Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gave a rather good speech today here at the U.N. climate summit, is famously attempting to cut California's greenhouse-gas emissions. Now come accusations that the White House is behind a lobbying effort to get the U.S. EPA to reject Schwarzenegger's plan to regulate GHGs from cars and trucks. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, got wind of the situation. Writes Jesse Lee in "The Gavel," Speaker Pelosi's blog: Chairman Waxman has obtained internal e-mails which show that Transportation Secretary Mary Peters personally directed a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign approved by the White House to oppose EPA approval of California's landmark standards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
Bush may be hosting a climate summit this week, but "what he will not do, officials said, is chart any shift in policies." Specifically, the Washington Post reports: Top Bush administration officials said the president is not planning to alter his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gases or to stray from his emphasis on promoting new technologies, especially for nuclear power and for the storage of carbon dioxide produced by coal plants. This is straight from the Frank Luntz playbook on how to seem like you care about the climate when you don't: Technology, technology, technology. Yada. Yada. Yada. Delay, delay, delay.
Here at today's U.N. Climate Summit in New York, everyone seems to agree that bringing America into a leadership role on climate change is a necessary condition for forestalling the climate change crisis. From my perspective, then, the success or failure of this summit should be judged by its ability to make progress on that front. We've heard from -- among others -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Federal Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer, both of whom delivered passionate speeches about the pressing need for mitigation but without really explaining why countries (and America in particular) are hesitant to mitigate their emissions or how to upend that hesitance. We've heard about California's inspiring example, without hearing how crucial it is for that example to influence the greater United States. And on and on.
Bush is blowing off the U.N. climate meeting happening this week, choosing instead to focus on his parallel international climate meetings. I ask you to savor the multiple absurdities embedded in this paragraph in the …
Sunday night, I along with some other writers attended a U.N. Foundation dinner designed to bring the U.N.'s climate change directors into better contact with members of the online media. As far as accomplishing that goal, I suppose the dinner was a huge success. I and other members of the online media came into contact with some important employees of the U.N.! As to bringing American political writers and U.N. officials to a common understanding of the political problems of climate change, it was frustratingly unproductive. The evening started out quietly enough. The guests of honor were Yvo de Boer, executive director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program (or Programme, if you prefer). For a while we all exchanged banal pleasantries: They wanted to better understand online media and blogger outreach, and we told them a bit about it; we asked them what to expect at Monday's big U.N. climate meeting, and they provided answers. Everybody enjoyed the free food. About halfway through the evening, though, Nuttall, a British journalist cum climate advocate with a gentle disposition, grew a bit agitated about what he regarded as the other guests' insouciant approach to the issue at hand. That's where progress slowed.
I channel surf (I'm a guy). I find something of interest and as soon as a commercial hits, I move on. I landed on Keith Olbermann's show, Countdown, just as he was launching into Bush. I sat there shaking my head in awe. When Olbermann lets loose, he is intelligent, courageous, and articulate -- the polar opposite of Glenn Beck, the smarmy bobblehead clown who also has a show that attempts to mix humor with news. One show is funny, the other comical. There's a difference. One show is for smart guys, the other for dummies. Everybody is covered. Here's Olbermann: Here's Beck, doing what he does best (from earlier this year). If television had existed when Darwin published The Origin of Species, Beck would have been right there poking fun at a man who claimed we were descended from monkeys. The intellectual chasm is vast:
Yesterday I went through a day-long fast for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, a day of atonement, and the climax of the Days of Awe. We Jews usually start to get hungry by the afternoon. So it's worthwhile to remember that Ted Glick was likely really hungry in Day 18 of his fast to solve the climate crisis, something probably even more important to God than the condition of our souls. Check out this video from Ted on Day 17:
Pardon the weekend detour away from green issues, but this is one of the more remarkable pieces of video I’ve seen in years, and I wanted to share it. See here for the backstory. It’s …
This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. How fearsome must the headlines be about tomorrow before people change their ways today? -- Nancy Gibbs, TIME In Greenland today, the ice is thawing at a pace that is alarming climate scientists. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., Congress remains frozen on the issue of carbon pricing. And that may be a good thing. Carbon pricing, as most readers of Gristmill know, is the idea that some portion of the costs of greenhouse-gas emissions should be reflected in the price consumers pay for carbon-intensive fuels. The energy that is causing global climate change would cost more than the energy that isn't, and the marketplace would become the ally of climate stabilization. There are two schemes on the table. The first is a carbon tax -- simple, straightforward and, according to conventional wisdom, political suicide. The second approach is carbon trading. Carbon emissions would be capped; polluters would buy and sell emission permits. Carbon trading is more complex and would take longer to make a difference, but because it is not a tax, it appears to be the favored approach in Congress. Several cap-and-trade bills have been introduced in Congress, some setting tougher goals than others. The word on the street is that the leading bill will be proposed soon by Senators Warner and Lieberman. It reportedly will call for a 15 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, compared to current levels. Therein lies the rub. Is the glass (of melted ice) half empty or half full?
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