Over on Grist, there is an article written by Senator John Kerry about the new climate legislation being introduced in the U.S. Senate. His message has a sobering but pragmatic tone:
A comprehensive climate bill written purely for you and me — true believers — can’t pass the Senate no matter how hard or passionately I fight on it. No, it’s got to be an effort that makes my colleagues — and that has to include Republicans so we can get to 60 — comfortable about the jobs we’re going to create and the protection for consumers and the national security benefits — and it has to address those pieces on their terms. The good news: I think we got that balance right.
It is hard to know whether he is right about that, and I felt similarly ambivalent about the previous Waxman-Markey climate bill. That said, Kerry’s argument does highlight the trade-off the frequently exists in policy-making between how well designed a policy is, to reach its objectives, and how well crafted it is from the perspective of political possibility. It’s a shame that what is necessary in the real world can be impossible in the political world, but that is a reality that must be incorporated into our strategies.
Given the series of blows against good climate policy recently, having some sort of legislative success in the United States could be very important. It could help drive Canada towards finally doing something about climate change, and it could help revive the moribund UN process internationally. Also, like many other weak pieces of domestic climate legislation passed before, it could always be strengthened after the fact.
For what it’s worth, here’s hoping the US manages to do something, if only so as to stop providing the rest of the world with such a convenient justification for doing nothing.