GRIST On the Right Track New Republican leaders emerging in battle against climate change By Amanda Griscom Little 04 Feb 2005 Last week, an international task force co-chaired by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) predicted a fast-approaching "point of no return" for climate change -- possibly in as few as 10 years -- after which the crisis and its symptoms will be irreversible. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).You probably didn't read about it in the U.S. papers, which largely ignored the findings -- just as you probably haven't been reading much about the Kyoto Protocol, though the treaty will go into effect in less than two weeks, with the conspicuous noncooperation of the world's most heavily polluting nation. But, even as the Bush administration tries its darndest to pretend that nothing fishy is afoot with the climate, a handful of Republicans in the Senate are emerging as leaders in the fight against global warming -- and we don't just mean John McCain (R-Ariz.). Take, for instance, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who led the congressional fight to reject Kyoto in 1997, opposes the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, and consistently supports the Bush administration's stance (or lack thereof) on global warming. Not an impressive record -- and yet Hagel is now declaring climate change a "top-tier issue," says his spokesperson Mike Buttry, and is preparing to introduce "one of the most comprehensive climate bills that have been proposed to date. It will have a domestic piece, an international piece, and a tax piece." Hagel told his home-state paper, the Lincoln Journal Star, that his bill, which will be introduced in February, is compatible with the new climate strategy being cooked up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. These remarks came soon after the senator met with Blair to discuss an idea for an international agreement dubbed by some insiders "Kyoto-lite," which the P.M. is reportedly crafting with the hope that President Bush will get on board. The agreement as envisioned would require the administration to acknowledge the scale of the climate crisis and commit to developing the technology necessary to manage it. No mention thus far of mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions -- presumably that's why Blair thinks Bush might go for it. Likewise, Hagel's bill includes no compulsory emissions caps -- rather, it's "incentive-based," says Buttry. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).According to David Doniger, policy director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Hagel may be trying to use the climate issue to his political advantage: "He wants to position himself between Bush and McCain in preparation for 2008." Rumor has it that Hagel may make a run for president, and thus he's trying to show leadership on climate change without ruffling any right-wing feathers. Doniger doesn't think Hagel is going nearly far enough. "If you recognize the existence of the problem but don't endorse what needs to be done about it, you don't deserve credit," he says. But the fact that a senator with presidential ambitions believes it is to his political advantage to take on climate change is itself a mark of progress. Hagel's actions pose a strong challenge to Republican naysayers like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who last month dismissed global warming as a giant hoax. Hagel's meeting with Blair also indicates a growing acceptance among Republicans that the U.S. needs to collaborate internationally on climate change. At the very least, the Nebraska senator will stoke the debate on Capitol Hill with upcoming public appearances focusing on climate change, such as the presentation he is scheduled to make at a Brookings Institution briefing next week, alongside Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). _________________________ Peter Anderson, President RECYCLEWORLDS CONSULTING 4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15 Madison, WI 53705-4964 Ph: (608) 231-1100 Fax: (608) 233-0011 Cell: (608) 698-1314 eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.recycleworlds.net CONFIDENTIAL This message, and all attachments thereto, is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C., Sections 2510-2521. This message is CONFIDENTIAL. If you are not the intended recipient of this message, then any retention, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. Please notify me if you received this message in error at email@example.com and then delete it.