22 Jan 2015

US Senate: 'Climate change is real'

8:27 pm on 22 January 2015

In a surprise move, US Senate Republicans have joined Democrats on the record acknowledging that climate change is real.

Senator James Inhofe is seen as the top climate change denier in the US Congress.

Senator James Inhofe is seen as the top climate change denier in the US Congress. Photo: AFP

The symbolic amendment, attached to a controversial bill authorising construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, was approved 98-1 after Senator James Inhofe, seen as the top climate change denier in Congress, announced he was supporting the legislation.

Mr Inhofe, however, strongly rejected any suggestion that human activity was responsible for climate change, the ABC reported.

The move could be seen as a critical step forward for US lawmakers but it was not a revolutionary one.

The 16-word measure states: "It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax."

It makes no mention of the impact of human activity, including the use of fossil fuels, on global warming.

Applause rippled through the chamber when Mr Inhofe declared he was co-sponsoring the measure.

"Climate always changed," Mr Inhofe said, noting there was archaeological, historic and "biblical" evidence of that.

"The hoax is, that there are some people who think they are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful that they can change the climate. Man can't change climate," he insisted.

Barack Obama (C) arrives to deliver the State of The Union Address.

Barack Obama (C) arrives to deliver the State of The Union Address. Photo: AFP

US President Barack Obama delivers his 2015 State of the Union Address to Congress.

US President Barack Obama delivers his 2015 State of the Union Address to Congress. Photo: AFP

Steps to blame climate change on human activity fail

Two other measures attributing climate change to human activity failed to pass the 60-vote threshold in the 100-member Senate, although one got five Republican votes and the other received 14.

"This is a small victory but an important one," Senator Barbara Boxer, top Democrat on the Senate's environmental panel, told reporters.

"It means that there's a softening of the attitude of the deniers. They're losing ground in the face of public opinion."

Senator Brian Schatz, who introduced the failed measure with the most direct attribution of climate change to human activity, said Wednesday's progress "exceeded my expectations".

"There is an emerging bipartisan group of people who believe that climate change is real and caused by humans and solvable," he said.

The measures were introduced by Democrats keen on highlighting differences with some Republicans on the simmering issue of climate policy.

Republicans hold the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives following November congressional elections.

But with the 2016 presidential race on the horizon, Republican leaders may have agreed to hold votes on the measures now in order to avoid potentially embarrassing climate votes in the midst of a White House race.

During his [ http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/264185/obama-pledges-'middle-class-economics' State of the Union Address] on Tuesday, President Barack Obama chided Republicans for refusing to acknowledge scientific conclusions that human activity is impacting the climate.

In Australia, Labor and the Greens have pressured the Government to do more to combat climate change, in light of a new report showing 2014 as the hottest year in modern history.

- ABC