The US begins to awaken from its slumber.

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OK, the US hasn’t exactly caught fire in its sudden enthusiasm for deals on a Climate Bill but, it’s a hell of a lot better than what we had seen before, which was nothing before Bush lost control of Congress. Here is a summary of a NY Times article explaining the onslaught of Climate Bills about to be thrown at Congress;

Four major Democratic bills have been announced, with more expected. One of these measures, or a blend of them, stands an excellent chance of passage in this Congress or the next, industry and environmental lobbyists said in interviews.

Many events have combined to create the new direction — forsythia blooming in lawmakers’ gardens in January, polar bears lacking the ice they need to hunt and Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” along with pragmatic executives seeking an idea of future costs and, especially, the arrival of a Democratic-controlled Congress. There was evidence of the changed mood all over Washington this week.

One sign of the Democrats’ determination to move on climate bills occurred when a Democratic Congressional aide confirmed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to create a special committee on climate. On Wednesday featured executives of the heavily regulated electric utility industry embracing Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, both Democrats. The senators were offering separate bills to add regulations, including a cap on carbon dioxide emissions.

The various proposals cover among others;

1. Cap on emissions & carbon trading
2. Nuclear subsidies
3. Clean technologies R&D
4. Cleaner fuels investment (e.g. bioethanol)

There are currently 4 Bills with different scenarios. See the NY Times graphic.

Full article here. You may have to look at a small ad before being allowed to see the article … something about American teenagers dieing of pharmaceutical overdoses.

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9 Responses to The US begins to awaken from its slumber.

  1. Dave On Fire says:

    Does this really represent a sea change in policy, or just in rhetoric? Often politicians seem to think that talking about the environment is enough. Here in Britain, for example, we now have a prominent environment minister and politicians of all parties love to talk green, but little progress is actually being made.
    The pretty graphs aren’t enough without the legislation to back them up. Just wait, before any of these bills is made law another will be proposed as an easy alternative, that sounds green but makes no real difference.

  2. inel says:

    Even a change in rhetoric is a good sign. Any positive tendency is worth remarking on. Here in Britain we are good at complaining (I am a Brit) and hope ministers, police and “the powers that be” will sort the world out for us. I have hope that our younger generation will be more actively engaged in community and global issues and I, for one, will support their positive actions.

    As I write this comment, my husband just handed me an advert by Vattenfall (a Swedish energy company) in this week’s The Economist that reads:

    EMPTY WORDS JUST ADD CARBON DIOXIDE

    which is, by sheer coincidence, on-topic. Vattenfall present a global survey of climate measures and have a new website designed “to encourage as broad and open discussion as possible” on a Global Climate Abatement Map. Worth checking.

    And on another positive note, I just found this Campus Climate Challenge, Matt, which shows what high school students can do (especially with an incentive from the likes of MTV) to turn their schools into leaders in clean energy and efficiency.

    All in all, I do think the US is awakening from its slumber, and will not fall back to sleep once it has woken up to the climate challenge ahead! I remain optimistic.

  3. matt says:

    Yes, it all takes time. My little boy of 3 has recycling on his radar already. Having such ‘policies’ within everyone’s daily routine (in all parts of society) needs to be as normal as cleaning one’s teeth.

  4. matt says:

    Hi inel,

    I agree with your optimistic outlook. Pessimism doesn’t help anyone engage with the issue(s) at hand. A good dollop of cynicism helps to keep one’s guard though!

    I’ll check out your links & get back to you. 🙂

  5. Dave On Fire says:

    Matt,
    I certainly don’t want to appear defeatist or overly pessimistic! I think that individuals, businesses and governments can still make a big difference to global warming, and I agree that even small steps in the right direction should be applauded and encouraged.
    If I’m suspicious of rhetoric and tokenism, it’s exactly because I worry that they stop people for engaging with the issue. Take carbon offsets, for example; they have a small positive effect in funding reforestation and investment in renewable energy, but this is more than offset (hehe, see what I did there) by the fact that it stops people from thinking seriously about the impact their flights have on the environment.
    Good luck with your kid’s recycling, anyway

  6. matt says:

    Yeah, there is a lot of tokenism out there. Middle class hippies have been doing it for decades now. Business people are perfectly capable of doing the same! But at least there are plenty of organisations & individuals out there watching the policy makers every move.

    There has without doubt been a sea-change over the last 12 months I think, with many minds grappling with environmental policy & many more questioning their logic. In other words the debate has moved away from environmentalists and into public life …. at last, because it ain’t going to be solved any other way.

  7. Dave On Fire says:

    Absolutely! The Greens are often pretty useless, and even when they aren’t it’s easy to tar them all with the same brush.
    I still reckon there’s a place for environmental activism, if only to keep the public from losing focus. There are still, and always will be, a lot of vested interests out there.

  8. matt says:

    Environmental activism is even more important now but in some ways its remit has widened and it requires dealing more closely with institutions, something the big ‘green’ NGOs have realised for some time. WWF, Greenpeace & FOE among others all sit on multi-disiplinary boards or groups. Call it stakeholder representation or whatever but, basically the public don’t trust an organisation overseeing stewardship of a resource unless an environmental NGO is on the board. That’s a significant change but it does put a lot onto the shoulders of the NGO & such a board still needs to be monitored by the rest of us.

  9. matt says:

    inel, I finally got back to your links. The ‘Global Climate Abatement Map’ is easy to understand and it’s nice to have the visuals. The ‘Campus Climate Challenge’ site looks like a good idea for campuses across the US to link up and gain information & support to ‘green’ their sites. Had a look a few campuses to see what they’re doing & it’s certainly a start. Thanks for that.

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