Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Climate Bill At Odds With Copenhagen Developments

The only really useful document coming out of the U N climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this week is a draft of the REDD draft, Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which will be delivered today to leaders of the 200 or so nations participating in the discussions. This draft document sets up a program for paying developing nations for conserving natural assets which reduce accumulations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The payments are to be funded by industries in developed nations who contribute by purchasing offsets for their carbon emissions into the atmosphere. One top U N official, when asked about the status of talks on other issues, gave a disheartening one word response: “Terrible.” U N Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking of the plan to defer conclusion of a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol for another year, said “We do not have another year to deliberate. Nature does not negotiate.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Senators Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins have introduced an alternative to the climate change legislation passed earlier by the House, called CLEAR, for Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal. Directly contrary to the policy emerging in Copenhagen, CLEAR would prohibit American industries from purchasing carbon emission credits based on offsets, such as reforestation or forest conservation in other countries. Under CLEAR, the only trading in emission credits would be permitted among fuel producers, excluding both speculators and energy users from trading in carbon emission credits. The Cantwell/Collins bill would not allow large energy consumers from trading emissions credits as a hedge against rising fuel and power prices. Why is it that some elements in the United States Senate seem to be two steps behind the rest of the world when it comes to twenty first century energy policy?
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