New Entrants in Climate Change Debate

February 25th, 2005

Posted by: admin

Author: Kevin Vranes (website. email)

The first shot has been fired in the post- Kyoto-in-effect-for-everybody-else United States. A new package of climate change bills (S.386, 387 and 388) was introduced last week by Senators Hagel, Alexander, Craig, and Dole, all of the R persuasion. Two eye-opening excerpts from Hagel’s floor speech:

“I rise today to introduce three pieces of legislation which I believe can help contribute to a new domestic and international consensus on climate change. This legislation builds upon three principles: the need for shared responsibilities between developed and developing countries; the linkages between environmental, economic, and energy policies; and the employment of greenhouse gas intensity as the best measurement upon which to build an effective climate policy.”

“We all agree on the need for a clean environment and stable climate. The debate is about solutions. The question we face is not whether we should take action, but what kind of action we should take. Climate change initiatives should include commitments to research and development, technology, and a more efficient and productive use of energy and resources.”

Why is this eye opening? For starters, I wonder if Senator Hagel’s press secretary equates “we” with “everybody” or with “the four of us cosponsoring this legislation.” Certainly Senator Inhofe, and many others who like to defer to Mr. Inhofe’s expertise on climate change, would be loathe to agree that “the debate is [now] about solutions.” Sen. Inhofe is still talking about hoaxes.

Since the text of the new bills have not yet been released by the General Printing Office, it is impossible to get into the weeds of the first post-Kyoto foray into U.S. climate policy. But the introduction alone, coupled with Hagel’s floor speech, signals that a group of Republican Senators are willing become proactive in the climate change policy, rather than reactive. It brings a new group of legislators into the debate, already attempting to wield compromise. It takes the biggest R-side knock on Kyoto (“developing countries are excluded from emissions controls at our expense”) head on.

Hagel, Craig, Dole and Alexander all voted against the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act in October 2003, as the bill went down 43-55. During the debate and vote, the word amongst all staffers on the floor was, “my boss is very close to being able to vote for this, it just needs to change a little.” Hagel el al.’s legislation now ensures that at least four Senate R’s are guaranteed to work behind the scenes for passage of a climate change bill.

The introduced legislation was covered by nobody beyond the Southwest Nebraska News and the Lincoln Journal. But if these bills are the first sign that American multinational businesses see the Kyoto train leaving the station without them (credit Steve Schneider) and are putting pressure on their electeds to get on board, much more media coverage is in store for S.386 – 388.

One Response to “New Entrants in Climate Change Debate”

  1. Winds of Change.NET Says:

    New Energy Currents: 2005-03-18

    Kyoto is one month old, and we’re no closer to figuring out a masterplan to solve the world’s ginormous energy problems – not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, at this point. With all the…