Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), is testifying today before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee regarding action of other countries to address climate change and the implications of their action for the United States.
Some important messages from his testimony:
“The ball is now in our court, and it is in our interest to act. In December, the nations of the world will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to try to reach agreement on plans to confront climate change. In order to reap the benefits of an agreement, we need to bring something credible to the table. That something is what this Committee and this Congress write into legislation.”
“Some people have worried that action by the United States on climate change could put us at a competitive disadvantage if countries like China do not also take action and produce at lower cost. In fact, China is taking action, which can help assure that there is a level playing field. As I will explain, they are doing this because it is in their own interest, which should give us confidence they will continue.”
“China’s aggressive action to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions is not an act of global charity. China’s leadership realizes they cannot maintain growth and reduce poverty without conservation of resources. Pollution is choking off growth and producing social unrest. Adverse impacts from climate change are projected to undermine agricultural productivity and cause flooding in south China and along the coasts.”
“Self interest in taking action to confront climate change affords us some confidence that countries like China will follow through. Still, challenges remain. Reliable data are not always available and standards of enforcement, governance and transparency are variable. This is one of the reasons it is in our own interest to establish an international climate agreement.”
“Some people have worried that China would steal American jobs by competing using dirty production processes. The reality is China is pulling ahead of us by being innovative and clean. If doubts remain, a global climate agreement can allay them by ensuring action by all that will help level the playing field.”
“We risk falling behind if we don’t move forward. Climate legislation is key because, by putting a price on carbon, it shifts investment into clean energy. The pending legislation also contains important new financial support for clean energy development, clean technology exports, and carbon capture and storage technology. Additionally, it creates economic opportunities in international carbon trading.”
“Now what we need is a global agreement, confirming and strengthening the new trajectory of China, India and others. To realize the benefits of a global agreement, the United States needs to take action to make the global agreement possible.”
“In order to get that global agreement, Congress needs to pass climate legislation so our negotiators can go to the negotiating table with what the United States will do - what emissions reductions we will achieve and what assistance we will provide to help less developed countries shift to clean energy and adapt to climate change.”
“Only if all parties come forward with what they propose to do is agreement possible. The question is no longer whether others will act. They are acting. The question is whether we will act. The point is no longer that global warming cannot be addressed without those other countries. The point is that it cannot be addressed without this country and that we cannot gain the benefits of leadership unless we enact climate legislation.”
Lash’s full testimony can be found on WRI’s Web site.
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