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Legislative rumblings on climate change

Posted on 08/05/2019 | in 杭州夜生活 | by

I've argued in the past that climate change was no longer a scientific issue, but a series of economic and political issues that are now derived from the science. There's been a host of news on this front within the past few weeks, so a summary appears to be in order. One possible cause for the sudden upswing in news is the persistent rumor that President Bush's State of the Union address, which will be delivered next Tuesday, will contain a major new initiative to curb carbon emissions. The White House is currently confirming that there will be some sort of energy policy outlined in the address, but denies that it will include any mandatory caps. HangZhou Night Net

In Congress, however, the recent shift in power has energized legislators to push for carbon-limiting legislation that would have never made it to vote in the prior sessions. At least three bills are under discussion in the Senate. Despite White House opposition, all would create a mandatory cap on carbon emissions, and allow market trading of credits to give industries the chance to choose how best to balance emissions and expenditures. Two of these would begin reducing emissions by 2010, while a third would have them level off at slightly above today's emission rates by 2020. The widespread support within the Senate suggests that Bush will receive some legislation that includes a mandatory cap before the year is out.

The legislative efforts may be picking up a sense of urgency due to the wide array of groups lobbying for them. This week has seen two sets of unexpected bedfellows push for action on climate change. A combination of scientists and evangelical Christians released a statement in which they promised to work together to promote this sort of legislation. This statement built on a prior commitment to this sort of effort from prominent evangelicals. Meanwhile, a combination of environmental groups, energy generators, and major industrial companies (including GE, Alcoa, and Caterpillar) will release a statement on Monday calling for rapid and significant cuts in carbon emissions: 10-30 percent within 15 years. In part, they want legislation now because they feel that a combination of further evidence of warming and the potential for additional political changes over the next few years could both lead to even more stringent cuts in the near future. It may also be good business—GE noted a boom in sales of energy efficient equipment in recent years.

Not all of the action is happening in Washington, of course. California Governor Schwarzenegger's State of the State address included a call to go beyond earlier legislation on a statewide energy efficiency plan. He proposed a set of standards that would shift California to a greater use of carbon-neutral fuel sources. Meanwhile, the European Union has released a set of policy papers on energy that call for creating a single European energy market. With the market in place, carbon emissions would be targeted for a 20 percent reduction by 2020. Included in their plans would be carbon sequestration, a shift to renewable energy, and an increase in the use of biofuels.

All of this activity suggests an environment in which progress is being made in mandating a shift towards efficiency and renewable energy. That will provide the backdrop for the President's State of the Union next week. What remains to be seen is whether he will encourage this direction, or try to limit it.

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