Friday 8 February 2008

US Elections - environmental outlook

With Super Tuesday over, and candidates dropping out, I thought I'd take a look at what the US presidential elections promise for climate change.

Mitt Romney has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination, leaving three candidates for each party: Hilary Clinton, Barak Obama and Mike Gravel for the Democrats, and John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul for the Republicans.

CNN have a good election web site, and summarise the candidates environmental policies. I've not had time to look a lot deeper than that, but these are my conclusions:

Romney was second in the Republican race, so I was surprised that he dropped out. In fact, John McCain has a good record on the environment - so my worry was that Huckabee and Paul would drop out and put their weight behind Romney, who doesn't look very promising. It seems unlikely to me that either of them could mount a serious challenge to McCain now, but hey, I'm no expert on this.

Anyway, suppose I'm right. What does that leave us? Well, it leaves us with three contenders for the presidency, and every single one of them appears to be committed to developing a nationwide cap and trade system which has the potential to make serious cuts in US CO2 emissions. How committed? So committed that John McCain introduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, and Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton are co-sponsors of the Act.

It looks like a serious proposal, and if implemented effectively it could really make a huge difference to US emissions. It also looks at technology transfer barriers, so it could make a difference in the rest of the world, too. There's a short summary you can read. I'm impressed with the imagination that goes into this - for example, there's a requirement to examine barriers in the patent system. One word of warning: if you're anti nuclear power, then you won't like items 10 and 11 of the 20 or so measures proposed.

The other candidates? Well, Mike Gravel is even stronger on the environment, but has picked up no delegates so far. Ron Paul seems pathetically apologist on the environment, but has 16 delegates to John McCain's 714.

Mike Huckabee doesn't seem as bad as Ron Paul, but his web site doesn't even list the environment as an issue. He does talk about energy independence and "oil addiction" in a positive way: "...we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass", but unfortunately the statement opens with "We have to explore, ..." - and that means fossil fuels. So, my hope is that one of the Democrats gets elected, but if the world has to live with another Republican US administration, lets hope they stick with John McCain.

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