|Senator John McCain, at the Vestas Training Facility in Portland, Ore., yesterday, said he would not "shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges." (Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)|
'Different approach' to climate change offered
McCain proposes free-market plan to cap emissions
PORTLAND, Ore. - John McCain broke with the Bush administration and Republican Party orthodoxy yesterday as he not only declared global warming real, but also reached out to Democrats and independents with a free-market solution that includes capping carbon-fuel emissions.
But he also proposed an expansion of nuclear power - anathema to many environmental groups - saying that "we have a known, proven energy source that requires exactly zero emissions . . . It doesn't take a leap in logic to conclude that if we want to arrest global warming, then nuclear energy is a powerful ally in that cause."
The presumptive Republican nominee also prodded China and India - two major emitters of the greenhouse gases blamed for the planet's warming - to join the effort. He muted talk of tariffs against them in favor of "effective diplomacy" to encourage their compliance.
McCain was less restrained in his approach to President Bush, who broke a 2000 campaign pledge to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions and who also backed off signing the Kyoto global warming protocols shortly after taking office.
"I will not shirk the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges. I will not accept the same dead end of failed diplomacy that claimed Kyoto. The United States will lead and will lead with a different approach - an approach that speaks to the interests and obligation of every nation," McCain declared.
Global warming also stands with abortion rights and an array of social causes as important issues to the evangelicals and Christian conservatives who McCain hopes will bolster his political base this fall.
Democrats derided McCain's record on the issue, pointing out contributions to his campaign from energy lobbyists, his recent proposal to temporarily suspend the federal gasoline tax as a means of making driving less expensive, and some votes against alternate energy sources.
"It is truly breathtaking for John McCain to talk about combating climate change while voting against virtually every recent effort to actually invest in clean energy," Barack Obama said in a statement.
Hillary Clinton said, "While Senator McCain's proposals may be improvement on President Bush's, that's not saying much."
McCain has long expressed a belief in global warming, arguing that even if he is wrong, acting as though the planet's temperature were increasing would only benefit the environment if scientists subsequently proved the idea was mistaken.
The main solution he outlined yesterday is to implement a cap-and-trade program on carbon-fuel emissions, similar to a program in the Clean Air Act that was used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that triggered acid rain.
Industries would be given emission targets, and those coming in under their limit could sell their surplus polluting capacity to companies unable to meet the target. McCain wants the United States to return to 2005 emission levels by 2012; 1990 levels by 2020; and to a level 60 percent below that by 2050.