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.
Bush is no climate magician. He will not be pulling a rabbit out of a hat this week. Bush has nothing up his sleeve — you can’t solve the climate problem without mandatory limits.
James Connaughton, head of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality, said Bush’s goal is to aim for a “solid handoff to the next president, regardless of party.” Yeah, just like Iraq. Run out the clock.
The article did offer one (bizarre) new line of argument — why the administration opposes a cap-and-trade system:
The White House will oppose anything that would “make Granny pay 20 percent more for electricity” if that money were to “go to pay for more efficiency in China,” Connaughton said, questioning whether “a woman on fixed income in Ohio should pay for carbon dioxide reductions in the oil sector.”
Now that is world-class doubletalk. First off, this gets the point of trading exactly backwards. If there are cheap tons to be purchased in China, then that avoids the need to jack up Granny’s electric bill. And as for domestic trading, “a woman on fixed income in Ohio” would not and should not “pay for carbon dioxide reductions in the oil sector.” Connaughton has got that backwards, too — the oil sector would typically pay Granny to use her electricity more efficiently, or possibly to buy green power.
But in any case, this is just an argument for auctioning the permits and using the revenues to lower Granny’s taxes, so that on net, if her electricity does become more expensive — and her utility does not help her become more efficient — her net costs will still be zero.
It will be sad if the U.S. media gives Bush any positive media coverage for this “summit.” This is no summit. It is a nadir — the rock bottom in cynicism.