US Must Have a Climate Bill Before December's UN Climate Talks: Agriculture & Commerce Secretaries

new york marathon photo

New York Marathon photo: Martineric via flickr.

John Kerry has said in reality merely getting the Senate's climate bill out of committee in time for the COP15 UN climate talks in December would be a good start. However, both the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Commerce seem to think differently, telling Reuters that the US really needs to pass a climate bill before heading to Copenhagen if it wants to be seen as a leader on the issue:Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said,

We think it is important for the President to be empowered to be able to say to the rest of the world that America stands ready to lead on the issue.

How are we going to be able to move other nations in the same direction we want to move on trade issues or on fighting extremists if we can't deliver on climate change, when the rest of the world is moving forward?

Commerce Secretary Gark Locke added,

The United States needs to set a very firm and clear example if we are to be successful in getting the other countries to be equally aggressive in fighting climate change.

So, great sentiment from both men here. It certainly would send a more powerful signal to other nations in December if the US has passed a strong climate bill by then. And the context surrounding these statements is very true -- they were made while talking to groups from the midwest and mid-atlantic states, emphasizing that the combatting climate change will actually be economically beneficial.

Let's Not Delude Ourselves: US Isn't Leading on Climate Policy
However, perhaps Secretaries Vilsack and Locke need to be reminded that, even compared to the sub-science-recommended commitments of the rest of the G8 nations, the US really isn't leading on climate change.

Sure, the attitude in the Obama administration itself is night and day different from the Bush administration, but if the commitments incorporated into the House's American Clean Energy & Security Act are any indication, Congress still seems only willing to do the bare minimum -- industry influence whittling down emission reductions targets until all that can be said is that they pay lip service to change, when really continuing business more or less as usual.

The 17% below 2005 levels in ACES may indeed be a start -- as green groups across the nation seem to be fixated on, as if they don't want to upset a mentally disturbed relative who's just calmed down after a loud rant and just now agreed to go on medication -- but they fall so far short of what science recommends, in the range of 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, from that perspective the US isn't leading the race, it's still tying its shoes.

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