US Election Campaign and the Environment

Today the world is watching the US election. Little – if anything – has been said about the Environment by candidates Obama and McCain in the last weeks of the campaign. Ironic, in a tragic sort of way, is how important this issue was just one year ago.

Even the global economic breakdown that is still unfolding as US voters go to the polls seems to have taken second place to Faith with a capital F – not religious and not even ideological – the kind of big question mark Faith that is necessary when you know your vote counts for something very important – but you’re not exactly sure what it is.

But when the winner is determined, the atmosphere will still be heating up. It might be worth noting, therefore, what each presidential candidate’s position is on something like green house gas emissions.

Both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama have recognized the need to reduce emissions. That in itself might seem like progress, but neither has indicated he is interested in meeting Kyoto targets (remember them?). The US decided not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997 and by 2003 it was almost 25 % higher than the target it had agreed to in 1997.

In other words, the USA isn’t achieving much by way of international targets in emissions reductions. The election promises of 2008 are now the only estimate of what can be expected.

Both candidates set their goals for 2050, by which time Mr. McCain aims to reduce to USA emissions by 60 % of 1990 levels, and Mr. Obama’s goal is a reduction of 80 % of the same baseline.

Now, back to watching the election results.

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Colin Laughlan