US House Democrats outline global warming goals

02 October 2008 23:07  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The next US Congress should enact an economy-wide mandatory programme to address global warming with binding emissions reductions under UN climate change findings, House Democrats said on Thursday.


In a set of legislative principles presented on Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California), 151 Democrats and one Republican declared “legislation to address global warming a top priority for Congress”.


“Total US emissions must be capped by a date certain, decline every year, be reduced to 15% to 20% below current levels in 2020 and fall to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050,” the letter to Pelosi said.


The House Democrats directed their climate change legislative principles to Pelosi because of “your leadership on one of the critical issues of our time: the effort to save the planet from calamitous global warming”.


The principles require that under a mandatory cap-and-trade pollution reduction programme, emissions permits would be auctioned to industry, with those revenues used to develop clean energy and to compensate low-income families “to offset higher energy costs”.


In addition, “Workers and communities most affected by the transition to a clean energy economy should receive a portion of the revenues to ease the transition and build a trained workforce so that all can participate in the new energy economy,” the letter said.


However, a mandatory federal programme for sharp reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be only the minimum effort required of industry, and individual states would be free to establish more stringent global warming restrictions “to protect their citizens’ health and state resources”.


A federal mandate for emissions reductions would have to be tightened, however, if it is determined that irreversible effects of greenhouse gas concentrations appear to develop faster than anticipated, the principles provide.


“The effects of global warming are happening much faster than scientists predicted several years ago,” the letter states.


“The US must re-engage in the international negotiations to establish binding emissions reductions goals under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” the House members said.


The full text of the letter of principles can be found on the Web site of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is chaired by Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California), a lead author of the letter.


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By: Joe Kamalick
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