Congressman George Miller, telephoning from Copenhagen this morning, described what appears to be the failure of world leaders to come to an agreement at the global climate change summit as a disappointment but not waste of time.
“You would like to have a clear agreement, whether or not it is a partial agreement, but it is a bit of a setback,” said the Martinez congressman. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the next 24 to 48 hours, but the outcome is less than we would have liked to see.”
Miller attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Denmark as chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee and at the request of his close ally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Also in the House delegation were House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD., and authors of the House energy bill, Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, and Edward Markey, D-Mass.
Miller is a veteran of global climate change summits. He was in Brazil, Johannesburg and Kyoto, the site of the 1997 emissions reduction pact. The U.S. has never ratified it.
In the whirlwind, two-day Copenhagen trip, where he spent considerable time navigating multiple layers of tight security, Miller met with fellow parliamentarians from India and Europe. He said he found many of his foreign colleagues optimistic about the likelihood of stronger U.S. political and financial commitments to emission reductions.
“The European community is very encouraged by the fact that the House passed an energy bill earlier this year,” Miller said. “They have been monitoring emissions and working with a similar cap and trade legislation.”
The delegation also received a briefing from the scientific Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who downplayed the significance of the recent flap over hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Climate change critics say the emails prove the science that links human activity to the Earth’s warming is flawed.
Miller said he heard nothing in Copenhagen that changes his mind about the validity of the climate science.
“We were told that some of those emails were 13 years old, and a lot of the other allegations were untrue,” Miller said. “I don’t think it changes the body of science. So many people who were skeptics before have looked at these scientific papers and changed their minds.”
The specter of melting icecaps and rising seas struck Miller particularly hard, he said, as he stood in line for a Danish-style hot dog, which resembled a pup in a blanket and began chatting with a young woman with the Cook Islands delegation.
“She told me, ‘For the island nations, this summit is not going well. We are worried that what you agree to will still be too much greenhouse gases and much our islands will disappear,’” Miller said. “It’s very a concrete thing for a lot of people.”
Miller also met with top officials from Honeywell, Whirlpool and other U.S. energy companies in Denmark to promote green technology.
“Americans are the innovators,” he said. “To me, what was most interesting is that while we get attacked for passing the energy bill, the leading businesses in the energy field are American companies who tell us that it is fantastic that we have passed this bill. It will create huge investment in more efficient use of energy.”