On the surface it may seem as though the Senate moved closer to “doing something” about global warming since 54 Senators said they would have voted for cloture on Lieberman-Warner last week compared to only 43 votes in favor in 2003. But as the New York Times points out, 10 senators (including liberal Senators from rust-belt states) said they would not have actually voted for final passage of the bill unless it was amended to help industries sensitive to high energy prices. So in the span of five years, the environmentalists only gained one vote. And looking at the political environment ahead, their case will only get weaker.
Environmentalists believe a big reason they lost last week was because the major environmental groups were not united behind the bill. To get more environmentalists on board, new global warming legislation will have to look a lot more like Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) bill, which sets more stringent emissions caps and imposes even higher transitions costs on businesses trying to reduce carbon.
Environmentalists seem almost blissfully unaware that energy prices are bound to be even higher next year making a bill that will cost even more jobs than Lieberman-Warner did dead letter. Worse news from the rest of the world increasingly shows that not only would carbon capping hurt the US economy, it would do nothing to stop global warming. Both the BBC and the Guardian have published lengthy reports proving that carbon offsets bought through international markets do nothing to reduce carbon emissions and developing countries like India have been very clear that they will not cut their emissions at the cost of development and poverty alleviation. Without cuts from developing power houses like China and India, US carbon emission reductions are worthless.