Updates on Kerry-Boxer in committee

Well, as expected, the republicans left the committee meeting yesterday, so no quorum could be established. There have been a lot of analogies thrown around, but I actually like Arlen Specter's statement the best: "We have a practice in the world's greatest deliberative body of disagreeing without being disagreeable. But you can't disagree with an empty chair." [link] Democrats appealed to the republicans to come to the meeting, but eventually the room emptied, and a stark scene emerged. Senator Barbara Boxer, alone in the room, waiting for republicans. From that WaPo story:
"I guess at this point I'm going to just sit here and wait till they show up," she said, consulting her watch. The hearing had begun three hours earlier.
"I will just sit here for a bit," she said later. "Talk among yourselves." Boxer checked her BlackBerry and rearranged her papers. C-SPAN filmed the empty seats. "Chairman Boxer (D-CA) is waiting for Republican members to come to this meeting," the network flashed on screen. After 15 minutes of silence, the lone senator in the room tapped the gavel. "We're going to stand in recess," she said.

On the plus side, the executive branch is strongly supporting legislation [link], which could buoy the process in some important ways. Mostly, I think that if Obama et al. can keep pushing on the Congress to get a bill passed, it will prevent the bill from dying in committee; something will get pushed through. We can only hope it happens soon, before Copenhagen if possible, since that would give the USA some bargaining power and a least a modicum of credibility.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, the Europeans are going through negotiations in the lead up to next month's meeting in Copenhagen [link]. It sounds like the Environment ministers are ready to take serious action,
Last week Europe toughened much of its stance further. Environment minsters agreed to slash the EU’s long-term emission reduction targets from 80 percent to 95 percent by 2050, if a deal is reached at Copenhagen, while retaining its relatively ambitious mid-term goal of a 20 percent cut by 2020, rising to 30 percent if other countries promise similar measures (both cuts use 1990 emissions levels as a baseline).

And they also resolved that aviation should cut its emissions by 10 percent, and shipping by 20 percent, by 2020, using 2005 levels as the baseline (both sectors have been exempted from the Kyoto Protocol). And the European ministers said they had decided on vigorous measures to tackle deforestation.

Unfortunately, they Environment ministers don't have power to negotiate the financial side of the deal, and that is where things are stalling out. If the EU can't get their own agreements settled, it is likely that the EU won't come into the Copenhagen meeting with any real power, which is likely to derail the whole proceeding.

No comments: