Leaders Urge Cap-and-Trade Plan despite Hard Times

A coalition of corporations and environmental organizations called on Congress and the incoming Obama Administration to pass meaningful climate protection legislation next year despite the difficult economic conditions, pointing to the economic benefits and job creation that will result from taking such action.

Representatives for the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of 26 corporations and 6 non-profit environmental and conservation organizations, held a press conference in Washington on Nov. 18 to make the economic case for cap-and-trade legislation.

"Investment in new technologies and the infrastructure needed for a low-carbon economy are effective ways to generate the jobs and economic growth the U.S. needs to address the current economic crisis," said James Rogers, chief executive officer of Duke Energy. "We must position the U.S. to succeed in the new low-carbon, global economy, and this is the best way to accomplish that."

USCAP includes the following corporations and environmental NGOs: Alcoa, AIG, Boston Scientific, BP America, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, Chrysler, John Deere, Dow, Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense Fund, Exelon, Ford, FPL Group, GE, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Marsh, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, NRG Energy, The Nature Conservancy, PepsiCo, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, PG&E, PNM Resources, Rio Tinto, Shell, Siemens, World Resources Institute, and Xerox.

USCAP has taken a leadership role in support of climate protection legislation, calling for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 that are 60 percent to 80 percent below today's levels. Its initial report on addressing climate change -- "A Call for Action" -- was issued in January 2007 and noted that each year of delay in controlling emissions increases the risk of consequences that could necessitate even steeper reductions in the future at potentially greater economic cost and social disruption.

Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp cited a recent University of Maryland study showing that unchecked climate change will strain public budgets and cut growth across all sectors of the economy. In contrast, a cap-and-trade program designed to cut carbon emissions could provide an economic stimulus, he said.

"A cap can instantly create new customers and new jobs for U.S. manufacturers in the supply chain for clean energy. Think of wind turbines and all of the cement and steel that go into them," said Krupp, who spoke at the press conference. "It's the energy and economic revitalization policy America needs now."

One of the main barriers to realizing economic benefits from reducing carbon emissions has been the uncertainty surrounding how this will be accomplished, said Jeff Sterba, CEO of PNM Resources. "Americans want clean energy, and we can produce it if there is a federal roadmap on carbon emissions. Only comprehensive greenhouse gas legislation -- one that recognizes the link between energy, the environment, the economy and security -- can bring us the clean, affordable and secure energy future we so desperately need," said Sterba.