Candidate Kerry on Kyoto and global warming

by William Yeatman on April 13, 2004

in Kyoto Negotiations, Politics

The campaign web site of Senator John Kerry (DMass.) only briefly mentions what the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party would do about global warming if elected.  The issues section says, When John Kerry is president, the U.S. will reengage in the development of an international climate change strategy to address global warming, and identify workable responses that provide opportunities for American technology and know-how(

However, in an October 2003 document, John Kerrys Comprehensive Vision for a Cleaner Environment, A Stronger Economy, Healthier Communities (, he has much more to say.  On international arrangements he says:  Bushs abrupt and unilateral decision to abandon discussions with the world community on climate change was early evidence of this Administrations misguided approach to dealing with the community of nations. Dropping out of international implementation of the Kyoto Protocol was foolhardy then, and it is even more obviously foolhardy today. In our absence, many of our major trading partners in Europe and elsewhere have been working on the details of international programs to manage greenhouse gas emissions. American interests are on the sidelines, having no ability to influence the development of a system that will profoundly affect the global approach to resource protection and investment in climate change technologies.
The document notes that Kerry has demonstrated a long commitment to addressing climate change beginning as a participant at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 that produced the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and calls  climate change the globes most serious environmental challenge.  It continues: John Kerry will reinsert the United States into international climate change negotiations. He will reestablish our nations credibility and influence over the process.  The Kerry Administration will come to the international table with a serious domestic climate change program in hand.

That domestic program will be centered on a cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  The statement continues: John Kerrys plan recognizes that we must take immediate action to halt and reverse the growth in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our carbon footprint while the economy expands. Leveraging pioneering state and regional programs, Kerrys plan calls for all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions to participate in a cap and trade emissions reduction program for CO2 and other greenhouse gases (not just utilities, as some have suggested), so that the power of the marketplace can be directed to encourage that the most cost-effective reductions be made, whether at coal-fired utilities or from automobile tailpipes.  This cap-and-trade program will reinforce other near-term initiatives that drive down emissions without reducing economic output.

In addition Kerry offers a predictable mix of measures to require energy conservation and efficiency, such as higher CAF standards for automobiles.  Kerry would also require increased use of renewable energy.  Subsidies for rural America are not neglected: We can capture emissions reductions opportunities in forests, rangelands, and farmland by providing financial incentive for no-till agriculture and maintaining and increasing natural carbon sinks such as forests and rangelands.

Finally, The Kerry plan will establish the Energy Security and Conservation Trust Fund to invest in the hydrogen economy and other promising technologies, with clear targets for increasing the number of hydrogen powered cars and trucks on the nations roads.  Because of the importance of coal to our energy mix, the Kerry Administration will actively support technologies that separate and sequester CO2 when extracting the energy from coal.

Keen observers will have noticed that one of John Kerrys key campaigning points recently has been the current high price of gasoline.  According to a study by the American Council for Capital Formation in 2000, the Kyoto Protocol would add 71 cents to the price of each gallon.

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