One-quarter of the Senate yesterday called global warming a serious threat to the world’s future and urged quick action, despite disagreement on how to stem its effects.
During a rare open forum that lasted hours, senators from both major parties including four seeking the presidency shared ideas about curbing carbon emissions, which many scientists blame for global warming. The senators also promised substantial legislation this year.
“Global warming is an international problem requiring international effort,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a candidate in the 2008 presidential race.
His proposal to curb carbon emissions is co-sponsored by several Republicans and Democrats. He said he welcomes amendments.
“We have no pride in authorship; this is too important,” he said. “The object is to get something done and soon.”
“This is a problem whose time has come,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who also has eyes on the White House.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, said she sees consensus in Congress, at the state level and even among oil executives. “The time for action is now,” she said.
Mrs. Boxer, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, took statements from about 25 senators during the forum. “We’re not going to take a lot of time debating this anymore. We’re moving beyond the argument, we are moving toward solutions.”
She allowed each person 10 minutes to “take their temperature” on the climate change issue.
Sen. Christopher S. Bond and a few other Republicans fear that sweeping legislation to restrict carbon emissions will result in economic hardship.
“I’m not from the state of macroeconomics. I’m from the state of Missouri, and I need to know how these proposals will hurt Missourians,” Mr. Bond said. “Do not fight climate change on the backs of the poor, on the backs of certain sectors of this country.”
Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, questioned the motivation for rushing legislation. “My sense is the rush at this moment, all due apologies to Senator Clinton, is something about an ‘08 election,” he said.
He said drastic federal legislation could crush business in the United States, even while India and China are revving their economies without taking action against climate change.
“I reject that. We are the most innovative nation in the history of the world,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I don’t underestimate the task we face, but I am optimistic.”
Senators evoked the images of the nation’s children and grandchildren.