Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week will begin debating one of the most critical pieces of the Waxman-Markey climate bill: how the government will distribute the emissions permits, and the corresponding “allowance value,” under a cap and trade program for greenhouse gases. The formula Congress arrives at will be key to managing consumer costs. As events unfold over the next few weeks, here are a few things to keep in mind: 40 Percent to Consumers. A group of key swing Democrats have requested that 40 percent of the allowances initially be given for free to the …
With Congress moving forward aggressively to cap global warming pollution, opponents of strong climate legislation are muddying the economics to derail action. First the good news: Congressional leaders have announced they will move forward with broad energy and climate legislation that will include a cap on global warming pollution -- the single most important step we can take to fight climate change. The bad news: with Congress on the cusp of action, opponents are once again circulating analyses suggesting that a cap on carbon will hurt the economy and overburden consumers with higher energy costs. The latest making the media rounds comes from the George Marshall Institute. Like several similar studies we saw during last year's debate over the Climate Security Act, the Marshall Institute analysis consistently misrepresents economic modeling results, painting an inaccurate picture of the estimated costs of climate policy. Here's why: Cherry picking numbers is a sour approach. The Marshall Institute's study claims to be a meta-analysis, looking at economic studies of the Lieberman Warner bill (S.2191) by MIT, ACCF/NAM, CRA, CDA, EPA, EIA and CATF.1 However, when the Institute makes conclusions about the impact of climate policy on employment and household consumption, it omits the most credible studies from its analysis, namely those by EPA, MIT and EIA.
There's been a lot of buzz lately about the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and its new blueprint for a cap on global warming pollution. Last week, the diverse group of environmental nonprofits and leading companies from every sector of the U.S. economy unveiled a detailed plan for legislation -- the consensus product of two years of intense analysis and debate. As a consensus document, it won't satisfy everyone's design for the perfect climate bill. Instead, it bridges the gap on the most important issues in the legislative debate, giving members of Congress clear guidelines for legislation that are environmentally effective, economically smart, and politically achievable. It's an attempt to find the "sweet spot" that can move the U.S. forward on climate change, in real, practical terms, toward a strong domestic emissions cap that reduces pollution at home and enables the U.S. to lead an effective global emissions reduction effort. Any U.S. climate proposal needs to be examined in that context. After all, even the strongest U.S. legislation alone won't secure enough global emissions reductions to solve climate change. What we need right now is strong domestic action that drives international action and contributes effectively to a global emissions reduction path that can avert the worst impacts of climate change. The two-degree threshold Scientific experts say that our emissions path must keep global warming within 2° of pre-industrial levels. Beyond that, the chances of catastrophic climate impacts increase dramatically. Would the USCAP blueprint as a whole contribute effectively to the global emissions reductions we need? The chart below shows that it would.
In his most concrete policy proposal since the November election, President-elect Barack Obama last week said his administration will “mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.” Obama said that will “start” with a federal cap and trade system to reduce global warming pollution, an approach that could create millions of jobs in the U.S. If you’re wondering what those jobs are, how will they be created, and who will get them, check out a just-released report from Duke University that for the first …
Ken Ward takes a worthwhile look at the goalposts for U.S. climate policy in his argument for making 350 parts per million the new bright line for success. We agree that we need to aim lower than 450 ppm -- the world is at roughly 380 ppm now, and we're already witnessing adverse climate impacts. But we part ways when it comes to how we're going to get there. Ward suggests that EDF's support for the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act can't be reconciled with a stabilization target below 450 ppm, because the bill as written wouldn't drive sufficient emissions reductions. In fact, there's nothing incompatible about the two. Here's why:
A quick post-mortem on this week's vote on the Climate Security Act, which was pulled from the Senate floor on Friday after its sponsors fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to final debate. I think I can safely sum it up in one word: progress.
This is the latest in a series on why it is important to push hard for climate legislation this year. Over the past few months, I've made the case for passing climate legislation in 2008: We don't want to squander the current momentum, we simply can't afford to wait, and while we do, we only prolong a dangerous catch-22. Now we're finally on the doorstep of Senate action on a comprehensive climate change bill. Floor debate over the Climate Security Act (S. 3036) will begin Monday, June 2. If opponents of meaningful action have their way, the debate will be nothing more than a short, partisan fight over gas prices. You can already hear the predictable scare tactics: "Why would we want to raise gas prices now, when working Americans are already suffering at the pump?" That's a phony argument -- but it brings me to another reason for passing a climate bill in 2008: It's time to kick our oil habit, and the best way to do that is with a cap-and-trade policy that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. Gas prices are at a record high because of growing demand from China and other developing nations. That's not going to change. The only solution is to end our addiction to oil.
This is the third in a series on why we should push for climate legislation this year. See also Part I and Part II. Why push for a climate bill in 2008? I've already offered some reasons in my previous posts: the politics will be much the same in 2009 (Okay, David offered that one), we don't want to squander the current momentum, and in any case, we simply can't afford to wait. But if those aren't reason enough, here's another: The world is waiting for us to act. To solve the global warming problem, China and other developing countries also must cap their emissions, and they won't do this until our own cap is in place. From a New York Times report: "China is not going to act in any sort of mandatory-control way until the United States does first," said Joseph Kruger, policy director for the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group in Washington. Along with India and other large developing countries, China has long maintained that the established industrial powers need to act first because they built their wealth largely by burning fossil fuels and adding to the atmosphere's blanket of greenhouse gases. If the U.S. -- the wealthiest country on Earth -- won't establish a cap, how can we expect developing countries to do it?
This is the second in a series; the first is here. We've covered two reasons Environmental Defense is pushing for passage of climate legislation in 2008 -- the politics will be very much the same in 2009, and we don't want to gamble away a good bill on the chance of a perfect one someday. Today I'll look at a third reason: The price of waiting, even a year or two, is simply too high. Carbon dioxide concentrations are higher today than they've been in 650,000 years, and our emissions rate is increasing. It's crucial that we start aggressively cutting emissions as soon as possible. Here's the math. Source: the national allowance account for the years 2012-2020 from the S.2191 as reported out of the EPW Committee. The emissions growth from 2005 to 2013 is assumed to be 1.1 percent (an average of the 2004 and 2005 rate reported by the EPA [PDF]). Scenario one: The Climate Security Act is passed into law this year, and takes effect in 2012. To comply with the emissions cap, covered sources would have to cut annual emissions by roughly 2 percent per year. By 2020, they would be emitting at 15 percent below the starting point in 2012. Scenario two: We delay enacting legislation by two years, holding everything else constant. We pass a cap-and-trade bill in 2010, and it takes effect in 2014. To meet the same cumulative emissions cuts, emissions would have to fall by 4.3 percent per year -- over twice as quickly -- and we'd have to do it year after year until 2020, just to get to the same place. By 2020, emissions from covered sources would have to be cut 23 percent below the starting point in 2014.