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Dec 1 2009


USA and Online


A Defining Moment

Now that’s a discussion!

On blogs and listserves, in living rooms and classrooms around the country today, people are talking about, debating, and yes, critiquing our new short film.

We made The Story of Cap & Trade to encourage a real discussion about how to solve the enormous climate challenges we face. If there was ever an issue that merited broad, even heated public debate, this is it. I’d far rather people argue about cap and trade and other policy options than ignore them or silently go along with the crowd, even when our guts tell us the solution on the table is inadequate.

We’re at a defining moment here. Defining in terms of planetary survival. Defining in terms of the kind of democratic governance we have in this country.

In doing my research for The Story of Cap & Trade, I heard many longtime trusted friends tell me “I know cap and trade isn’t enough, but it is the best we can get in this political climate” or “we can’t get something stronger past business.”

Excuse me, but who is running this country? The people or the coal companies? You and me or Goldman Sachs? Remember 1 person, 1 vote?

The entire planetary ecosystem and the lives of billions of people are at stake, and we’re accepting the conventional wisdom that we can’t get a real solution past big business? That it’s too late? That the train has left the station?

Interestingly, the U.S. Climate Task Force and Future 500 just released the results of a new poll by Hart Research that found Americans favor a carbon tax over cap and trade by a margin of two to one. The poll found support for a tax over cap and trade in all age and income brackets. It also found support for cap and trade was lower among those who paid the most attention to climate issues.

Dr. Elaine Kamarck, a former senior policy advisor to Al Gore and current Co-chair of the Climate Task Force explained that:

“This poll reveals that only two percent of voters hold very positive view of cap and trade – the system at the core of the current Senate bill. But it’s not too late to salvage the situation. With both the U.N. and the Senate delaying major climate debates until next year, policymakers now have time to make a serious course correction in the emissions debate.”

If there is public support for a strong law to cap and tax carbon pollution, why are our leaders advancing weaker and riskier schemes that rely on the market to solve the problem?

It’s business as usual.

Now, I’m not against business. In fact, I am thrilled by the environmental and social innovations of many businesses today and I am a firm believer that businesses have to be part of the solution as we transition to a sustainable and just economy.

But let’s admit it, some companies just aren’t hip to that program. Some are more about protecting the bottom line than then planet.

If there was ever a time to draw a line in the sand, to say we’re not compromising our future and the planet to protect business as usual, this is that moment.

Enough of accepting ‘better than terrible.’

The stronger the demands for real solutions – solutions that achieve ecological sustainability and do so fairly – the easier it will be for those in the political process to inch in that direction too. Let’s continue this discussion, welcome the voices of those most impacted by climate change, invite in businesses that are serious about sustainability and encourage our leaders to lead.

This is a defining moment.

posted by Annie Leonard
December 2, 2009

Posted by gm1472 on