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Straight Talk on Environment: Buy This T-Shirt

To promote Sen. McCain’s new plan on climate change, the senator’s campaign has launched a line of eco-friendly merchandise to be sold in its official store. The green items include t-shirts, polo shirts and baby clothes made from biodegradable fabric; organic cotton hats; mugs and notebooks made from recycled materials; and organic shopping bags. Here’s the eco-friendly section of the campaign’s store.

All that merch is meant to send a message that McCain has been trying to get across since he started campaigning: that he’s the greenest candidate. The response he’s been getting from environmentalists is still pretty mixed, though.

This week, McCain unveiled his plan to take on climate change in a speech at Portland, Oregon’s Vestas Wind Technology wind energy facility. Cap-and-trade is at the heart of what his campaign calls a "market-based system to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mobilize innovative technologies and strengthen the economy."

For the cap part, McCain said that by 2012, he wants to reduce emissions to 2005 levels. By 2020, he wants a return to 1990 levels. And by 2050, he wants to reduce emissions by 60 percent below what levels were in 1990. His proposal is more modest than what Sens. Clinton and Obama have proposed. Both Democratic candidates support an 80 percent drop below 1990 levels by 2050. This is closer to what the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for.

For the trade part, he supports a "new market" that rewards clean energy efforts and innovations. "And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices," he said.

McCain also said he supports government subsidies for nuclear energy, an idea that doesn’t thrill some environmental groups like the Sierra Club.

Other environmentalists are practically jumping for joy that a Republican candidate is taking on their cause. "We are entering the post-Bush era of climate politics," said Jeremy Symons, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s climate-change campaign. "There aren’t a lot of shut doors here," Symons said about McCain’s speech. "This is a very compelling statement about why we need to act urgently, and that is good news for everyone that we have candidates from both parties that are going to be making that case."

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