George Monbiot, Europe's leading green commentator, joins other environmentalists in attacking the recently passed energy and climate bill in USA. Monbiot says the bill "would be laughable anywhere else" but that unfortunately itâ€™s the best we can expect from the USA.
"The cuts it proposes are much lower than those being pursued in the UK or in most other developed nations. Like the UK's climate change act (pdf) the US bill calls for an 80% cut by 2050, but in this case the baseline is 2005, not 1990. Between 1990 and 2005, US carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels rose from 5.8 to 7bn tonnes.
The cut proposed by 2020 is just 17%, which means that most of the reduction will take place towards the end of the period. What this means is much greater cumulative emissions, which is the only measure that counts. Worse still, it is riddled with so many loopholes and concessions that the bill's measures might not offset the emissions from the paper it's printed on. You can judge the effectiveness of a US bill by its length: the shorter it is, the more potent it will be. This one is some 1,200 pages long, which is what happens when lobbyists have been at work."
Monbiot says that lobbyists from the dirty industries, thinktanks, pr consultants and politicians like Republican Joe Barton are to be blamed for the weak climate and energy bill. He even goes as far as saying that the corruption of public life in the USA is Obamaâ€™s "real challenge":
"A combination of corporate money and an unregulated corporate media keeps America in the dark ages. This bill is the best we're going to get for now because the corruption of public life in the United States has not been addressed. Whether he is seeking environmental reforms, health reforms or any other improvement in the life of the American people, this is Obama's real challenge."
But Monbiot still want the bill to be passed "as it at least provides a framework for future improvements".
Also read: Top experts: Carbon Tax needed NOT Cap-and-Trade Emission Trading Scheme (ETS)