05 October 2009

CAP's Move to the Right

The image above shows Al Gore on a two trillion dollar bill, he is holding a wrench and a compact florescent light bulb. the text says “Corporate Giveaways! Carbon Ponzi Schemes! FALSE SOLUTIONS!”

What is this? A creation of right wing "deniers" perhaps? No it is not.

It is part of a campaign by what Grist calls "far left" groups to point out that the cap and trade legislation being considered by the U.S. Congress is a sham. These "far left" groups are environmental organizations that count among their supporters NASA's James Hansen. Here is what the Center for American Progress's head of climate strategy Daniel Weiss says about these "far left" groups:

“It’s troubling. No one believes that the clean energy bill that will come out of Congress will address the threat of global warming in a single step. But we have to start. The real enemies are Big Oil and Big Coal and the right wing attack machine. For them to mock [Gore] in the way they did shows that they don’t understand you need to attack your enemies and not your allies.”

Weiss does not seem to realize that for these groups CAP and Gore are the enemy, hence the campaign against them. Weiss says of Hansen's role in particular:
“If they hear from such a respected scientist as James Hansen that what Congress is doing won’t matter, then why would they bother to call their senators to say ‘Act on this’?”
Why indeed? Weiss did not address whether Hansen's critique of the legislation is on target or not.

An irony here is that not so long ago CAP was in the same camp as these "far left" groups. Here is what CAP's Joe Romm wrote last January about the framework for the Waxman-Markey/Kerry-Boxer bills (emphasis in original):
. . . this proposal would be wholly inadequate as a final piece of legislation. As a starting point it is unilateral disarmament to the conservative politicians and big fossil fuel companies who will be working hard to gut any bill. . . Shame on my NRDC and EDF and WRI friends for signing on to such nonsense. . . [The] plan would call for a reduction of 1.0 to 1.4 billion tons of U.S. GHGs in 2020, while allowing 2 billion or more tons of offsets, at least half of which don’t even have to be in this country. When would US carbon dioxide emissions see serious reductions under this plan? Who knows?

No serious environmental group — no person or group serious about keeping total global warming as close as possible to 2°C, no one who endorses a target of 450 ppm or lower, should endorse a final climate bill with more than, say, 5% very high quality offsets allowed. . .

This proposal is a dead end — and an even deader starting point. Shame on NRDC, EDF, and WRI for backing it.
So I suppose that we can conclude that CAP's new-found love of the Waxman-Markey approach can be characterized as a move to the right, leaving behind those "far left" groups?

As we have seen in the defections from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of a number of businesses opposed to their anti-action agenda, cap and trade is tearing at the seams of the environmental community as well. With luck, all of this realignment will lead to a fresh approach to climate policy. One can only wish.

H/T Keith Kloor