Presidential Candidates on Climate Change (Video)

This CBS News video series asks: Where do the presidential candidates stand on carbon emissions and the environment?
Video 1: John Blackstone reports both candidates propose measures that sound the same, but there are differences between them.The issues:
The Adelie penguin colony at Cape Royds, Antarctica, is already feeling the impact of global warming - and that's where CBS News correspondent John Blackstone first met penguin researcher Jean Pennycook She was worried:

If the ice goes away, these penguins will no longer be able to survive. So as we see the ice decrease, the penguins will struggle to exist. So this was more melting than we'd ever seen before - and it was because it was a warmer year.

She shows her photos of penguins flooded out by fast-melting glaciers. Ice loss in Antarctica has increased by 75 percent in the last dozen years due to global warming.

CUT TO: Modesto, California. John Fiscalini would like to be part of the global-warming solution. But for now his 3,000 cows are part of the problem making methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The United Nations calculates livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide - even more than cars. So Fiscalini is installing methane digesters that capture the gas. The methane from 300 tons of manure a day will go through a generator making enough electricity to run the whole farm - with power left over to sell to the local utility.

The Candidates

Both presidential candidates

• are pushing pollution-cutting effort

• openly recognize climate change; a big change from the past eight years

• say they'll join international climate change efforts that the Bush administration has ignored

• will press China and India to cut greenhouse gases

• would start in the U.S. with modest greenhouse gas reductions, then increase cutbacks for 40 years into the future.


Until we have achieved at least a reduction of 60 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

Obama goes slightly further:
I've put forward very substantial proposals to get 80 percent reductions in greenhouse gasses by 2050.

Both would reach those goals largely through a "cap and trade" program that works like this:

• The government sets an annual cap or limit on carbon emissions and issues permits up to that limit to companies that release greenhouse gases.
• If a company reduces its emissions, it can sell or trade its unused permits to a company that can't meet emission goals.

McCain would give companies most of the emissions permits for free based on their previous emission levels. Then if they cut back, they can make money selling unused permits.

Obama would sell all emission permits at auction, so companies would have to pay for every ton of carbon they release. Money raised would be used to develop renewable energy and to subsidize consumers' energy bills.

The Impact

The cost of clean energy for John Fiscalini:
• his new generator alone cost $1 million.
• both McCain's and Obama's cap and trade program would give him credit for greenhouse gases he's capturing … so he could sell them to a company that needs more pollution permits.

Jean Pennycook knows whoever is elected, the Antarctic ice is unlikely to stop melting anytime soon. But she's relieved the next president won't deny it is happening.

TreeHugger Conclusion:

The difference in 60 and 80 percent reductions in greenhouse gasses is negligible in light of the fact that an operative target of 2020 should be put in effect. The most important distinction rests with Obama's plan to raise funds for renewable energy through cap and trade, which by virtue of its practicality -- that there would actually be revenue generated to develop the energy technologies for a bright green future -- clearly distinguishes one candidate from the other.

Video 2
John Blackstone spoke with Jean Pennycook, a penguin researcher in Fresno, CA.
Pennycook, also a school teacher, talks about her choice to take action to fight climate change and how she goes about her advocacy. She gives us her idea of how the candidates differ on climate change.

Video 3
John Blackstone spoke with John Fiscalini, a dairy farmer from Modesto, CA.
Fiscalini talks about his methane digesters and his decision to tackle climate change.

09.23.08 » CBS News: Obama And McCain On Climate Change |
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