After much speculation and a summer spent debating health insurance reform, the Senate is finally ready to begin work on its climate bill. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats will release draft legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions, picking up on the work completed by the House earlier this year. The bill will be co-authored by Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer.Rumors say the bill will match the House version of the bill, which narrowly passed this summer with a vote count of 219-213. The House bill called for a 17 percent cut in carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2020, and about an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
Those targets are well below what the best science says is needed. The IPCC maintains that industrialized nations must cut their carbon output by at least 40 percent by 2020, relative to 1990 levels. Additionally, the bill is compromised by up to 2 billion tons of offsets made available every year to polluters, meaning they can do business as usual while sending jobs and investment overseas.
The House bill gives away about 85 percent of the carbon permits to polluters and then decreases that amount over time.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he wants the bill to be voted on this year, but that it may have to wait until 2010. He also wants to combine the bill with a energy package that got through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year.
A United Nations report released Thursday said that warming is far worse than previously expected. New models show a global temperature increase of up to 6 degrees Fahrenheit, which would leave the Arctic ice free in the summer and cause massive sea level rise.