Businesses, Environmental Groups Offer U.S. Climate Change Policy Recommendations

Ten major U.S. corporations are joining environmental groups to call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The alliance, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), released a report on Jan. 22 that recommends a 10 percent to 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within 15 years with a goal of a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction by 2050. The US CAP report, A Call for Action, calls for a comprehensive package of policies that are market based, including a greenhouse gas trading system and support for new, clean technologies and efficiency.

"The time has come for constructive action that draws strength equally from business, government, and non-governmental stakeholders," said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric. "These recommendations should catalyze legislative action that encourages innovation and fosters economic growth while enhancing energy security and balance of trade, ensuring U.S. leadership on an issue of significance to our country and the world."

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) consists of Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM Resources, along with four non-governmental organizations -- Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and World Resources Institute.

USCAP's recommendations are based on the following six principles:

  • Account for the global dimensions of climate change.
  • Recognize the importance of technology.
  • Be environmentally effective.
  • Create economic opportunity and advantage.
  • Be fair to sectors disproportionately impacted.
  • Recognize and encourage early action.

The principles and the recommendations outlined in the report are the result of a year-long collaboration motivated by the shared goal of slowing, stopping and reversing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions over the shortest period of time reasonably achievable.

This unique cooperation of business and environmental leaders is a clear signal to lawmakers that legislative action is urgently needed, the groups stated. This non-partisan effort was driven by the top executives from member organizations -- companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $750 billion and environmental groups with more than one million members worldwide and global policy influence.

USCAP urges policy makers to enact a policy framework for mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from major emitting sectors, including large stationary sources and transportation, and energy use in commercial and residential buildings. The cornerstone of this approach would be a cap-and-trade program. The environmental goal is to reduce global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to a level that minimizes large-scale adverse impacts to humans and the natural environment. The group recommends Congress provide leadership and establish short- and mid-term emission reduction targets; a national program to accelerate technology research, development and deployment; and approaches to encourage action by other countries, including those in the developing world, as ultimately the solution must be global.

"The Climate Action Partnership recognizes that the undertaking to address climate change is an enormous one, and should not be underestimated," said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute. "But enacting environmentally effective, economically sustainable and fair climate change law must be a national priority."

USCAP believes that programs to encourage efficiency and to promote cleaner technologies in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 enacted by the last Congress and supported by the president were a good step. However, they alone cannot get the nation to where it needs to be on the climate change issue. The members of USCAP pledge to work with the president, the Congress and other stakeholders to confront this vital global challenge.

The report can be accessed in PDF format at http://www.us-cap.org/ClimateReport.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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