Any chance the US may have had in taking a leadership role in forming a new international climate protocol diminished today with news from President Barack Obama's energy czar that the White House is taking a wait-and-see approach to regulating CO2 emissions.This, of course, is good news.
For the US to lead on the issue of climate change -- and get developing countries to follow -- it has to act, and act quickly. The next major international climate summit, the Copenhagen Climate Convention, is in December. And if the US wants any role in shaping the successor of the Kyoto protocol, a global agreement that ends in 2012, its delegates must arrive in Denmark with firm plans on how it will regulate CO2 emissions at home.
The US can pass regulations in one of two ways: through Congressional legislation or in terms dictated by the White House via the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act.
The former would likely result in regulations that are more palatable to a larger segment of the US population, since members of Congress from each state would have a say in shaping the legislation. But it's widely believed that Congress won't move on its own, unless it believes the Obama Administration is about to dictate the terms of regulations itself.
I was, therefore, sad to hear today that the White House is tipping its hand on its plans just as Congress takes its first serious look at a cap-and-trade system, in which emitters will be charged for the carbon dioxide they put into the air.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
From New Scientist blogger Phil McKenna on April 14th: