[David Hawkins is Director of NRDC's climate center. I have the very highest regard for his judgment on matters of climate policy and politics, even when I (rarely) disagree with him. I wrote a scathing critique of the recent USCAP climate blueprint and NRDC's role in it on Thursday (see here). David asked for space to reply in detail. Stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 450 ppm (let alone below that) is simply not politically possible today, as I've written many times (see " Part 6: What the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill debate tells us" and "Part 7: The harsh lessons of the financial bailout") -- and that means people negotiating climate legislation must make tough choices that will not satisfy everyone. I recommend this post to anyone who wants to understand the challenge of trying to craft a climate bill that can actually pass Congress.]
You are and will remain a respected friend. As an author and blogger, you call it as you see it on what needs to happen to emissions and our energy system if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. And you do a great job at it.
We at NRDC have another job. We must do what has to be done to move this Congress to enact climate protection legislation that will change overnight the kinds of energy and other investments that are made, start the innovation engine spinning, bend our emissions down without further delay, and show the world that the U.S. has emerged from its cave of inaction.
We are buoyed by President-elect Obama’s commitment to act but we will need action from Congress as well. The new Congress contains a growing number of climate protection champions but it also contains a core of obstructionists bent on using every tactic to block any action, other members who think global warming is not enough of a problem to warrant any real change, and members who are inclined to be helpful but not if it involves spending much political capital as they see it. We don’t have time to change who the members of Congress are; we need to change the way current members think about this issue.
There are a number of ways to move Congress to act and NRDC is pursuing all that we believe will help. One important way is to engage deeper and broader support for action from the U.S. business community-a community that until recently was dominated by outspoken opponents of any action to cut global warming pollution. The USCAP Blueprint you attack is an effort to get major American business leaders, joined with a number of U.S. NGOs, firmly committed to working to get this Congress to pass climate protection legislation. It is part of a process designed to make good legislation possible.