Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: Hon. G.K. Butterfield
Commissioner - Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe



I want to thank Chairmen Cardin and Hastings for holding this important and timely hearing. As with most disasters, the effects of climate change will be most prodigiously experienced by the poor, both in the United States and abroad. The cost of inaction include sea level rise, increased droughts, hurricanes, and other severe changes, which will strain essential resources such as water, food or shelter. These hardships will be multiplied on the poor, who already live on tight margins. As the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, the United States has an opportunity and obligation to lead on this issue.

Though the cost of inaction should spur us to action, we must take great pains to ensure that the cost created through climate change legislation is mitigated on the American consumer, particularly the low-income households. This includes not only offsetting their increased energy costs, but also guaranteeing that our actions do not drive off the jobs upon which they depend.

My district supports several carbon-intensive, trade-sensitive industries, including a steel facility and pulp and paper operations. These companies are major employers and have been good neighbors for decades. If our legislation does not properly prevent leakage, we will have done a disservice to our constituents as well as the American economy.

We must act. As we push forward in developing a climate change policy which sets scientifically-based targets for greenhouse gas reductions, we must be sure to remember the needs of the poor both here in America and around the globe.

With these issues in mind, I look forward to hearing the witnesses’ thoughts on timing, impacts and means of implementing climate change.