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Historic Vote on Global Warming Bill Reflects Building Momentum to Limit Carbon Dioxide

Statement by Katherine Silverthorne Director, U.S. Climate Change Program, World Wildlife Fund

WASHINGTON - "Today's strong bi-partisan vote shatters the myth that the US Senate will never seriously consider action to address the environmental problem of global warming.

"This is remarkable support for the first-ever vote on limiting global warming pollution. Today's votes in support of the McCain-Lieberman bill were votes to protect American communities and the wild places we love from the impacts of global warming. Senator McCain (R-AZ) vowed to keep bringing the issue back before the US Senate until it takes a responsible approach to global warming, reflecting the tenacity he's demonstrated on important issues in the past. More needs to be done to implement solutions and World Wildlife Fund will continue to work towards this goal, but this bill represented a long-awaited step in the right direction.

"Clearly, the pressure's on to curb the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. In the past year, we've seen a groundswell of state legislation and legal action on climate change, growing investor concern over the financial risk posed by CO2 emissions, and continued strong public support for action. The hold that irresponsible industries and backwards politicians have had on this issue for the past decade is slipping. With 43 Senate votes in favor of capping global warming pollution, this issue can no longer be sidelined in clean air and energy debates.

"The bi-partisan support for the McCain-Lieberman approach is a clear rebuke of the Bush Administration's stand against mandatory limits on CO2 emissions. It shows that reason is gaining ground against rhetoric. Even the nation's largest electric power company, American Electric Power, is on record as saying that this bill is a "reasonable control program for emissions at a time when the company believes human-caused global warming is a real problem." Unfortunately, rather than engaging in a useful discussion on how to tackle global warming, opponents of the bill still relied on the unfounded rhetoric of fringe elements in an attempt to divert attention from mainstream scientific consensus.

"In the lead up to this vote, tens of thousands of Americans from across the United States told Senators to take action now. The eyes of the world are now on the United States to see if we can make good on this start and actually deliver the CO2 emissions reductions that are urgently needed to solve this problem."

Note to editors: Quote from American Electric Power is excerpted from: Heilprin, John. 2003. Senate Opens Debate on Global Warming. Associated Press. 30 October.