Two Letters: Democrats Standing for the Truth on Global Warming

May 18, 2007
Blog
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee makes an announcement:

Fifteen Chairmen Urge the President to Stop Efforts to Weaken the G-8 Declaration Regarding Global Climate Change

WASHINGTON, DC -- In a letter today, fifteen Committee Chairmen in the U.S. House of Representatives urge the President not to weaken a proposed G-8 declaration regarding global climate change. According to press reports, Administration officials are seeking to eliminate the G-8 pledges to limit the increase in global temperatures and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the officials may be attempting to remove phrases in the declaration that highlight the urgent need to address the threat of global warming.

The letter, which urges the President to demonstrate America's commitment by supporting a strong G-8 declaration, is signed by the following Chairmen: Henry A. Waxman (Oversight and Government Reform), Tom Lantos (Foreign Affairs), Charles B. Rangel (Ways and Means), George Miller (Education and Labor), Bart Gordon (Science and Technology), Barney Frank (Financial Services), James L. Oberstar (Transportation and Infrastructure), John Conyers (Judiciary), Nydia M. Velázquez (Small Business), Louise M. Slaughter (Rules), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Standards of Official Conduct), Bob Filner (Veterans' Affairs), Edward J. Markey (Energy Independence and Global Warming), David R. Obey (Appropriations), and John M. Spratt (Budget.)

The text of the letter follows:

May 18, 2007

Dear Mr. President:

We are deeply concerned about reports that the United States is seeking to weaken a proposed G-8 declaration regarding global climate change. We are writing to urge you to reverse course and strengthen the G-8 declaration. The United States must no longer delay action to address this major threat.

According to press reports, Administration officials are seeking to strike a pledge to limit the global temperature rise during this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.1

We have also learned that the Administration officials may be trying to delete sections of the declaration that call on the industrialized world to modify activities linked to recent warming and to delete one of the document's opening phrases, which highlights the urgency of the necessary actions. This is a disappointing retreat after finally acknowledging the urgency of the issue just last month.

The scientific consensus tells us that it is too late to avoid some warming, but we may still have time to prevent dangerous warming. Preventing the global average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in comparison to pre-industrial levels must be a top priority. Scientific studies show that a 3.6 degree increase in global temperature could result in the extinction of nearly 30% of all living species, bleaching of much of the world's coral, increased risk of the wider spread of diseases like malaria, more damage from floods and storms, and increased drought in already dry regions.2 To prevent this from occurring, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently suggested reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 85% below 2000 levels would be necessary.3

The G8 Summit should be an opportunity to galvanize international support for addressing this looming threat, not an opportunity to prevent and undermine international action. The leaders of the world's largest economies must let the rest of the world know that they are serious about addressing the threat posed by global warming and are committed to meaningful action to reduce global warming pollution.

U.S. leadership is critical to tackling this global threat. Congress is now preparing to do its part. Support is growing for aggressive legislation to cap global warming pollution and cut it dramatically over the coming decades. But we need an Executive Branch that engages the rest of the world to solve this problem rather than stubbornly ignoring it.

Without strong leadership from our nation's federal government, we will fall behind our economic competitors in the development of clean energy technologies and miss the economic opportunities to provide these technologies to world markets. We urge you to embrace these opportunities for economic growth and aggressive action, and to demonstrate America's commitment to leading the fight against global warming by producing a strong G-8 declaration.

Sincerely,

____________________________________________________________

1. U.S. Aims to Weaken G-8 Climate Change Statement, Washington Post (May 13, 2007).

2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, 13 (April 2007).

3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change, 23 (May 7, 2007).

And from the Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight:

Miller Calls on ExxonMobil to Reveal Its Continued Funding of Phony Science

(Washington, DC) The Chairman of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology today urged a full accounting of ExxonMobil's financial support of global climate skeptics.

After repeated assurances from ExxonMobil, a new report from Greenpeace USA's Research Department indicates the oil company continues to fund 41 think tanks and front groups by funneling $2.1 million in grants in 2006 to help them orchestrate denial of global warming science.

"I encourage you to make all of your information about philanthropic giving, either by the Corporation or its Foundation, public at your earliest opportunity," wrote Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) in a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. "The support of climate skeptics, many of whom have no real grounding in climate science, appears to be an effort to distort public discussion about global warming."

Miller chaired a Subcommittee hearing on March 28, 2007 in which several experts testified about the media strategies used to influence policy through distortions of science. Witnesses provided clear examples of interested industries using their profits to sow popular confusion and doubt and postpone the formation of consensus on actions that might cut into those profits.

"It is indefensible for ExxonMobil, a company that leads the world's corporations in profits, to tarnish its economic success by trying to promote phony science about climate change," said Miller.

According to the database ExxonSecrets.org, total ExxonMobil funding to all "denial" organizations from 1998 to 2006 now totals nearly $23 million.

Click here to read the full text of the letter from Chairman Miller to Mr. Tillerson.