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Senator Carl Levin
  Sen. Carl Levin

Sen. Levin Proposes Rx for America's "Allergy" to Global Warming Treaties

6/9/2005 --
Tax incentives to business are key to developing "leap-ahead" technologies.

(Read the full text of Sen. Levinís speech:

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Bush Administration must "overcome its allergy to international treaties and make a moonshot-sized investment" in developing technologies to confront the threat of global warming, said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., at the recent University of Michigan conference on climate change strategy.

Calling it a global issue that requires global focus, conference organizers welcomed a large crowd to the Stephen M. Ross School of Business' Hale Auditorium to hear Levin's remarks and ask questions of the veteran lawmaker.

Levin said the United States must engage with other countries in developing "leap-ahead" technologies to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air.

"We need a massive infusion of support to develop these technologies," he said. "This is an economic issue, a values issue and an issue about our obligation to leave the earth as we received it."

Becoming Part of a Global Solution

Beyond an environmental issue, Levin said, is the economic impact of climate change that is drawing the attention of major corporations. Governmental investment and support of new technologies are not measuring up.

Current energy bills and proposals are not enough, he said, including the Kyoto Treaty, McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship bill or existing CAF… standards. Due to a lack of federal support, American companies are being enticed to move operations to other countries, instead of finding reasons to make improvements to existing plants in the United States, he added.

"The United States government has become allergic to binding treaties. We need to stick with the process, return to the negotiating table and become part of a broad, international solution," Levin said.

(The Kyoto Treaty, an agreement to fight global warming, was ratified and put into effect in February 2005 by 140 nations, with some notable exceptions—the United States and Australia. Signatories are legally committed to meeting emissions targets by 2012. Though Levin is not in favor of the Kyoto Treaty, he said he does support an international effort to confront climate change.)

Getting Business' Attention

Incentives to businesses and to taxpayers are what will help bring about attractive alternatives such as hybrid automobiles and cleaner burning fuels, Levin said.

"I much prefer incentives over mandates," he said. "They are essential to attract more attention from business and industry."

Andy Hoffman, associate professor at the Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources & Environment (SNRE) said the challenge is to move beyond climate change as an environmental issue and also consider it as an issue of global trade, jobs and labor, energy and national security.

"As the Kyoto Treaty enters into force, there is great interest and concern over how best to consider whether the United States should be taking serious measures to address climate change as we move forward," he said.

An Issue of Presidential Importance

Levin urged audience members to speak out on global warming, tax incentives and alternative fuel sources.

"Don't give up on your letter or e-mail writing," he said. "Policies do change. I believe this issue is so major that it has to be one of the top three issues of the next presidential campaign."

Levin delivered the address to kick off the conference, "Reframing the Climate Change Debate," sponsored by the U-M Center for Advancing Research and Solutions for Society and the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at SNRE and the Ross School of Business.

Written by Nancy Davis

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone:(734) 936-1015 or 647-1847