Press Release

McCain’s Global Warming Speech Falls Short

Today in Portland, Oregon, John McCain delivered an address on global warming. But McCain’s approach to global warming is heavy on subsidies to existing industries – like oil and coal – and overlooks investments in the future like wind and solar power and energy efficiency. Moreover, his global warming plan still falls far short of the cuts in greenhouse gases scientists say we need.

1. McCain Favors Tax Breaks for Oil, but Not Clean Renewable Energy

Sen. McCain’s speech acknowledges that the “worst” source of greenhouse gases is “fossil-fuel combustion,” but his plan lacks steps to speed the development of clean, renewable energy and use it more efficiently. Last December, McCain opposed legislation shifting $13 billion in tax breaks from oil companies to wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources and efficiency. McCain missed the vote, and the bill fell one vote short of the 60 it needed. McCain also opposed extension of existing tax incentives for renewable energy and efficiency in February, another measure that failed by one vote after McCain was absent.

2. McCain’s New Emissions Targets Still Fall Short of the Latest Science

Since John McCain (R-AZ) co-wrote a global warming bill in 2003, evidence has mounted that the most serious effects of global warming are already well upon us. Today, McCain released a new global warming plan – but it still far short of the needed cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Assessing McCain’s Global Warming Plan

Key Criteria

McCain Plan

Cuts Emissions as Directed by Science

· By 2020, cut to 20 percent below 1990 levels

· By 2050, cut to 80 percent below 1990 levels


· By 2020, return to 1990 levels

· By 2050, cut to 60 percent below 1990 levels

Auctions All Emissions Permits


At some point, permits “could be supplied by auction,” but there is no assurance that they will be. Until then, they will be given to the largest greenhouse gas emitters, including oil and coal fired utilities.


Help Families With Rebates


Unspecified “Transition Assistance”


Action is Not Contingent on Other Nations


3. McCain Supports Climate Legislation only with New Nuclear Subsidies

McCain advocates a greater investment in nuclear power. He says he will support the Lieberman-Warner climate legislation only if it includes a “nuclear component,” and his own Climate Security and Innovation Act provides $3.7 billion in federal assistance for nuclear power.

A heavy reliance on nuclear power will result in a slower, more costly transition to a low-carbon economy. Nuclear power has received more than $74 billion in subsidies since 1948, more than half of all energy research. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 makes available another $13 billion. Nuclear plants remain difficult and expensive to build, and investors are reluctant to undertake projects with huge costs, safety concerns, and radioactive waste disposal problems. Moreover, it takes 10-15 years to build a nuclear power plant, but only 18-24 months to build a wind farm.