Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big Business, Environmentalists, Global Warming: What A Mess

The following article is from The Boston Globe and describes the activity in Congress over what to do about "global warming". The key players are environmental groups and large corporate interests who stand to benefit from proposed legislation. Note where some businesses think their is money to be made in selling "carbon credits". That explains their motivation. It has nothing to do with a concern for the environment. This is a very high-stakes game.

Interestingly, left out of the loop are scientists, thanks I believe, to the public perception that "the debate is over". The assumption is that yes indeed, man is causing global warming because of carbon dioxide emissions. Of course we're saying here that man is not causing global warming, and that the debate on this subject is far from over. Someone needs to tell our politicians, or we're all going to be "sold down the river".


Unlikely allies advance global warming policy
Environmentalists join industry, and both see progress
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff August 22, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Pushed by an unlikely partnership of corporate leaders and environmentalists, the White House and Congress are now grappling with decisions on global warming unimaginable only a year ago, including whether to implement tough fuel-efficiency standards for motor vehicles, require utilities to buy power from renewable sources, or mandate cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.
Several environmentalists credit their new bedfellows -- business leaders they once lambasted -- for accelerating the agenda toward action this fall, and a showdown between lawmakers and President Bush.

There's no guarantee that any of the issues will be resolved. Despite the flurry of activity, some believe serious action will not happen until the next president takes office in 2009.
Bush, a former Texas oilman, has long opposed controls on greenhouse gas emissions and has threatened to veto the Senate's auto fuel-efficiency standard and the House's requirement that utilities make greater use of renewable energy. Bush prefers to promote biofuels, with a goal of replacing 20 percent of fossil-fuel consumption with alternatives like ethanol by 2020. The president will soon host a summit of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters in hopes of reaching an agreement on cutbacks by the time he leaves office.

But skeptical business leaders do not want to wait that long for a deal. The United States Climate Action Partnership -- a coalition of 25 corporations, including DuPont, General Electric, Detroit's Big Three automakers, three oil companies, and nongovernmental groups such as Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council -- has its own proposal.
It recommends a mandatory carbon cap-and-trade system that would set a target of reducing emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent of today's levels by 2050. In Congress, at least nine pieces of legislation are expected to be debated this fall; almost all call for similar reduction targets.

"To me, this is the defining business issue of our generation," said David Crane, chief executive of coalition member NGR Energy. His company owns power-generating facilities that can bring electricity to some 20 million homes. "It's going to take 50 years to do something about global warming, but we need to start to do something right away."

David Hawkins, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center, said he and other environmentalists have been talking with corporate heads for five years "to get this on their radar screen because of our belief this will happen faster if they are engaged."
No one in the partnership would say the motivation of corporations is solely based on altruism; several have calculated that changes are forthcoming and they would like a hand in setting the policy. Business leaders say a mandatory cutback on greenhouse-gas emissions would help them plan longer-term and could become a moneymaker -- especially a cap-and-trade system in which companies buy and sell credits based on how much pollution they create or eliminate.

There is another underlying perception that any deal might be better now than later, said Vicki Arroyo, director of policy analysis at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "Some members of the business community are coming to the notion that they would prefer to deal with this Congress and this president," she said.

Hawkins said the activity over global warming has been at a furious pace since the White House signaled its intention last year to put the polar bear on the endangered species list. Since then, he said, "political attention to global warming in 100 days was greater than probably any 10-year period."

Among the developments: A United Nations scientific panel found with near certainty that humans have contributed to global warming; Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Oscar; the House formed a committee on global warming, headed by Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat; Democrats held scores of hearings on climate change in Congress; and investor pressure against building coal-powered electricity plants led to TXU Corp., a Texas-based organization, canceling eight of its planned 11 plants.

In coming weeks, Congress will further define the political battles over global warming with the Bush administration as a House-Senate committee tries to resolve two very different energy bills.

Before the August recess, the House OK'd a bill rolling back nearly $16 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies. It also granted a $4,000 tax credit for hybrid car buyers, set new efficiency standards for household appliances, and mandated that utilities use renewable energies as part of their power supplies.

The Senate's bill calls for the auto industry to build a fleet of cars, light trucks, and sport utility vehicles that average 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
It also calls for a sevenfold increase in the use of ethanol by 2022 and requires Detroit to build half of its cars manufactured by 2015 to be fueled by a blend of ethanol and gasoline.
John Donnelly can be reached at


Kira said...

Hi, thanks for calling attention to this issue. I have to correct your impression, though, that the scientists are being forgotten!

At least for those of us at Environmental Defense, the science is the root of everything. We would never advocate a policy without the okay from our staff scientists that it does what it needs to.

And we try to educate people about the science, too. Here's a series of posts from one of our scientists about how much we have to cut carbon pollution:

An analysis like this is behind every policy position we take.

If USCAP members can make money while fighting global warming, that's great because they're more likely to do it. But their profit has to be from meeting environmental goals grounded in strong science.

Peter said...

Thanks for commenting on the article. If you scan through my blog you will see that I do not agree with the premise than man is causing global warming and climate change because of carbon dioxide emissions.

Therefore any attempt to control the climate by limiting CO2 emissions is useless, and to me, an almost criminal waste of effort and money.