New Players on Global Warming
Given the Bush administration's inert approach to global warming, the best hope for getting a start on the problem this year lies with the Senate. The prospect that something will actually happen there improved greatly this week with the introduction of a bipartisan bill bearing the signatures of two marquee sponsors, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John McCain of Arizona.
The bill provides an economywide approach to cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, that threaten to disrupt the earth's climate in environmentally destructive ways. It would require industrial sources to scale back emissions and would also establish a market-based system of emissions trading, modeled on the successful 1990 acid rain program, to encourage innovation and help polluting industries meet their targets at the lowest possible cost.
These targets are more modest than America's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement on climate change signed by the Clinton administration in 1997 and rejected as too costly by President Bush. Kyoto has since been ratified by about 100 countries. But given the administration's hostility, even the most aggressive environmentalists in this country would be happy just to establish clear goals and provide incentives for all the big polluters to begin getting a grip on their emissions.
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