Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room.
Newsweek‘s cover story on the presidential candidates and global warming quotes UC Berkeley energy professor Dan Kammen, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)’s presidential campaign:
It’s unusual to have a Republican candidate who openly disagrees with the Bush administration on the need for capping carbon emissions. There’s more disagreement with the current administration than with each other.
The idea that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is closer to the Democratic candidates running for president than he is to the president is popular with the political elite. Joe Klein similarly said “McCain’s distance from George W. Bush seems greater than from the Democrats” on foreign policy issues like global warming. What McCain says he wants to do about global warming certainly sounds better than what the Bush administration has accomplished.
A look at the facts paints a different picture:
- Like Bush, McCain’s global warming talk is good — both speaking in generalities about needing to be “good stewards” and get “serious” about climate change.
- Like Bush, Candidate McCain is drenched in ties to Big Oil — McCain’s campaign is run by lobbyists for Saudi Arabia and energy companies, and McCain has repeatedly blocked attempts to roll back subsidies for Big Oil.
- Like Bush, McCain uses China and India as an excuse for inaction — When asked about global warming policy, both Sen. McCain and Bush say that India and China have to participate in a global agreement — ignoring the fact that unlike the United States, both countries are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, the rest of the industrialized world is not making excuses — they’ve set to work.
McCain shares much with Bush. McCain’s one significant difference, played up by his supporters, is his call for a cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions. But McCain’s vision of how such a system would work — despite the words of Kammen and Klein — is starkly different from that of the Democratic candidates. There are three core guidelines by which global warming policy should be judged:
- Does it meet scientific principles?
- Does it make polluters pay?
- Does it promote social equity?
Sen. Clinton has released a detailed global warming plan, as has Sen. Obama. Both follow the above guidelines, calling for 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, supporting 100% auction of pollution allowances, and prioritizing investment in green jobs and helping low-income households.
On the other hand, McCain has failed to release any clear global warming policy, and his economic and health care plans are designed for the benefit of millionaires and giant corporations at the expense of everyone else. However, McCain’s people have made it clear he does have one bedrock principle when it comes to global warming policy: “He wants to see the use of nukes.“