Published on Friday, June 26, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
The Failed State of US Climate Change Policy
The Waxman-Markey climate bill is the best we will get from
until the corruption of public life is addressed America
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
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
There are mind-boggling concessions to the biofuels industry, including a promise not to investigate its wider environmental impacts . There's a provision to allow industry to use 2bn tonnes of carbon offsets  a year, which include highly unstable carbon sinks like crop residues left in the soil (another concession won by the powerful farm lobby). These offsets are so generous that if all of them are used,
Like the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) , Waxman-Markey would oblige companies to buy only a small proportion (15%) of their carbon permits. The rest will be given away. This means that a resource belonging to everyone (the right to pollute) is captured by industrial interests without public compensation. The more pollution companies have produced, the greater their free allocation will be - the polluter gets paid. It also means, if the ETS is anything to go by, that the big polluters will be able to make windfall profits by passing on the price of the permits they haven't bought to their consumers.
In one respect the bill actually waters down current legislation, by preventing the Environmental Protection Agency  from regulating coal-burning power stations. If the new coal plants planned in the
Even so, I would like to see the bill passed, as it at least provides a framework for future improvements. But why do we expect so little from the
You have only to read the comments that follow this article to find out. Thanks to the lobbying work of the coal and oil companies, and the vast army of thinktanks, PR consultants and astroturfers  they have sponsored, thanks too to the domination of the airwaves by loony right shock jocks, the debate over issues like this has become so mad that any progress at all is little short of a miracle. The ranking Republican on the House energy and commerce committee is Joe Barton, the man who in 2005 launched a congressional investigation of three US scientists whose work reveals the historical pattern of climate change . Like those of many of his peers, his political career is kept on life support by the fossil fuel and electricity companies . He returns the favour by vociferously denying that manmade climate change  exists.
A combination of corporate money and an unregulated corporate media keeps
© 2009 Guardian/UK
George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order  and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain . He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. Visit his website at www.monbiot.com 
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs