Sunday, February 25, 2007

Climate Politics in the US

The US is soon to have a cap and trade system for GHG emissions. This will be broader in scope than the current EU ETS as it will include the transport sector.

How soon this comes into being is one question, this year or next? Before or after Bush leaves the White House?

The other question is how stringent will the bill be? None of the bills are environmentally adequate but some are far more stringent than others and they all represent a move towards a carbon constrained policy environment. Grist has a good overview of the details of each of the four bills currently before the Senate.

The bills range from one that is based on emissions intensity per unit gdp, and isn't phased in for several year, and has a safety-vale so carbon costs dont get to high (less the create a market for mitigation technologies!); to one that sees emissions reduced 80% by 2050.

A whole range of businesses have come out in support of the more stringent targets.

Besides these bills there is one other object of much speculation: Al Gore. Currently he is being recieved as a rockstar everywhere he goes, apparently when he visited Idaho to give a speech he sold out a 10'000 seat venue 'quicker than elton john'. He is expected to be up on stage collecting an Oscar with the director of An Inconvenient Truth later today.

He hasn't rulled out running. I hope he dosen't. If he where to win then that may put climate change at the centre of american policy but it is also likely to polarise the issue and leave measures forever framed as political tools. Neither do I think that he would win, he is seen by some as hero, others see him as an extreme-liberal. If ever America needed to be united it is now, Al Gore is likely to be far better at getting the issue on the agenda if he remains outside of politics.

Will this happen, or will he show is human side and reach for power? Based on the principle that all publicity is good publicity, here are some charts of how Al Gore and the two primary Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton compare by news coverage, google searches and--just for interest--international attention.
First off, searches by region...
Secondly, searches in total note the dates, this is some time back. What is noticeable about this is the high baseline, Al gore has had a continuous high profile since May 06.
John Edwards was not in this final search, the rest of the key is correct. Google searches rather than news coverage are being displayed. Clearly Al Gore is more than a political figuer, his work on climate change has made him internationally of interest.

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At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Giacomo said...

Fascinating in-depth article on the recently announced UN stance on global warming and its human consequences


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