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Sierra Club | McCain Global Warming Plan: Laudable Goal but Fails to Reach It

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director, Carl Pope


By: Sierra Club

May 12, 2008 - "While Senator McCain deserves credit for his work on early global warming legislation in the Senate and for bringing attention to the need for urgent action, his plan is driven by yesterday's solutions and they won't solve tomorrow's problems. The science on global warming has changed dramatically over the last five years and Senator McCain's proposals are outdated and fail to provide the big changes Americans are demanding."

"Like President Bush, McCain's policies on global warming offer more of the same, by putting the interests of polluters over the people and failing to invest in building a clean energy economy that will create new jobs and opportunities at a time when an economic boost is sorely needed. Americans want real change--investment in clean, renewable energy instead of Big Oil, Nuclear power and other polluting industries. We need more windmills not windfalls. Unfortunately Senator McCain's plan is designed to fail."

Any credible global warming plan, inncluding Senator McCain's should adhere these basic principles:

First, the targets and timetables must be sufficient to do what the science demands in both the near and long terms to reduce the negative impacts of climate change to the maximum extent possible. This will require reductions in total emissions on the order of 80 percent by 2050 and 20 percent by 2020.

Next, permits to emit carbon must be used for public benefit, not private windfalls. Pollution allowances are a public trust. All allowances should be auctioned or otherwise used to benefit the public, not to generate windfall profits for polluting industries. Free allocations, if any, must be limited in size and restricted to a short transition period.

Revenue raised by the bill should be used to promote a clean energy future by investing in the highest-value solutions for emissions reductions first. These funds should not be used to perpetuate dirty, expensive, outdated technologies like coal and nuclear energy. Allowances and auction revenues should be used to accelerate deployment of the clean energy technologies we have today and to develop the ones we need for tomorrow. Funds should be invested only in the cleanest, cheapest, safest, and fastest means of reducing emissions.

Finally, the bill must ensure a just transition for workers, protect vulnerable groups, and help induce world action. Allowances and auction revenues should be used to protect low- and moderate-income citizens from rising energy costs and other negative economic impacts, create new jobs, ensure fair treatment for affected workers and their communities, and drive technology transfer to help achieve emissions reductions around the world. We must also take care of communities that suffer the impacts of global warming we were too late to avoid.

Numerous studies have shown that we can achieve these goals and meet our energy needs with the cleanest energy sources and efficiency and without relying on dirty power. If Senator McCain wants to have a credible and feasible plan for addressing global warming, he must demonstrate a commitment to these principles and have a plan that adds up to what science tells us the world needs. Senator McCain should also join other Senators to end outrageous subsidies to polluters like Big Oil as they continue to rake in record profits. Unfortunately, even as Senator McCain urges America to shower the nuclear energy industry with billions in subsidies, he has criticized money for biofuels and failed to support incentives for clean renewable energy like wind and solar power.


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