CEOs, Enviros Pressure Bush for National Climate Law

WASHINGTON, DC, January 22, 2007 (ENS) - The heads of 10 corporate giants and four environmental organizations today announced a new alliance to lobby the U.S. government for strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

At congressional and national press briefings today, CEOs and environmentalists introduced the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, USCAP. They sent what they intend to be a clear signal to lawmakers that legislative action is urgently needed, including a mandatory cap on carbon dioxide emissions and a market in carbon credits.

President George W. Bush has resisted legislating limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, instead favoring a voluntary approach.

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Alcoa Chairman and CEO Alain Belda (Photo courtesy Alcoa)
“Each year that we delay action to control emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences that could necessitate even steeper reductions in the future, at potentially greater economic cost and social disruption,” said Alcoa Chairman and CEO Alain Belda, introducing USCAP today.

The Partnership consists of Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, Pacific Gas & Electric, and PNM Resources along with nongovernmental organizations Environmental Defense, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Natural Resources Defense Council, and World Resources Institute, WRI.

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World Resources Institute President Jonathan Lash (Photo courtesy WRI)
"This coalition of corporate and environmental leaders is unprecedented in my long experience fighting for a healthier environment," said Jonathan Lash, WRI president. "Its message to our government should not be misread: we are united in our desire for swift, aggressive action on climate change."

Greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning coal, oil and gas are blanketing the planet, trapping the heat of the Sun, melting ice caps, rasing sea levels, and causing erratic weather patterns.

Climate change will affect the basic elements of life for people around the world. Hundreds of millions of people could suffer hunger, water shortages and coastal flooding as the world warms. In addition, climate change could have serious impacts on growth and development.

USCAP called today 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.

"This is a game changer for action on global warming," said Environmental Defense President Fred Krupp, one of those who originated the corporate-environmental group discussions.

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Environmental Defense President Fred Krupp (Photo courtesy Environmental Defense)
"These negotiations weren’t easy – we all had strong points of view on the specifics – yet there was a real sense that we were doing something that could be historic," Krupp said.

The group proposed a cap and trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It recommends a 10 to 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within 15 years with a goal of a 60 to 80 percent reduction by 2050.

"We chose a cap and trade approach because it guarantees the emissions cuts we need, while it unleashes cash and creativity from the private sector," Krupp said. "This plan is a jobs winner as well as an environmental winner."

The alliance said a cap and trade approach will ensure emission reduction targets are met while generating a price signal that will provide market incentives to stimulate investment and innovation in the technologies necessary to achieve its environmental goals.

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Lewis Hay, III is chairman, president and chief executive officer, FPL Group, Inc. (Photo courtesy FPL)
“As the world leader in renewable energy and the nation's leading utility in energy conservation programs, FPL Group is proud to be among other industry leaders and stakeholders who are part of this positive collaboration to support the formulation of mandatory policies to reduce CO2 emissions for our country,” said Lew Hay, chairman and chief executive officer of FPL Group.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said today that the President's take on carbon caps has not changed as a result of hearing USCAP's proposal.

"The President has always believed, when it comes to climate change, that the best way to achieve reductions is through innovation and to figure out ways to come up with energy sources that are going to meet our economy's constant demand for energy, and at the same time, do it in a way that's going to be friendly for the environment," Snow said at a press briefing.

The President is expected to address climate change during his State of the Union message tomorrow evening.

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The coal-fired Paradise power plant in Kentucky is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. government agency. (Photo courtesy TVA)
In February 2002, President Bush announced a strategy to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the American economy by 18 percent over the 10 year period from 2002 to 2012. Instead of a percentage measurement of emissions in the atmosphere, greenhouse gas intensity measures the ratio of emissions to economic output.

A survey taken in November by Massachusetts Institute of Technology political scientist Stephen Ansolabehere showed that Americans now rank climate change as the country’s most pressing environmental concern. Three years ago, climate change ranked only sixth out of 10 environmental problems.

USCAP’s recommendations are based on six principles:

The principles and the recommendations outlined in the USCAP Call for Action 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.

A full copy of the A Call for Action and background information on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership is online at: www.us-cap.org.