Exxon-Mobil’s lobbying team, the coal industry, Fox News, the people who commissioned the stealing of the CRU emails – their moment has come. In three days time the US must agree its government budget, and this one could be historic.
This particular budget, drawn up by the majority Republican house, is notable for bringing the cuts bandwagon to the US. It’s also a systematic attempt to gut the country’s environmental protection safeguards, and strip funding from anything to do with climate change. No more funding for the IPCC or the UN Population Fund, for NOAA’s Climate Information Service, or the EPA’s greenhouse gas registry.
These proposals could hardly be more cynical, cutting funding from every climate body going. Even the White House climate change advisors have to go, and the UN’s head climate negotiator was sacked last week. It’s a deliberate strategy to force climate change off the agenda, and the US would essentially wash its hands of the whole issue.
Climate change is a charged debate everywhere, but it is unusually irrational in the US. There is scarcely a single Republican congressman who believes that climate change is caused by human activity, and wherever the party has a majority, no action on climate change is possible. And these budgets cuts clearly are ideologically motivated – the IPCC gets less than $3 million a year, peanuts in a budget of $3.7 trillion. It’s a high price to pay for partisanship.
The tragedy of couse is that the climate is bigger than US politics. The US accounts for a fifth of global CO2 emissions, which means that runaway climate change is inevitable without action from the US. Emissions must peak by 2015, and this budget is deliberately designed to prevent the US from taking action in the time frame required. In other words, this is a budget that seals the world’s climatic fate.
That sounds melodramatic, but I can’t see how it could be otherwise. If this set of proposals goes through, then it’s pretty much a matter of how bad climate change will be and how we can adapt, rather than whether or not it can be stopped. The skeptics and lobbyists might be celebrating, but bigger things are at stake this week than the US government’s operating budget.