DeSmogBlog owes Obama three apologies

I am a big fan of the climate website, DeSmogBlog. So I was shocked when, the day after his unprecedented victory in Iowa, DeSmogBlog gave Barack Obama (!!) “the inaugural 2007 SmogMaker Award for blowing smoke on global warming.”

Gimme a break. How could anyone win that award any year — let alone in its inaugural year — when George W. Bush is still President? [Not to mention a year in which Lomborg and Inhofe continue their influential disinformation compaigns!]

After all, the “Prize honors those who sow confusion and delay on Climate Change.” Seriously. Bush is easily the confuser and delayer of the year … and the decade … and he surely will be on the short list for the entire century. Yet DeSmog says Obama is “looking like George Bush lite.” How can they make that claim? By misreading — or failing to read — Obama’s terrific climate plan. DeSmogBlog claims:

But he is campaigning on a greenhouse gas reduction ‘target’ that the U.S. won’t have to meet for 42 years….While the world’s leading scientific bodies tell us we need to act immediately to avoid catastrophic climate disruption, Obama has set his own target date at 2050, long past any opportunity for voters to hold him accountable.

Uhh, no. In fact, his plan explicitly states:

Obama will start reducing emissions immediately in his administration by establishing strong annual reduction targets, and he’ll also implement a mandate of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Based on the links in their post, DeSmogBlog’s research on Obama’s climate apparently consists of reading a one-paragraph story on BusinessWire with Obama’s statement on Bali — which they link to not once but twice! They claim he is an unrepetent coal supporter, based on a June 2007 Washington Post article about his support for his state’s coal industry. And yet in his climate plan he bluntly commits:

Obama will use whatever policy tools are necessary, including standards that ban new traditional coal facilities, to ensure that we move quickly to commercialize and deploy low carbon coal technology. Obama’s stringent cap on carbon will also make it uneconomic to site traditional coal facilities and discourage the use of existing inefficient coal facilities.

I defy DeSmogBlog to tell me which serious U.S. politician has a climate plan substantially tougher or more comprehensive than Obama’s. It is a courageous plan for any Presidential candidate to run on. Now let’s compare that to Bush’s record. As I’ve written:

Thanks to the misleadership of our President, the world took no action at Bali to reduce emissions, we had a sham international “climate summit,” the country continues to take no national action on greenhouse gas emissions, Congress was forced to drop almost all non-oil-related provisions to cut GHGs from the energy bill, the EPA blocked California and other major states from regulating tailpipe GHGs on their own, the Administration keeps muzzling climate scientists, and it keeps misallocating scarce clean tech dollars to hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research at the expense of real and timely solutions like energy efficiency and renewables — and that’s just the stuff we know about for sure!

… Our person of the year … President George W. Bush doesn’t just fiddle while the planet burns, he actively fans the flames and thwarts the fire-fighters.

DeSmogBlog owes Obama three apologies, for

  1. Giving him this undeserved “award”
  2. Failing to read his climate plan and then mischaracterizing it (twice)
  3. Saying Obama is “looking like George Bush lite.”

For completeness’s sake, the second unacceptable misstatement about the Obama plan they make is:

… he has continued to promote the current administration’s plan to circumvent the Kyoto Protocol, the only international climate agreement currently in place….

His short-term strategy is the same as President Bush’s; Obama wants to create a new Global Energy Forum that doesn’t include the cleanest and most progressive (European) economies.

Not even close. He has promised to re-engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):

The UNFCCC process is the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem and an Obama administration will work constructively within it.

But what about the Global Energy Forum? Obama says

President Bush recently invited world leaders of the 15 largest emitters of greenhouse gases to a two-day conference, yet he failed to show up with any binding domestic commitments or funding for international efforts to combat climate change. Not surprisingly, these world leaders criticized the U.S. commitment to climate change and we missed an opportunity to join other countries with a serious plan to tackle this challenge.

Barack Obama will take seriously the U.S.’s leadership role in combating climate change. Obama will signal to the world the U.S. commitment to climate change leadership by implementing an aggressive domestic cap-and-trade program coupled with increased investments in clean energy development and deployment. Obama will build on our domestic commitments by creating a negotiating process that involves a smaller number of countries than the nearly 200 countries in the current Kyoto system. Obama will create a Global Energy Forum — based on the G8+5, which included all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — of the world’s largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues.

But DeSmogBlog says the Obama Forum “doesn’t include the cleanest and most progressive (European) economies.” What the heck are the G8 countries? What the heck are France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom?

We need a smaller forum than the UNFCCC to jumpstart the crucial deal, which is really between the U.S. and China, but the other major emitters need to be part of that process. Obama makes clear

This Global Energy Forum will complement — and ultimately merge with — the much larger negotiation process underway at the UN to develop a post-Kyoto framework.

Obama deserves praise for his courageous plan. And he deserves three apologies from DeSmogBlog.