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Call Goes Out for Ambitious, Centrist Action

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2006) -- The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said today there is still time to take effective measures to combat global warming, but warned that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

"In order to avert catastrophic global warming impacts, the United States must start cutting greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years and cut them in half by mid-century," said David Doniger, policy director of NRDC's Climate Center, during a daylong "climate conference" sponsored by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"These emission cuts must begin in the next 10 years if we want to pull this off with a minimum of economic impact," said Doniger. "As the National Academy of Sciences has emphasized, delay makes the job much harder. A slow start will mean a crash finish."

Doniger urged senators to embrace "a more ambitious, yet still centrist" path forward.

"Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman deserve credit for working on mandatory global warming legislation. But their proposal would only slow the growth of emissions and postpone decisions on emission cuts for another 10 years. We do not have that much time," Doniger said. Ironically, he warned, softer measures could leave both the climate and the economy in limbo. "A bill that looks out only ten years won't meet the environmental challenge or give business the certainty and stability that it needs," Doniger said. "A more ambitious bill could prevent dangerous global warming and still command the political center by giving business clear and stable market signals and incentives to invest in cleaner power plants, vehicles and fuels."

Doniger offered specific proposals for a long-term declining cap that cuts emissions in half by 2050, new tools for cost control, and incentives for investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy technologies. (Read NRDC's detailed proposals.)

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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