Thursday, November 5, 2009

Boxer’s Committee Reports Out Climate Change Bill, Hopes For Copenhagen Conference Dim

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chaired by Barbara Boxer reported out the Kerry/Boxer climate change legislation on a vote 0f 11-1, with none of the Republican members in attendance. The lone Democrat voting against the bill was Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who strongly opposes the bill’s 20% greenhouse gas emission requirement. Baucus’ opposition to the bill will make it difficult to secure passage in a floor vote.

The 950 page legislative measure must still be pieced together with the work product of five other Senate committees having some sort of jurisdiction over global warming and greenhouse gas emission legislation, and a floor vote in the Senate looks unlikely before next year.

State Department Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern holds out little hope of any significant action on an international climate change treaty at the Copenhagen conference coming up next month. The current treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. refused to ratify, expires in a little over a year. Noting that developing nations see carbon emissions as a problem created by developed economies, and worry that their own economic growth will be suppressed by a climate change agreement restricting their emissions, Stern said “The mentality that looks at the world through those lenses will not produce results.”

Nevertheless, in the absence of US action establishing a basis for belief that the economies of the first world are willing to negotiate in good faith, there is little chance that anything will come out of Copenhagen beyond a calendar for future talks.
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