At Tuesday’s U.N. Climate summit, President Obama spoke of the United States and China, as the world’s two “biggest emitters” of carbon dioxide, as nations that “have to lead” the world on climate change action. A welcome waft of clarity.
But the U.S. did not join 73 other countries, (including China, the European Union, Germany, United Kingdom, France and the Russian Federation), more than 1,000 private business, 7 states and 4 U.S. cities in signing documents in support of enacting a significant price on carbon. The fog of confusion rolls in.Nor did the United States pledge to contribute to the Green Climate Fund which helps developing nations move toward greener energy, as did France and South Korea. (A candle, anyone?)
Our confusing reluctance to support carbon pricing as well as a binding carbon emissions treaty is likely a symptom of political realities in Congress, whose stalwart defense of the fossil fuel industry and its campaign cash controls the legislative climate in Washington, D.C. But allowing Congress to hold the world’s climate hostage by deferring to its greedy recalcitrance shows a distinct lack of the sort of climate leadership that Pres. Obama is calling for.
Ironically, some American corporations not directly involved with fossil fuels are far more supportive of carbon taxing than our political representatives, as most lately evidenced at the U.N. summit. Corporations that signed on to the list in support of carbon pricing include DuPont, GlaxoSmithKline, ManpowerGroup, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical.
Climate reality, of course, can only be ignored or denied for so long. And the longer we as a nation wait, the more expensive and more tragic the consequences will be. While we happily squander our money on war after war defending the “homeland” from hyped-up threats, we scream about the hyped-up costs of stopping the industrial war on the only land, water and air we’ve got. My fellow Americans, we are confused.