Climate Change: ACTION ALERT

This article discusses the cap-and-trade bill in congress. The US needs to make a move on climate change before the world meets in December

You can follow the debate and discussion at or at

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Sep 10th 2009 | NEW YORK AND HOUSTON
From The Economist print edition

The second big bill before Congress is also in difficulties

COMPARED with the argy-bargy over health-care reform, this summer’s public conversation about controlling carbon emissions has been a model of restraint. In August, a Zogby poll commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found that 71% of likely voters in America support the Waxman-Markey bill, a proposal to create a cap-and-trade mechanism for carbon dioxide that cleared the House of Representatives in June. But the bill still faces an uphill climb in the Senate, which resumed work on September 8th.

The bill’s future is clouded partly because health care consumes virtually all Barack Obama’s political capital, and partly because Republicans, whatever the polls may say, think cap-and-trade is a political loser for Democrats. When public attention swings to the issue, they can paint it as a stealth tax on energy—and during a recession at that. Republicans who were formerly committed to climate legislation include John McCain, last year’s presidential nominee, as well as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Richard Lugar of Indiana, a centrist and internationalist who appreciates the importance of climate change to global opinion. All have disengaged from the negotiations.


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