A New Climate Change Bill with Promise

This post is by Sheryl Canter, an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.

Today Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner introduced America’s Climate Security Act (ACSA), a comprehensive climate change bill that would cap and then cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Capping emissions is a crucial step in the fight against global warming, and this bill may be the one that gets us there.

The centerpiece of the bill is a mandatory cap on emissions from facilities that emit more than 10,000 CO2-equivalents of greenhouse gas in any year. These covered facilities are responsible for about 75 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Covered facilities would have to bring their emissions down to 2005 levels by 2012. Then from 2012 to 2050, their emissions would be cut an additional 1.8 percent of 2005 levels each year. This would bring down emissions in covered facilities to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 70 percent by 2050.

The bill calls for some emissions permits to be auctioned and some to be given away – more free in the beginning, transitioning to a higher percentage sold at auction in later years. The best formula is probably yet to be worked out. The auction revenue would be distributed as follows: 52.25 percent to climate-friendly technology, 19 percent to low-income energy consumers, 19 percent to wildlife adaptation, 5 percent to climate change and national security, and 4.75 percent to a worker training program.

The bill includes an energy efficiency section that strengthens residential efficiency standards and building codes. The sponsors estimate that these policies would result in a total economy-wide reduction of up to 19 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 63 percent by 2050.

Importantly, the Lieberman-Warner bill contains an effective approach to managing costs that minimizes economic impacts without compromising climate protection. Other cost management proposals would jettison emissions caps if the price of reducing emissions reached an arbitrary ceiling. Instead, Lieberman and Warner would allow companies to bank emissions allowances, and borrow emissions allowances from future years.

Lieberman and Warner are the chairman and ranking member of a key global warming subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and the bill is winning strong bipartisan support. They plan to bring the bill to a markup in their panel within the next few weeks.

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  1. Sebb
    Posted October 18, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    We can’t borrow CO2 from future years so why should they borrow allowances from the future? Who decides when that loan has to be paid? What if there is a protracted increase in the cost of CO2 – that doesn’t change the physics of global warming and the need to reduce emissions.

    There are OTHER other bills that do not provide the get-outs that are in the Lieberman-Warner bill – the get-outs that we know will be used and abused, will add to the cost of implementation, and will reduce effectiveness. I don’t know why you’ve chosen this bill – what about Barbara Boxer’s? I have waited 20 years for a bill, I can wait another year for the right bill, instead of rushing through a half-measure.

    I just love Environmental Defense and AGW is my number one issue but I’m not supporting the bill you’ve picked.

    This window isn’t open for a brief window and we have to clutch whatever compromise bill we can. To use another analogy – the horse is out of the barn and the urgency and desire for change is only going to increase as weeks and months go by. States are acting, companies are acting, individuals are acting, the world is acting. When we act we should do it right.

    Do you believe that the L-W bill has highest environmental standards of the current bills in committee?

    If not, why support it? And if the standards aren’t high enough in any of them don’t support any bill but lobby for a better one.


  2. Sebb
    Posted October 19, 2007 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I just read that Barbara Boxer also supports your favorite bill now (she must have dropped her own). I’d be really interested in a side-by-side comparison of the bills and the action that scientists tell is is required to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees (C or F, I forget?).


  3. Posted October 22, 2007 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
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