Green Evangelical Applauds McCain's Environment Speech

Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain gave an encouraging speech with feasible policy proposals to tackle climate change, said the head of an evangelical environmental group.

McCain's proposal for a cap-and-trade emission policy will spur innovations and create new markets, the Rev. Jim Ball, spokesman for the Evangelical Climate Initiative, predicts optimistically.

Ball said his group – which includes signers such as Pastors Rick Warren and Bill Hybels – supports the Arizona senator's specific call for strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 60 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

In the past, the group has called for even stronger reductions – 80 percent by 2050.

"Sen. McCain's support of strong policy on emissions is in line with the evangelical community," Ball wrote in a statement, pointing to a recent Ellison Research poll that showed 84 percent of evangelicals said they are in favor of federal legislation to reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming.

The ECI head's comments were in response to McCain's green speech in Washington state on Tuesday. McCain, during his visit, detailed his plans for combating global warming, which included promoting nuclear power and installing a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions, according to The Associated Press.

Some observed that the presumptive Republican nominee made efforts to distance himself from the Bush administration on the environment issue. At one point, McCain said his stance on the environment reflects "long-standing, significant, deep" differences with President Bush, according to AP.

"I will be a President of the United States for the environment," McCain said, according to Fox News. "I have a long record of advocacy for our environment and I'm proud of that."

He compared himself to his Democratic rivals, and said he would be a better protector of the environment than either of them.

"They have never, to my knowledge, been involved in legislation, or hearings, nor engagement on this issue. I have a long history," McCain said, "I traveled around the world and seen the impacts of climate change on the world. I've held hearings beginning back after the 2000 presidential campaign."

His plan is more doable than his rivals, McCain contends.

McCain's speech highlights his attempt to break away from the traditional Republican image, which is seen as not caring for the environment, and compete with Democratic rivals for the title of greenest candidate.

"I clearly see our environment, national security and our economy all coming together" as top issues for Americans, said McCain, according to AP. "Perhaps that's going to spark in our nation an incredible impetus for us all to sit down together…and address this problem."

The Evangelical Climate Initiative is a grassroots effort with more than 115 signers on its "Call to Action" statement, which declares global warming is real and mainly caused by human activities. The statement calls on the government and citizens to take active steps to reduce carbon emissions.