In the next few days President Obama will venture to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which began last week. One of the discussed goals of this conference is the creation of a universal climate change treaty.
I am concerned that any job-killing, cap-and-tax style treaty could seriously harm American families, small businesses, and American sovereignty. Our economy is facing a skyrocketing national debt and 10 percent unemployment. The United States must reject any attempt by international bureaucrats to stifle economic growth with a massive energy tax or by huge transfers of wealth from the U.S. to other countries.
Right now in Congress, if the cap-and-tax bill were to be enacted into law, one analysis indicates it will reduce gross domestic product by nearly $400 billion annually. According to a study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, cap-and-trade would cut net employment by 2.5 million jobs. Any such tax on an international scale would likewise devastate our economy. President Obama must keep this in mind during his upcoming trip.
Additionally, any such treaty could undermine American sovereignty. The United States should not be legally bound to submit domestic decisions about energy and emissions to international inspection, compliance, and enforcement. We already have too many unelected bureaucrats in our U.S. government, and adding an international layer- one that is not accountable to the American taxpayer – is completely unacceptable.
I am not alone in my concern nor is my concern unique to this Congress. In 1997, the 3rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change produced the Kyoto Protocol, which was an international agreement on greenhouse gases, and took effect in 2005 and is set to expire in 2012.
Interestingly enough, before the American delegation headed to Kyoto that year, the Senate adopted the Byrd-Hagel Resolution in a 95-0 vote that clearly spelled out that the U.S. should not enter into a treaty that either leaves out developing nations like China or poses harm to the American economy. The Kyoto Protocol violated both provisions, and neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations submitted to the Senate for the required ratification. Those countries that did ratify the protocol failed to produce any meaningful reduction in greenhouse gases.
As the Copenhagen conference is generally seen as a platform to create a Kyoto II, these same concerns exist today. My concern has prompted me to adopt the Byrd-Hagel language as a guide and add a provision to address sovereignty concerns. Other Representatives, Senators both, Republicans and Democrats, have taken action and submitted letters of concern to the president or spoken out to the media. I am hopeful this collective voice will not fall on deaf ears.
My resolution, H.Res. 945, expresses the sense of the House of Representatives regarding three nonnegotiable conditions the United States must adhere to while representatives are discussing any international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These conditions include not signing a treaty if it results in significant harm to our economy, if it compromises American sovereignty, or if other countries are not held to the same standards.
As the conference enters its second week, I urge the President to make American workers and families his top priority. We cannot afford to keep killing jobs by misguided policy decisions. I hope the United States delegation will reject any ill-conceived scheme of international wealth transfer.
The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.