Global Warming Bill Must Be the Face of Change (Sen. Bernie Sanders)

Let me be as blunt as I can be in telling you where I am coming from on a compromise bill on global warming, an issue that is qualitatively different than any other issue we are dealing with in Congress.

On most issues, Congress goes through the time-honored tradition of working out compromises which both sides can end up accepting. I want to see all the kids in America have health care. Other members think the Children’s Health Insurance Program should not be expanded. We compromise on 4 million more children in the program. I think a program should be expanded by $100 million. You think it should be expanded by $50 million. We compromise at $75 million. That’s the way business is done here and in other democratic societies and there is nothing wrong with that. We live in a country where people have different political views and in almost every instance members of the Senate compromise to reach an agreement.

Today, however, we have a qualitatively different situation. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. The issue is not what I want versus what Senator Lieberman or Senator Warner or Senator Inhofe may want – and the need to work out an agreement that we can all accept. That’s not the dynamic we face today. The issue today is one of physics and chemistry and what the best scientists in the world believe is happening to our planet because of greenhouse gas emissions. The issue is what we can do, as a nation, along with the international community, to reverse global warming and to save this planet from a catastrophic and irreversible damage which could impact billions of people.

In other words, we are not in a debate now between Bernie Sanders and anyone else. It’s not a debate between what I want or what you want. We are in a debate between science and public policy. And the views that I am bringing forth, to the best of my ability, are the views of the most knowledgeable scientists in America and the world: the people who, among other achievements, have just received the Nobel Peace Prize.

I have several concerns with the legislation.

First, I understand that different experts are analyzing the reductions from all provisions of the bill, but it is my view that the 2020 target should be at least a 15 percent mandatory, under the cap, reduction from total current U.S. emissions. Many are starting to say that we need near-term reductions more on the order of 20-30 percent of total U.S. emissions, so 15 percent is rather modest. Additionally, the 2050 target should be at least an 80 percent mandatory, under the cap, reduction from total U.S. emissions in 1990. In addition to thinking about the reduction targets and timelines, we must ensure that the latest science is periodically considered and that it informs our ongoing action, the so-called “look-back

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