On the Plus Side, Bush Recognized the Need for Federal Action on Climate Change

Sheryl CanterThis post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.

Today’s speech by President Bush acknowledged that federal action is needed to address climate change – a new and welcome shift. But the details of his plan fall far short of what’s needed to halt global warming.

Moreover, Environmental Defense Fund strongly disagrees with elements of the President’s legislative principles, his assertion that the U.S. lacks the technology to make deep near-term cuts in emissions, and his claim that effective climate action would cause economic harm.

Under the Bush proposal:

  • U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would continue to grow until 2025, when they would peak and then start to decline.

    But if we wait that long, it will be too late (see our previous post on the cost of delay). We need to enact climate legislation this year so emissions can start declining by 2012.

  • Emissions in the power sector would be reduced, but only if new technologies are developed and deployed.

    Bush thinks we don’t have the technologies to achieve deep near-term emissions reductions, and trying to meet such targets would cripple our economy. He is wrong!

According to a new analysis from Environmental Protection Agency [PDF] (EPA), the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act – a cap-and-trade bill – can be implemented without significant harm to the economy. EPA says U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) will grow roughly 80 percent from 2010 to 2030 under the bill, just one percentage point less than it would otherwise.

In a separate analysis, business consulting firm McKinsey & Company found more than 250 existing and readily available options for reducing emissions across the U.S. economy, many of which pay for themselves over their lifetime.

We have the technology today to reduce emissions, and doing so will not harm the U.S. economy. All we need is the political will.

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  1. Posted April 17, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Completely agreed and more: Present and future technology will only “solve” the problems of climate change when the right incentives exist. Stop subsidizing driving (“freeways”), start taxing carbon, stop rewarding favorite industries (corn ethanol, hydrogen car, etc.), and start something now — not 2025 or even 2012 (why is it that politicians promise to do stuff 10-20 years after they will be gone?)

    The problems are not just political will for change, but political will to stop harm.

  2. quentinp
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Has someone got a dictionary? I need to look up a few words:


    I swore I knew what these meant this morning and now I’m confused. But then I did also knew the meaning of these:

    “narrow minded”

    My confusion has lifted.