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Greens: Kerry-Boxer climate change bill is an ‘armful of retreats & compromises’

Green Party leaders criticized the Kerry-Boxer draft “cap and trade” climate change bill in the US Senate, calling it dangerously inadequate as evidence mounts that global warming is advancing more rapidly than scientists believed a few years ago.

“While Democrats are calling the Kerry-Boxer bill ambitious and far-reaching, the proposed legislation doesn’t come close to what we need to do now to halt the destruction of our future,” said Wes Rolley, co-chair of the Green Party’s EcoAction Committee.  “When President Obama goes to the UN Climate Change Summit, he needs to show up with real solutions to cut CO2 emissions and lower energy consumption, not with an armful of Kerry-Boxer retreats and compromises.”

A recent UN report warned that the earth is likely to heat up more than 2 degrees Celsius, which could lead to a global catastrophe (http://www.unep.org/compendium2009/PDF/Compendium2009_fullreport.pdf), while the UN Environment Program recently forecast a rise in temperature as high as 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the century’s end (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/24/AR2009092402602.html).  The 2009 UN Climate Change Summit will take place December 7 to 18 in Copenhagen (http://en.cop15.dk).

“The White House and Congress have the opportunity to lead the world in an immediate, intense, and concerted effort to prevent global warming and future wars over dwindling fresh water and other resources.  Unfortunately, they’re retreating from the most important measures required in such an effort.  They’re doing so out of deference to corporate lobbies,” said Mr. Rolley.

Greens said that the bill would only cut emissions by 7% below 1990 levels by 2020, contrary to a recommendation from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that developed countries, including the US, must reduce emissions by 25%, i.e., by 40% below 1990 levels, by 2020.

Greens also warned that the bill would subsidize costly, dangerous, and false alternative energy sources.  Nuclear power is a proven security risk and threat to the environment.  Carbon capture creates a new kind of pollution through the disposal of carbon ‘washed’ from coal and allows coal companies to continue destroying and poisoning landscapes in states like West Virginia through mountaintop removal.

The bill also creates a new and virtually unregulated commodities market, a huge risk in light of the recent economic crisis, which was caused by the repeal of laws regulating major financial institutions.  The European Union’s underregulated approach to carbon credits has already proven a failure in the effort to reduce CO2 emissions.

Cap and trade is a loophole for polluters to keep polluting. In many instances, emissions trading encourages greenhouse gas emissions, because it allows companies with low pollution to sell their conservation credits to the highest bidders, giving top polluters a license to maintain or increase pollution levels.  The Kerry-Boxer bill’s offset loopholes, including deals for methane capture in coal mines, gas pipelines, and landfills, will allow even more emissions.

The Green Party calls for bans on new coal fired-power plants, new nuclear power plants (with early retirement of current nuclear reactors), and all mountaintop coal removal.  The party endorses a reduction by 90% of mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2012, targeted carbon taxes, investment in renewable noncarbon-based energy technology, and reduction of CO2 and SO2 emissions by 80% by 2020.

“We need a reorganization of the US economy that will create millions of new jobs in conversion to safe clean energy, conservation, and expansion of public transportation to replace car traffic,” said Cam Gordon, Green candidate for reelection to the Minneapolis City Council in Ward 2 (http://www.camgordon.org).  “Our children and grandchildren are depending on us not to bargain away their future.”

See also the Green Party’s press release on the House bill, “Greens give a thumbs-down to the House energy bill, urge Obama and the Senate to pass stronger anti-global warming legislation” (July 15, 2009, http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=235).


“Greens: Obama and Congress are wrong on ‘clean coal’, nuclear energy, and emissions trading”
Green Party press release, May 20, 2009

“Time for Plan B: Cutting Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2020”
By Lester R. Brown et al., Earth Policy Institute

One Response

  1. I agree with Cam Gordon’s comments above. Instead of wasting time and money into a piece of legislation that does not provide any clear answer to the environmental crisis, we need to be focusing on creating tens of thousands of jobs for those currently out of work. We need to tackle one problem at a time instead of proposing legislation that seeks to try to fix one problem while causing a host of other significant problems. Sadly, this bill is now in the hands of our Senators. However, you can let your Senators know how you feel. Visit http://tiny.cc/pxIgi

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