Corporations' Plea for Climate Legislation Ignored

The need for the United States to lead by example through legislation has never been greater. Unfortunately, the need for change in Washington may have superseded that consideration.
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Eleven corporations issued an open letter to the Senate urging the passage of the Climate Security Act (S. 3036), stating that it "represents a real effort to establish the regulatory framework that we need."

The June 2nd plea by: Allianz of America; Catalyst Paper Corporation; FPL Group, Inc.; JohnsonDiversey, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Levi Strauss & Co.; National Grid, Nike, Inc; Novo Nordisk; Tetra Pak; and Xanterra Parks & Resort, working in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund, fell on deaf ears, as Senate Democrats fell short of the 60 votes required to overcome a Republican filibuster.

President George W. Bush has consistently opposed any economy-wide cap-and-trade plan and had vowed to veto this bill if Congress approved it.

Senate leaders opposed to the bill used a variety of tactics during weeklong debate on the Senate floor, including a rare maneuver by Republicans that forced clerks to read an updated version of the 491-page bill aloud. That took 10 hours.

The bill sought to require business to reduce emissions by 19 percent before 2020 escalating to a ~70 percent reduction around 2050 along with a carbon trading scheme to help with transition and costs.

The gamesmanship involved with this bill has been overt. Specifically with actions taken by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), labeled as "stonewalling" by Senator Reid, after McConnell forced a complete reading of the ~500 page bill on the senate floor, a process that required over eight hours to complete.

"In America change doesn't happen overnight, it takes time to turn the ship of state," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who shepherded the bill.

She noted that Senate climate change legislation was first introduced in 2003 and the 2005 version got only 38 votes. "This is coming," Boxer said.

She said supporters planned to start work next week on a "roadmap" for the next president.

McConnell complained of a cut-off from amendments by Senator Reid after the eight plus hour reading led Reid to call for a vote. Some Democrats echoed McConnell's complaint about the lack of opportunity for further amendments. Some Republicans joined Senator John Warner (R-VA), one of the bill's sponsors, in crossing to support the legislation, which, at 48 total votes, fell short of the number required to pass.

The eleven corporations calling for the legislation join over 150 signatories of what has come to be known as the Bali Communique on Climate Change, as reported by The Environmentalist in this November 2007 article:

Q. When is it time to take climate change seriously?

A. When even Fox News' parent corporation says so.

NewsCorp has weighed in as part of the Prince of Wales's Group on Climate Change at the University of Cambridge's announcement that 150 signatory companies -- comprising many of the world's most influential corporations and accounting for trillions of dollars in trade and some of the best known global brands -- have circulated a petition in advance of the upcoming U.N. Bali Climate Conference "calling for a comprehensive, legally binding United Nations framework to tackle climate change."

The Bali Communique participants include: Shell UK, GE International, Coca-Cola Co., Dupont Co., United Technologies Corp., Rolls Royce, Nestle SA, Unilever, British Airways, Volkswagen AG, NewsCorp, AIG, ABAmro, Sun Microsystems, Nike, Nokia.

With oil prices hovering around $140 a barrel and expected to rise, Zimbabwe cutting off NGO's from food aid distribution following Mugabe's return from an emergency U.N. Conference on Hunger, NASA censored on their obfuscation of climate change results, the residents of smog-filled Mexico City losing their sense of smell, the new IEA warning that oil demand could rise by 70% in the foreseeable future, the deforestation involved with factory farming, and the continued output of greenhouse gases from China and India, the jobs in a time of growing unemployment that could be created through green technologies...

The need for the United States to lead by example through legislation has never been greater.

Unfortunately, the need for change in Washington may have superseded that consideration. An irony when you consider that resistance to solving climate change seems to have been the catalyst to finally impel some Senators to show some independence from some corporations (at least on this issue).

The supporters of the bill said they will now work on a climate change "road-map" for the next administration.

More on this topic at THE ENVIRONMENTALIST

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