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Politics of global warming

Written By Direktur Iklan on Minggu, 23 Agustus 2009 | 03.41

The politics of global warming have involved policy decisions, legislation, and political debate over the science of and response to global warming. The political struggle over global warming has involved various governmental bodies, special-interest groups, and scientific organizations.

Political sphere

* European Union's European Climate Change Programme
* Developing countries
* 31st G8 summit

Political alignment and global warming

In most English-speaking countries, support for action to mitigate global warming, such as ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is strong on the political left.

However, the first politician putting Global Warming on the political agenda was Richard Nixon 1969. Nixon wanted environmental topics (as acid rain and greenhouse effect) to be treated by a third and civil pillar of NATO. The reaction of the NATO allies was lukewarm but the initiative gained impact in the civil field. Margaret Thatcher has been involved as well in bringing an anti-carbon element in the public agenda. In Germany Angela Merkel, then secretary of the environment during the conservative Helmut Kohl government, lead the German Kyoto Delegation and had a substantial role in making the Kyoto agreement possible

* In Australia, the Labor party ratified Kyoto
* In Canada, the Liberal Party government ratified Kyoto
* In New Zealand, the Labour government of Helen Clark ratified Kyoto
* In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party ratified Kyoto
* In the United States, Bill Clinton's Administration signed Kyoto and Democrats have proposed and supported a number of bills to mitigate emissions. Although Kyoto is signed, the Democratic Congress refuses to take a vote on it and thus the United States is not bound to the treaty. Barack Obama supports passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act to establish a United States Carbon Cap and Trade Program.

In some countries the political right are fighting on a platform of taking tough action against global warming, while in others the political right either dispute the scientific consensus on global warming or oppose action to mitigate global warming, instead favoring adaption. All European countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and all have supported strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

* In the United States, a February 2007 survey found that 95% of the 41 Congressional Democrats surveyed agreed "it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems" while only 13% of the 31 Republicans surveyed agreed.

* Global warming skepticism has been promoted by newspapers associated with the right such as The Australian, the Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom and the National Post in Canada.

United States

Specific actions of the Bush administration
See also: Presidency of George W. Bush

In June 2005, US State Department papers showed the Bush administration thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, including the U.S. stance on Kyoto. Input from the business lobby group Global Climate Coalition was also a factor.

The Bush administration implemented an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on "climate polluters," according to a report in Rolling Stone magazine which reviews hundreds of internal government documents and former government officials."'They've got a political clientele that does not want to be regulated,' says Rick Piltz, a former Bush climate official who blew the whistle on White House censorship of global-warming documents in 2005. 'Any honest discussion of the science would stimulate public pressure for a stronger policy. They're not stupid.'

"Bush's do-nothing policy on global warming began almost as soon as he took office. By pursuing a carefully orchestrated policy of delay, the White House blocked even the most modest reforms and replaced them with token investments in futuristic solutions like hydrogen cars. 'It's a charade,' says Jeremy Symons, who represented the EPA on Cheney's energy task force, the industry-studded group that met in secret to craft the administration's energy policy. 'They have a single-minded determination to do nothing -- while making it look like they are doing something.' . . .

"The CEQ became Cheney's shadow EPA, with industry calling the shots. To head up the council, Cheney installed James Connaughton, a former lobbyist for industrial polluters, who once worked to help General Electric and ARCO skirt responsibility for their Superfund waste sites. "two weeks after Bush took office - ExxonMobil's top lobbyist, Randy Randol, demanded a housecleaning of the scientists in charge of studying global warming. . . .Exxon's wish was the CEQ's command.

Also, the White House removed key portions of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report given to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the dangers to human health of global warming. According to one CDC official familiar with both the CDC version and the version given to the Senate, the version given to the Senate was "eviscerated." The White House prevented the Senate and thus the public from receiving key CDC estimates in the report about diseases likely to flourish in a warmer climate, increased injuries and deaths from severe weather such as hurricanes, more respiratory problems from drought-driven air pollution, an increase in waterborne diseases including cholera, increases in vector-borne diseases including malaria and hantavirus, mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress, and how many people might be adversely affected because of increased warming.

Also according to testimony taken by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Bush White House pressured American scientists to suppress discussion of global warming

"High-quality science" was "struggling to get out," as the Bush administration pressured scientists to tailor their writings on global warming to fit the Bush administration's skepticism, in some cases at the behest of an ex-oil industry lobbyist. "Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change,' 'global warming' or other similar terms from a variety of communications."

Similarly, according to the testimony of senior officers of the Government Accountability Project, the White House attempted to bury the report "National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change," produced by U.S. scientists pursuant to U.S. law. Some U.S. scientists resigned their jobs rather than give in to White House pressure to underreport global warming.

Federal government
See also: Energy policy of the United States, Environmental policy of the United States, and U.S. Climate Change Science Program

The United States, although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the protocol — though their one-time representative, Condoleezza Rice, remarked that the Protocol was "unacceptable" at the time it was presented to her. The protocol is non-binding over the United States unless ratified. Former US President, George W. Bush, did not submit the treaty for ratification, believing the treaty would strain the economy and emphasized the uncertainties in the climate change issue.

In October 2003, the Pentagon published a report titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall. The authors conclude by stating that "this report suggests that, because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change, although uncertain and quite possibly small, should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern."

From 1989 to 2005, oil and gas industries gave $179.5 million to U.S. federal candidates and parties. In October 2003 and again in June 2005, the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act failed a vote in the US Senate. . In the 2005 vote, Republicans opposed the Bill 49-6, while Democrats supported it 37-10.

In January 2007, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would form a United States Congress subcommittee to examine global warming. The US government announced that it was withdrawing funding from the lobby groups it had been supporting that aimed to discount the evidence for global warming.

Sen. Joe Lieberman said, "I'm hot to get something done. It's hard not to conclude that the politics of global warming has changed and a new consensus for action is emerging and it is a bipartisan consensus."

See also Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate.

The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 was introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on January 15, 2007. The measure would provide funding for R&D on geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, set emissions standards for new vehicles and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, establish energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards beginning in 2008 and low-carbon electric generation standards beginning in 2016 for electric utilities, and require periodic evaluations by the National Academy of Sciences to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.However, the bill died in committee.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) was approved by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009 by a vote of 219-212, but has not yet been approved by the Senate.

Political pressure on scientists

US officials, such as Philip Cooney, have repeatedly edited scientific reports from US government scientists, many of whom, such as Thomas Knutson, have been ordered to refrain from discussing climate change and related topics.

Climate scientist James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, claimed in a widely cited New York Times article in 2006 that his superiors at the agency were trying to "censor" information "going out to the public." NASA denied this, saying that it was merely requiring that scientists make a distinction between personal, and official government, views in interviews conducted as part of work done at the agency. Several scientists working at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have made similar complaints; once again, government officials said they were enforcing long-standing policies requiring government scientists to clearly identify personal opinions as such when participating in public interviews and forums.

The BBC's long-running current affairs series Panorama recently investigated the issue, and was told that "scientific reports about global warming have been systematically changed and suppressed."

According to an Associated Press release on January 30, 2007,

"Climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

"The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report."

Critics writing in the Wall Street Journal editorial page claim that the survey was itself unscientific.

Attempts to suppress scientific information on global warming and other issues have been described by Chris Mooney as constituting a Republican War on Science.

Allegations of conservative attempts to mislead the public

The book Hell and High Water asserts that there has been a disingenuous, concerted and effective campaign to convince Americans that the science is not proven, or that global warming is the result of natural cycles, and that there needs to be more research. The book claims that, to delay action, industry and government spokesmen suggest falsely that "technology breakthroughs" will eventually save us with hydrogen cars and other fixes. It calls on voters to demand immediate government action to curb emissions. Tyler Hamilton, in his review of the book for The Toronto Star, wrote that the book offers "alarming detail on how the U.S. public was being misled by the Bush administration(backed by conservative political forces) that is intent on inaction, and that's also on a mission to derail international efforts to curb emissions."

Papers presented at an International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, held in 2009 under the sponsorship of the University of Copenhagen in cooperation with nine other universities in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), maintained that the climate-change skepticism which is so prevalent in the USA "was largely generated and kept alive by a small number of conservative think tanks, often with direct funding from industries having special interests in delaying or avoiding the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions".

Global warming litigation

Several lawsuits have been filed over global warming. For example, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency before the Supreme Court of the United States forced the US government to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. A similar approach was taken by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer who filed a lawsuit California v. General Motors Corp. to force car manufacturers to reduce vehicles' emissions of carbon dioxide. A third case, Comer v. Murphy Oil, was filed by Gerald Maples, a trial attorney in Mississippi, in an effort to force fossil fuel and chemical companies to pay for damages caused by global warming.

State and local governments

However, 195 US cities representing more than 50 million Americans - have committed to reducing carbon emissions to 7% below 1990 levels. In 2005, California (the world's sixth largest economy) committed to reducing emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Measures to meet these targets include tighter automotive emissions standards, and requirements for renewable energy as a proportion of electricity production. The Union of Concerned Scientists has calculated that by 2020, drivers would save $26 billion per year if California’s automotive standards were implemented nationally.

On August 31, 2006, the California leaders of both political parties agreed to terms in the California Global Warming Solutions Act. When this legislation goes into effect it will limit the state’s global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and institute a mandatory emissions reporting system to monitor compliance. The legislation will also allow for market mechanisms to provide incentives to businesses to reduce emissions while safeguarding local communities. The bill was signed into law on September 27, 2006, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared, "We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late... The science is clear. The global warming debate is over."

Gov. Schwarzenegger also announced he would seek to work with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, and various other international efforts to address global warming, independently of the federal government.

On September 8, 2006, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano signed an executive order calling on the state to create initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the 2000 level by the year 2020 and to 50 percent below the 2000 level by 2040.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Ten Northeastern US states are involved in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a state level emissions capping and trading program. It is believed that the state-level program will apply pressure on the federal government to support Kyoto Protocol.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Main article: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI is a cap and trade system for CO2 emissions from power plants in the member states. Emission permit auctioning began in September 2008, and the first three-year compliance period began on January 1, 2009. Proceeds will be used to promote energy conservation and renewable energy. The system affects fossil fuel power plants with 25 MW or greater generating capacity ("compliance entities").

* Participating states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island
* Observer states and regions: Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Québec, New Brunswick, Ontario.

Federal government attempts to undermine state efforts

The Bush Administration worked to undermine state efforts to mitigate global warming. Then-Transportation Secretary Mary Peters personally directed US efforts to urge governors and dozens of members of the House of Representatives to block California’s first-in-the-nation limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks, according to e-mails obtained by Congress.


Pope Benedict XVI told up to half a million people, over a hillside near the Adriatic city of Loreto on the day Catholic Church marks its annual Save Creation Day, that world leaders must make courageous decisions to save the planet "before it is too late" .


* Canada's Liberal Government during the 1990s had agreed to Kyoto but oversaw the increase of greenhouse gas emissions during their terms in office and did little to meet Kyoto's targets. Canada's current Conservative Government has claimed that, due to increased emissions since 1990, it is realistically impossible to meet their Kyoto targets and attempting to do so would be disastrous for the Canadian economy. Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for being adamant in leaving Kyoto and working on a different climate plan. Consequently, this issue has become something of an Achilles Heel for the Government in recent months. The current Liberal Party has been quick in their condemnation of the Government but has also been accused of using Global Warming for political purposes as seen in the naming of leader Stéphane Dion's dog 'Kyoto'. Recent polls have indicated that, if there were to be an election soon, the environment would be the top issue for Canadians.

Asia and Oceania

* Australia has now officially signed the Kyoto ratification, after the new Labor government came into power on December 3, 2007. The previous Coalition government had long objected to ratifying the treaty, arguing it would unduly impact on Australian jobs, especially when countries such as China, India and the U.S. were not party to it.
* Japan is preparing to force industry to make big cuts in greenhouse gases, taking the lead in a country struggling to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations.


* Russia signed the Kyoto Protocol in November 2004, after a deal with the European Union over WTO membership. Russia's ratification completed the requirements of the treaty to come into force, based on nations totaling 55% of world greenhouse gas emissions.
* The UK government-commissioned Stern Review into the economic effects of climate change was published in October 2006. Tony Blair's assessment was that it showed that scientific evidence of global warming was "overwhelming" and its consequences "disastrous". He added, "We can't wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto — we simply don't have the time. We accept we have to go further than Kyoto."
* Britain's government launched an official calculator in the week of June 18, 2007 that enables every person in the country to work out how much carbon dioxide he produces and how to cut it. Tory group sets out plans for Green Revolution.

Positions of the Energy Industries

One of the biggest opponents of action on global warming has been the fossil fuels energy industry, and particularly the oil industry, such as ExxonMobil, which regularly publishes papers minimizing the threat of global warming. In 1998, the company started providing financial support to organizations and individuals who disagreed with the scientific consensus that human activities were contributing to climate change. One of the groups that received funds from the company was the Competitive Enterprise Institute. ExxonMobil also helped create the "Global Climate Science Team" whose members were active climate contrarians. According to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, between 1998 and 2005, ExxonMobil dispersed roughly $16 million to organizations that were challenging the scientific consensus view. After heavy criticism from the press and environmental groups in late 2006 and early 2007, ExxonMobil began distancing itself from these organizations.

In 2005, the oil giant opposed a shareholders' resolution to explain the science behind its denial of global warming. In recent years, other companies have increasingly come to accept the existence and consequences of global warming; for example, the Chairman of BP, John Browne, declared a need for action in 2002. Lord Oxburgh, non-executive chairman of Shell, said in a speech at the 2005 Hay-on-Wye Festival: "We have 45 years, and if we start now, not in 10 or 15 years' time, we have a chance of hitting those targets. But we've got to start now. We have no time to lose."

One sector of the energy industry that has no problem with the greenhouse gas arguments is the nuclear industry. Margret Thatcher was one of the first major political figures to suggest that the nuclear power was a "green" solution. This was largely regarded with derision at the time but it is the ultimate goal of Tony Blair's solution to tomorrow's energy needs and probably explains his enthusiasm for CO2 emission controls.

Indeed as many countries move towards legally binding engagements to Kyoto targets, including fines for failing to achieve them, many governments may find this a convenient excuse for otherwise unpopular expansions of their nuclear programs.

As pointed out on Counter Punch the nuclear power industry is not slow to present itself as the "green" solution :

only realistic way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels in the next ten years is to bring on-line at least an additional 50 reactors. "Nuclear energy has been the largest single contributor to reduced air pollution in the world over the past 20 years", the NEI's Kyoto global warming book boasts.

Nuclear power produces fewer CO2 emissions than fossil fuel plants; the exact level remains somewhat controversial; Greenpeace assert that nuclear power produces about one third of the CO2 emissions as equivalent fossil fuels energy over the lifetime of an installation.

Environmental groups

Thousands of protesters marched on the international day of action on December 3, 2005, which coincided with the first meeting of the Parties in Montreal. The planned demonstrations were endorsed by the Assembly of Movements of the World Social Forum.

Christian environmental groups are also increasingly active on climate change, such as The Evangelical Climate Initiative.

US Catholic Bishops also have recognized the urgency of addressing global warming in a 2001 statement from the US Congress of Catholic Bishops Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good

In New Zealand, the Climaction Coalition has blockaded the main thoroughfares of Auckland City on two occasions, calling for Free and Frequent Public Transport to reduce the city's dependency on cars. They argue that such a measure would also help reduce global warming if repeated in other cities throughout the world.


There are a large number of academic contributions specifically to the politics of global warming. The following are a small subset of these works:

* G8 science academies' statements
* Monograph by Dessler and Parson entitled The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: a Guide to the Debate, emphasizing the complexity of the issue.

Global Warming Celebrities

Many celebrities have become involved with green campaigning. They include Charlize Theron, Morgan Freeman, Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Salma Hayek, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joanne Woodward. Others who have become better known to the public because of their environmental statements include Al Gore, Prince Albert of Monaco.


The debate over global warming was raised to a considerably higher profile when former Vice President Al Gore was given an Academy Award for his documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. Gore has made a considerable number of public appearances to promote the film and the subject-matter within it.

Other major media treatments of the controversy:

* The Great Global Warming Swindle
* Hell and High Water
* Michael Crichton
* The Day After Tomorrow
* Are We Changing Planet Earth?


Politics of global warming

* 1969, on Initiative of US President Richard Nixon, NATO tried to establish a third civil column and planned to establish itself as a hub of research and initiatives in the civil region, especially on environmental topics . Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nixons NATO delegate for the topic named Acid Rain and the Greenhouse effect as suitable international challenges to be dealt by NATO. NATO had suitable expertise in the field, experience with international research coordination and a direct access to governments. After an enthusiastic start on authority level, the German government reacted sceptical. The initiative was seen as an American attempt to regain international terrain after the lost Vietnam War. The topics and the internal coordination and preparation effort however gained momentum in civil conferences and institutions in Germany and beyond during the Brandt government.
* 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, leading role of Nobel Prize winner Willy Brandt and Olof Palme, Germany saw enhanced international research cooperation on the Greenhouse topic as necessary
* 1978 Brandt Report, the greenhouse effect dealt with in the energy section
* 1979: First World Climate Conference
* 1987: Brundtland Report
* 1987: Montreal Protocol on restricting ozone layer-damaging CFCs demonstrates the possibility of coordinated international action on global environmental issues
* 1988: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up to coordinate scientific research, by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the "risk of human-induced climate change".
* 1992: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, entering into force 21 March 1994
* 1996: European Union adopts target of a maximum 2°C rise in average global temperature
* 25 June 1997: U.S. Senate passes Byrd-Hagel Resolution rejecting Kyoto without more commitments from developing countries
* 1997: Kyoto Protocol agreed
* 2001: George W. Bush withdraws from the Kyoto negotiations
* 16 February 2005: Kyoto Protocol comes into force (not including the US or Australia)
* 2005: first carbon emissions trading scheme (EU) implemented
* July 2005: 31st G8 summit has climate change on the agenda, but makes relatively little concrete progress
* November/December 2005: United Nations Climate Change Conference; the first meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, alongside the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11), to plan further measures for 2008-2012 and beyond.
* July 19, 2006: In California, Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed forming the Climate Action Board, a new, centralized authority under his direct control that would be responsible for implementing one of the nation's most far-reaching initiatives to curb global warming. California ranks 12th in the world in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, however its regulatory actions tend to have far-reaching effects throughout the U.S.
* October 30, 2006: The Stern Review is published. It is the first comprehensive contribution to the global warming debate by an economist and its conclusions lead to the promise of urgent action by the UK government to further curb Europe's CO2 emissions and engage other countries to do so. It discusses the consequences of climate change, mitigation measures to prevent it, possible adaptation measures to deal with its consequences, and prospects for international cooperation.
* June 26, 2009: U.S. House of Representatives passes the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the "first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change."

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