Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday pushed back against a GOP congressman who voiced skepticism about the threat of climate change, suggesting the issue was being used by the Biden administration to secure funding and was not a serious concern.
“Can you provide to me, or do you know any research on your own to justify this drastic climate change that we have to do today or the next four or five years this world’s going to come to an end?” Rep Jerry Carl (R-Ala.) asked Yellen at a hearing on the banking system.
When Yellen pointed to an “enormous amount of research” summarized by a United Nations group about the threat of climate change, Carl claimed that the global organization “makes a lot of money off the climate change scenario.”
“There is a strong scientific consensus and enormous body of research,” Yellen responded.
Carl, who is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, downplayed the significance of the changing climate by pointing to the environment in his home state of Alabama. Carl noted one could go 300 feet above sea level and find oyster shells in an embankment, then travel 40 feet below sea level and find a petrified forest under water.
Carl said he believes the literal definition of climate change, but questioned the idea that it is a grave threat to the planet. He argued that the issue of climate change was being used by the Biden administration so it could secure funding for its various priorities.
“The way it’s being used now is like a Trojan horse. Everything you want to use it for to get into the conversation is climate change related,” Carl said.
“We’re seeing enormous increases in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Yellen said. “Where in America are we seeing that?” Carl asked.
“It’s a global phenomenon; it’s not just in the United States,” Yellen replied, noting that an increase in the intensity of hurricanes is another cause of concern.
“Climate change, I believe, is an existential threat, and we will leave a world to our grandchildren and great grandchildren that will become uninhabitable if we don’t address climate change,” Yellen continued. “We have let decades pass in which we have understood that this was a problem and not taken meaningful action.”
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said he believed there is general skepticism among critics of the Biden administration that the billions of dollars being spent on the environment will meaningfully change the temperature of the planet.
Yellen has made fighting climate change a key part of her work as Treasury secretary, arguing that the U.S. economy will suffer if the planet continues to warm. The department previously created a climate hub, a division meant to drive investments toward projects to reduce carbon emissions and insulate the economy from extreme weather and other risks.
The Inflation Reduction Act, the administration’s signature piece of legislation passed last year, contains $27 billion in funding for green banks, credit unions, housing finance agencies and projects to cut pollution and energy costs.