WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator John Kerry, a key U.S. lawmaker trying to craft a cap-and-trade bill, denied a report on Wednesday that advocates of this plan to curb climate change were scaling back their efforts.
"Our goal remains exactly what it was before: to price carbon and to create a target for reduction of emissions that is real," the Massachusetts Democrat told a forum on clean energy, jobs and security.
"So we have not scaled back our goals, they are the same," Kerry said. "We have not recalibrated some lesser approach that is only energy or only this or that ... We have to price carbon in order to get the marketplace moving properly."
Kerry was responding to a New York Times report that said prospects for a comprehensive cap-and-trade measure were dimming after a surprise election loss by Democrats last week robbed them of a critical majority in the U.S. Senate.
Scott Brown, who won the Massachusetts seat and eliminated the Democrats' ability to overcome opposition procedural blocks, opposed a federal cap-and-trade bill in his campaign.
Kerry has been working with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent, to put together a bill to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Graham was quoted in the report as saying cap-and-trade bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are "going nowhere" because they aren't "business-friendly" enough and fail to lead to energy independence.
Graham was scheduled to address the clean energy forum later in the day.
Kerry noted Graham's position, but said the issue under discussion was how to put a price on carbon, not whether to do it.
"Cap is on the table, trade is on the table, all these things are on the table, and we're having a lot of conversations about it," Kerry said. "And you simply won't get the impact of the reductions (in climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions) you need unless you do it."
Kerry said defense review being released by the Pentagon next week will for the first time list climate change as an instability factor that affects U.S. troops "and may in fact wind up costing us lives down the road."
(Editing by David Storey)