Now that the big Copenhagen climate talks are over, where does the U.S. go from here on passing a federal climate change bill?
While a debate rages on whether Copenhagen was a net positive or negative, there are some strong feelings being expressed, mostly negative. Plenty of blame goes around.
Several competing measures now await Congress as the focus of global climate change activists shifts back to the U.S. Many observers feel the new Kerry-Leiberman-Graham framework introduced in the Senate and unveiled in Copenhagen is a step backwards. Along with setting too low of targets, environmentalists are staunchly opposed to interfering with the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The New York Times urges Congress to follow the lead of state such as California, especially when it comes to setting energy efficiency standards for gadgets such as TV, refrigerators and other power hungry consumer goods.
Some organizations, including many mainstream environmental groups, claim passing any sort of bill is a victory. Others, including environmental justice groups and even oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron, are hoping for a new start and a new approach, including the imposition of a carbon tax or perhaps the “cap and dividend” approach contained in the Cantwell/Collins legislation. Even the Wall Street Journal – hardly a bastion of support for the imposition of new government taxes — raises the possibility that current political dynamics in the nation’s capitol could set the stage for this shift in strategy.
However, French courts recently rejected a carbon tax in that socialized country. This was a major blow to President Sarkozy’s plan to combat global climate change. The move also raises questions about the viability of a carbon tax approach in the US and elsewhere around the world.