Climate Action Partnership Gives "Blueprint" to Greenhouse Gas Policy

Climate Action Partnership Gives "Blueprint" to Greenhouse Gas Policy

Representing two years of work and the views of 31 major companies and environmental groups, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership's "A Blueprint for Legislative Action" gives extensive recommendations for implementing a nationwide carbon emission reduction program.

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership developed the report after federal policymakers asked for a consensus opinion to guide legislation. The report says that U.S. action should not be contingent on the actions of other countries and should be crafted with international concerns in mind, including linking up with other international programs and creating incentives for other countries to limit their emissions.

The overarching recommendation of the report is a federal cap and trade program for emission reductions, and the partnership puts forth a number of other proposals that it feels would create the most effective system: keeping costs to businesses low during a transitional period and support for new technologies related to coal, transportation, buildings and energy efficiency.

Under the cap and trade system, one allowance would be created for each ton of greenhouse gas emissions allowed under the emissions cap, and emitters would have to turn in an allowance for each ton they emit. Emitters would be allowed to sell extra allowance to others who are unable to reduce their emissions far enough under the cap.

The report recommends the following emission reduction targets for the U.S.'s total emissions and for capped sectors (not all sectors would be forced to comply with the cap, but the partnership is also recommending the government take action to encourage those areas to reduce emissions as well): 97-102 percent of 2005 levels by 2012, 80-86 percent of 2005 levels by 2020, 58 percent of 2005 levels by 2030 and 20 percent of 2005 levels by 2050.

The partnership lays out a number of ways it feel would help transition to a low-carbon economy without hurting either businesses or the U.S. economy as a whole: "generous limits" on using carbon offsets to meet goals, providing many of the allowances for free initially (and eventually phasing out free allowances) and providing credit to emitters that have or will take early action to cut their emissions.

Along with a detailed cap and trade system, the report says a number of complimentary measures are needed to help emitters meet the goals. The partnership recommends federal support for technology research, development and deployment; financial incentives for deploying carbon capture and storage systems; improvement of fuel and vehicles emission standards; state or utility sponsored conservation and efficiency programs; stricter building codes and standards; and appliance efficiency standards.