CHN: Climate Change Legislation in the Senate Waits Until Next Year
After the House passed climate change legislation this summer and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its climate bill in early November, action stalled in the Senate. In the weeks leading up to the December United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen a tri-partisan group of Senators, John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), worked together on compromise legislation. They shared with President Obama a framework paper containing broad principles and guidelines on global warming prior to his leaving for Copenhagen.
Without a final bill from Congress, President Obama and American negotiators were limited in their ability at Copenhagen to commit the United States to specifics, including a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Disagreements between rich and poor nations and the lack of trust between China and the United States, the first and second biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, were evident during the conference. President Obama was ultimately instrumental in facilitating the Copenhagen Accord calling for a nonbinding agreement on emission targets and an international system of verification, and a commitment from richer nations to provide billions of dollars to poorer nations to deal with the effects of climate change. Leaders also agreed to meet next year in Mexico.
Climate change advocates hope that impetus from the conference, the Environmental Protection Agencies’ commitment to enforce the Clean Air Act in the absence of climate legislation, and a growing realization by members of Congress that clean environmental technology is a path to strengthening their state’s economy will motive the Senate to act next year.