U.S. C02 Emissions Will Rise Absent Strong Policy

WASHINGTON, DC, July 11, 2003 (ENS) - Voluntary measures will not be enough to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, finds a new report released Thursday by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Without a mandatory carbon cap, U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide - widely believed to be a leading contributor to climate change - are likely to rise across a wide range of possible energy futures, according to the study.

"This report suggests that technology research and development efforts coupled with voluntary measures cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it highlights the need for a mandatory climate change policy to address carbon emissions - regardless of how the future unfolds," said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The report, "U.S. Energy Scenarios for the 21st Century," analyzes three divergent paths for U.S. energy supply and use from 2000 to 2035 and the effect of climate policy on the three scenarios. U.S. energy use accounts for more than 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The Pew Center for Global Climate Change enlisted the aid of the Global Business Network, a business policy firm, to develop likely energy scenarios and draw policy relevant conclusions. earth

Most scientists are convinced that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the planet's climate to change. (Photo courtesy the David Suzuki Foundation)
The report finds that absent a mandatory carbon constraint, the absolute level of U.S. emissions rises in the range of 15 to 50 percent over the year 2000 level in each of its three scenarios - even though the carbon intensity of the economy declines considerably.

Second, the report concludes that there are technologies that can address climate change, accelerate capital stock turnover and enhance energy security - if they are supported by complementary policies and investments.

Low fossil fuel prices encourage high carbon and energy inefficient investments, but the report finds that the task of reducing emissions can be facilitated by energy security policies that reduce oil consumption and by early and sustained investment, engineering success, and consumer acceptance of innovative low carbon and efficiency-improving technologies.

"With the appropriate set of policies and investments during the next thirty years, the United States could be better positioned to achieve

The report's third conclusion is that energy policy and investment decisions made today will either heighten or ease the difficulty of implementing future climate policy.

A multiple policy approach, including investment in new technologies and a flexible regulatory mechanism to reduce emissions, can help the nation meet "its complementary economic, energy security, and environmental goals," Claussen said.

This is one of a series of reports on climate change by the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, which was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a $4 billion foundation created by the children of the founder of Sun Oil, now known as Sunoco.

Claussen said the organization now plans to turn to an exploration of what ought to happen, now and in the future, towards developing a national vision of policies, strategies and investments that will help achieve these goals. Bush

President George W. Bush favors voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo by Paul Morse courtesy the White House)
The U.S. policy on climate change has drawn the ire of other nations - President George W. Bush withdrew U.S. support for the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations accord on greenhouse gas emissions, and his administration has repeatedly questioned the scientific certainty of global warming.

The United States is responsible for more than 25 percent of the world's total emissions of greenhouse gases. Date released last month by the United Nations found that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose some 14 percent from 1990 to 2000.

President Bush is loathe to enforce mandatory C02 reductions on American industries and instead has pushed forward with a voluntary program to cut the nation's greenhouse gas intensity - the ratio of emissions to economic output - by 18 percent.

Critics believe this approach will do little to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.