U.S. Sen. Murphy Laments ‘Political Logjam’ on Renewable Energy
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BRUSSELS (March 16, 2013) – At Brussels Forum today, U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT) said that there is a new and overdue push for action on climate change in the United States.
“And so if we really want to be serious, ultimately, about being a player in global climate talks,” he said, “we’re going to find that we can’t be the contributor to the climate talks that we want to be, if we just sit still.”
Murphy was speaking at Brussels Forum, an annual conference on transatlantic relations organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and attended by heads of state, officials from the EU institutions and member states, U.S. officials, congressional representatives, parliamentarians, and academics.
While speaking on a panel focused on U.S. energy dependence, Murphy also acknowledged that taking steps in Congress to reduce carbon emissions will be challenging. “We are still at an absolute political log-jam when it comes to the issue of significant investment in green energy,” he said. “There’s five percent of Americans that don’t believe that global warming exists and there’s about 40 percent of Congress that believes that.”
In the same session, Dr. Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency, who in 2008 predicted the current natural gas production “revolution,” was asked for his next prediction. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the next revolution is on the demand side,” he said. “Natural gas use will expand in the transportation sector.”
In a later session on the pending U.S.-EU free trade negotiations, Michael Froman, U.S. deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs, said that every effort would be made to keep talks from being bogged down by special interests. “We can’t make the perfect the enemy of the good here,” he said. “We have to be pragmatic, and find pragmatic ways of addressing interests.”
Karel De Gucht, European commissioner for trade, said that these negotiations should be easier than those with non-Western countries. “We’re not starting from scratch,” he said. “We know each other and each other’s economies very well. ” He went on to say that one of the frequent impediments to trade agreements is absent in these negotiations. “Fear of the loss of jobs doesn’t happen with discussions between EU and the U.S. The risk is much less in this case,” he explained. “In negotiations with emerging economies, this is much more challenging.”
In the same session, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt warned that there must be public and political support for the agreement. “It must be driven at the political level,” he said. “If it sinks to the level of the trade negotiators, we’re dead.”
The first session of the afternoon addressed Euroatlantic integration and bringing the Balkan and Caucuses countries into the EU and NATO. Milo Djukanovic, the prime minister of Montenegro, said that the Balkan countries need to feel they are receiving more encouragement to join the EU. “We should think about Europe as Europeans. We should not think about Europe as people from the Balkans,” he said. “We should not think about asking Europe to keep the door open for us so that we can have enough time to pull our way all the way to the door. Europe is our own home.”
The afternoon began with an address by former Belarusian presidential candidate and political prisoner Andrei Sannikov, who made an impassioned plea for additional international pressure on the current president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. “You cannot deal with a criminal with diplomatic methods,” he said.
Brussels Forum is an annual conference on transatlantic relations organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and attended by heads of state, officials from the EU institutions and member states, U.S. officials, Congressional representatives, Parliamentarians, and academics. GMF is joined in this initiative by its founding partners Daimler and the Federal Authorities of Belgium, as well as its strategic partners BP, the OCP Foundation, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia, Bank of America, and the Government of Montenegro. In addition, GMF recognizes the support of its forum partners the European Union Delegation to the United States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Liberal Forum, Deloitte, NYSE Euronext, the Brussels Capital Region, the Centre for European Studies, and NATO. Dinner program partners include IBM, Eli Lilly and Company, Ford Motor Company, the Secure World Foundation, European Investment Bank, Facebook, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic. Star Alliance is the official airline network of Brussels Forum.