New national coalition – Climate SOS Action Alert: join and forward!

Dear Supporter of Environmental & Social Justice,

A new coalition, Climate SOS, has formed to oppose the federal cap-and-trade bill under revision by the Senate. They need your support! Please take 2 minutes and join the network at: http://www.climatesos.org/about-us/members/

Their email action alert is forwarded below, followed by a few articles of interest. Thank you!

Link to email alert online

CLIMATE SOS

TELL YOUR SENATORS A CLIMATE BILL THAT IS “WORSE THAN NOTHING” IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

This past June, the House passed the American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACESA). Soon, this bill will be voted on by the Senate. If passed, this climate bill would:

a. Prevent the U.S. from making anything remotely close to its fair share of greenhouse gas emissions reductions – necessary for averting catastrophic consequences and forging an effective global strategy on climate stabilization.

b. Lock us into an extremely complex cap-and-trade scheme that benefits fossil fuel, utilities, the Wall Street, and big agribusinesses, prone to Enron style market manipulations, while doing nothing to save the climate.

c. Use public money to subsidize the most polluting industries like coal and nuclear, drawing much needed financing away from real climate solutions like renewable energy production;

d. Add more toxic and climate polluting smokestacks, especially in backyards of the poor, people of color, and indigenous communities across the U.S., by grandfathering dirty old coal plants, permitting numerous new ones, and subsidizing incinerators as a form of renewable energy.

In the words of leading climate scientist James Hansen, ACESA would “do more harm to the environment than doing nothing at all.”

Please contact your Senators and let them know that as a person deeply concerned about climate change, you want to see climate legislation passed, but ONLY IF IT IS REAL AND EFFECTIVE legislation, not like ACESA.

Visit or call your Senators’ home offices before Sep7.

After that, Capitol Switchboard is: (202) 224-3121.

Email US senators from HERE

If a Senate bill modeled upon the House version (ACESA) is passed, it will commit us to a pathway that ensures catastrophic climate change – endangering the lives of hundred of millions of people worldwide, especially communities that already suffer the bulk of the impacts and play little or no role in its cause. If the Senate cannot dramatically improve on ACESA, rather than lock bad law into place, our leaders should go back to the drawing board and get serious on producing meaningful legislation. This could mean supporting a filibuster, or a “no” vote on the basis that the bill does not do enough to avert catastrophic warming. Then we must take up the fight for our lives – a real bill that does nothing less than ensure a safe and just future.

Climate change deniers, fossil fuel-based industries, and other special interests will also be seeking to keep climate legislation from passing, but we have entirely different motives. We must make it clear to our leaders that there are other, more honorable reasons to oppose this legislation, and emphasize that many of the provisions of ACESA, likely to also be in the Senate version, are highly likely to worsen rather than remedy the problem of climate change.

Tell your senators that “Worse than Nothing” is Not Good Enough!

Climate SOS is launching a national “Green Bill or No Bill” tour during August and September, seeking to empower people to meet with their Senators, take action, and demand real climate legislation. We especially need local help in these states: ND, IN, AR, LA, NE, OH, WV, PA. Our tour will also touch down in NY, MA, VT, CA, OR, WA.

HELP US HELP OUR PLANET NOW!

Please pass on this alert, join our growing coalition,

and/or help out with the tour.

Please contact us at: [email protected]

Visit or call your Senators’ home offices before Sep7. After that, Capitol Switchboard is: (202) 224-3121. Email US senators from here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

KEY TALKING POINTS TO BRING UP WITH YOUR SENATOR:

We need not just any climate bill, but one that will actually rise to the challenge

Tell your senator: “A vote against a climate bill that not only fails to go far enough, but would actually make things worse, is a green vote. You know that we can and must do better if we want to forestall climate change. Please scrap this bill and start over if need be. In its current form, it will do more harm than goodŠ.Here’s why:”

1. The bill does not even aim for keeping atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration below 450 parts-per-million (ppm). Current science tells us that we must return to below 350 ppm. We are currently at 387 ppm and already experiencing serious consequences while the worst is still coming down the pipeline, due to delays in climate system amplifications of man-made warming. Let’s take serious action before it’s too late!

2. It relies upon a cap and trade scheme to reduce emissions. Cap and trade has been tried before-for example, in the European Union and elsewhere-and proven ineffective(1,2). Dr. James Hansen calls it “a subterfuge designed to allow business-as-usual to continue”. Effective options (revenue-neutral tax and dividend, for example) for regulating carbon emissions should be implemented.

3. It allows carbon polluters to keep polluting if they buy offsets. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has faulted the credibility of the lucrative* CO2 offsets market, yet the bill continues to rely upon this dubious scheme(3,4). Offsets are not an effective substitute for straightforward pollution reduction at the smokestack. Over half of the approved offset credits under the Kyoto Protocol have turned out not to meet the required criteria of “verifiable, additional or permanent”

4. It preempts the EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. This important public agency, which exists to protect Americans from environmental harm, should be allowed to do its job.

5. It categorizes a host of destructive technologies, such as the burning of biomass and garbage, as “renewable,” which makes them eligible for taxpayer- and ratepayer-funded green energy incentives. We should not be giving toxic smokestack and carbon-intensive incinerator technologies the same privileged status as wind, geothermal, and solar.

6. Industry-specific carbon accounting loopholes are written into the bill. For example, the CO2 from wood biomass burning, in a seemingly arbitrary move, does not get counted or capped at the smokestack, and when trees are harvested to feed biomass plants, the carbon emissions are not counted in the forestry sector either. Biomass burning should not get a free ride. Biomass burning results in carbon emissions that will take decades, potentially hundreds of years to resequester, if ever. We desperately need to be protecting, not burning, our forest and grassland ecosystems.

7. It grandfathers existing coal plants and will allow many new coal plants to come on line. Even though Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology is supposedly required years later, its existence can not be counted on, is much more expensive compared to solar and wind, and potential leakage makes underground storage of sequestered CO2 a serious threat to the integrity of climate mitigation and even public safety. We should be quickly phasing out coal plants starting now. We also need to invest in just transition pathways for utilities workers, coal miners and their families, so that the new energy economy is one that is rooted in community justice.

8. A letter to Congress, signed by over 200 organizations nationwide (initiated by the Center for Biological Diversity) points to many of the same concerns we identify, claiming Š”we recognize the massive political effort that is necessary to pass climate legislation, but a bill with inadequate targets, loophole ridden mechanisms, rollbacks of our flagship environmental laws, and inadequate financing to help developing countries address climate change will move us in the wrong direction.”

In sum, this bill will entrench us in pathways into deeper pollution and poverty, and our last chance of averting the worst of climate catastrophe will be lost forever. Our most vulnerable communities both in the U.S. and around the world – predominantly working poor, people of color and Indigenous communities that have the lightest carbon footprints will be the first to suffer from the impacts of these failures.
(1) http://www.grist.org/article/emissions-trading-a-mixed-record-with-plenty-of-failures/

(2) http://www.ejmatters.org/docs/Cap_Trade_Trail_of_Failures_1pg.pdf

(3) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122244615963779185.html

(4) http://www.co2offsetresearch.org/policy/Market.html

*(Global CO2 offset transactions have been estimated at $7.2 billion in 2008, with transactions in the secondary market topping $25 billion. Under an ACESA type of bill this market will be greatly expanded)

Climate SOS – www.climatesos.org[email protected]

Other Articles of Interest:

  1. “Cap-and-Trade’s Unlikely Critics: Its Creators Economists Behind Original Concept Question the System’s Large-Scale Usefulness, and Recommend Emissions Taxes Instead.” — Wall Street Journal , Aug. 13, 2009.
  2. “Australia’s Senate passed a renewable energy law today, a few days after opposition and minority parties joined forces to kill the federal government’s carbon-trading plan.” — “Australian Senate Embraces Renewable Energy After Dumping Cap-and-Trade,” Solveclimate.com , Aug. 20, 2009.
  3. “Where the picture turns as murky as whisky-brown Southern California smog is how Sholtz, a then thirtysomething go-getter, was able to deceive the very air-pollution market she helped conceive, and the lessons that holds for keeping financial crooks out of the trillion-dollar, greenhouse-gas trading system that President Obama has trumpeted as a key to curbing global warming. Unless you’re in the arcane field of emissions trading, chances are you’ve probably never heard of Sholtz. Last April, the former Pasadena entrepreneur was convicted in federal court of fraud relating to a multimillion-dollar deal for credits in Southern California’s novel smog-exchange. Despite pleas that she sock Sholtz with years behind bars, US Central District Court Judge Audrey Collins gave her just a year in home confinement… Unfortunately, some fairytales end miserably and in 2002 nine of Sholtz’s clients complained to the AQMD that the fast-riser known for her wonkish lingo and oft-clingy outfits had defrauded them in what would become a convoluted bankruptcy of her firms, with claims in the $80 million range… Sholtz had knowledge of “repeated and flagrant violations” inside the air district’s RECLAIM program that resulted in retribution – and threats of more of it – against potential whistleblowers, and the release of over one million excess pounds of nitrogen oxide when AQMD personnel knew how to offset it. By 2007, RECLAIM had transacted about 40 million pounds of air pollution credits, reports show, so one million pounds in unauthorized discharges would be no small addition. Sholtz, Callahan added, also knew about “manipulation of data [or presenting it in a misleading fashion] to choose projects that would lead to personal gain for … (AQMD) Board Members …” — “An air of deceit: Was convicted smog-credit swindler Anne Sholtz part of shady international ‘money repatriation’ schemes?,” Pasadena Weekly , Aug. 20, 2009.
  4. “British customs officials arrested seven people near London on Wednesday Thursday who are suspected of dodging taxes that should have been paid for selling large amounts of carbon dioxide permits – the main currency in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System. The suspected fraud amounted to £38 million, or nearly $63 million, the British tax agency, HM Revenue & Customs, said in a statement. “It is thought that the proceeds of this crime have then been used to finance lavish lifestyles and the purchase of prestige vehicles…” — “Carbon Traders Arrested for Tax Fraud,” The New York Times blog , Aug. 20, 2009.
  5. “[I]nstead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits – a booming trillion- dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that [Goldman Sachs] gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an ‘environmental plan,’ called cap-and-trade. The new carbon-credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that’s been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won’t even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance… Goldman started pushing hard for capandtrade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues. (One of their lobbyists at the time was none other than Patterson, now Treasury chief of staff.) … The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded…” “Inside The Great American Bubble Machine,” Rolling Stone , July 2, 2009.
  6. “TRADING of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort that fails to reduce carbon emissions – and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast. Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it. Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said ”cap and trade” systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended. ”Cap and trade has proved very vulnerable to vested interests, and therefore too weak to deliver the necessary emission reductions”, he said. ”Cap and trade creates trillions of dollars of new financial instruments to be traded, and subjected to the next financial fads. China and India will never accept a cap and trade regime.” A better solution is to impose a carbon tax on emissions and return the revenue from it to households so people are not made worse off, Dr Shapiro said. A similar approach in Sweden has cut emissions there by 8 per cent since 1990 while GDP rose about 40 per cent.” — “Carbon tax better: Clinton Official,” The Age AU , Aug. 27, 2009.

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