Climate Change Efforts Go on without Congress

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), December 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

Climate Change Efforts Go on without Congress


Byline: Bob Doppelt For The Register-Guard

Most of the newly elected Republican members of Congress have adopted anti-climate positions. Does that mean efforts to address climate change will grind to a halt? This fall, after Congress failed to pass a climate bill, I interviewed 65 professionals involved with climate issues to see how they would answer that question.

Experts involved with business, finance, faith, labor, national security, climate and energy advocacy, and social justice organizations working at local, state and national levels were interviewed. I also consulted with climate scientists as well as congressional and Obama administration staff members.

My head hurt after conducting so many interviews in such a short time period. But the discomfort was worth it because I obtained an exceedingly rich set of perspectives.

First, the failure of Congress to pass a climate bill, and the election of anti-climate officials will not stop efforts to address climate change. To the contrary, the people I interviewed said that major advances have been made in recent years and even more are now likely - except in Congress.

Many of the respondents see California's climate policy, Assembly Bill 32, as the most advanced in the nation. Eight states have already copied it. An attempt to overturn AB 32, funded primarily by big oil corporations, was soundly trounced last month by California voters. This is a clear sign that the public wants solutions to climate change.

California's climate action plan, which resulted from its policy, has been adopted in part or in whole by 33 states. These efforts will begin to take hold soon.

California's vehicle tailpipe emissions standards were copied by Oregon and 13 other states. This show of support propelled the Obama administration to establish new federal fuel economy standards. Vehicles with higher miles per gallon and reduced emissions will arrive in coming years.

It is at the local level where the impacts of climate change are felt most directly. It should therefore be no surprise that almost 150 municipalities, including Eugene, have adopted climate action plans.

Major advances have also been made in energy efficiency and renewable energy. In addition, an increasing number of private firms are considering the risks associated with their use of fossil fuels.

Another success highlighted by those I interviewed is that compared to 10 years ago climate change is now "on the table" with the public. It says a lot about Americans that despite a sophisticated disinformation campaign funded mostly by coal and oil corporations, a majority still want Congress to pass a climate bill. …

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