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Kerry to Outline Legislative Solutions to Climate Change

by Pamela Leavey

On Wednesday, June 6, John Kerry will discuss his ideas for legislative solutions to climate change and his new book, “This Moment on Earth,” at a National Press Club luncheon.

Currently serving his 4th term in office, Senator Kerry Chairs the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and serves on the Finance, Foreign Relations and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees. He is a vocal advocate for preventing and responding to climate change, recently introducing legislation to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to factor climate change into future water projects and no longer build bridges, levees, damns or other projects without assessing impact on the environment.

Speaking of climate change, in a speech on Thursday, Bush offered up a half-assed “new framework” plan for addressing Global Warming. In a nutshell he made it clear that the U.S. should do something about it after he is out of office:

Though the president is still not backing a mandatory cap on carbon dioxide emissions, he made it clear that he would like the United States to play a major role in shaping global environmental policy after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012…

Bush is calling for a new set of talks aimed at bringing together a broad array of nations — including China, India, Brazil and members of the European Union — to negotiate goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions after 2012. This new discussion, which would run parallel to the U.N. framework that produced the Kyoto Protocol, could include specific reduction objectives as well as voluntary measures.

Contrary to popular right wing spin, Bush “refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.” Similar right wing spin that the Senate refused to ratify Kyoto was debunked here months ago. The Senate vote was a non-binding vote. The NRDC explains S. RES. 98:

Q. Did the U.S. Senate vote against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol?

A. No. The protocol has never been submitted to the senate for ratification. The Bush administration has referred to a vote on the non-binding Byrd-Hagel resolution, which registered views on some aspects of protocol negotiations. The vote on the Byrd-Hagel resolution took place prior to the conclusion of the Kyoto agreement, and before any of the flexibility mechanisms were established. The resolution was written so broadly that even strong supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, such as senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for it. In doing so, Sen. Kerry said: “It is clear that one of the chief sponsors of this resolution, Senator Byrd . . . agrees … that the prospect of human-induced global warming as an accepted thesis with adverse consequences for all is here, and it is real…. Senator Lieberman, Senator Chafee and I would have worded some things differently… [but] I have come to the conclusion that these words are not a treaty killer.”

David Roberts on Grist reviews Bush’s “new framework” to deal with climate change and concludes:

As you can see — and as you would expect — this announcement from Bush is not a genuine change of heart on climate change. The U.S. still will not agree to any emission reduction targets. It will not agree that the developed countries bear primary responsibility for climate change. It will not sign on to the growing consensus among developed nations about how to tackle the problem

This announcement is an attempt to run out the clock on the Bush administration without committing to anything but sweetheart deals for corporate backers.

NPR has more on Bush’s speech. And Michael J.W. Stickings notes on The Reaction, “The more the climate changes, the more Bush stays the same.”

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