A loyal and longtime EMN reader pointed out a poignant issue facing the US and the international community. He points out the ongoing trend of futility in Washington and at the UN level on climate change, means “The world of nations is squandering the opportunity to jump start the initial solution to climate change problems and the attending environmental impacts. At the national level in the U.S., each political party has rejected the other and is determined to sacrifice national success in order to retain or obtain majority control. At the international level, the handful of the most influential nations with the largest resources, political power and standing, act and/or obstruct, individually, rather than cooperate and lead collectively. The result? At both levels, inadequate performance or outright failure is the outcome, leading to decline everywhere differentiated only by the pace of that decline.”

It’s hard to disagree with this level of pessimism. Copenhagen in many ways was a failure. While a few modest gains were made – chiefly verification of carbon reductions by China and a rough pledge of monetary support by developed nations – the rest was a joke. What is most disappointing is that much of the world is waiting for the US to lead on this issue. Yet Congress is clearly broken – stuck in partisan foolishness in an era when action is needed most.

While it is easy to say that Congress is the root of our problems, heck, a good look in the mirror would tell you who voted for these folks. (I’m raising my hand) So what is the solution to the deadlock over climate change in Washington.

First, let’s call the US cap-and-trade plan what it is – too big and broad. Let’s narrow it down to the utility sector for starters, put a cap and on it and allow those utilities trade carbon while they find a solution. Utilities already know how to trade SO2 and NOx emissions and many currently trade carbon now. Besides, you have the full endorsement of American Electric Power, Duke and others.

Second – Give Sen. Lamar Alexander what the man wants – 100 nuclear plants over the next 20 years. While I think the prospects of actually accomplishing that goal are laughably slim and the costs for such a plan are off, it would bring some Republicans to the table.

Third – Give T. Boone Pickens what he wants – a massive investment into natural gas and a massive wind-energy corridor from Texas to North Dakota – the so-called Saudi Arabia of wind. Natural gas bridges the gap for now while our best students take us the rest of way. (See Pickens’ pullback on wind today in Lead Stories)

Fourth – Let’s push ahead with energy efficiency programs across the board. This is the “low hanging energy fruit” which makes tax payers happy because it saves energy and creates jobs.

Fifth – Get the renewable portfolio standard established for the long term so companies can profit from renewable investments and investments can flow into the sector.

This isn’t perfect. But beats sitting around Washington looking at one another while China and other nations fast-track their green energy policies and industries.

Jim Kharouf

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