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Climate news keeps on rolling in


If you’ve been as overwhelmed with holiday stuff as we have, perhaps you haven’t been able to keep on top of the recent avalanche of climate news. I had hoped to do deeper (and timelier) analysis of this stuff, but perhaps people will like the capsule version better anyway:

Bali climate conference
High drama at the UN conference in Bali: U.S. obstructionism; boos and hisses in the gallery; searing scientific reports; an impassioned speech from a Nobel-toting Al Gore; an enchanted jade monkey; and a final breakthrough when the U.S. semi-capitulated on language around emissions reductions.*

Verdict: Thumbs up! The conference lays out a workable framework for creating a Kyoto successor treaty in 2009, when a new U.S. administration will be in place.

Energy bill
Despite having the support of a majority of senators, a decent energy bill couldn’t overcome a threatened filibuster. As a result, the renewable energy requirements were stripped out, and the oil industry will continue receiving billions in tax breaks. The CAFE increases remain.

Verdict: Depressing! So close on this one. The stakes are now raised for 2009, when a new Senate will hopefully restore the excised provisions.

Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act
With the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s seal of approval, the Senate will for the first time consider credible legislation to put a cap on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first step in what will be drawn-out process, but it is a historic moment.

Verdict: Hopeful! Lieberman-Warner doesn’t contain everything environmentalists want, but it is definitely moves us significantly closer to the promised land. Stakes are now raised for 2009.

In summary

* There was no enchanted jade monkey at the Bali conference…as far as I know.

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