People ask all the time: “If not the climate bill, then what is the alternative you support?”
There are many alternatives! We can all look around and see what is wrong: waste, inefficiency, injustices are in plain site all around! Clearly reducing consumption is central, and especially given that the extreme inequities that leave so much of humanity in dire poverty. If we demand that economic growth continue as it has, the path will remain obscured. But if we accept that fundamental changes are necessary, that economic growth is not the be all and end all of our purpose in life, open our minds and “think outside of the box”, the path is clear. We do not need elaborate carbon markets to make those changes, they are a nothing but a ruse for capitalizing on the crisis of climate change!
A number of people have put forward their visions for a “pathway forward”. This below is from Mike Ewall of Energy Justice Network (EJN) one of our network members. EJN works with community groups who are fighting dirty energy project of all sorts across the country and in doing so have gained a valuable perspective!
A real solution for climate should look more like this:
1) An Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard that reduces energy demand by 50% in 20-30 years, across all three energy sectors: transportation, heating and electricity
2) A Clean Energy Portfolio Standard that meets the demands of the other 50% with wind, solar and ocean power (and perhaps some small-scale micro hydro or closed-loop geothermal) within the same time frame. The industrial heating sector and the planes/boats transportation sector will be harder to get off of burnable technologies, but there is evidence that energy intensive industrial heating needs like cement kilns can have their needs met by concentrated solar. For planes and boats, perhaps some algae-based biofuels would make sense, but NOT running off of fossil fuel power plant exhaust because we won’t have any more combustion-based power plants!
3) Remove all subsidies from fossil fuels, nuclear power,biomass/incineration, biofuels, corn and at least half of the military budget (a major oil and gas subsidy) and shift that to energy demand reduction and clean energy development.
4) Set a national zero waste policy, starting with the 75% national recycling/composting goal as pushed by GAIA and the Teamsters.
5) Have a climate-friendly sustainable agriculture program, focusing on making all food organic, localizing food production systems and getting people to eat lower on the food chain.
6) Creating a “Superfund for Workers” job retraining program to make this transition possible, targeting the urban and rural communities who are most in need.
0) Pushing public campaign financing, like the Fair Elections Now Act(http://www.publicampaign.org/federalaction) because we’ll never get ANY decent legislation at the federal level (ditto for the states) without cleaning up our election processes. Clean energy requires clean elections!
Some of the solutions above, with a slight bit of additional detail, can be found/inferred from Energy Justice Network’s hierarchies chart here:
http://www.energyjustice.net/technologies.pdf and from elsewhere on our Energy Justice website. More links to election reform tactics can be found on EJN’s election reform page here: