Mr. President, I’m here today to speak on climate change. But before I do that, I wanted to commend my colleague, Senator Dorgan, for all of his good work on this oil and gas issue. We’ve been working together on a number of things that he talked about and I do believe while I will talk today about the long-term solutions to the energy crisis and the way this can work hand in hand with climate change if we show the kind of leadership that we need to show, there are also short-term issues that means, as he said, cutting down on the speculation, putting things in place, closing the Enron loophole. To have the justice department get meat on the bones in terms of enforcement.
As a former prosecutor, I know how important that is. And pushing the OPEC nation, with which we have business dealings, if we're going to have business dealings with them, then they shouldn't artificially keep low the production of oil. I think that there are a number of things to do in the short term. What I’m here to do is talk about the long-term energy future and climate future for this country. In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited members to a resort to discuss the future of the global economy.
Although the world was locked in a terrible war, these leaders had fresh memories of the great depression, a worldwide pan take had left the world's major economy in tatters and they wanted their countries to emerge from World War II on a more stable financial footing. Over the course of three weeks they created the World Bank and the international monetary fund to battle world poverty and to avert currency crisis of the sort that had led to the world-wide economic meltdown in the 1920's and it worked.
Both the World Bank and IMF have had their share of controversies in the last decade, but they succeeded in stabilizing the world's financial systems, so that in the ensuing six decades, there has never been a global financial issue comparable to the great depression. I draw on this because today the world faces another grave international threat that demands imagination and leadership.
This time the threat is environmental. I’m speaking, of course, of global climate change. The heating of the earth is a threat every bit as grave as the financial catastrophe that threw the world into chaos. Global temperatures are up one degree in the last century that doesn't sound like much. One degree in the last century. But to put it in perspective, they have risen only five degrees since the height of the ice age. The environmental protection agency of this country predicts that temperatures could rise another three degrees to seven degrees in the next 100 years.
The consequences are frightening, rising ocean levels, which we're already seeing, increased drought, wildfires and destructive weather patterns. The presiding officer knows being from the Midwest, our constituents are not concerned about the rising ocean levels, but I can tell you that Lake Superior was the lowest levels in year. Why would that be? Lake Superior is a lake. When the ice forms on that lake melts quicker, the water evaporates and the -- and the water level went down. Why do we care about that? You think, are you going to swim in that cold lake a lot in Minnesota? Probably not.
It matters us to because our barges can't get through and has had a severe economic impact for the barge traffic and the economy in the Duluth area. You can see the rising impacts of global warming and what we're seeing across the country increasing wildfire risks. Remember the fires that we had this year in California? We had some in northern Minnesota as well. Decreasing water availability. That’s in 2007. You go up to the 2020's, increased mortality from heat waves, floods and droughts, the 2050's more people facing flooding. You go up if we don't do anything, some profound and very serious consequences.
President Bush gave a speech in the rose garden to announce a new initiative on global warming. To be perfectly blunt, I really didn't see -- to be perfectly blunt, I really didn't see anything new in the President's announcement and no initiative that hasn't been discussed before. The President has suggested that we wait until the year 2025 until we even stop the increase in the emissions of greenhouse gases. He did not call for a cut in emissions that was immediate. He did not call for concrete steps to meet the goals. He said it would be unwise to do it at this time. I believe that Americans are leaders, not followers.
When the world faces a crisis, they don't wait for someone else to go first. Our country has always stepped in and taken leadership. When we see a problem in our own backyard -- and my people in Minnesota see shrinking wetlands and endangered wildlife; they've seen what's been going on with our ski resorts and ice fishing-- they do something about it, now friends across the seas in Europe have recognized the challenge. They’ve introduced a plan to cut greenhouse emissions covering 27 countries and they did it using a concept known as cap and trade.
It was actually started in our country. That’s how we reduced acid rain. The European Union didn't do everything right. They’ll be the first to admit that. Their emissions targets were too high. They issued too many carbon permits. I believe we will learn from what they did and we will do better when we do this in our country. But the point of the matter is that the -- many of these European countries rose to the challenge and took some leadership. Here at home, our country's private investors and business leaders already recognize this challenge.
Nationally private ventureships have increased dramatically. In 2006 venture capital investment in green technologies in the United States reached $2 $2.9 billion, up 78% from the year earlier. Not only is clean technology the faster-growing venture capital sector, it is now the third-largest category of venture capital investment. So when we talk about some of the things that Senator Dorgan and I have been talking about with energy -- and he mentioned wind -- you know, we invent add lot of that wind technology in our country. But now would've fallen behind in wind production to other countries that had government policies in place that pushed that investment. From what I can see, wind is going to bring jobs across our country. So is solar. So is biofuels. All of these things that cut our dependency on foreign oil and invest in the next generation of new technologies. That money is starting to filter into that area, but I think we can do better in our country.
CEOs from major corporations such as DuPont, Duke Energy, and General Electric see the opportunities and they're making investments of their own. More than 2 major United States corporations such as American electric power and DuPont already have started buying carbon offsets that are now traded on the new Chicago Climate Exchange. You can see the global investments that I talked about in renewable technologies that have been increasing -- wind, solar and other kinds of renewable technologies. A company subsidizes a project that reduces greenhouse gas pollution. Building a wind turbine, for example, then receives its investment by selling that offset to another company on the Chicago exchange. The exchange is new, but a report said it kept 10 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over the last four years.
Meanwhile, our nation's governors and mayors have also stepped up to the challenge. Governors from five western states, including California and Arizona have, announced that they will work together to reduce greenhouse gases by setting regional targets for lower emissions and establishing a regional cap and trade system for buying and selling greenhouse gas credits. California alone plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 25% by the year 2020. The Western Greenhouse Gas Initiative builds on other regional initiatives, especially the landmark New England Regional Gas Initiative with seven northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States that have also grades to a regional cap-and-trade system set to take effect next year. You can see all the states that have been involved in this. In my home state of Minnesota, we have one of the most aggressive renewable electricity portfolio standards in the country – a 25% reduction. We did this on a bipartisan basis, Mr. President. We did it with the support of excel energy, our biggest electricity company, and we did it the way we do things in Minnesota, which was a focus on results and getting things done. Leadership -- there's also the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. More than 400 mayors representing over 59 million Americans have pledged to meet or beat the Kyoto protocol greenhouse reduction goals among their communities. Among the signatories are cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester. I admire the cities for signing on for the initiative and what they're doing should be an inspiration for this congress for national action.
There is a famous phrase "the laboratories of democracy." that's what Justice Brandeis said in one of his most famous opinions when he described the special roles of states in the federal system. He said -- and I quote -- "It is one of the happy incidences of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." But Brandeis did not mean that this would serve as an excuse for an action by the federal government. We have states all over this country -- governors, legislatures -- that have been brave, that have been courageous in taking action on climate change. But never when Justice Brandeis talked about one state going above the norm, doing something differently did he mean that there should be inaction by the federal government.
Good ideas and successful innovations are supposed to emerge in the laboratory and serve as a model for national policy and action. That is now our responsibility in congress. Mr. President, in about one month, we will have the chance to take up that responsibility. We’ll have the opportunity to vote in this chamber on landmark climate change legislation, the Lieberman-Warner bill. I thank my colleagues, Senator Warner and Lieberman, for their hard work and I thank our chairwoman, Senator Boxer, for her leadership as this moves forward. We’re listening to members making changes to the bill at this moment, doing everything we can to make the bill as strong as possible.
The truth is that we can no longer delay. I’ve been to Greenland. I’ve seen these tremendous icebergs melting into the ocean and I’ve seen the effect of this in my own state. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that if we start today and cut emissions by just 4% per year, we could achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But if we wait just ten years, Mr. President, we would have to double that annual rate of reductions. Mr. President, this is forward-looking, bipartisan legislation. It is comprehensive, and it is carefully tailored. It is our opportunity -- tailored. It is our opportunity to show the leadership for which Americans have always been known. Every week -- I pledged last week I was going to come to the floor and give a speech about this legislation on different aspects of why it is so important to move forward on show leadership on climate change. Today I think it is obvious as we face these long-term consequences of doing nothing with our energy policy when it comes to electricity or with oil, this is our chance. And this climate change legislation will play a role major in developing the new technology that we need.