Thursday, October 4, 2007

What would Americans say about the best leadership on climate change

According to the Washington Post poll [ Poll ], Mr. Bush now enjoys his lowest level of support in the last five years.  Although his current rating of 33-64 has been matched -- earlier there were more strong supporters and fewer strong opponents.   Americans are not impressed with Congress and regard it as not accomplishing much, but they tend to blame Bush and the Republicans, not the Democrats.  Americans regard the Democrats as better able to handle the war, health care, the economy, and the deficit than the Republicans. [On a related note, the WSJ reports that even Republicans are starting to doubt the benefits of free trade to the US economy].

At the same time, Clinton (Hilary that is) is in ascendance.  For Democrats, she is increasingly regarded as the strongest leader, more honest and trustworthy, and most inspiring candidate as well as most likely to be elected and best representing core Democratic values . 

So, where's Hilary on climate change?  [I was going to add "and other environmental issues" but frankly this is not only the most crucial environmental issue, it is a good bellweather of how a candidate will address other issues].

While Clinton's climate change position is not particularly daring (she favors renewable energy, clean coal / carbon sequestration, and the McCain-Lieberman bill), I am fond of her for her willingness to give Michael Crichton a hard time when he was called last Congress as a climate change science witness (I guess he was the best that Inhofe could do).  See reports below.


But even if Bill is the albatross around Hilary's neck in some respects, his work on climate change suggests that she will be a far stronger leader on climate change than her current position statements suggest.  As Bryan Walsh's article in Time on Saturday indicated, Bill's Global Climate  Initiative, launched in August 2006, has brought business and philanthropy together to fund local efforts to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. As Walsh noted:

While UN action on climate change remains stalled by the deadlock   between the developed and the developing world, Clinton has proved   remarkably successful in fostering real engagement and investment             on global warming across national lines. "Clinton just really gets it            (EMPHASIS ADDED BY ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PROF)," says Ted Nordhaus,    co-author of the new environmental politics book Break Through.The success of the Clinton Initiative is emblematic of how people who care about climate change in America have chosen to approach the problem in the near total absence of action from Washington. Lobbying has shifted to the corporate world, where large companies like Wal-Mart have implemented energy efficiency polices far more aggressive than anything coming from the government. High-profile celebrities like Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio have made green cool for consumers. And hardly a day goes by without news of a leap forward on solar, wind or hybrid cars, thanks to private investment — again, in the absence of significant government spending.  Time - Walsh article


Campaign website on Clinton's climate change position:

Promoting Energy Independence and Fighting Global Warming

America is ready for energy independence. Hillary is ready to lead the charge.

The choices we make about energy touch nearly every aspect of our lives. Our economy, our national security, our health, and the future of our planet are all at stake as we make a choice between energy independence and dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Hillary has championed policies that encourage development of alternative energy technologies and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. She has proposed an Apollo Project-like program dedicated to achieving energy independence.

Hillary recognizes that global climate change is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time. She supports policies to reduce carbon emissions and other pollution that contribute to global warming.

In the White House, Hillary will lead the charge to stop global warming by investing in clean energy technologies, establishing a national market-based program to reduce global warming pollution, increasing our fuel efficiency, and restoring the United States' rightful place as a leader in international efforts to address the problem of climate change.

Ready to Lead

Hillary introduced a plan to Congress to create a Strategic Energy Fund that would inject $50 billion into research, development, and deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean coal technology, ethanol and other homegrown biofuels, and more.

We can create the fund without raising taxes by giving oil companies a choice: invest in renewable energy themselves or pay into the fund. She would also eliminate oil companies' tax breaks and make sure they pay their fair share for drilling on public lands.

Senate website:

Climate Change

The scientific consensus on climate change is increasingly clear: unless we act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the planet will continue to warm over the next century, with widespread and potentially devastating effects. These potential effects include more frequent extreme weather events, and the wider spread of diseases such as West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and malaria.

Potential impacts in New York include coastal flooding due to rising sea levels in communities on Long Island, warming in the Adirondacks, where tourism and a way of life depend on cold and snow in the winter, and damage to New York’s agriculture industry.

Given the scientific evidence that we have and the potential consequences of continued warming, I strongly believe this nation needs to take sensible first steps to slow and ultimately reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to climate change. To that end, I support investment in renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and the flexible, market-based the emissions reduction approach in the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 proposed by Senators Lieberman and McCain. I also support funding for research and development of carbon sequestration technologies as well as advanced clean coal technologies.

Clinton's response to Crichton's testimony
Hillary Clinton was the first to try to cut him down to size. "His views on climate change are at odds with the vast majority of climate scientists; it also appears in a work of fiction," the senator for New York said dismissively. "I think that the topic of this hearing is very important but organised in a way to muddy sound science rather than clarify it," she added, before thanking the other four witnesses who attended, but not Crichton.

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer joined in. "We are here to talk about sound science - a worthy and important subject. We are not here to talk about plays, novels, art or music - although as a member for California I do appreciate the focus on the arts."

"A lot of people are being maligned here, I take great offence at that, they are not here and they are being maligned," she said, asking if she could put on record a letter from one of the aforementioned maligned scientists.

Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Legislation, South America, US | Permalink

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