Environment policy a must-have for candidates

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Environment policy a must-have for candidates

Environment policy a must-have for candidates
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
Fri Apr 27, 2:42 PM ET

Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) plants trees and changes lightbulbs, Hillary Clinton wants alternative energy research and John McCain (news, bio, voting record) is keen to cut greenhouse gas emissions -- all signs of this season's political must-have: an environmental policy.

Democrats have been seen as owning the environmental issue for decades, and for taking up the cause of global warming in recent years, but now presidential candidates from both major parties are touting their commitment to combating climate change.

"The world is already feeling the powerful effects of global warming," Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona said this week in a policy speech. "The problem isn't a Hollywood invention nor is doing something about it a vanity of Cassandra-like hysterics. It is a serious and urgent economic, environmental and national security challenge."

McCain is hardly alone in his party. Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney have also staked out positions on this topic, generally pushing for alternative energy and more efficient technologies to stall the globe's warming trend.

One reason for this sea change is former Vice President Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" laying out the science behind global warming, said Eileen Claussen of the non-profit Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

This new Republican openness to discussing ways to tackle climate change may also be an indirect result of recent changes in how the White House has talked about the problem, said political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University in Dallas said.

"Once President George W. Bush acknowledged that global warming was a problem, other Republicans were freer not to have to support the administration stance -- that the science was incomplete -- but now they could say on the campaign trail, 'Here's what I propose to do."'

This shift has occurred in the last year or so, Jillson said.

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