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U.S. Focus on Climate Could Ease Financial Crisis

Posted Oct 15 2008 7:32pm

Environmental policy experts, including Cathy Zoi (CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection ), agree that the key to combating the global economic crisis and rejuvenating U.S. industry rests with the green revolution—transitioning “to a clean energy economy.”

This is going to require a new President who is more sympathetic to a policy of carbon-capping—including signing on to abide by the Kyoto Protocol (both Obama and McCain have indicated they are more committed to addressing climate change policy than Bush)—as well as increased support for wind, solar, hydro-, and geothermal power. The crises of the 21st century require 21st century initiatives.

From the Reuters article on

The reorientation must include U.S. limits on emissions of climate-warming carbon in the United States, [Zoi] said: “Unless we take action at home, we’re not going to be able to have much influence in the international arena about what gets done.”

The Bush administration accepts that human-spurred climate change is a reality but rejects mandatory across-the-board caps on carbon as a disadvantage when competing with fast-growing, big-emitting countries like China and India.

The United States is alone among the major developed countries in staying out of the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol, but is part of international discussions on new targets to fight climate change by the end of 2009 at a meeting in Copenhagen.

Both major U.S. presidential candidates - Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain - favor requiring reductions in greenhouse emissions, and environmental activists have said whoever won the White House in the November 4 elections would be an improvement over President George W. Bush.

“Early Signal” Needed From Next US President

“There is an urgent need for whichever party wins the U.S. election to give an early signal (of an intent to do more to combat global warming) or there cannot be a credible reason for 190 nations to come together in Copenhagen,” said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Development Program.

Rajendra Pachauri, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Price with Gore and who chairs the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said an Obama presidency would probably be more favorable to the fight against climate change.

But he added: “Even if McCain wins, he has been very committed.”

There is little chance of passing a U.S. law to mandate a program to cap and trade carbon emissions before Bush leaves office in January.

However, the first draft of a cap-and-trade bill was released this week by U.S. Democratic Representatives John Dingell of Michigan - home of the Big Three automakers - and Rick Boucher of Virginia - coal-mining country - that is likely to frame debate next year.

The draft legislation drew measured applause from environmental activists, who noted it contains options that could substantially weaken controls on greenhouse emissions from some sectors.

But the fact that these two lawmakers are crafting legislation aimed at curbing climate change indicates a possible change in tone in Washington.

Despite comments from Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor who is McCain’s running-mate, questioning the human causes of global warming, most officials in U.S. government - including Bush - acknowledge that people contribute to the problem.

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