Issue Date: January 29, 2007
Corporate Leaders Urge CO2 Cuts
LEADERS OF 10 CORPORATIONS and four environmental groups have called on President George W. Bush and Congress to pass within one year national legislation requiring mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Meeting last week in Washington, D.C., the leaders—who call themselves the U.S. Climate Action Partnership—laid out a program based on declining mandatory carbon dioxide emissions caps backed up by CO2 trading among emitters. The mandatory caps would kick in under a phased schedule beginning in five years with emissions to be 100-105% of today's level; in 10 years, the cap would drop to 90-100% of current emissions; and in 15 years, the cap would be 70-90% of current levels. Further out, the corporate and environmental CEOs urged Congress to pass legislation to cut emissions to 60-80% of current levels by 2050.
The partnership also wants legislation to include greater incentives to encourage energy efficiency technologies that limit or control CO2 emissions. But the partnership's proposed incentives would primarily focus on coal-fired power plants and projects to capture CO2 and sequester it underground.
At a news conference announcing the agreement, partnership speakers said that the economy would survive the CO2 cuts and that their program would actually create business opportunities. They voiced support for a market approach through tradable allowances, but they noted that the caps may hit some sectors harder than others and that additional cost controls may be needed in the future.
The partnership's 10 corporations have a market capitalization of more than $750 billion. Members include Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM Resources, as well as Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and World Resources Institute.
The proposal urges the U.S. to enter and become a leader in the international debate over global greenhouse gas emission solutions but adds that U.S. actions should not be contingent upon similar ones in other countries.
The plan was released the day before Bush's State of the Union address, where he spoke of climate change for the first time in his annual address. Although he called it a "serious challenge," he said new technologies were the solution and did not mention caps.
Several members of the House and Senate who support climate-change efforts also support the CEOs' agreement, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), head of the Environment & Public Works Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The CEOs declined to assess different pieces of recently introduced climate-change legislation. The agreement is a "game changer," said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense. "It is time for both parties to come together and pass legislation now."
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