SUBMITTED RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - January 16, 2007)
SENATE RESOLUTION 30--EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE SENATE REGARDING THE NEED FOR THE UNITED STATES TO ADDRESS GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH THE NEGOTIATION OF FAIR AND EFFECTIVE INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS
Mr. BIDEN (for himself and Mr. Lugar) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:
S. Res. 30
Whereas there is a scientific consensus, as established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences, that the continued buildup of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere threatens the stability of the global climate;
Whereas there are significant long-term risks to the economy and the environment of the United States from the temperature increases and climatic disruptions that are projected to result from increased greenhouse gas concentrations;
Whereas the potential impacts of global climate change, including long-term drought, famine, mass migration, and abrupt climatic shifts, may lead to international tensions and instability in regions affected and, therefore, have implications for the national security interests of the United States;
Whereas the United States has the largest economy in the world and is also the largest emitter of greenhouse gases;
Whereas the greenhouse gas emissions of the United States are projected to continue to rise;
Whereas the greenhouse gas emissions of developing countries are rising more rapidly than the emissions of the United States and will soon surpass the greenhouse gas emissions of the United States and other developed countries;
Whereas reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the levels necessary to avoid serious climatic disruption requires the introduction of new energy technologies and other climate-friendly technologies, the use of which results in low or no emissions of greenhouse gases or in the capture and storage of greenhouse gases;
Whereas the development and sale of climate-friendly technologies in the United States and internationally present economic opportunities for workers and businesses in the United States;
Whereas climate-friendly technologies can improve air quality by reducing harmful pollutants from stationary and mobile sources and can enhance energy security by reducing reliance on imported oil, diversifying energy sources, and reducing the vulnerability of energy delivery infrastructure;
Whereas other industrialized countries are undertaking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which provides the industries in those countries with a competitive advantage in the growing global market for climate-friendly technologies;
Whereas efforts to limit emissions growth in developing countries in a manner that is consistent with the development needs of those countries could establish significant markets for climate-friendly technologies and contribute to international efforts to address climate change;
Whereas the United States Climate Change Science Program launched by President George W. Bush concluded in April 2006 that there is no longer a discrepancy between the rates of global average temperature increase observed at the Earth's surface and in the atmosphere, strengthening the scientific evidence that human activity contributes significantly to global temperature increases;
Whereas President Bush, in the State of the Union Address given in January 2006, called on the United States to reduce its ``addiction' to oil and focus its attention on developing cleaner, renewable, and sustainable energy sources;
Whereas President Bush has launched the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate to cooperatively develop new and cleaner energy technologies and promote their use in fast-developing nations like India and China;
Whereas the national security of the United States will increasingly depend on the deployment of diplomatic, military, scientific, and economic resources toward solving the problem of the overreliance of the United States and the world on high-carbon energy;
Whereas the United States is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, done at New York May 9, 1992, and entered into force in 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the ``Convention');
Whereas, at the December 2005 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Canada, parties to the Convention, with the concurrence of the United States, initiated a new dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change;
Whereas the Convention sets a long-term objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system;
Whereas the Convention establishes that parties bear common but differentiated responsibilities for efforts to achieve the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations;
Whereas an effective global effort to address climate change must provide for commitments and action by all countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases, developed and developing alike, and the widely varying circumstances among the developed and developing countries may require that such commitments and action vary; and
Whereas the United States has the capability to lead the effort to counter global climate change: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the United States should act to reduce the health, environmental, economic, and national security risks posed by global climate change and foster sustained economic growth through a new generation of technologies, by--
(1) participating in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, done at New York May 9, 1992, and entered into force in 1994, and leading efforts in other international fora, with the objective of securing United States participation in binding agreements that--
(A) advance and protect the economic and national security interests of the United States;
(B) establish mitigation commitments by all countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities;
(C) establish flexible international mechanisms to minimize the cost of efforts by participating countries; and
(D) achieve a significant long-term reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions; and
(2) establishing a bipartisan Senate observer group, the members of which shall be designated by the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, to--
(A) monitor any international negotiations on climate change; and
(B) ensure that the advice and consent function of the Senate is exercised in a manner to facilitate timely consideration of any applicable treaty submitted to the Senate.
Mr. BIDEN. President, the climate has changed. It has changed outside these walls: the year just concluded was the warmest on record in the United States. And the climate has changed in the halls of the Senate, where the causes and consequences of global warming--and how we should respond--will be a major concern of this new Congress.
Outside, the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has grown from 280 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution to 430 parts per million today. We are on a path that could double the pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases, threatening an increase of as much as 10 degrees in the next century.
The physical consequences of global warming are right before our eyes: the shrinking polar ice cap, retreating glaciers, stronger storms driven by warmer ocean waters, changing growing seasons, animal migration, and rainfall patterns. Future consequences if we continue business as usual will include rising sea levels, the spread of diseases, abrupt climate shifts that could shut down the Atlantic cycle that warms Europe, or shrink the Amazon rainforest, which provides twenty percent of the oxygen we breathe.
These changes will profoundly alter the assumptions on which the economic, political, and security arrangements of our world have been constructed. Our national borders, our cities, our cultures, are all built around patterns of rainfall, arable land, and coastlines that will be redrawn as global warming proceeds. By one estimate, 200 million people, in the coastal cities of New York, Tokyo, Cairo, and London, in low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, in the islands of the Pacific and Caribbean, could be permanently displaced by climate shifts.
Throughout human history, massive population shifts, frustrated expectations, and the collapse of economies, have all led to conflict. Even the richest nations, source of the emissions behind global warming, will face huge costs coping with those catastrophes. The poorest nations, whose economies have contributed little or nothing to the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, will be hit the worst, and will have the fewest resources with which to respond. This is a recipe for global resource wars, and even greater resentment of our wealth by those less fortunate--a new world disorder.
Weare failing in our responsibility to steward the riches we have inherited. We are bequeathing our children not just a ruined landscape, but a world of conflict as well.
This is a classic tragedy of the commons. We have treated our atmosphere as a costless dump for the waste gases that are the byproduct of our great wealth. There was a time when we could plead ignorance. That day is past. The science is now clear. There was a time when we might have claimed the cost of changing our ways was too great. That day is past. We now know the costs of inaction are unacceptably high. There was a time when we could claim that our actions, in isolation, would be ineffective. That day is past. It is now clear that our inaction reduces the effectiveness of international efforts to address climate change, and provides an excuse for China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and the other leading emitters of the future to stay with us on the sidelines.
Today, I am joining with my friend Senator Dick Lugar to submit this resolution, to put the Senate on record in support of a return of the United States to a leadership role in the international search for solutions to the problem of global warming.
Our resolution calls for United States participation in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change--signed by the first President Bush--that will protect the economic and security interests of the United States, and that will commit all nations--developed and developing--that are major emitters of greenhouse gases to achieve significant long-term reductions in those emissions. The resolution also calls for a bipartisan Senate observer group to monitor talks and ensure that our negotiators bring back agreements that all Americans can support.
With the glaring exception of the United States, the major industrial nations of the world are proceeding with their commitments, under the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions an average of seven percent below 1990 levels. The period from 2008 through 2012 will test their ability to meet those commitments, which were first negotiated in 1997. It is past time for us to begin the discussions that can lead to the next steps, beyond the Kyoto date of 2012. Those next steps must not only include the United States, the leading historical source of greenhouse gases. They must include those nations who will soon overtake us in that role, those who will be the leading emitters in 2012.
The Biden-Lugar Resolution states that the evidence of the human role in global warming is clear, that the environmental, economic, and security effects will be costly, and that the response must be international. The resolution recognizes that there are real economic benefits from both reducing the waste and inefficiencies inherent in greenhouse gas emissions, and from the markets for new, climate-friendly technologies. Most importantly it puts the Senate on record, calling for the United States to resume its role as leader in the international effort to address this global threat.
I personally believe that the single most important step we can take to resume a leadership role in international climate change efforts would be to make real progress toward a domestic emissions reduction regime. For too long we have abdicated the responsibility to reduce our own emissions, the largest single source of the problem we face today. We have the world's largest economy, with the highest per capita emissions. Rather than leading by example, we have retreated from international negotiations.
In this Congress we will see renewed efforts to pass legislation to create that regime, to reduce our domestic emissions, and to open our many responsible American businesses to both international emissions trading and the new markets for clean technologies in the developing world. Moving toward that goal will be crucial to the effectiveness and credibility of our international efforts.
We are all on this planet together. We cannot protect ourselves from the effects of climate change by acting alone--this is a global problem that will require a global solution. To undertake meaningful reductions, countries will need to know that their actions will not be undercut by ``free riders' who continue business as usual while they commit to change. To build that trust will require commitments by all of the key players, and the institutions to coordinate the actions of independent nations.
With this resolution, Senator Lugar and I want to put the Senate on record in support of a new effort to build that trust, to make those commitments, to participate in a coordinated international effort to confront the real threat of climate change.