US presidential campaigns debate the environment

Senior advisors to the United States presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain publicly debated how the country should address climate change at a conference in New York, which mostly focused on permits for the right to pollute.

Dan Esty, an environmental law professor at Yale University and an advisor to Obama, the Democratic candidate, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a McCain advisor and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, mainly discussed "cap-and-trade" carbon trading schemes and nuclear power.

Both Obama and McCain are in favour of a cap-and-trade programme that would issue permits to pollute for large emitters. However, Obama proposes that the government auction off 100% of the available permits, whereas McCain favours a program where permits are first
given to factories to ease the transition.

They also debated whether nuclear power generation could help protect the climate. McCain advocates building 45 new nuclear power plants between now and 2030. Obama is also in favour of nuclear power, but feels that nuclear waste disposal and the risk of nuclear
proliferation are important issues to resolve. 

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