Toward a Defensible Climate Realism

There is change coming to Washington. The question is if it will bechange enough, and when it will arrive. And right now, well let’s just say that reasonable men and women can differ about the demands of climate realism, and its relationship to the logic of Beltway politics. As opposed to, say, the science. Or the demands of justice.

Which is why we wrote [this brief essay]. And why Green For All has been emphasizing the links between the recession and the potential of green redevelopment — see Billy Parish’s great intro here. And why Friends of the Earth US has launched a campaign to “fix or ditch” the Lieberman-Warner bill. And why a coalition of American climate and development groups has launched a Climate Equity Campaign to push the issue of climate change, and specifically the need for adaptation and clean energy funding for developing countries, as an issue in this years presidential election.

In all this we wish to emphasize two related points.

* The first is that we must hold out for climate legislation that auctions 100% of all emissions permits. For more on that, see FOE’s Windfalls in Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill: Quantifying the Fossil Fuel and Potential Nuclear Industry Giveaways and of course our own little essay.

* The second, as obvious but rarely discussed, is that even the best of the climate bills now wending their way through Congress promise only to return US emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and that this is far, far less than the 25% to 40% reductions that were the center of the Bali debate. Which is notable because the latter figure hails from the IPCC and has at least a comprehensible relationship to the kinds of emissions reductions that are going to be necessary soon.

This too is a focus ofTowards A Defensible Climate Realism, and it’s one you have to bear in mind if you want to really understand the importance of the auctioning debate.