Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the Climate Change Bill

June 9th, 2008 - 6:48 pm ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

As this week’s debate on climate change has unfolded, the American people and those watching us around the world had every reason to hope that we would act. Every credible scientist and expert believes action is necessary. This is critical and long overdue legislation that represents a good first step in addressing one of the most serious problems facing our generation.

Like many of my Senate colleagues, I believe the legislation could have been made even better. Had there been a substantive Senate debate about some of the concerns with this bill, I believe the outcome could have generated broad support. It certainly would have received my support.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate has chosen to block progress, rather than work in a good faith manner to address this challenge. This is a failure of our politics and a failure of leadership – a President who for years denied the problem, and a Republican nominee, John McCain, who claims leadership on the issue but opposes this bipartisan bill.

We can’t afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. We are already breaking records with the intensity of our storms, the number of forest fires, and the periods of drought. By 2050, famine could force more than 250 million from their homes. And if we do nothing, sea levels will rise high enough to swallow large portions of every coastal city and town.

This bipartisan legislation establishes an economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. It helps states, cities, and towns invest in technologies to reduce energy bills for homeowners, increase energy efficiency, construct green buildings, and expand public transit. It invests in green technology to help our automakers to retool and our fossil-fuel industries to become clean. The bill provides real financial relief to working families. Importantly, the bill restores our great nation’s international leadership role, while including provisions to ensure that all major emitting nations also take serious action to solve this global problem.

Let me clear, this bill is not perfect. Emissions reductions must reflect the scientific consensus, which are reductions of at least 80 percent 2050. We must ensure that more middle-class families reap more of the financial benefits created by this bill. And we must direct greater resources to the regions of the country that will bear the brunt of this critical transition to a clean energy economy.

I believe that the American people are ready to lead the world on this issue. The time for distractions, divisions, and excuses is over. The time for new coalitions, informed and civil debate, and a sense of shared purpose is long overdue. As president, I am committed to ensuring that our children and our children’s children can point to this generation as the time when American found its way again.

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