A few weeks ago I said that I would give a talk on the floor about another piece of the puzzle about why it is important to pass climate change legislation this year. About why we can't wait as we see tremendous changes to our environment and our way of life. And we need to act and we need to act now.

Mr. President, last summer I took a trip to Greenland with other members of the Environment and Public Works Committee to see firsthand the effects of global climate change. One of the scientists traveling with us described Greenland as a canary in the coal mine. Greenland lost an enormous amount of ice equaled to two years of all of the ice on the Alps.  People in Greenland are planting potatoes in places where they used to run sled dogs on the ice. This confirmed for us what the scientific community asserted in an overwhelming consensus:  Average global temperatures are up 1 degree in the last century. Now, that doesn't sound like much. But to put it into perspective, there are only five -- they were only up five degrees since the height of the ice age.

The EPA forecasts an increase of three degrees to eight degrees in the next eight years. Estimated three to eight degrees in this 100 years. Ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising and glaciers are shrinking. The intergovernmental plan on climate change confirmed that there are irrefutable levels of climate change on every level with risks to species and danger of increasing weather events. When I arrived in the Senate a little over a year ago people were debating whether climate change was real. Was it actually happening? The debate -- was it actually happening? The debate is over and the facts are in and we're debating solutions. I'm proud to say that it is science affecting our actions. This shift in thinking is because our people now in this chamber are willing to look at and talk about the science.

Last year we raised fuel economy standards for cars and trucks and other vehicles for the first time in years and years and years – for  the first time in decades. The new standard will boost fuel efficiency by 40% and cut millions of tons in carbon emissions.  And most important, as we look at how much gas costs, it will give the average family, depending on how many children they have, something like $1,000 a year. So this isn't just about environmental issues. This is about economic pocketbook issues as well.

 In the farm bill agreement that conferees approved last week and that this Senate passed, we have important incentives to move farmers toward the next generation of clean, renewable biofuels using cellulosic crop that's can be grown on marginal farmland with limited chemical inputs. This is the next generation of biofuels. Looking at switchgrass, prairie grass, things that are consistent with conservation and could be good for the environment and can help to wean us off our dependency on foreign oil. Instead of investing in Saudi Arabia, we can invest in the farmers and workers of this country.

Now it is time for us to take the next crucial step in energy and conservation policy and enact strong comprehensive climate change legislation, the Lieberman-Warner bill that will come before the Senate in a few weeks. I referred to our trip to Greenland last summer. I want to discuss a second trip I took recently and that is around my state visiting many small towns in Minnesota.

I visited the town of Morris where they are building a biomass farm. Within a year or two it will meet heating, cool, and electricity needs for the entire campus without burning carbon emitting fossil fuels.

I visited southwest Minnesota where I have been many times where there are sprawling wind farms in Buffalo Ridge. You can see the towering turbines for miles. They supply a significant share of Minnesota’s power needs. With the legislation enacted by our state legislature, 25% by 2025 for renewable energy of all kinds for our provision of electricity.

In tiny Starbuck Minnesota 10 people left their jobs to join a solar panel factory to manufacture solar panels to make electricity from the sun. These products are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and cutting our emissions of greenhouse gases. The point I wanted to discuss today for this week's discussion is that they are creating good jobs. I mentioned these examples because when we discussed climate change and solutions too many people think it has only to do with doing without, cutting back, doing less. It's true that conservation must play a central role in a comprehensive energy policy to clean up our planet and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. These aren’t the days of Jimmy Carter putting on the sweater and going on TV and looking glum. People see this as an economic benefit that they can serve because they're going to save money. It is also true  that by adopting a strong, sensible policy toward reducing greenhouse gas pollution, we can open the door to a world of opportunities which means new jobs.

As  we prepare to discuss action on climate change, here's what we must remember: there is a possibility, a strong possibility, an opportunity that we can get more out of this. This means manufacturing a new generation of refrigerators, air conditioners and other household appliances that meet the needs of consumers without consuming less electricity. It means designing buildings with smart glass and rooftop gardens that can serve energy and water. Some people think these rooftop gardens are some kind of landscaper's lark, but they aren't. They keep buildings warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. JP Morgan, the huge New York investment bank redesigned its headquarters with a rooftop garden, and it estimates it will save 30% on its utilities bills. And since cars and trucks are a major source of our greenhouse gas emissions, this means this next generation of looking at the world differently means exploiting the full potential of hybrid automotive technology. Hybrid cars and trucks have already shown -- trucks have shown themselves to be a great success story on the sales lot and in the engineering laboratory. The old version required to you plug in the car or carry around the extra batteries. Because we invested  in research and provided limited federal incentives, we're not only seeing a better product, we're also seeing an explosion in consumer demand that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. And now Chevrolet has developed another breakthrough -- the Chevy Volt -- a battery-powered car which could be on the market in less than two years. You'll be able to plug the volt into an ordinary household outlet and then drive up to 40 miles without using a drop of gasoline.

Now, your car isn't just going to stop when it finishes up 40 miles. It converts over to fuels, biofuels. The waiting list for hybrid vehicles shows that consumers welcome efficient designs and are buying vehicles that create good jobs for auto workers and other people in manufacturing. Taken together, this sort of technology has the potential to create thousands, perhaps millions, of good jobs in our economy and spur millions of dollars in productive new investment.

Consider the potential of biomass, burning dedicated crops to produce electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates a concerted effort to develop dedicated energy crops for biomass power plants could generate 120,000 new jobs over the next 15 years. That's 120,000 new jobs. Or consider the potential of wind energy. Each large utility scale wind turbine that goes on line generates over $1.5 million -- $1.5 million in economic activity. Each turbine provides up to $5,000 in lease payments every year for 20 years or more for farmers, ranchers or other landowners. When you start putting all the pieces of this puzzle together, a whole new vista for our economy opens up.

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated last year that merely adopting a strong national renewable energy standard, one important step toward  reducing greenhouse gas pollution, would create 185,000 jobs in industry such as wind and solar by the year 2020.

Daniel Cayman, who runs the renewable and appropriate energy laboratory in California, points out that $1 invested in renewable energy creates three to five more jobs than $1 invested in fossil fuels, as you can see here. That's because renewables create jobs in engineering and manufacturing, and because that money is invested here at home instead of being shipped overseas for foreign oil producers. This institute estimates that if our country met just 20% of its electricity needs from wind power, solar, biomass and other renewable, those industries would employ more than 250,000 people every year compared to 100,000 jobs -- fewer than 100,000 jobs if we continue to get all of our electricity from fossil fuels. Just this week the U.S. Department of Energy estimated by the year 2030, it would be feasible for wind power to supply 20% of our country's electricity needs, matching the output of nuclear power plants.

Finally the Apollo Alliance estimates if we made a full-born national commitment to energy change to building design, more efficient vehicles, renewable fuels, we could create three million new jobs and an additional $1 trillion of economic output in the next decade. This is our opportunity. But it is only that. It's only an opportunity unless we seize it, Mr. President. Because our country won't mobilize the automobile engineers, the landscape architects, the building designers, the appliance manufacturers, the power companies unless we send the right signals to the economy as a whole, the signal that our country is committed to the technologies that will help us battle climate change. Consider this: despite the wind farms and solar energy companies that are cropping up here and there across our country, the United States is no longer a leader in these clean-energy technologies. We rank third in wind power. We're third in photovoltaic power installed. Ironically, our country has been surpassed by other countries that basically took the technology that was developed here in the United States. And it has allowed our foreign competition to leapfrog over American businesses.  Here's my answer: we need leaders.

We need American leaders, not followers. The private sector has read the evidence and is waiting for us to show leadership. Last winter our committee, our Environmental committee, heard from the chief executives of three major corporations: General Electric, DuPont and Duke Energy. They formed the United States Climate Action Partnership. They seek a mandatory market-driven approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an approach they believe will drive development of new greener technology and become an engine for new economic growth and job creation. They're waiting for leadership from Washington. In a few weeks we will have the opportunity to demonstrate that leadership. My colleagues, Senator Lieberman and Senator Warner have written climate change legislation that is bold but practical, forward-thinking but pragmatic. They recognize that the time for study is over. The time for hesitation has passed. The time for action is upon us.