Foreign Policy Blogs

No Surprises (Unfortunately)

Senate cloture bid on energy bill fails is the story this morning from "The Hill."  With 60 votes necessary to close debate and proceed to a vote on the superb energy package that came over from the House yesterday, only 53 votes could be mustered.  Three Democrats, Byrd, Landrieu and Bayh voted against closure.  Byrd (coal) and Landrieu (oil) were predictable, but Bayh's vote is a bit of a mystery, to me anyway.  On the Republican side, I can't understand why some of these "Moderate" Republicans would vote against cloture, people like Sununu, Specter and Hagel, except that they need to stay on the "reservation."  What's completely inexplicable to me is why John Warner, coauthor of the climate change bill in the Senate, would vote against this energy package which should be considered a precursor and complement to a climate change package.  Back to the drawing board, as the Senate Republican pointman on energy, Pete Domenici, has promised, according to the article from "The Hill."  Oh well, as I've said before here, it's usually wise not to make the best the enemy of the good.  ("Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien." , Voltaire.) 

Meanwhile, down in Bali, at the climate change talks, the head of the U.S. delegation has declared "that neither a recent US Senate committee move to limit greenhouse gas emissions or the decision by Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol would influence their stance" on mandatory GHG reductions.  (See my post from Dec. 5 on the Senate's action and this from Nov. 25 on Australia's new PM and his signing of the Kyoto Protocols.)  See the story from Agence France Presse, US sticks to divisive climate change policy: official. 

As noted here on Dec. 2, at least the U.S. has what appears to be a constructive proposal on trade and fostering environmental goods and services.

Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters in Germany are leading the charge against global warming.  See another AFP story, Germany passes "ambitious' climate change package, from yesterday.  Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said:  "Germany wants to show that a developed country can reconcile economic growth with protection of the environment." And Economy Minister Michael Glos said Europe's biggest economy was aiming for "intelligent and ambitious climate protection." Germany is shooting for a 25 to 30% share of energy production by renewables by 2020 — and we're going to cut our 15% proposal loose to satisfy the utility industry.  As noted the other day, Scotland has set a target of 50% of all electricity from renewables by 2020," according to the "Press Association" here.  More power, as it were, to them — and shame on us, or at least on our dysfunctional politics, so seriously flawed by special interest influence.

Is this shying away from our extraordinary potential to change the way we use energy and the way our economy is shaped an indication of the will of the American people?  Apparently not.  An analysis of recent international poll results not only indicate Robust Global Support For Increased Efforts to Reduce Emissions but that a majority of Americans (54%) disapproved of how the United States was handling global warming. 



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change