Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin
Chairman - Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe


Good morning and welcome to this hearing of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. I am very pleased that we are focusing our attention today on climate change.



Those two words are central to the Commission’s title and to its mission. And they are also two of the essential elements of dealing effectively with climate change.

Today, America’s security is undermined by our dangerous reliance on foreign oil. Too much of our economy is captive to uncertain supplies. Too much of our fortune goes to parts of the world that harbor deep animosity toward our nation and our values.

As analysts increasingly point out, climate change is a real and present threat to world security. Dramatic shifts in climate will likely lead to massive displacement of people who are faced with flooding from rising oceans or extended droughts that dry up their food supplies. Social unrest is almost certain, and international instability is likely to follow.

Europe faces many of these same issues and challenges. And that brings us to Cooperation.

The only way to effectively address the global crisis of climate change will be through unprecedented international cooperation.

The world has seen an unprecedented international scientific collaboration under the auspices of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – an effort that culminated in a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

We have seen nation after nation take important steps to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and plot a new, carbon-friendly future. This effort has been especially important in Europe. The European Union has taken strong actions to address climate change. The Union designed and implemented the first coordinated international cap-and-trade program.

Although the initial effort was flawed, the entire world looked to Europe because of its leadership role. The cap-and-trade program that we design in America will owe much to the European experience.

America has been on the sidelines. We had an Administration that denied the reality of global warming even as glaciers melted and sea levels rose and the international scientific consensus solidified.

Today, we have a new President and a new commitment to action. This year the Congress and President Obama will work together to enact climate change legislation. Based on sound science, this legislation will rely on a tough, mandatory cap-and-trade program.

The climate bill will harness market resources to bring down greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously stimulating investments in a clean, sustainable economy for the decades ahead.

We live in an interconnected world, where the decisions we make here impact other countries and vice versa. Nowhere is that clearer than on the issue of climate change.

Our economy and our environment depend on the commitment we make today to retool our nation’s economy for the future. Increasingly, that holds true for the rest of the world as well.

The time has come for America to do more than simply get off the sidelines. The time has come for America to assert its leadership in the world again.

Taking action on climate change legislation must be a top priority for Congress this year. The time for action is long past. The time to catch up is now.

Even in the shadow of the most severe recession in a generation, America’s role in the world’s economy is unparalleled. Other nations may have more consumers or greater portions of certain market shares.

But it is clear that the world is looking to the United States to lead us out of this economic wilderness. And we will.

It is also clear that the world needs America to exert its leadership on climate change. Along with China, we are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

But unlike China, America has the history of combining intellectual resources, entrepreneurial spirit, market savvy, and optimism that can translate into effective worldwide leadership on this issue.

With the adoption of a tough cap-and-trade bill, America will

• set upon a path that will improve our national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil;

• stimulate our economy by generating millions of new, clean, green jobs in energy efficiency, solar, wind, biomass and more; and

• pull the world back from the brink of catastrophic climate change.

So today, the Commission will address climate change.

This will be our first foray into this important issue, but it will be a recurring focus of our work this year.

When the Commission goes to Vilnius later this year, we should be bringing with us a message of change, hope and renewed commitment to common international action. And by the time the community of nations convenes in Copenhagen in December, all should recognize that America is taking meaningful, effective action and bringing its strong, pragmatic and moral leadership back to the world stage.

Today we will hear from a panel of witnesses who will discuss some of the experiences in America and Europe; some of the difficult issues relating to international trade; and some of the promise that bold action on climate change can yield.

We have a distinguished panel of witnesses and since you have copies of their bios I will simply introduce them: Mr. Richard D. Morgenstern is a Senior Fellow with Resources for the Future; Mr. Trevor Houser is a Visiting Fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Mr. Robert Bradley is the Director of International Climate Policy at the World Resources Institute.

We’ll start with Mr. Morgenstern. If you could please limit your oral statement to 5 minutes, we will put your full testimony into the record. Please go ahead.