Incoming Chair of US Senate Energy Committee Says US Will Miss Window to Tackle Climate Change
25 November 2006
Environmental Finance. In a speech at the London School of Economics on Tuesday, US Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) warned that the US will not be able to take sufficient action to curb its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the timeframe scientists say is necessary.
Scientific and economic calls for more expeditious action on global warming are increasing. Also in London on Tuesday to accept the Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal from the WWF, NASA scientist James Hansen said:
There is still a huge gap between what is understood about global warming by the scientific community, and what is known about global warming by those who need to know—the public and policymakers.
We must close that gap and move our energy systems in a fundamentally different direction within about a decade, or we will have pushed the planet past a tipping point beyond which it will be impossible to avoid far-ranging undesirable consequences.
The recently published Stern review (earlier post) called for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol to be signed in 2007, not in 2010 or 2011 as is currently expected due to the urgency of addressing the situation.
But speaking at the London School of Economics, Senator Bingaman, currently ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who will become chair of the Committee when the Democrats take control of the Senate in January 2007, said: “I think that the reality is this issue is probably not going to ripen and mature and get solved in that window.”
Moreover, Bingaman indicated that the US could opt for a domestic solution for cutting emissions, rather than join the Kyoto Protocol after its current targets expire in 2012. He said: “I really don’t think the Kyoto Protocol is something that anyone is debating in the US. The debate is now to the question of what are realistic goals that we could hope to agree and accomplish.”
But he added: “The ideal end result will be to get a cap-and-trade system that will be world-wide. The US has got to do something credible at the national level.“
However, Bingaman suggested that it would be difficult to complete action on a cap-and-trade system until 2009, when a new White House comes to power.
“Many of the potential presidential candidates have stated their support for a system of mandatory controls,” said Bingaman.
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