The U.S. Climate Policy Debate: How Climate Politics are Moving Forward on Capitol Hill and in the White House
The Bush administration's waning days in office herald a likely new approach in U.S. climate policy. Both major candidates in the upcoming presidential election — Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain — have publically embraced approaches to the issue which dramatically differ from the resistance to greenhouse gas regulation that has been espoused by President Bush over the last eight years. Accordingly, while no major climate legislation will likely emerge from Congress before next year at the earliest, the climate debate in the United States is changing.
Specifically, an increasing recognition by policymakers of the realities of climate change and of the need for action has altered the political dynamics of the debate. This fact, coupled with the anticipation of a new U.S. administration's different perspective, suggests that prospects for aggressive federal action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are greater than they have been in years. To be sure, formidable challenges still confront those who would enact such policies. But there will soon be opportunities for action in the United States that haven't existed for some time. This paper provides an overview of the current status of the U.S. climate change policy debate.