This afternoon, Senator Kerry held a conference call with a number of Global Warming / energy focused bloggers. Earlier this week, the Senator gave a speech calling for a Post-Kyoto Global Climate Change approach, as part of his public discussion leading up to Senator Boxer and he leading the Senate delegation to the global climate change talks in Bali in December.
Well, today’s conference call was wide-ranging, from challenging the potential for a fruitful Global Warming-related bill while George W Bush occupies the Oval Office to questions about coal sequestration to Cape Wind.
The final question, however, directly asked Senator Kerry what he wants from us, activists in the Global Warming and energy communities. His response:
Put the heat on these people.
What people? Well, the moderates (both Republican and Democrat) in the Senate who need to be convinced to do the right thing when it comes to Global Warming.
“Pick Your Moderate”
When it comes to a list, Senator Kerry had a long one once he started. This included:
- New Hampshire
- Gordon Smith, in Oregon
- Chuck Hagel, NB
- Norm Coleman, MN
- Mel Martinez, FL (okay, I read this one with hesitation in his voice)
- Voinovich, Ohio
- Corker, TN
- Kay Bailey Hutchinson, TX (“She evidently has her eye on being governor down there.”)
Senator Kerry emphasized that we should use real issues, the reality of events that are evident in our own lives, to get constituents to pressure these Senators. But, it is not only recalcitrants, but also to reinforce those, such as John Warner (R-VA), “who are already on board.
“With the drought in the South and all the impacts it is having on people, hunters, fisherman, issues that effecting people day to day, you ought to have a field day.
Thus, his response to the question, “what can we do?” was, “Pick your moderate, such as they are” and pressure them to do the right thing … get their constituents to communicate with them.
But … to Global Warming substance …
Many of those focused on Global Warming question, seriously, whether meaningful legislation can pass this Congress and be signed into law. The hurdles are extreme, we believe, which would drive either a lot of activity for non-passage (or veto) or a watered-down bill that would inhibit future action. Senator Kerry rejected that perspective with substantive points that did not convince me but are making me think.
- There has been progress, in ways that were totally unexpected even months ago.
Everything along the way on this issue has been a question of moving mountains.
Every step of the way we’ve been able to confound, to bring new players to the table.
A lot of developments in the business community, with more people calling for action.
Thus, he suggests, don’t underestimate what is possible, how the situation is changing and people are moving out on this. And, well, that the “dynamic on the Senate floor might be quite different”. It is “worth pushing it … having the debate … recognizing that the big crunch” comes in 2009 when we we need to come up with a follow-up to Kyoto.
Well, to be sure that we directly confronted the issue, I asked “Are you worried that will blow the opportunity to revisit again” with a watered down bill.
Absolutely not fearful about this. … We are going to build in look backs [to see whether it is working]. … The science is going to continue to come in … If people are convinced by the science today, the science is only going to become more compelling. I am convinced that we are going to do whatever we need to do … I only see this as a building block …
And, Senator Kerry emphasized that he sees no time for delay.
The problem is that people like Nick Stern, if you believe people like Jim Hansen, it is clear that we need to act sooner rather than later, because that pain, the cost of acting only goes up with delay.
Now, coming from the perspective of Energize America, personally, I do not see that a “Global Warming” bill, by name, is required to start the ball rolling (seriously), to get the United States moving on the path toward a prosperous, climate-friendly society.
His next argument, however, is a more powerful one.
Just like with the Clean Air Act of 1990, we will find things that move faster. We might even have an easier time to get faster movement later.
As John Podesta said at A Climate of Change Tuesday, we often find that the price quote those who offer to build something (the Big Dig) provide turn out to significantly under the eventual cost. While, the costs for dealing with things like pollution that are, in theory, imposed turn out to be far lower than the fear-mongering that come from those opposing action. When it came to CFCs, for example, there were those warning that the costs would be so prohibitive that the average American wouldn’t be able to afford a refrigerator. Well, instead, anyone have a problem getting a fridge lately?
Well, these can be fighting words, for many, “Clean Coal”. For some, that is a euphemism for reducing particulates and doing nothing about CO2. While I doubt that is Senator Kerry’s meaning, they can be dangerous words to use. But, in respect to China (and India’s) use of coal, he (as elsewhere) asserted that
We need to do a joint technology effort on clean-coal technology.
When challenged about the viability of, the cost of carbon sequestration for coal plants, Kerry for “up to 10 immediate demonstration projects.”
Senator Kerry was questioned about nuclear power.
There are some new applications coming in. The 3 big problems:
All of them, right now, are particularly difficult. And, you have a fourth issue, the siting issue. It is very complicated. And, there is the timing issue. If you have a ten-year window, very hard to see how you are going to have new plants established in this time. … Even so, nuclear will be part of the energy mix.
Personally, I think this is a mistaken route to go. … Personally, I do not think it is a route to go.
Hmmm … no matter where you stand on the nuclear power issue, there are things to agree with and disagree with in terms of this discussion. He thinks it not the route to go but, evidently, views it as inevitable without any comment as to either supporting or opposing it in the Senate.
One thing that Senator Kerry emphasized was his going to Bali (as mentioned earlier) and how he views it as critical that Senator Boxer, he, and other Americans there clearly express to the world that the current Administration’s denialist and obstructionist approaches are not representative of the United States and that a different wave is forming and underway. (Note: no quotes here, my wording …) That George Bush does not represent all of the US Government. There is thing called “Congress”, that co-equal branch of the US governement, that has much to do with how this debate moves forward and how the United States commits to the coming UN Climate Change committee.
Well, that speech was entitled “Eyes on Bali”. In that speech, Senator Kerry laid a stark choice before his audience, before us (US) …
The road to our present predicament is littered with missed opportunities, but we still face the same, ever more acute, choice: either America finally leads the world in crafting a comprehensive new international agreement, or the countries of the world will pollute our way into a catastrophe of unknowable parameters but undeniable peril.
When it comes to Bali, Senators Boxer, Kerry and others are going to try to convince other nations that America is serious about Global Warming, that the nation is “ready to end the era of obstruction and start leading by example.”
In that speech, Senator Kerry emphasized that Bali must provide a path for incorporating the world’s worst past emitter (the US) and the world’s largest emitter of today/tomorrow (China). Not a minor issue, there.
While I have some some quibbles with the speech, this is a strong statement, an affirmative statement of requirements and possibilities, with a bottom line that I fully endorse.
All of our most pressing geopolitical concerns point us in the same direction: a massive investment in alternative energy and green technology.
Putting the heat on those people
Back to the starting (and, well, ending) point, it is time to turn from this discussion and ensure that we continue to “put the heat on these people”, these so-called moderates.
Use Congress.ORG (or whichever tool you wish) to let your Senators (and others) know that you want real, you want serious action on Global Warming.
You do not want to see a $1 trillion give-away to polluters via giveaway pollution credits, but demand a Cap-Auction-and-Trade (CAT) that makes those revenues available for fostering a more equitable society and a better energy future.
Let them know that you want them to follow science. Lieberman-Warner’s 63 percent cut by 2050 doesn’t do it, it dooms us to catastrophic climate change. 80 percent is the minimum that should come out of any bill.
And, that you want action now, with turning our pollution trend lines now, not years into the future.
Pick your moderates, such as they are and put the heat on these people.
Pick your “moderate”(s) and take action, now, to speak up for action on Global Warming.
We can all
Energy Smart.: Are you doing
your part to
Senator Kerry is participating in Step It Up Saturday. Are you?