John McCain: He Was For Climate Action Before He Was Against It

Arizona Senator John McCain, who is facing a primary challenge from uber conservative J.D. Haynesworth, is no longer for a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse emissions and move our economy to one that is powered by clean and green technologies instead of the dirty fuels of the past. He made this clear in a radio interview today in which McCain distanced himself, from, well, McCain. Talking to radio talk show host Barry Young on Tuesday, McCain said he never supported capping greenhouse gas emissions at a certain level.

Here's their Q and A:

Q: If we knew then what we know today about these scientists and this fraud, would you still be in favor of capping carbon emissions at 2000 levels?

A: I've never favored it at a certain level. I've favored reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the good of -- I mean we all know that greenhouse gases are bad! But I've said, in order to achieve that we have to have nuclear power as a component of it.

The "fraud" Young is referring to is the IPCC assessment, which has been under fire. The mistakes in the assessment are largely cosmetic and do not affect the underlying science behind climate change.

From the Washington Post's excellent climate blog:

Actually, McCain did propose capping greenhouse gases at the 2000 level -- back when he and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced their first climate bill. At that point the legislation called for capping U.S. emissions at 2000 levels from 2010 to 2016, and then reducing them to 1990 levels in subsequent years.

As a presidential candidate, McCain called for going below 2000 levels in the near term, returning the United States to its 2005 emissions levels by 2012, then to its 1990 levels by 2020. His plan would have cut U.S. emissions by at least 60 percent compared with 1990 levels by mid-century.

McCain was one of the few self-identified conservatives who supported climate action. He now appears to be resigned to joining the forces of "No." If they win, American will continue to be on a path that will lead to us losing our competitive advantage. There is no doubt that clean energy is the next great global industry. A cap and trade biil, which uses markets to give incentives to those working with renewable fuels to scale up their work to clean up our skies and our communities, is a key tool. By turning against it, McCain is becoming a sort of nihilist, leaving the future to those who believe in nothing but short-term profit.

More on John McCain:
Where Have You Gone, John McCain? Our Climate Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You
John McCain on Amtrak : TreeHugger