Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Optimism, on one side of the border

There has been no shortage of positive developments in the US climate change and emissions control policy.

You can sense the optimism flowing from California’s decision to enact the most comprehensive greenhouse gas emission reduction policy in the U.S. This state is, after all, governed by the man personally responsible for the creation of the Hummer: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s interest in purchasing a military Humvee led GM to produce the vehicle that became the totem of inefficiency to environmentalists nation-wide.

The cover story in the most recent E / the Environment magazine boasts of all the emission reduction initiatives in U.S. cities like Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco (and also in countries like Iceland, Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic).

With so much movement by individual cities and states, most experts now assume that the next administration in the US – whether Republican or Democrat – will enact a national emissions policy. In a recent speech, Al Gore predicted that the Bush Administration may change their policy on climate change before leaving office.

It is enough to make one optimistic about North America finally attacking climate change.

Make that just America. The Conservative government in Canada is set to announce the new environmental agenda (“Green Plan II”). It will include a much-needed new program to combat smog-forming emissions and air quality. But the CBC reports there may be nothing concrete on GHG emissions for years. The government’s decision to focus on air quality and largely ignore climate change was apparently seconded by focus groups across the country over the summer (were the focus groups asked either/or questions? GHG emissions and smog-forming pollutants come from many of the same sources… it’d be logical to combine the two policies, not play them off one another).

Maybe Californian Robin Williams was right: comedy is acting out optimism.

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