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Global Warming Legislation: What matters?

February 14th, 2008 · 8 Comments

Energy and Global Warming are complex, multifaceted, deep subjects. They are beyond the ability of any single person to totally master. And, a great challenge to those focused on them is seeking how to communicate, in a meaningful way, to those who don’t have the ability to dedicate huge chunks of time to learning about the issues.

When it comes to Global Warming, ever more of the Globe is aware. As some say, Katrina opened the door, Al Gore strode purposefully throught it, and now people realize that we need to do “something”.  But, defining that something becomes the next and, perhaps, even harder challenge.

Part of that “something” must include Global Warming/Climate Change legislation.  But not just any old legislation should do, we must have meaningful legislation that meets core principles.

Okay. Principles.  Global Warming legislation.  Why not try the following:

  • Meets or exceeds scientific standards for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Science should not cede to “political realities”.
  • Polluters pay to pollute.  Polluting the air that your children and mine breathe is not a right. Thus, under a Cap&Trade program, 100% of permits should be auctioned.
  • Action now.  The crisis is on us, delays in beginning the process only dig the hole deeper and make it more difficult to handle the challenges we face.
  • Promote social equity and justice.  Global Warming legislation will impact everyone, in all facets of life. This can be done in a way that worsens economic divisions or in ways to improve the social equity (between citizens today, and between today’s citizens and tomorrow’s).  To date, it is the poor and least powerful whose “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) voices are least heard with much of the nation’s pollution centered in disadvantaged areas. When divving up the gains to be had from dealing with global warming, those voices should not be drown out yet again.
  • Strengthen the economy through, for example, green jobs, energy efficiency, creating new industries, reducing imports, and fostering exports. Shift from paying for fuel to paying for labor.
  • Promote US leadership for concerted global action.  The US has created the largest portion of the built-up greenhouse gas emissions. It is the world’s largest economy.  We can strengthen that economy through tackling global warming seriously.  But, as well, we can help create the conditions for the entire globe to take action through our own action.

To me, these seem to be a reasonable set of principles.

And, when considering them, it is clear that the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act fails to meet them.  It:

  • Fails to meet scientific standards to give even a 50% chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, calling for 65% reductions in emissions by 2050 when 80% is, truly, an absolute base level.
  • Polluters only partially pay, as 40% of emission permits through 2032 are given away principally to serial polluters.
  • A cap is in place in 2012, four years out (there are reasons), with nothing mandated in terms of actions to reduce emissions before then.
  • The giving away of pollution permits will lead to windfall profits, profits that will come from the pockets of “average” Americans.  This will hurt, not help, social equity.
  • Economic impact, at best, uneven in terms of the overall economy.  Does not give enough focus to “green” technologies, with a strong emphasis on technologies to keep the coal industry afloat (especially development resources of $100s billions for Carbon Capture & Sequestration). Thus, not providing for new industry leadership by the US.
  • As its goals fall short of what other nations have already and what science says is required, if this would be US leadership, would it be leadership backwards?

Thus, we return to:  Fix-or-Ditch the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill.

Tags: Congress · Global Warming · cap and trade · climate change · emissions · environmental · government energy policy · lieberman-warner · politics

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Greenwashing reckless legislation? « Energy Smart // Mar 12, 2008 at 3:46 am

    [...] This press conference, reportedly, is to show a “unifed front” as to the need for serious action in the US Congress and by the United States to deal with Global Warming.   This comes, of course, in the looming shadow of the Lieberman-Warner Coal Subsidy Act which fails fundamentally, across the board on basic principles for policy action on global warming: [...]

  • 2 Greenwashing reckless legislation — unintentionally or otherwise « Energy Smart // Mar 12, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    [...] This press conference, Boxer and Environmental Leaders United on Urgent Need to Address Global Warming, was to show a “unifed front” as to the need for serious action in the US Congress and by the United States to deal with Global Warming.   This comes, of course, in the looming shadow of the Lieberman-Warner Coal Subsidy Act which fails fundamentally, across the board on basic principles for policy action on global warming: [...]

  • 3 Dirty Energy Money turning Purple? « Energy Smart // Mar 26, 2008 at 5:12 am

    [...] Warming legislation will have $trillions of implications in the coming decades. This can be done with social equity or a way to enrich the pockets of serial polluters at the expense of ….   Should we wonder which way these polluters’ donations are trying to drive this [...]

  • 4 WH confirms frost in Hell … « Energy Smart // Apr 14, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    [...] be sent to the Senate floor because, even if they don’t pass, they are setting the standard for future discussions and the bar for future debate. And, they are recklessly bad bills for the potential for establishing [...]

  • 5 Decoding Bush Deceptions re Climate Change « Energy Smart // Apr 16, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    [...] George the W speaking to principles. (Want to speak about principles for Climate Change action, see here.) Over the past seven years, my Administration has taken a rational, balanced approach to these [...]

  • 6 House Principles re GW Legislation « Energy Smart // Apr 23, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    [...] us take a moment to revisit another set of principles.   There are three core principles for global warming [...]

  • 7 Obama speaks out against Global Warming // Nov 18, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    [...] a minor item and will take serious Congressional action, especially to deliver something that meets basic principles. We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 [...]

  • 8 Core Principles in Face of Warming World // Apr 1, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    [...] See a variation of this discussion from the Lieberman-Warner debate period. Share and [...]

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