The Debate over Emissions

Coming Into Focus Ahead of COP-15

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted October 24, 2009

Welcome to Green Chip Review's Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in everything renewable and cleantech, as well as links to our most-read Green Chip Review and sister publication articles.  

The debate over emissions is coming clearly into focus ahead of the December COP-15 meeting.

This week at the October meeting of the Business Council (a group of executives from the 120 biggest U.S. businesses), PG&E CEO Peter Darbee was quoted saying:

No one among the group was arguing the science of climate change. That debate, at least in that forum, appears to be over. The discussion was really about, 'climate change is happening, it is a challenge of vast proportions and it will require an effort on the part of mankind to respond to this challenge.'

Support for emissions regulation also resurfaced in Congress this week. . .

Reuters reported, "The White House is encouraged by progress on a climate change bill in the U.S. Senate and is working to advance it even if a December deadline passes."


Just to recap:

The House passed a climate and energy bill in June. And similar legislation is currently being debated in Senate committee. Senator Barbara Boxer is still claiming she'll have it to the floor by December.

But as I've been saying. . . don't hold your breath. There is still much opposition to regulating emissions. . . even if the opposition is political and partisan.

Senator McCain has been very vocal about his reservations. He was quoted this week saying no progress has been made, while claiming that Democrats are beholden to environmentalists.

I didn't know the CEOs of the 120 largest companies in the U.S. were "environmentalists." I think it's more likely they just want clear policy instead of murky debate.

And the climate debate, in my opinion, couldn't get any murkier. . .

Case in point: The Government Accountability Office this week released a report urging the White House to prepare now for climate change. It called for Congress, along with state and local governments, to "develop a national strategic plan that will guide the nation's efforts to adapt to a changing climate."

On the same day, a Pew poll was released showing "57 percent of Americans see 'solid evidence of warming,' compared to 71 percent in April 2008, and 77 percent in August 2007."

This presents an honest question: How can elected officials be expected to pass a measure to combat a problem that a growing proportion of their constituency believes doesn't exist?

I suggest framing the debate purely in terms of energy. That data set is much less susceptible to manipulation by politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists.

Of course, whether providing solutions for climate change or for energy independence. . . cleantech comes out a winner.

Expect more on recent solar and electric vehicle developments next week, and catch up on all of this week's coverage below.

Enjoy your weekend,



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