Andy Revkin has written a very fair-minded New York Times piece, "On Global Warming, McCain and Obama Agree: Urgent Action Is Needed." He notes:
Both candidates say that human-caused climate change is real and urgent, and that they would sharply diverge from President Bush’s course by proposing legislation requiring sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury.
Such rare agreement has both industry and environmental groups expecting a big shift, no matter who is elected, on three fronts where the United States has been largely static for eight years: climate legislation, expansion of nonpolluting energy sources and leadership in global talks on fashioning a new climate treaty.
But, he notes a change after McCain’s early leadership on climate change:
But in recent weeks he has taken heat from some environmental activists for statements on the stump implying that he might not seek mandatory emission cuts. His campaign has not said how the ailing economy would affect his climate agenda. …
Mr. McCain would also initially allow businesses to meet all their emission targets either directly or by buying a kind of credit, called an offset, generated by, say, a landowner who can prove fields or trees are sopping up a certain tonnage of carbon dioxide or a business that can prove an investment avoided emissions that would otherwise have happened. His Web site says the fraction of emission reductions allowed through offsets "would decline over time," but offers no specifics. Calls and e-mail messages to the McCain campaign were not answered.
Then Revkin gets to the headline quote:
Joseph Romm, a physicist who writes the ClimateProgress.org blog and is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a nonprofit research group generally aligned with Democrats, said that Mr. McCain "has provided ample evidence in the last year or so that he is not serious about clean energy and he has increasingly walked away from the climate issue."
Many others share a similar view, as Revkin notes:
The League of Conservation Voters gave him the lowest possible score for his voting record in 2007 on subsidies or spending for renewable energy. Environmental bloggers derided his choice of running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, who has questioned whether global warming is caused by human activity and who elicits chants of "drill, baby, drill" on the stump for her support of oil drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. …
Van Jones, an environmental activist from Oakland, Calif., and the author of "The Green Collar Economy," has criticized Mr. McCain as the vanguard of a new movement with an environmental veneer but bad intentions.
"The climate deniers got chased out of town, but in their place you’ve got the rise of the Dirty Greens," he said in a recent interview. These are "people saying ‘I’m for solar, wind, geothermal, but I’m also for tar sands, coastal drilling.’"
… When addressing energy on the campaign trail, Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin have tended to focus on expanding supplies of fossil fuels even as they mention the need for solar panels, tapping geothermal energy and the like. They call this an "all of the above" strategy.
One of Mr. McCain’s main talking points on nonpolluting energy sources is a promise to build 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030.
Energy specialists say that is a difficult goal because of the high cost — one estimate is that each plant would cost $10 billion — and unresolved questions about where to store nuclear waste. Another issue is the lack of American expertise in building such plants after decades of opposition.
The piece is also worth reading for the discussion of Obama’s energy/climate policies and how the current economic and political situation may impact his ability to deliver on them.