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Public Statements

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Idaho, let me, as we lawyers say, argue in the alternative. He may be accurate, but it is irrelevant. He is making an argument that was appropriate when we were debating Kyoto. We are not debating that. All my friends and I and Senator Lautenberg and others--and Senator Kerry has been the leader on this issue--are saying is that there are some basic facts about global warming. It is real simple. The science is real. The effects are profound. Inaction is not an option.

We just finished passing, as my friend from Massachusetts said, a resolution, a sense of the Senate, saying domestically we have to take a look at this. That is a little bit like saying we can set up a firewall here where the impact on our health, the impact on our economy, the impact on our future is going to be able to be controlled somehow just by what we do here--the idea we are not going to reach out, particularly in the context of the inability of nations to meet the standards they signed on to Kyoto. This gives us another chance to do what we should have done in the first place: try to negotiate instead of walking away, try to negotiate something that is real.

The resolution's findings declare principles on which we can reach a broad, if not unanimous, agreement. There is no need to revisit the decision that was made at Kyoto. Whatever you make of that decision, it should have been the first step toward a new phase of international negotiations, not a repudiation of the notion of negotiations.

Let me conclude by saying one thing we know for sure: no agreement is going to work that does not include the United States. No agreement is going to work that does not include the United States, the largest current source; and the developing countries, such as China and India, Korea, Mexico, and Brazil, these countries will soon take over that dubious distinction.

Here is our chance to get back on the right side of history and to put the Senate, with its constitutional power to ratify treaties, on record as favoring a serious effort under which the Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by President Bush, can be negotiated.

This resolution does not preju dge the outcome of those negotiations. We have to be creative, we have to recognize the many different ways we can begin to make real progress, to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of stabilizing the still-growing human impact on our climate.

Rather than try to attack every aspect of this huge issue at once, we might consider approaches that looked at the transportation, or the power sector, as areas where regional or other multilateral agreements could put a real dent in business as usual.

We are going to have to accelerate the discovery and deployment of new technologies, ramping up public investments in education and research, harnessing the creativity of private markets to bring new products on line.

I ask my colleagues, what side of history will we be on? Should we cling to carbon until the last drop of fossil fuels is burned? Do we want our country to be the last one still dependent economically on 19th century combustion technolo gies, or the first one to dominate the energy technologies of the future?

The most innovative American companies, the ones that operate in a competitive international environment, are pleading with us to move our country into the future, to give them the certainty they need to make investments for the long term in technologies and products that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

The DuPont Comp any, from my own State of Delaware, is one of the best examples. By aggressively reducing their own greenhouse gas emission--by over 70 percent from 1990 levels--th ey have saved $2 billion in energy co sts, added to shareholder value, and shown the way for other companies.

But they still wait for our Government to provide the predictable international syst em in which their early actions can get credit, in which market mechanisms such as emissions trading can have the best effect, in which they will not be undercut by less responsible competitors.

DuPon t, and General Electric, and many other major corporation s, are putting themselves on the right side of history. We need to back them up, for the simple reason that we need American firms, and the jobs and products they provide, to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.

Which side will we be on? Will we fear the future, or will we take charge of it?

Thi s resolution puts us on the right sid e. It puts this Senate on record in favor of a constructive, responsible, fair, and effective approach to climate change in our international negotiations.

It is time for us to wake up to the realities of climate change to both the threat and the opportunity it presents. It is time for us return the United States to a leadership role in the international search for a solution to this international problem.

Our children are watching.

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