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Business and Environmental Leaders Release Landmark Blueprint for Climate Protection Legislation
Broad and Diverse Coalition Presents Consensus Approach on Major Climate Initiatives
Washington, D.C. (January 15, 2009) – The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) today unveiled a comprehensive and detailed set of integrated policy recommendations for developing legislation that would create an environmentally effective and economically sustainable national climate protection program.
The landmark document – titled A Blueprint for Legislative Action – echoes the sense of urgency that President-elect Obama has articulated regarding the need for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
Developed through two years of intensive analysis and consensus-building among 26 corporations and five environmental organizations, the Blueprint offers policymakers a clear path forward endorsed by a coalition representing a broad swath of the economy and diverse environmental interests.
"Building on the new wave of energy in Washington, it is essential for Congress to pass strong global warming legislation in 2009,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Strong climate legislation can generate revenue for investment in new technologies, create million of new jobs, and jump-start our economic recovery. This more detailed blueprint, supported by a wide range of businesses and environmental groups, can help Congress tackle global warming this year and move our country to a brighter economic future."
"In the past, the U.S. has proven that we have the will, the capabilities and the courage to invest in innovation – even in difficult times," said Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE. "Today, cap-and-trade legislation is a crucial component in fueling the bold clean energy investments necessary to catapult the US again to preeminence in global energy and environmental policy, strengthen the country's international competitiveness, and create millions of rewarding new American jobs."
USCAP believes that strong climate legislation is a critical element of any effort to stimulate investment and innovation in low-carbon technologies. The Blueprint provides specific guidelines for the Administration and Congress to enact legislation that both protects the environment and facilitates the necessary transition to a vibrant, low-carbon economy. That includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 2005 levels by 2050 through an economy-wide cap-and-trade program.
“The health of our economy and the safety of our climate are inextricably linked, except nature doesn’t do bail-outs,” noted Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute. “USCAP has redefined what is possible. If the diverse membership of USCAP can find common ground, Congress can agree on effective legislation.”
USCAP noted that every year of delay in controlling emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences that could necessitate even steeper greenhouse gas reductions in the future, at substantially greater economic cost and social disruption.
The Blueprint details steps for creating a mandatory, economy-wide cap-and-trade program, coupled with cost containment measures and complementary policies addressing a federal technology research development and deployment program, coal technology, transportation, and building and energy efficiency.
Expanding significantly on USCAP’s 2007 groundbreaking Call for Action,the Blueprint includes an aggressive emission reduction schedule, further details on the scope of coverage for the cap-and-trade program, and recommendations for how to include as much of the U.S. economy under the cap as administratively and politically feasible.
Highlights from the Blueprint include:
- Requiring an 80 percent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2050: National climate legislation should include aggressive emission reduction targets that can be achieved at manageable costs to the economy. The targets and timetables in the Blueprint are consistent with the schedule proposed by President-elect Obama.
- Allowing the ample use of offsets to manage program costs: Offsets should be used to help meet compliance obligations and should be environmentally additional, verifiable, permanent, measurable, and enforceable. Other cost containment measures to limit price spikes and volatility are detailed in the Blueprint.
- Using the value of emissions allowances to protect consumers and businesses while advancing climate program goals: USCAP believes the distribution of allowance value should facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy for consumers and businesses, provide capital to support new low- and zero-GHG-emitting technologies, and address the need for humans and the environment to adapt to climate change. A significant portion of allowances should be initially distributed to capped entities and particularly disadvantaged economic sectors. The Blueprint identifies principles to guide the fair and equitable allocation of allowance value to mitigate costs to consumers and impacted sectors of the economy.
- Creating incentives for technology development and deployment: In addition to outlining the design and function of a cap-and-trade system, the Blueprint details complementary measures for coal, technology transformation, transportation, and buildings and energy efficiency that are needed to facilitate rapid technology transformation and to ensure that actual reductions in emissions occur across the economy. These measures are presented as necessary components of the cap-and-trade recommendations.
A summary overview of the Blueprint for Legislative Action as well as the full text of USCAP’s recommendations are available online at www.us-cap.org.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.