Thursday, December 20, 2007

Disappointments on Climate.

Disappointments on Climate. Editorial, The New York Times, December 17, 2007. "A week that could have brought important progress on climate change ended in disappointment. In Bali... America's negotiators were in full foot-dragging mode, acting as spoilers rather than providing the leadership the world needs. In Washington, caving to pressures from the White House, the utilities and the oil companies, the Senate settled for a merely decent energy bill instead of a very good one... The news from Bali was particularly disheartening. The delegates... received vague assurances from China... and other emerging powers that they would seek 'measurable, reportable and verifiable' emissions cuts. From the U.S. the delegates got nothing, except a promise to participate in the forthcoming negotiations. Even prying that out of the Bush administration required enormous effort. Despite pleas from their European allies, the Americans flatly rejected the idea of setting even provisional targets for reductions in greenhouse gases. And they refused to give what the rest of the world wanted most: an unambiguous commitment to reducing America's own emissions. Without that, there is little hope that other large emitters, including China, will change their ways. There is some consolation in knowing that the energy bill approved last week included... the first significant improvement in automobile mileage standards in more than 30 years... [but] the bill would have had much greater impact if the Senate had not killed two important provisions opposed by the White House and its big industrial contributors... The decision to maintain the [$12 billion in] tax breaks [to oil companies] was particularly shameful. Blessed by $90-a-barrel oil, the companies are rolling in profits, and there is no evidence to support the claim that they need these breaks to be able to explore for new resources. Yet the White House had the gall to argue that the breaks are necessary to protect consumers at the pump, and the Senate was craven enough to go along. This Senate will have another chance to provide the American leadership the world needs on climate change. An ambitious bipartisan bill aimed at cutting America's greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by mid-century has been approved by a Senate committee and may come to the floor next year. Though the bill is far from perfect and will provoke intense debate, it could offer a measure of redemption for the administration's embarrassing failure in Bali."

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