U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, today gave the following opening remarks at a subcommittee hearing on combating climate change in East Asia and the Pacific. During his remarks, Romney emphasized the importance of maintaining U.S. leadership in the world and partnering with our allies to dissuade China from pursuing its predatory path.
Senator Romney’s remarks, as delivered, can be found below the video.
I appreciate the panelists being here today, and the topic that we’re discussing is obviously of great significance to each of us in this room and to people around the country and around the world. It is my view that, 50 years from now, as people look back to our generation and ask what our legacy might have been, that upon which they will be most critical was our failure to act to prevent the warming of the planet and the climate change associated with that warming, and that the political winds that prevented us from acting will be seen as an extraordinary lapse in America’s judgment, and that this is a time for us to come together and to find solutions that will actually help protect our planet for future generations.
I know, of course, that the challenge we’re dealing with is global. It’s not simply regional. It’s not simply, obviously, an Asian issue, even though that’s the topic for today–climate change as it relates to much of Asia but also climate change here in the United States is of significance and around the world.
I will also note, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, that my own perspective is that the only effective way we will have in dealing with climate change is through the advance in technology, technology which will be adopted not just here but around the world, and adopted because it is effective in reducing emissions and also lower-cost than some of the carbon-based alternatives. Because I think it’s unlikely that poor nations, in particular, that are becoming developed, will adopt technologies that are far more expensive, even if they reduce CO2.
They will move to those things which are less expensive, so it’s incumbent upon nations that have the resources we have to invest in technology, as fortunately our colleagues have recently voted to do–invest in technology which will help not only us reduce our emissions but also help others and the rest of the world.
I know that sometimes we’re tempted to politically get behind initiatives that sound good. Doing things here, that people here feel like, ‘boy, we’re doing green things here isn’t that wonderful?’, but the reality is that those things won’t make a hill of beans worth of difference to reducing global emissions. They’ll cost us a lot of money, sometimes cost us jobs, maybe not, maybe they’ll actually create jobs in some cases, but they won’t actually reduce emissions. What will reduce emissions is adopting technologies and developing technologies which will be used around the world.
I’m fully concurrent with the view that America is responsible for a huge slug of the CO2 that’s in the atmosphere, as the chairman indicated, beginning in the 19th century. This, of course, was at a time we didn’t know we were doing anything wrong. But now we understand the consequence of this CO2 going into the environment and not acting would be extraordinarily shameful.
I would note that in the future, the growth in emissions of CO2 and other warming emissions is going to be driven not by the United States, because over the last decade our emissions have been coming down, as have those of the EU, but instead the developing nations, which understandably are getting washing machines, and more automobiles, more electricity in the home, air conditioning, and as a result, China, Brazil, Indonesia, and India are expected to dramatically increase their emissions of greenhouse gases. And so it’s incumbent on us to take a close look at those places in particular to see how we can help and encourage them to take action that does not add to the extraordinary burden that’s in our environment.
I’m concerned that China is hiding their CO2 plans by, if you will, exporting the production of facilities through Belt and Road, and putting infrastructure in place in other countries that will be emitting vast amounts of a greenhouse gases and they’ll say, ‘See we’re not doing it, it’s just being done in other countries, which, by the way, we happened to put that coal power plant there.’
So, understanding China’s role and how we can work together is important. At the same time I note that, I know the Chairman and I agree on this, it’s critical as we deal with China that yes, we want them and other nations to reduce their emissions in their plans going forward, but at the same time we will not forget or look beyond—look away rather—from the predations of their economic activities, their military activities in the South China Sea and elsewhere, and, of course, their extraordinary human rights abuses.