The Candidates and Climate Change

All three presidential contenders talk like greens. What the cap-and-trade fight about to break out may say about them

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John Quigley / Spectral Q / AP

Students and Washington residents concerned about global warming gather in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, April 14, 2007, to urge Congress to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.

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When Lieberman-Warner reaches the Senate floor, probably in June, the talk has to get serious. Clinton voted for the bill in committee, but may abandon the bill if it moves to the right in search of votes. (The bill's champion, Senate Environment Committee chairman Barbara Boxer, has vowed not to let that happen.) McCain hasn't embraced the bill, even though he has a real record on the issue. He and Lieberman sponsored cap-and-trade bills in 2003, 2005 and early 2007, when most Senators were missing in action. During the primary, he downplayed that history--a necessary strategy perhaps to secure the GOP nomination. Now that he effectively has it, he could use Lieberman-Warner as a way to woo independent voters and put daylight between himself and Bush.

At an environmental forum in Washington the other day, advisers to all three candidates promised that if elected, their candidate would make global warming a First Hundred Days priority. But if they don't help sort out the details of it now, they won't have the mandate they'll need to pass something quickly. And the impasse could drag on well into the new Administration.

Planet in Peril To watch more of Anderson Cooper's worldwide investigation Planet in Peril, tune in to AC360° on CNN Mondays at 10 p.m. E.T. and visit CNN.com/planetinperil

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are co-sponsors of a cap-and-trade environmental bill being sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman and John Warner. Neither Clinton nor Obama is co-sponsoring the legislation, though Clinton did vote for the bill in committee. Also, the story originally stated that 25 U.S. states get a quarter or more of their electricity from coal. While true, that statistic understates America's coal dependence: those 25 states get half or more of their electricity from coal.

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