|US Lawmakers Defend Cap-and-Trade Plan|
By Andrew Donoghue
February 4, 2009
Climate change tax rejected in favour of tested cap-and-trade plan
The committee charged with developing the US
government's plan to tackle climate change has claimed that the country's
approach must be consistent with the rest of the world.
Speaking at an event to announce the proposals underpinning the bill this week,
Senator Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee responded to questions about why a green tax wasn't being proposed by
claiming that cap-and-trade was the best way to proceed.
"I don't agree with those economists who say a tax is the best way," she said.
"We have done cap-and-trade before and it has worked really well in that fight
against acid rain. The world is doing cap-and-trade so we need to be consistent."
In a speech that was careful to make overtures to the private sector at a time
when US companies are struggling, Boxer said that it made more sense for
industry to decide the true price of carbon.
"I also like the notion of the private sector putting a price on carbon. I would
prefer that rather than having us do it," she said.
Boxer added that the committee was aiming to pass the bill onto congress in
weeks rather than months.
"We are not sitting back waiting for some magic moment – we are ready to go, " she said.
The overall aim is to have the bill as fully formed as possible before a major
international meeting in Copenhagen in December.
"Copenhagen is in December and that is why I said we will have the bill out of
this committee by the end of the year," added Boxer.
The two primary goals of the legislation, according to Boxer, are to reduce
global warming gas emissions while promoting economic growth and energy independence.
The key principles underpinning the legislation announced at the meeting
included commitments to:
• Reduce emissions to levels guided by science
• Set short- and long-term emission goals that our certain and enforceable
• Ensure that state and local entities are involved in pioneering efforts to
reduce global warming
• Preparing an accountable market-based system which efficiently reduces carbon
• Use revenues from the carbon market to keep consumers whole as the US
transitions to clean energy
• Invest in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency
• Work with the international community including faith leaders to support
developing nations in responding and adapting to global warming.
The committee made several references to the idea that climate change wouldn't
only be punitive but would help to stimulate the economy.
"We believe that we will create millions of green jobs if this is done," said
Boxer. "We all understand the urgent need for action and we also understand this
is a great way to reinvigorate our economy."
Although she was pushed by reporters to provide some idea of the numbers that
would underpin the proposed carbon cap-and-trade scheme, Boxer said that the
committee would be listening to scientific advice over the coming weeks.
"We believe that science will guide us period. We are guided by science," she
said. "We will be having updates from scientists. There are scientists that say
X, scientists that say Y. We want to get everyone's opinion and then we will
make a call on what the consensus is."
But despite being led by science, the committee is also including religious
leaders in the climate change debate. Boxer introduced Reverend Jim Ball,
president and chief executive officer of the Evangelical Environment Network, to
pledge his support for the bill.
"Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment in the law," he said. " What
are our lives supposed to be about? And He said, 'We are supposed to love God
and love our neighbours as we love ourselves', and today part of that means
addressing and overcoming global warming. We shall overcome this issue as well.
Making reference to carbon-capping legislation that was defeated in congress
last year, Boxer claimed that the committee had learned a lot from that
experience and wouldn't be making the same mistakes.
"We learned a lot of lessons. We knew we didn't have 60 votes. We wanted to test
the waters," she said. "A lot of the people who voted against us are no longer
here and are replaced by the people standing behind me."
It is only good to use a tested plan if the plan has been shown to work. Europe
has felt the costs of carbon cap-and-trade while seeing none of the much-touted
benefits. The "green" jobs have not materialized, and the old jobs are packing
out. In short, it doesn't work.
Insanity: the idea that doing the same thing again will have a different effect.