The Sun is rising in the West … when it comes to Global Warming policy

When it comes to sensible policy and real progress on energy issues and Global Warming in the United States, the Sun is often rising in the West.

A few weeks ago (22 Aug 07), the Western Climate Initiative (WCI)  announced their regional goal:  a 15 percent aggregate reduction below 2005 levels by 2020.

The Western Climate Initiative is a collaboration launched in February 2007 between the Governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington to meet regional challenges raised by climate change. WCI is identifying, evaluating and implementing collective and cooperative ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the region.

Note that since February, Utah, British Columbia, and Manitoba have joined the WCI.

Through WCI, the partners will set an overall regional goal by August 2007 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; by August 2008 they will also complete design of a market-based mechanism to help achieve that reduction goal.

The August announcement had all eight states and provinces agreeing to the economy-wide regional goal for  greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission reductions.

To make up the 15% reduction, the WCI aggregated between the various members’ 2020 targets (see table on page 4) — which range from Arizona’s 2000 levels by 2020 to Oregon’s 10% below 1990 by 2020.

Now, is the WCI’s aggregate long-term objective enough?  No. Only one state has an 80% reduction below 1990 by 2050, which is the bare minimum threshhold for even considering a plan tolerable.

In fact, the United States should be targeting carbon neutrality by 2050 with an objective of Carbon Giveback (carbon negative) by 2055.

On the other hand, the plan sets tangible mid-term goals that are quite straightforwardly achievable and provide a policy path for this region to move in the right direction when it comes to carbon emissions (and other Global Warming pollution).

This represents real progress.  As Bill Richardson (Governor, New Mexico) commented:

“States and provinces are leading the way by working to solve – not just debating – the problem of climate change. Our goal is the most aggressive regional goal in North America – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2020. Next the partners in the Western Climate Initiative will develop a cap-and-trade program and do our part to tackle global warming.”

Why do the States need to be leading the way?  Chris Gregoire (Gov, Washington) commented:

“In the absence of federal leadership, states and provinces have stepped up to meet the challenge of global climate change. We are working together to agree on common goals that will reduce our region’s contribution to the problem while recognizing the states’ individual goals. In Washington, we are committed to meeting the challenge and seizing the opportunities presented by climate change.

Yes, sadly, Federal Leadership has been absent … or at least absent in a positive direction. 

Janet Napolitano (Gov, Arizona) chimed in:

“Climate change is another important national and international issue where the U.S. federal government is choosing to delay action. It has been left up to the states and provinces of North America to recognize the critical need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide the solution not just rhetoric. WCI members are leading the fight against climate change.”

Yes, Governor, it has been left up to the states. And, when it comes to development of climate policy, the Sun continues to rise in the West.

As Ted Kulongoski (Gov, Oregon) noted:

The WCI is leading the way for North America in adopting real measures and programs to combat global warming and to secure economic and environmental opportunity … 

“Leading the way …”

The States have been leading the way.   Because, since January 2001 in the White House and for too long in the Congress, the sun was rising in a different way when it came to Global Warming — policy rejecting reality and policy has been pursued based on rejection of scientific reality.  The White House and too many (such as Senator Inhofe (R-Exxon))  have so abused science and representation of information related to Global Warming that it would be distorting descriptions to  

But, the opportunity is here for learning from WCI and a more positive variation of the Sun Rising in the West when it comes to Global Warming.

This fall, the Congress will be considering legislative approaches to tackling Global Warming. 

The focus in the debate will be hard to understand, hard to comtemplate targets for 43 years from now (70% by 2050, 80% by 2050, etc …).  These numbers matter … as noted above, a plan motivated by serious concern about Global Warming and humanity’s future on this planet would have a Carbon Neutral 2050 Objective and a 2055 Carbon Giveback (Carbon Negative) policy.

But, well, 15% by 2020 (okay, I’d like it to be 15% by 2015 … and 15% below 1990 would be better … or 20% below 2005 … starting with a 10% cut from today’s emissions by 2010) is a nearer term target that requires putting into place today measures that will start to turn this nation around when it comes to Global Warming emissions.

And, well, it might even enable an environment where the political leadership will coalesce together in a consensus to Energize America


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