July 9, 2004

Climate Stewardship Act

The Climate Stewardship Act (S.139), sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), failed in the U.S. Senate on October 30, 2003, by a vote of 43-55. The sponsors have committed to fighting to bring the bill back up for a vote in 2004 and as many times as needed until it passes. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representatives Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) and John Olver (D-Mass.) on March 30, 2004.

The legislation would cap producers of 85% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions at 2000 levels, starting in 2010. And it would set up a market for trading emissions allowances.

The Climate Network lists 10 reasons to support the legislation, but all of them are statements of the problem and statements of support rather than evidence that the legislation would help to solve anything. I comment on a couple . . .
4) a) Coalitions of major U.S. corporations, including Maytag, Honeywell, Trane, GE Wind Energy, American Gas Association, and others who manufacture cleaner technologies, support the Act’s market-based emissions trading system. The system encourages innovation and will help U.S. industry be a leader in the $20 trillion global market for energy technologies over the next 20 years.
A "carbon trading" system does not reduce carbon emissions. It simply allows carbon producers to buy "indulgences." The "green" producers are not reducing emissions but in fact supporting them. The artificial market creates a new source of profits for energy producers as well as a justification for raising prices without actually having to take any measures for the public good.
9) Farmers & Ranchers Support the Act -- The National Farmers Union supports the Act, which creates a new source of income for farmers through a carbon “sequestration” market that rewards environmentally beneficial farming, ranching, and forestry. The Act includes additional incentives for biofuels and wind power. Farms and ranches are exempt from emissions control requirements under the Act.
So farms and ranches will be at the forefront of carbon reduction but are exempt from emission controls. Forgive me, but that doesn't make sense. It is in keeping, however, with the idea that the scheme is not about reducing carbon so much as creating a way for polluters to continue polluting and to make more profits doing so.