Presidential candidates for 2008 mostly agree that global warming is a problem that merits government action, a signal that debate on the issue will be more practical than conceptual.
Democrats actively seeking the nomination or thought to be considering White House bids say climate change is real and promise plans to curb carbon emissions, a view shared by several Republican hopefuls.
“I would anticipate that both the Republican and the Democratic nominee will be arguing over who is best to solve the problem of global warming,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We’re going to need a president who gets it.”
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, are co-authors of a bill aimed at drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The senators, who have formed presidential exploratory committees, say the Senate must pursue a solution to climate change.
“I am confident that given our will and what’s at stake, America can and must assume its proper leadership role in addressing the pre-eminent environmental issue of our time, the consequences of which so directly affect our national interests,” Mr. McCain said.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat and likely 2008 candidate, has said climate change is a pressing problem.
“Given the scientific evidence that we have and the potential consequences of continued warming, I strongly believe this nation needs to take sensible first steps to slow and ultimately reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to climate change,” Mrs. Clinton says on her Web site, noting that New York would be affected by any coastal flooding caused by serious climate change.
Mr. Obama alluded to the issue in his announcement of a presidential exploratory committee Tuesday, saying, “Our continued dependence on oil has put our security and our very planet at risk.”
“I think it’s going to be a very significant issue, no question about it,” said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee who has been mentioned as a 2008 candidate.
Mr. Kerry soon will introduce his own bill to “quantify the cost of carbon in some way.”
Highlighting the issue are former Vice President Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and news that 2006 was the warmest year on record. Mr. Gore, a Democrat who ran for president in 2000, has not ruled out running in 2008.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, this week introduced a resolution calling on the United States to negotiate to join the Kyoto Protocol treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
“The climate has changed,” said Mr. Biden, who has said he will run for president. “It has changed outside, where the year just concluded was the warmest on record in the United States. And the climate has changed in halls of the Senate, where the causes and consequences of global warming, and how we should respond, will be a major concern of this new Congress.”
All but one senator weighing a White House run voted in June 2005 for a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” measure supporting mandatory action on global warming. Fifty-three senators voted for it, and of the known potential candidates, only Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, opposed it.
Mr. Brownback told the Wichita Eagle last year: “Climate change is happening and I believe it is a problem.”
The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund has created a campaign to keep the focus on climate change in the 2008 races.
“The next president needs to be a leader on this issue,” said Navin Nayak, director of the environmental group’s “The Heat Is On” campaign.
“You have more and more candidates who without even being prompted are talking about global warming and the need to address the issue,” Mr. Nayak said.
The project’s Web site (www.heatison.org) lists the positions of White House candidates, including former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
“Everyone accepts the fact that [global warming is] happening and it has an impact,” the Republican is quoted as saying in June.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, won praise for his administration’s Climate Protection Plan to reduce greenhouse gases.