EPW Hearing Statement: Examining the International Climate Negotiations

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement regarding the committee’s hearing on the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris:

“Madam Chairman, thank you for convening this hearing today, and thank you to our witnesses for joining us. I look forward to hearing your testimony.

“We’re here to discuss our country’s efforts to fulfill the obligations required of us by signing and ratifying the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under President George H.W. Bush in 1992. The treaty established a framework for international negotiations between its signatories to devise a plan to limit global carbon pollution and the resulting impacts to climate change in order to preserve and protect our environment for future generations. Over the past 23 years, the United States and our treaty partners have held meetings, usually each year, to address these goals and, later this month, the 21st meeting will take place in Paris.

“In order to effectively address climate change we have to take action on a global scale, working cooperatively with our neighbors around the world. There’s a host of scientific studies that underscore the urgent need for action but, for me, the most compelling factor in supporting efforts to address climate change is deeply personal. Being a parent has been a transformative experience in my life, and my love for my sons has inspired me to make the world a better place for them, their children, and their grandchildren. I have an absolute duty to fight for changes to our behavior – not only in Delaware and across the country, but also around the world – that will help stem the tide of climate change. After all, our children and the generations of children that will come after them will face no greater environmental threat.

“I know this issue is complicated. As someone who was born in coal country – Beckley, West Virginia – I know there are hard-working middle class Americans whose financial security depends on the coal industry and the jobs that it creates. But, I’ve also spent my adult life in Delaware – the lowest lying state in the nation – and I know that if something isn’t done soon to address climate change, we’ll be under water sometime in the next century.

“The scientific evidence is clear – if we do not act, we’ll suffer dangerous blows to our environment and our economy. Furthermore, we know the price of action pales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing. In fact, the Government Accountability Office has already listed climate change as one of the biggest fiscal risks facing our country. We simply must reject the false choice that we can either have a cleaner, stronger environment or a robust and growing economy. We can have both. I’ve long said we must pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy that meets the needs of both the coal miner in West Virginia and the farmer in coastal Delaware.

“Part of pursuing that strategy includes continuing our effort to meet the obligations we have agreed to meet by signing the Framework Convention on Climate Change more than two decades ago. After all, climate change is not an issue one state or one nation can tackle alone. The developing and developed world must work together to address the impacts of climate change has on global public health.

“Since the administration has retaken a leadership role on this issue, others have followed our lead. Countries like China and Brazil that have been hesitant to make carbon reductions have changed their tune because we made the first move. I am hopeful that the administration will continue its work to drive the international community toward a broader global agreement in Paris so that we can finally turn the corner on this growing problem.”