McCain talks climate change

Today, presidential-hopeful John McCain stood amid towering wind turbines in Portland, Oregon to talk about climate change. After eight years of the current administration’s policy to dodge, dance, and downright sabotage action to prevent global warming, it’s as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot day to hear the Republican Party candidate speak candidly about the problem.

“Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge…

“I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges.”

But McCain went beyond rhetoric and laid out a plan of action. He proposes a cap-and-trade scheme that will limit greenhouse gas emissions to sixty percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. As a point of comparison, climate scientists say we must reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, a warning heeded in both Senator Obama and Clinton’s climate change strategies.

McCain’s plan nixes the much-debated ‘safety valve’ that would allow companies to buy extra carbon allowances, effectively breaking the cap. It also allocates carbon allowances to emitters for free, a policy most environmentalists reject. He supports carbon offsets as an initial route to compliance.

The president of the League of Conservation Voters issued the following statement in reaction to McCain's speech today.

"He is right to call for investments in new alternative forms of energy but it is troubling that he continues to support taxpayer subsidies for a mature industry like nuclear which has yet to resolve its waste disposal problem. It would be far more cost-effective to invest in renewable energy like the wind energy plant he is visiting today. Better still would be a call for a renewable electricity standard, something he has voted against time and time again."

We couldn’t agree more, and look forward to five months of feisty debates about these issues. But it’s worth pausing to note that at long last the conversation has moved beyond doubting global warming to doing something about it.


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Issue 25

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