On Climate Change, Resignation, Already?


So after much chatter, we are only finally seeing the start of the long climate-change bill fight. Senate Democrats introduced a draft of a climate bill Wednesday that suggests the legislation will include a more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions target than one passed by the House. The New York Times reports:

The measure, sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts, seeks to achieve by 2020 a 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels of carbon dioxide emissions, compared with 17 percent in the House bill, according to the 801-page draft, which circulated on Tuesday. The House and Senate bills both include a long-term target of an 83 percent reduction by 2050.

Reactions are already flowing in thick and fast, with Andrew Revkin musing about the absence of the C-word. The Senate version is called "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act," while the earlier House one is called "American Clean Energy and Security Act" -- in both cases, leaving out any overt reference to "climate". Revkin acknowledges how that word lacks political traction and laments how "the economics of climate legislation still seems to matter more to many people than what a bill would do to limit environmental risk".

The signs are already plain for all to see. A group of 10 moderate Democrats had, in August, warned President Obama they will not support any domestic climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases.

But recent developments suggest the view among American businesses is varied and more monolithic. News of Nike withdrawing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday because of the group's views on climate change capped a dismal week for the Chamber. Nike's departure follows Exelon's announcement on Monday that they are also leaving the group, hot on the heels of the recent departures of California utility PG&E and New Mexico utility PNM.

Still, many remain cautiously optimistic the Senate will pass any climate-change bill in time for Copenhagen in December. At this year's Green Intelligence Forum held earlier this month, Todd Stern sounded resigned healthcare will probably take precedence over climate, but even if the Senate doesn't pass the bill in time, he hopes there would be sufficient progress in negotiations so that he would have some leverage at Copenhagen."

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