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Public Statements

Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, more than 18 months ago I stood in this Chamber to express my support for a previous version of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, and to urge the support of my colleagues. On that day, I said that there are moments when we have the chance to take a new course that will leave our children a better world. However, in the interim, Congress has chosen not to act. In the interim, our Nation, and others around the world, continued to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at increasing rates.

With each passing year, as we choose not to act, the air we breathe contains ever more carbon dioxide, resulting from our use of fossil fuels. If we continue on our present course, human endeavors could cause a rise in temperature equivalent to the change between the last ice age and today. The decisions we make now on greenhouse gas emissions will have effects in the second half of this century, and into the next. The consequences of our inaction will be devastating for our children and grandchildren, and will be even worse for the poorest global populations.

Climate change is not reflected just in the fact that last year was the warmest year on record in the United States, or in the recent proposal that polar bears be listed as an endangered species because Arctic ice is melting. Those are just symptoms. The bigger problem is that global climate change will, in this century and the next, have effects on human health, on access to water, and on production of food.

Our inaction may reflect a misunderstanding of scientific evidence, even though such evidence accumulates, year by year, showing that climate change is a global threat resulting from human activity. Perhaps our inaction betrays an uncertainty about our ability to address this problem. Or perhaps our inaction is simply a result of inertia, a lack of political will in facing a difficult problem.

Whatever the basis of our inaction, I am convinced that we must now act. Every delay makes a solution more distant, and more difficult. I am also convinced that the best solution takes the form of the Climate Stewardship Act, which addresses the real costs and consequences of our current patterns of energy use, establishing a framework for a market-based solution which relies on American will, ingenuity, and technological expertise to mitigate climate change.

This bill establishes limits for greenhouse gas emissions well into the 21st century. To remain below these limits, the bill encourages the market to determine how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rewarding cost-effective approaches using a system of tradeable allowances.

Revenues generated from this program will be used to help the industries and individuals most affected by the limits. These revenues will also fund research and development of efficient energy technologies, such as green buildings, high-power batteries for hybrid cars, safer nuclear plants to generate electricity, large scale biofuels facilities, renewable sources, and advanced coal power plants that capture the carbon dioxide they generate. This program will spur American innovation, creating business opportunities as new markets are created in low-carbon technologies and services.

I am proud to join Senators Lieberman and McCain in introducing this legislation, and I urge others to join this effort. I also look forward to the support of the American people as we move together to confront the very real threat to future generations of global climate change.


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