In the summer of 2007 a group of private citizens of varying politics formed the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) to sketch an environmental program for the Administration to take office in January 2008. The PCAP was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and others, and it created an impressive action plan for that incoming President. PCAP has just published a 2012 action plan for the next presidential term, which first looks back on its 2008 action plan, and its being ignored, as follows:
“We worked in the awareness that global warming is the defining issue of our generation, and that time for effective action is very short. We believed that the issue transcends the worn out divisions between conservatives and liberals and requires a unified national response. We also knew that climate changes were larger and coming faster than previously thought, even a few years ago. And we still believed that the federal government would respond to clear dangers based on irrefutable scientific data and clear logic.”
How touchingly naive. My own 16-month campaign for Congress and a year’s experience doing this blog have convinced me that the American public and its elected representatives are bullet-proof against all proposals for serious actions to slow global warming, for now. But some good people slog on, and PCAP with its 33-member National Advisory Committee (including one past presidential aspirant, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart) has its 2012 action plan with the following summary recommendations:
“These 10 ideas are offered with our encouragement that the next president also push the boundaries of executive power if necessary to help the United States transition to a secure and sustainable 21st century economy. In brief, we recommend that the president:
- COMPLETE THE JOB OF PRICING CARBON. Issue clear criteria for pricing, trading or capping carbon and work with Congress to produce a bill that complies. Make clear that in the meantime, EPA will continue and expand its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
- REFORM FEDERAL FISCAL POLICY FOR AN ADVANCED ENERGY ECONOMY. Revive the National Commission on Fiscal Policy and Reform to recommend modernization of the tax code, federal programs, regulations, disbursements and revenues to support a low-carbon rather than a carbon-intensive U.S. economy.
- MAKE AMERICA FIRST IN ENERGY PRODUCTIVITY. Challenge all sectors of the economy to make the United States the most energy-efficient industrial economy in the world. Lead with substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of the federal government and mobilize federal programs to support the campaign.
- DEVELOP A NATIONAL ROADMAP TO AN ADVANCED ENERGY ECONOMY. Work with governors, mayors, industry, economists and expert organizations to create a roadmap to an advanced energy economy, including clear goals, milestones and performance measures.
- MAKE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT A NATIONAL SECURITY IMPERATIVE. Codify a central role for sustainable development in national security strategy. Tell the American people that every household and community can make the nation more secure by reducing its use of fossil fuels, becoming more resilient, and helping to reduce and adapt to the impacts of global climate change.
- INCREASE AMERICA’S MOBILITY OPTIONS. Inform Congress that the 2014 transportation reauthorization bill must be designed to reduce America’s use of petroleum and increase mobility options for the American people, including elderly, young, disabled, minority and low-income people who cannot operate or afford automobiles.
- EMPOWER STATE AND LOCAL LEADERSHIP ON ENERGY AND CLIMATE. State and local energy policies are already having a significant impact on U.S. carbon emissions. Champion ample funding and authorities for states and cities to establish sustain and expand their clean energy and climate programs.
- INTENSIFY CARBON DIPLOMACY. Negotiate additional bilateral and multi-lateral agreements for collaborative research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies. Make the U.S. a leader in carrying out commitments under the Durban Platform and push for rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that are possible with the the phase-down of HFCs.
- DEVELOP GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATORS. Adopt metrics on public health, education, food security, housing availability, civic engagement and other quality-of-life factors not measured by GDP. Report America’s progress every two years in the State of the Union address.
- HELP THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ENVISION AN ADVANCED ENERGY ECONOMY. Communicate directly with the American people to explain the urgency and to build support for the transition to a 21st century energy economy. Use social media and state-of-the-art visual communications to help people share their ideas and better understand what clean energy will mean to their communities and lives.”
The optimist will be encouraged that one more group of impressive Americans have heard climate scientists’ warnings and grabbed a bullhorn. The pessimist will respond that strong evidence that fouling the air with greenhouse gases, destroying forests and abusing oceans leads to a less-hospitable world have been around for decades without generating any basic changes in the way we live. I choose to opt for hope and constructive action even as Sarah Palin’s sarcastic question, “How’s that hopey, changey thing going for you?” rings in my head.