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US takes a stand on climate change

This is great news: By a narrow margin of 219-212 the US House of Representatives voted to address climate change:

 ‘At the heart of the legislation is a cap-and-trade system that sets an overall limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide while allowing utilities, manufacturers and other emitters to trade pollution permits, or allowances, among themselves. The cap grows increasingly tighter over the years, pushing up the price of emissions and presumably driving industry to find cleaner ways of producing energy’.

It implies only a lousy $13US/ton CO2E initial carbon price in 2012 (comparable to the miserable Australian 2011 starting price of $10Aust) but it is a start. It won’t really begin to sharply reduce US carbon emissions for another 15 years and will cut US emissions by 2020 by only 4% below 1990 levels it to do – not by 40% as China wants (note the Australian minimum target of 5%).   Nevertheless China has applauded the US bill as indicating a decisive change of heart. I agree and the closeness of the vote – almost no Republicans voted for it and there was fierce opposition among Democrats)  the bill seems to be the best that could be achieved.

In a somewhat inappropriately timed op ed, Kimberley Strassel in the WSJ identifies a sea-change in the climate change debate towards scepticism. It is the WSJ and she does cite Ian Plimer and that supreme idiot Senator Fielding as Australian participants in this wave of change. But the continuing attempt by groups such as WSJ to misidentify trends is worrying. They will not give up.

Update: For once I agree with Paul Krugman – those in the US House of Representatives who voted against this bill are committing treason against the planet. There is science and there is stupidity.

8 comments to US takes a stand on climate change

  • conrad

    Citing Family First on anything seems like a rather strange thing to do.

  • Uncle Milton

    The Wall Street Journal’s opinion on this subject is probably not even representative of Wall Street, let alone generally.

  • derrida derider

    As you say, it is the WSJ. Since the early 90s its editorial pages have long been known as way out there on the far lunar right. Certainly well to the right of Wall Street itself, as practical businessmen cannot long survive in a complete alternative universe.

  • Uncle Milton

    Of course it is the banks who will be the intermediaries who trade the carbon permits, and who will no doubt invent many innovative carbon financial products. So Wall Street in particular will favour a cap and trade system. (That is not an argument for or against it.)

  • MAGB

    Why is Senator Fielding a supreme idiot? So few members of parliament have qualifications in science, mathematics or engineering. Steve Fielding and Dennis Jensen do and both are highly sceptical.

    Note the WSJ section: “Joanne Simpson, the world’s first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak “frankly” of her nonbelief”.

    This speaks volumes about the politicisation of science. I can tell you she is not alone. Climate change is 5% science and 95% politics. We had the club of Rome, Rachel Carson, mobiles phones causing brain cancer, ABC studios causing breast cancer, and now CO2 causing climate catastrophe. Climate change is the same as the others, with the addition of computer geeks – the same ones who brought us the Y2K fiasco.

  • Uncle Milton

    “Why is Senator Fielding a supreme idiot?”

    Because he doesn’t understand the difference between a long term trend and short term deviations around the trend.

  • conrad

    “Climate change is 5% science and 95% politics”
    .
    That might be true, but you would be better off trying to offer data from people that think climate change is a worry that really do know about it (or better yet, the distributions of people’s climate-change probabilities). For all I know 99% of the 5% think it is a worry.

  • Will it be treason when Paul Krugman tries and fails to drive his Chevy ot whatever with its rated 35 mpg at the speeds that alone will achieve that in downtown LA or NY City?