We Can Waste No Time in Addressing Global Warming (Rep. Tom Lantos)

The debate over the science of global warming is over. The question that now faces us is: What are we going to do about the global warming crisis in a concrete, far-reaching way - in a way that will create a truly livable world for my 17 grandchildren, and for all others?

At a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday, I announced a foreign policy approach to the problem.  On May 23rd, I will bring serious, substantive legislation before the Committee to reinvigorate international negotiations to stop global warming and to help developing nations produce energy in a clean and sustainable way.  With passage of the bill, the Committee, and the Congress, will send a strong, bi-partisan signal that the time for endless delays to stem global warming is past.

Under my legislation, Cabinet-level officials will represent the United States at critical climate change negotiations, and our diplomats will have a bold new mandate to negotiate binding committees for environmental action from all the world's polluters, including China and India.

We can waste no time before we roll up our sleeves and get to work on this issue, which is why my bill allocates more money to the US Agency for International Development to improve energy efficiency in developing nations, and why it contains new initiatives to boost American exports of cutting-edge clean energy technologies.

This legislation also includes the establishment of an international Clean Energy Foundation, a semi-autonomous institution that would leverage the resources that NGOs, private companies, and foreign governments can bring to bear. The foundation will support the most creative and feasible models for implementing renewable energy sources and other energy alternatives.

The most important outcome of this legislation will be to overhaul dramatically the manner in which this administration, and the administration that follows it, negotiates with our global partners on climate change.  Like the last remaining fan at a sporting event whose team is losing badly, this administration has stubbornly sat on its hands and refused to acknowledge the score. It has dispatched low-level negotiators to international climate meetings armed with simple marching orders:  deny, stall, and postpone. Just the other day, the Washington Post revealed that the Administration is trying to soften tough climate change language to be declared at next month's G-8 meeting.

Yet there is good news. Because of the hard work of scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs around the globe, the technology we need to stem global warming is available and is affordable. But to summon the national and global political will to tackle climate change, we need to adopt collectively a new mindset about our planet - an urgent, proactive mindset.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to her enormous credit, has challenged all committees to submit legislation by June. We in our committee will fulfill this most important mandate.  And Congress will, at long last, approve far-reaching legislation to revive American leadership worldwide in efforts to curb global warming and to preserve our planet for future generations.