Warner is the senior Republican on the committee, which is currently chaired by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who earlier this year said "catastrophic global warming is a hoax."
Warner, who will surrender his chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee at the end of the current Congress, said on his Web site he will submit his name for election as Ranking Minority member of the environment and public works committee, subject to the approval of the full Republican Senate conference.
When Democrats assume control of Congress in January, the environment committee will be chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Boxer said this week she would conduct extensive hearings on global warming.
"I think there ought to be a global-warming bill that looks at all the contributors to carbon dioxide emissions," she said.