Pelosi at Women's Roundtable in Copenhagen: Women Have the Most to Gain and the Most to Lose in Climate Crisis

Dec 17, 2009
Press Release

Contact: Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Copenhagen - Speaker Nancy Pelosi participated in a roundtable with other women leaders this morning in Copenhagen to discuss solutions for climate change hosted by the Global Gender and Climate Alliance. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared for delivery:

"Thank you, [UN Development Programme] Administrator [Helen] Clark for your leadership on the greatest challenge of our time: the climate crisis. 

 "I would also like to acknowledge:

  • President Tarja Halonen of Finland
  • Christopher Naylor, Lead Negotiator, Liberia
  • Minister Ulla Tomaes of Denmark
  • Katherine Sierra, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank
  • Ana Lucy Bengochea, El Comite, Honduras

 "And thank you to the Global Gender and Climate Alliance for providing us an opportunity to organize the most powerful force: the world's women. 

"Women have the most to gain and the most to lose in the climate crisis.  The impacts are not gender-neutral; as the primary users, managers, and stewards of natural resources, women feel the consequences first.

"But women also uniquely understand the need to protect and preserve our planet for future generations.  And by harnessing the inherent courage and determination of the world's women, we will succeed.

 "First, we must acknowledge the urgency of the challenge that we face. 

 "In that regard, a bipartisan delegation from the House of Representatives has come here to Copenhagen to demonstrate that the United States recognizes the challenge of the climate crisis.

 "When I became Speaker of the House in 2007, I made achieving energy independence and addressing the climate crisis my flagship issue.

 "First, we established a Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, ably led by Chairman Edward Markey, to raise the visibility of these critical issues.

 "We were proud to lead by example, greening the United States Capitol.  So far, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 74 percent.  In just six months this year, we saved more than 45 tons of waste from going into our landfills and half a million pounds of carbon from going into our atmosphere.   

 "We passed the first Farm Bill in history to include a real investment in energy independence, with more than $1 billion to leverage renewable energy industry investments in new technologies and new feedstocks.

 "We passed an energy bill that made a historic and bipartisan increase in fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years.  This will slash America's oil consumption by more than 4 million barrels a day by 2030.

 "Since President Obama took office, we've made even more progress.  In all our efforts to address the climate crisis, the President has been a determined and reliable partner.

 "In February, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with more than $69 billion for new investments in clean energy - the single largest investment in our clean energy future in history.

"And in June, the House passed the climate and clean energy jobs legislation known as the Waxman-Markey bill.  This historic and transformative legislation will unleash private sector investment in clean energy to create millions of new jobs and promote clean energy technology.  It will reduce total global warming emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

 "In the Senate, there is serious bipartisan commitment to moving similar legislation.  And several committees have already made enormous progress.  And President Obama has made this legislation a priority. 

 "President Obama has:

  • Built on the work of Congress to raise fuel efficiency standards with a greenhouse gas standard that would significantly increase mileage requirements for cars and trucks by 2016, with a savings of 1.8 billion barrels of oil;
  • Committed the federal government to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, increase energy efficiency, and reduce fleet petroleum consumption;
  • And for the first time, the U.S. will catalogue greenhouse gas emissions from large emission sources - an important initial step toward measurable and transparent reductions.

 "For too long, America has failed to lead on climate change.  We have come to Copenhagen to say: "˜Those days are over.  America is back.  The United States is prepared to resume its responsible place in the community of nations - as a leader and a partner - in combating climate change.'  

 "As we unite in our efforts to combat climate change, we must recognize the role agriculture plays - both as a challenge and an opportunity. 

 "Around the world, the climate crisis is seriously affecting agriculture.  Farmers will lead the way with solutions.  They will do so with carbon"offsetting crops and forests, engaging in no-till agriculture, growing biofuels, and installing renewable energy like wind turbines and solar panels, and using animal waste to generate electricity on their land.  In the Waxman-Markey legislation, by participating in the offsets market, farmers, ranchers and forest managers can get paid to reduce emissions.  In America, we believe our farmers can fuel our country's energy independence.

 "Changing agricultural conditions will hit women hardest.  In most developing countries, women produce the vast majority of the household food supply.  It is the world's grandmothers, mothers, and sisters in most countries who fetch water, gather wood and prepare meals. As resources become more scarce, so do opportunities for these women to attend school, tend crops, and lift themselves out of poverty. 

 "A World Bank study found that if women received the same agricultural training and technical support as men, farm yields could rise as much as 22 percent.  And it is women who pass on traditional sustainable practices and coping strategies from generation to generation that may prove to be more sustainable in the face of changing climate conditions than conventional practices.

 "Already women are adapting to the changing climate. 

 "Earlier this year, I travelled to Alaska where we met with people who are already seeing the impact of the climate crisis in their villages.  They told us about villages eroding into the rising sea, melting tundra, and dramatic changes in the behavior and availability of wildlife that these cultures have relied on for centuries to feed their families.

 "Prevention may be too late in some places.  We must be helpful with adaptation.  We must also share with the developing world the new technologies that combat the threat of climate change.  

 "The House bill makes a real commitment to international adaptation and technology transfer by directing a percentage of allowances that will increase over time. 

 "We have a responsibility to help the developing world adapt to the climate crisis and adopt new technologies for clean energy.  We must provide adequate funding, as we did in the House bill, and the funding mechanisms must be transparent and accountable. 

 "It is essential that women are part of the decision-making process for how countries develop adaptation and technology deployment plans.  If women are first to feel the impacts, they will find the solutions.  We must make sure they have the chance to be heard.   

 "Our climate legislation demonstrates to the world that the United States is ready to lead. 

 "I have come here to say that we are ready to lead.  That we understand that solving the climate crisis is a national security issue, a health issue, a technology issue and a moral issue - to protect God's creation for our children and grandchildren.

 "Here in Copenhagen, we are partners with the nations of the world to address this century's greatest challenge, and we do so mindful of the need to engage and empower women."