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Green Talking Points: Greens speak out on Obama’s plans for carbon emissions trading, US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

Green Party leaders today offered critical comments on President Obama’s recently announced plans for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, and escalation of troop levels in Afghanistan.

• MORE TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN  The Green Party opposes President Obama’s plan to send 17,000 more US troops to Afghanistan and his request for increased military spending.

The results of the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan have so far been widespread civilian casualties from air attacks, massive physical destruction, the fracturing of the country under different ethnic and religious leaders, and the reemergence of the Taliban.  Greens said that the troop escalation would very likely lead to greater anti-American sentiment and less chance for security and a better life for the Afghan people.  Green Party leaders said that regional problems were more likely to be resolved through diplomacy and international cooperation, and that the 9/11 attacks required international investigation and prosecution, given numerous unanswered questions about the attacks (http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2006_09_11.shtml).

See also “Greens call for US troop withdrawal on the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan,” press release, October 15, 2007 (http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_10_15.shtml). 

• TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ  The Green Party called Mr. Obama’s plan to call home many (not all) US troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010 a minimal and probably ineffectual step towards ending the war.

“President Obama’s intention to leave a residual force of between 35,000 and 50,000 troops and permanent US bases in Iraq indicates that the occupation won’t really end, and that the Obama White House, like the last administration, wants to protect US corporate interests in Iraq, namely oil,” said Mark Dunlea, former chair of the Green Party of New York State.

“The illegal US invasion of Iraq, based on a litany of deceptions, has resulted in the destruction of the country and deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, as well as over 4,000 US troops.  The only acceptable order from President Obama is one calling home all US military personnel and contractors immediately, to give the Iraqi people the chance to rebuild without interference,” added Jody Grage, founder of Seattle’s Nonviolent Peacekeeper Pool and treasurer of the Green Party of the United States.

Green Party leaders said that a quick withdrawal of US troops, combined with a reduction in military funding, would also free up hundreds of billions of dollars in funding that could help jumpstart the suffering US economy.
• CAP-AND-TRADE ENERGY PLAN  After the Clinton and Bush administrations refused to take minimal steps to confront climate change, at least the Obama administration has offered modest plans and intends to seek a new post-Kyoto international treaty.  However, given scientists’ recent warnings of accelerated warming, Greens oppose carbon emissions trading schemes such as the one proposed by President Obama, asserting that permits for polluting companies to trade emission permits are ineffective at curbing global climate change.

“The failure of emissions trading in Europe over the past three years proves cap-and-trade plans are full of loopholes, are vulnerable to widespread abuse, and threaten the air quality in communities near industries that buy credits.  The solution must involve drastic cuts in greenhouse gases, reduction of fossil fuel consumption (especially car traffic), carbon taxes, energy conservation, and new jobs in conservation, retrofitting, and cultivation of safe, clean energy sources.  There is no way to solve the global warming crisis without profound changes to our economy and way of life,” said Budd Dickinson, energy engineer and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

The Green Party has offered a set of ‘First 100 Days’ action for the new administration (http://www.gp.org/committees/ecoaction/documents/First_100_Days.pdf).  Green Parties throughout the world have urged developed countries to commit to domestic reductions of at least 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, in comparison with 1990 emission levels, and support conversion to a “low or zero carbon society.”  (“Global Greens, representing 70 Green Parties and Green groups, issue declaration on reduction of greenhouse gases,” Green Party press release, December 7, 2007, http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_12_07.shtml).

See also: “Britain’s big polluters accused of abusing EU’s carbon trading scheme,” The Guardian, 27 January 2009 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jan/27/industry-abusing-ets-carbon-trading), and “Smoke alarm: EU shows carbon trading is not cutting emissions,” The Guardian, April 3, 2007 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/apr/03/carbonemissions.environment).

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