Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Go Al Go!!!

From today's Progress Report:

We Can Solve It

On Monday, former Vice President Al Gore and his climate change awareness organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection, launched a $300 million, three-year campaign to teach "people in the US and around the world that the climate crisis is both urgent and solvable." The "We" campaign "aims to enlist 10 million volunteers through a combination of network and cable commercials, display ads…and online social networks." Funding for the campaign includes Gore's Nobel Peace Prize money and all the profits from his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." The campaign will launch televison advertisements later this week that "will team up offbeat celebrity couples who may not have much in common but share a belief that it is important to address climate change." These "unlikely alliances" include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the outspoken pastors Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson, and the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith, country music stars on opposite sides of the partisan divide.

GREAT GREENWASH: While spending $100 million per year is remarkable for an issue-based public advocacy campaign, it is dwarfed by the $700 billion market in annual corporate advertising and public relations spending. The companies in the polluting sectors, such as energy, transportation, agribusiness, chemical, and manufacturing, recognize the economic stakes of fighting climate legislation. Their efforts involve public campaigns that "greenwash" their environmental record, arguing that global warming is not their fault. For example, the "clean" coal industry is sponsoring a $20 million lobbying campaign by the National Mining Association and a $40 million astroturfing campaign by front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. The American Clean Skies Foundation, a "clean" natural gas industry front group, is launching a "multi-million dollar media advocacy campaign" on Earth Day. The "ultra-clean" auto industry trade group Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers runs its "Discover the Alternatives" campaign -- while lobbying against increased fuel economy standards and filing suit against the regulation of tailpipe greenhouse emissions. The "clean" nuclear industry has established the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition to promote nuclear's low global warming footprint -- while ignoring the unsolved problem of radioactive waste. Big Oil's $100 million trade organization, the American Petroleum Institute, spends millions a year promoting projects like the "Energy Tomorrow" campaign -- which blames ethanol for rising fuel prices -- and buying goodwill from science teachers, environmental groups, volunteer organizations, and even bloggers, all while lobbying to keep billion-dollar tax breaks for oil companies.

FOSSIL FOOLS DAY: Executive from the five largest private oil companies -- ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron -- are on the hot seat today. Company executives have been called to testify this morning before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming for enjoying record profits from the unprecedented run-up in oil prices as they block attempts to roll back billions in unnecessary tax breaks and fight efforts to tackle global warming. Each company spends billions a year to develop new oil and gas reserves such as the Alberta tar sands and the Chukchi Sea polar bear habitat, as well as millions of dollars on greenwashing campaigns with slogans such as "The Power of Human Energy" and "Target Neutral." Youth climate activists are celebrating "Fossil Fools Day" today with international protests of the fossil fuel industry. They declared Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank America, the "Fossil Fool of the Year" for his bank's financing of coal-fired plants and mountaintop removal.

TEN TRILLION DOLLARS: The "We" campaign will amplify the calls of those asking the U.S. to join the rest of the industrialized world in cutting the six billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted by U.S. polluters each year. The European Union, since 2005, has done so with a "cap and trade" system -- the government sets a cap on total global warming pollution each year and runs a tradable pollution allowance market to allow companies to choose how to achieve the necessary reductions. A bill to establish a similar system for most emitting sectors in the United States, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), was approved by Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) Environment and Public Works Committee in December and is slated to reach the Senate floor in June. The Environmental Protection Agency's economic modeling of the bill finds that its cap-and-trade system would generate pollution allowances worth well over $100 billion a year, a total of approximately ten trillion dollars over its multi-decade lifetime. The necessary transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050 will involve dramatic transformations of the American economy. This generational change offers the possibility to rebuild our economic engine on the principles of sustainability, opportunity, and justice, or to ignore that opportunity and further consolidate control in the hands of the few. Who benefits likely depends on whether the efforts of Gore and other activists -- or perhaps Mother Nature herself -- can evoke "a change in the public's sense of urgency in addressing this crisis."


Anonymous Brad Johnson said...

Thanks for helping spread the word on this critical issue! People can subscribe to the Progress Report here or view the newsletters online here.

I write on this and other climate issues as part of the Think Progress Wonk Room.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 12:48:00 PM  

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