VIEWS: A Divided Climate

Dispatch from SSC Intern Matt Logan 

Recently, we witnessed two interesting developments in the realm of climate change action in the United States.  At the top of this list is the fact that several prominent businesses, including Nike and Apple, have withdrawn from the United States Chamber of Commerce.  Nike explained in a public statement, “We fundamentally disagree with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change.”

 In response, Thomas Donohue, the chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, stated that “Some in the environmental movement claim that, because of our opposition to a specific bill or approach, we must be opposed to all efforts to reduce greenhouse gases or that we deny the existence of any problem…  They are dead wrong.”  While some in the environmental community believe that this statement is disingenuous, it nevertheless shows that even perceived opponents of climate change legislation are now at least acknowledging that there is a problem and that something must be done about it.   Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its plans to do something about the problem by forcing new or renovated facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year to prove that they have applied the best technologies available to reduce carbon emissions, or else face penalties.  Many businesses dispute EPA’s jurisdiction to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, and lawsuits would likely be forthcoming if EPA attempts to act upon this plan.

However, it is distinctly possible that action is not the objective of this plan at all.  Instead, it may be used as a bargaining chip at the Copenhagen talks in December, in order to prove that the United States is taking climate change seriously, that is in the case that comprehensive climate change legislation does not pass by then.   

For more information, see “Divisions in U.S. Over Emissions,” by Tom Zeller by clicking here.