December 9, 2009 (ENS) - When President Barack Obama takes part in the high-level talks of the UN conference on climate change next week, his political opponents will be there too, showing the world why the President has had trouble making a stronger commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
President Obama announced in November that the United States would cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels in line with legislation that passed the House of Representatives in June. The Senate version of the climate bill has been shelved until spring 2010.
The House bill was passed over the objections of Republicans, several of whom will go to Copenhagen next week to make their views known.
On Tuesday, a group of House Republicans said they will travel to Copenhagen as part of a congressional delegation of about 20 members led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who supports strong action to limit greenhouse gases.
House Republicans announce they will go to Copenhagen, from left: Reps. Doc Hastings, Bob Latta, Darrell Issa, Mike Pence, James Sensenbrenner. (Photo courtesy Republican Conference)
Pelosi's office could not confirm details of the trip, which spokesman Drew Hammill said would depend on the legislative schedule of the House.
Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner Jr., of Wisconsin said Tuesday that he was tasked with choosing the Republican lawmakers to go to the climate summit with the Pelosi delegation.
His choices include Representatives Joe Barton of Texas, Darrell Issa of California and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, all climate skeptics and deniers.
Republican climate skeptics such as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso also are on their way to the climate summit.
Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, said he will tell world leaders that despite promises made by President Obama, no new laws will be passed in the United States until "scientific fascism" ends.
Sensenbrenner and other Republicans fear that the authenticity of climate change science has been undermined by emails among scientists at the UK's University of East Anglia Climactic Research Center and others that appear to detail manipulation of scientific publications to exclude evidence that global warming is less than catastropic.
A file containing over 1,000 emails was stolen from East Anglia in November and posted on public websites. A police investigation and a separate independent investigation backed by the university are ongoing. (See ENS "The Case of the Stolen Climate Emails")
Republican Congressman Joe Barton (Photo courtesy Republican Conference)
Sensenbrenner wrote a letter to Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on Monday demanding that researchers who authored emails and documents "that demonstrate climate change data were manipulated" should not be allowed to participate in the next report to be written by the UN panel.
Republican Congressmen Barton and Greg Walden of Oregon have asked the Obama administration for a full accounting of any role the Departments of Energy and Commerce may have played in funding, in handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and in data sharing involving the University of East Anglia climate scientists.
In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the two congressmen wrote, “We note that employees and researchers supported by the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and/or Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory figure prominently in the emails, especially LLNL scientist Dr. Benjamin Santer and DOE-funded scientist Dr. Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia, who appears to be at the center of the email collection."
“I will be going to Copenhagen as a part of the official delegation that Speaker Pelosi is leading," said Barton, the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “I will not be one of the sycophants that say climate change is the biggest problem facing the world and we need to do all these draconian things that cost jobs."
"The truth is the truth," Barton said at a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday. "The facts are the facts. This whole theory of manmade global warming is just that: It is a theory."
Democratic Congressman Ed Markey (Photo by Shadia Fayne)
But Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and co-authored the American Clean Energy and Security Act that the House approved in June, said the congressional climate skeptics and deniers are the real stumbling block to global action to control climate change.
"Now that the U.S. government has officially ended its era of climate denial, the real endangerment to our planet comes from those who continue to deny the science and delay taking any action," said Markey, who will also be going to Copenhagen.
Markey said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's finding earlier this week that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and the environment "is based on mountains of data accumulated from thousands of scientists over the course of decades. The molehill recently manufactured by a few climate deniers does not change that."
"President Obama and the United States Congress can now travel to Copenhagen armed with regulatory credibility and emission reduction targets from the Waxman-Markey legislation," Markey said. "The world is watching, and the United States is acting."
Speaking at the opening of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen Monday, Dr. Pachauri left no doubt that the scientific evidence of global warming is "unequivocal" and that most of the observed temperature increase "since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
A delegate's-eye view of Dr. Rajendra Pachauri's opening day speech in Copenhagen. December 7, 2009 (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
"The evidence is now overwhelming that the world would benefit greatly from early action, and that delay would only lead to costs in economic and human terms that would become progressively high," Dr. Pachauri told the delegates. "The IPCC has been able to provide substantial evidence through its assessments that science provides us with a basis for undertaking changes that this conference must urgently initiate."
"Given the wide-ranging nature of change that is likely to be taken in hand, some naturally find it inconvenient to accept its inevitability," he said.
Addressing the issue of the stolen emails, Dr. Pachauri said, "The recent incident of stealing the emails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC. But the Panel has a record of transparent and objective assessment stretching over 21 years performed by tens of thousands of dedicated scientists from all corners of the globe."
"I am proud to inform this conference that the findings of the AR4 [the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report in 2007] are based on measurements made by many independent institutions worldwide that demonstrate significant changes on land, in the atmosphere, the oceans and in the ice-covered areas of the Earth," he said.
"The internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including those individuals singled out in these email exchanges, many of whom have dedicated their time and effort to develop these findings in teams of Lead Authors in the series of IPCC Assessment Reports during the past 21 years," said Dr. Pachauri, adding, "The IPCC assessment process is designed to ensure consideration of all relevant scientific information."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.
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