Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:  Joe Biden, Jr.
Date: July 16, 2008
Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. BIDEN (for himself, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. MENENDEZ, and Mr. HAGEL):

S. 3273. A bill to promote the international deployment of clean technology, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, with every new scientific report, the threat of global climate change becomes clearer. With every new economic report, the energy needs of developing countries continue to grow as millions of their citizens move out of poverty.

From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we here in the United States, along with the other industrial nations, grew our economies using cheap energy, building up the stock of greenhouse gases now in our atmosphere. But, today, even as we try to maintain economic growth with lower emissions, developing nations threaten to overwhelm any gains we can make in the fight against climate change.

No matter what we in the U.S. do about our own energy use, the developing world's demand for energy--in its cheapest form, from fossil fuels--will continue to rise. That would be a disaster. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2030 energy demand worldwide will increase by 55 percent, and nearly 80 percent of this rise will be in developing countries.

To address the threat of climate change, we must steer those countries onto a path of cleaner energy and cleaner development. It is in our national interest to reduce the environmental, economic, and national security threat of a changed global climate. But this is not just about avoiding threats. This can be an opportunity for the U.S. to capture the markets of the future, the next generation of clean power technologies.

That is why I am joining today with Senators LUGAR, MENENDEZ, and HAGEL to introduce legislation to create an International Clean Technology Deployment Fund. This fund will be available to promote the international deployment of U.S. technology as a new component to our overall international economic development assistance. By supporting the market for that technology, it can help to stimulate research, investment, and job creation in industries with the potential for long-term growth. This can be a win for the planet and a win for our economy.

From its beginning in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has called for mechanisms whereby the developed, industrialized nations can provide the means for developing nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As recently as the last major meeting of the parties to that convention at Bali last December, that principle was reiterated as part of the Bali Action Plan.

In a similar vein, when President Bush submitted his budget earlier this year, he called for funding to support U.S. participation in a Clean Technology Fund, to be housed at the World Bank. That is one approach for which the resources our legislation authorizes could be used. Our allies, including Great Britain, and Japan, are among other donors interested in the establishment of that fund, whose goals are similar to those of the legislation we are introducing today.

The purpose of our legislation is, and I quote, ``to promote and leverage private financing for the development and international deployment of technologies that will contribute to sustainable economic growth and the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.''

An important goal of our legislation is to add the consideration of climate change more consistently and systematically to our foreign assistance strategy. The majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the future will be coming from the developing countries of the world. The choice is simple--we can ignore the climate impact of our assistance programs, or we can move those programs into a comprehensive strategy of clean economic development.

In this legislation, we establish an International Clean Technology Deployment Fund, to support the export of U.S. clean energy technology and expertise to developing nations. The Fund will be administered by a Board composed of relevant executive branch officials. They are authorized to distribute money in a number of ways, provided certain triggers are met. These ways include through multilateral trust funds, bilateral initiatives, existing U.S. programs such as USAID and technical assistance programs.

Funds can only go to eligible countries. A country, to be eligible, first must be a developing country. More importantly, it must take on its own climate change commitments, either through an international agreement to which the U.S. is a party, or by taking on what the Board certifies are sufficient binding national commitments. Additionally, every distribution of funding will require prior congressional notification.

Our bipartisan coalition, in consultation with many interested groups, worked to achieve a structure that will ensure that we have a range of options to help developing countries grow on a cleaner path, but still achieve real reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bali Action Plan, which the U.S. agreed to last December, sets the goal of reaching a new global agreement by December 2009, when parties will meet in Copenhagen. This is an ambitious schedule, made more complicated by our election schedule here at home.

With the time so short, it is our hope that this bill will begin to address some part of the Bali Action Plan, which includes support for developing countries in addressing technology deployment, adaptation, and deforestation. Our legislation addresses just one part of that framework, but it is an important one.

It can put the developing countries on a path of clean, sustainable economic growth, protect us and our children from the economic and security threats of global climate change, and help us create the industries and jobs of the future.


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