Policy smoke-stack

Published on June 12th, 2008 | by Sarah Lozanova

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McCain’s Plan to Combat Climate Change

carbon emissionsEditor’s Note: This is a follow up post to Obama’s Plan to Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence.

Regardless of who is elected next November, both candidates agree that climate change is a fact and not a theory. “I know that climate change is real,” said John McCain. “We can have a debate about how serious it is, but the debate about climate change is over.”

McCain and Obama however vary widely in their response to this issue, leaving the American people with a choice of approaches when choosing the next president. McCain’s primary weapons in this battle includes implementing a cap and trade system for emissions and utilizing greater amounts of nuclear power.

Cap and Trade

Cap and trade is being implemented in Europe and they have stumbled and they’ve had problems but it is still the right thing to do,” said John McCain. “It is what we did in relation to acid rain.”

One of the reasons McCain supports this approach is because it encourages the market to respond with the lowest cost approach. He believes the market will correct itself with the use of cleaner technologies without the need for intervention, such as a tax credit or major investment from the government.

One challenge with this plan is that we don’t operate in a free market, which is needed for the market to correct the problem. Large subsidies for oil companies makes alternative energy sources less affordable. Many of the hidden costs of pollution are not accounted for, even under a cap and trade system. For example, who is paying for the hospital visits when a child has an asthma attack?

Nuclear Power

“Nuclear power has got to be part of any real meaningful effort that we are going to make to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said McCain. “It has got to be part of the equation.”

McCain is concerned about proposed coal power plants and encourages development of nuclear power. Despite his view that the market should correct itself, in May of 2005 and January of 2007, McCain and Lieberman introduced a climate change bills that would give billions in subsidies to the nuclear industry.

Renewable Energy

Although McCain says that he supports renewable energy, he has set so specific targets. John McCain’s website makes no mention of solar, wind, renewable energy, or even public transportation under the section on climate change and has no section on energy.

The Senate was one vote shy of passing an economic stimulus package earlier this year that contained an incentive for solar energy. McCain didn’t show up to vote.

“Coal fired power plants,” said McCain “are being proposed to be built all over this country…If you can generate that power and set up a station that is powered by solar, by God I would love it, but you know we don’t have that technology.” Despite the advancement of renewable energy in recent years, McCain doesn’t support incentives similar to what he has proposed for nuclear power.

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About the Author

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.



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