Climate Security Act: Spin battles begin

Posted by: Adam Aston on May 22, 2008

If you haven’t been paying close attention to the rumblings about US laws addressing climate change, you won’t be able to avoid the issue much longer. The leading bill in a raft of climate proposals, Lieberman-Warner climate bill, deftly titled “The Climate Security Act”, is expected to come to Senate floor for debate as early as next month. is The public debate will be hugely important as the opening act in a multi year struggle to fashion US climate change policy even though few insiders I’ve talked with expect this act to ever become law. It will influence whatever law does come to pass.

The weapons in the coming war over this bill will be some sure-to-be-sharp TV and print ads, sponsored by everyone fossil fuel representatives invoking economic doomsday scenarios, to green proponents of the bill. Some ads will be limited to the beltway, meant to influence “opinion leaders”, but quite a few will make it into national exposure.

Here’s the first of the breed I’ve come across, a funny, wince-inducing piece from the Environmental Defense Action Fund, the lobbying arm of Environmental Defense. As you discover more ads in this debate, send them my way. It’ll be interesting to see how the spin wars unfold, and who does this sort of messaging best.

Update 5/29/08: Here’s the second spot, “Melting”, with a George Bush lookalike candle opining about the need for patient of study climate change matters, as it melts into a puddle. More subtle, but very much hits the Bush White House on a point where pulbic opinion increasingly regards delay, versus debate, as a political tactic rather than constructive. Released by Environmental Defense Fun this is running in the Beltway and nationally.

The conservative Club for Growth offers up the first spot on the anti- side of this debate that I’ve come across. The spot is running in Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina starting on 5/27, and in Montana starting the following week. On memorability and punchiness, this is weak entry in the race so far, relying on a familiar election-ad style montage of the capital dome, electricity infrastructure, and a rapid fire list of troubles that “could result” from the bill.

Reader Comments

Jonathan chelseagreen.com

May 27, 2008 1:11 PM

The ad is sharp, but sadly misleading. The Lieberman-Warner Act is actually fairly pro-fossil fuel industry. Its target carbon for carbon emissions is not nearly as strict as that recommended by the middling IPCC and it allows for a "safety valve" that effectively guts even its insufficient target; despite the script of the ad's actor, it will distribute a majority of the emissions permits for free, therefore creating windfall profits for the polluting industry recipients (at the expense of consumers and/or taxpayers, depending on how things play out; and finally, most of the revenue it does generate is targeted to be paid out as research subsidies to the existing big fossil fuel and nuclear industries. All in all, a cave on the part of Environmental Defense.

If I may shill for a book my company publishes: Peter Barnes' CLIMATE SOLUTIONS details the pros and cons of different climate policies and describes those features that will result in a policy that works. (Scout's Honor, I'd be praising it regardless of my employment as I had already been impressed with Barnes' thinking on climate policy years before I got this job.)

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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