcome, to visit her house any time, but I thinks she's feeling a little isolated, and my question is, How do you approach and engage China in an all-around, well-rounded sort of way, and not let the [inaudible]- types feel abandoned, and feel that you are overlooking the human rights issue...
SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, I'm not overlooking it...no...
Q ...in favor of economic and environmental issues.
SPEAKER PELOSI: I have worked for a very long time on this issue - more than 20 years. My record is one that I'm very proud of. It's a source of great pride for me to have worked with so many people, so many brave and courageous people, with a level of courage that the rest of us can only admire.
The fact is: we have brought up human rights, as Mr. Sensenbrenner has mentioned. 20 years ago, I stood - I guess its 18 years ago, I stood in Tiananmen Square with a banner - that was my opportunity to express the concern that I, as a member of Congress, had for human rights in China and Tibet. I am now Speaker of the House and have the opportunity to speak directly to the President of China, to bring up the subject, on behalf of the entire Congress, as Mr. Sensenbrenner said, in a bipartisan way, that the concern that Congress has, and to say to the Chairman of the National People's Congress: We want to increase our communication. They want to increase on policy matters, naming several that would be important to our two countries, and we responded: Yes, we want to do that, but understand, one of those subjects will be the subject of human rights, on and ongoing. And so, I'm very proud of the response we have gotten, from people that I've worked with for a generation on the subject of human rights in China and Tibet.
Thank you all very much.
Chairman Markey is going to stay behind and answer any questions you have. Are there any other questions on climate change or energy?
Q I'm from the Congress TV, which is a world-wide, international TV for all of the countries, so I have a question. Just now, Speaker Pelosi mentioned, she discussed a lot of issues with the Chinese leader. But I didn't hear anything related to agriculture. So I was told by a scientist in China that there is cooperation to reduce CO2 from farming, because rice petal is one of the big CO2 producers in the land. So, is it possible China and the US will have this kind of hi-tech corporation in the future?
REP. MARKEY: I think that is a perfect area where the United States and China can partner. Sharing the best agricultural practices, and coupling it with the reduction in CO2 emissions. In my opinion, is just the kind of scientific and technological partnership that the US and China can engage in, and then lead the world with. I think you raised a perfect example, of the kind of cooperation that both Speaker Pelosi and the leaders of China made reference to in every single meeting.
Q I hope to interview you in DC.
REP. MARKEY: And I look forward to it.
Any other questions?
Thank you all so much.