Speaking with young climate activists on a conference call last Tuesday night, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said that even though the timing of his climate bill was tricky, it is doable.
Senator Kerry, co-author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act along with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cali.), told the young leaders that he was confident the Senate would vote on a climate bill before the upcoming Copenhagen COP-15 climate talks in December, but he also tempered his optimism with a note of caution about the kind of agreement that would likely be reached at Copenhagen.
"I don't expect Copenhagen to come up with a full treaty," said Kerry, citing the short amount of time the negotiating teams will have to hammer out the technical specifics of a plan. Kerry said the important part would be agreeing to strong political targets and that the technical specifics could be hammered out in upcoming meetings.
Many believe that for the United States to be taken seriously in Copenhagen, negotiators need to come to the table having taken care of their own house first. But while that's no easy task, Kerry and other Democratic strategists have reframed climate legislation in language more familiar to environmental activists of the 1960s and early 1970s -- pollution. "We ought to fight about pollution again in America," Kerry told the climate activists.
"[We need to] put pollution back in the front seat," said Kerry, reminding the young activists that it was the pollution frame that was at the heart of landmark U.S. environmental legislation the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Language in the Kerry-Boxer climate bill avoids the use of the now-loaded "cap and trade" terminology, replacing it with "Pollution Reduction Target". Republicans have seized upon 'cap and trade' consistently calling it a "cap and tax" at every opportunity.
"We don't call it cap and trade any more because it has a terrible image," said Kerry.
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