Ecomall trading options
It's a great pleasure to be here to announce the release of the final rule on national organic standards. We said that we would deliver standards that could be embraced by farmers, industry and consumers alike Their outstanding, exhaustive, painstaking work made this day possible. And I'm also pleased that the Senate's leading champion of organic agriculture, Senator Pat Leahy, could be here.
The standards are as so sound because we have worked with consumer and environmental advocates, with organic farmers like Amy and Travis Forgues, and with industry leaders like Katherine DiMatteo of the Organic Trade Association. For farmers, the standards create clear guidelines for how to take advantage of the exploding demand for organic products.
For consumers, the organic standards offer another choice in the marketplace. Those who want to buy organic can do so with the confidence of knowing exactly what it is that they're buying. Some people believe that it's done behind closed doors, without accountability or public input. The reality is that it is a transparent, fully inclusive process , and the drafting of the organic standards was no different. In fact, the organic standards represent government rule-making at its very best.
They are the product of a full-throated public debate. The people spoke; we listened; and we responded by dramatically changing the rule last March. Most notably, we revised the standards to say that no food could be called organic if irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetic engineering was used in its production.
The organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is "organic" a value judgment about nutrition or quality. USDA is not in the business of choosing sides, of stating preferences for one kind of food, one set of ingredients or one means of production over any other. As long as rigorous government safety standards are being met, we stand ready to do what we can to help support any farmer and help market any kind of food.
About half of the nation's organic farmers are not currently certified. We are exploring the feasibility of marketing organic fruits and vegetables through USDA marketing order programs. During the s and '60s, the group found, subsurface temperatures in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans rose substantially while atmospheric temperatures remained fairly constant. But in the s atmospheric temperatures trended upward--driven, in part, by warmth released from deep water.
Later this century, his researchers predicted, the oceans may release even more heat into an already warming atmosphere. That grim prediction was echoed by a report from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, which cast doubt on the ability of farmland or forests to soak up the vast amounts of CO2 that humanity is pumping into the atmosphere.
The inadequacy of the percentage goals haggled over at The Hague was underscored by a research team led by Tom M. Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric. Research, which estimated that the world must generate about half its power from wind, sun, and other noncarbon sources by the year to avoid a quadrupling of traditional atmospheric carbon levels, which would almost certainly trigger catastrophic consequences.
Writing in the journal Nature , Wigley's team recommended "researching, developing, and commercializing carbon-free primary power technologies.
Far from recognizing that urgency, the United States' official position seems to be to minimize the severity of global warming. This recalcitrance can be traced to a relentless disinformation campaign by the fossil-fuel lobby to dismiss or downplay the climate crisis. For years, coal and oil interests have funded a handful of scientists known as "greenhouse skeptics" who cast doubt on the implications and even existence of global warming. Enormous amounts of money spent by their corporate sponsors have amplified the skeptics' voices out of all proportion to their standing in the scientific community, giving them undue influence on legislators, policymakers, and the media.
But with the skeptics being marginalized by the increasingly united and alarming findings of mainstream science, industry PR campaigns have taken to exaggerating the economic impacts of cutting back on fossil fuels. On the other side are more than 2, economists, including 8 Nobel laureates, who proclaimed in a statement coordinated by the think-tank Redefining Progress that the U.
Industry is also attacking the diplomatic foundations of the Kyoto Protocol--the international agreement The Hague meeting was meant to implement--claiming that the United States would suffer unfairly because developing countries were exempted from the first round of emissions cuts. Yet the rationale for this exemption--that since the industrial nations created the problem, they should be the first to begin to address it--was ratified by President George H.
Bush himself when he signed the Rio Treaty. The central mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, as promoted by the United States, is "emissions trading. It allocated a certain number of carbon-emission "credits" to each country, and then permitted nations with greater emissions to buy unused credits from other countries--for example, by financing the planting of trees in Costa Rica.
But international carbon trading turned out to be a shell game. Carbon is burned in far too many places--vehicles, factories, homes, fields--to effectively track even if there were an international monitoring system. Trading also became a huge source of contention between industrial and developing countries. In allocating emission "rights," for instance, all countries were given their emission levels as a baseline, but the developing nations argue that this would lock in the advantages of the already-industrialized First World.
Many developing countries advocate what they claim is a far more democratic, "per capita" basis for allocating emissions, which would grant every American the same quantity of emissions as, say, every resident of India. Currently, the average American is responsible for about 25 times more CO2 than the average Indian.
A second level of inequity embedded in emissions trading is that industrialized countries could buy as many credits from poor countries as they want, banking those big, relatively cheap reductions indefinitely into the future. So when developing countries are eventually obliged to cut their emissions, they will be left with only the most expensive options, such as financing the production of fuel cells or solar installations. Finally, carbon trading in itself can only go so far; its optimal use would be as a fine-tuning mechanism to help countries achieve the last 10 to 15 percent of their obligations.
Measured against what it would take to actually cool the planet, emissions trading is ultimately a form of institutional denial. The United Kingdom last year committed to reductions of Germany is also considering 50 percent cuts. Holland--a country at particular risk from rising sea levels--just completed a plan to slash its emissions by 80 percent in the next 40 years.
It will meet those goals through an ambitious program of wind-generated electricity, low-emission vehicles, photovoltaic and solar installations, and other noncarbon energy sources.
And a number of developing countries are voluntarily installing solar, wind, and small-scale hydro projects, despite their exemption under the Kyoto Protocol from the first round of cuts.
Some major industrial players are also reading the handwriting on the wall. British Petroleum, despite its attempts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is investing substantial resources in solar power. In fact, most of the major oil companies--with the notable exception of ExxonMobil--now acknowledge the reality of climate change.
And William Clay Ford recently declared "an end to the year reign of the internal combustion engine. While some environmentalists dismiss these initiatives as "greenwashing", they mark an enormous change in industry's public posture. Only a year or two ago, working through such groups as the Western Fuels Association and the Global Climate Coalition, the oil and coal companies sought to dismiss the reality of climate change and cast doubt on the findings of the IPCC. Today, with these arguments largely discredited, the Global Climate Coalition has essentially collapsed.
Oil and auto executives are beginning to choose a new approach: This doesn't preclude backsliding. Despite these encouraging developments, the United States continues to obstruct rather than lead the world in addressing climate change. Former president Clinton blamed the media, saying that until the public knows more about the threat there will not be sufficient popular support to address the issue in a meaningful way.
Bush and Dick Cheney, oilmen both, are more inclined to protect the petroleum industry's short-term profitability than to promote its inevitable transformation. Thus, the public debate is still stuck in the ineffective Kyoto framework. So two years ago, a small group of energy executives, economists, energy-policy specialists, and others including the author fashioned a bundle of strategies designed to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent, while at the same time creating a surge of new jobs, especially in developing countries.
If that money were put behind renewable technologies, oil companies would have the incentive to aggressively develop fuel cells, wind farms, and solar systems. A portion of those subsidies should be used to retrain coal miners and to construct clean-energy manufacturing plants in poor mining regions. The strategy also calls on all nations to replace emissions trading with an equitable fossil-fuel efficiency standard.