American Power Act Fails to Reduce Emissions Enough to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change

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CommonDreams.org

American Power Act Fails to Reduce Emissions Enough to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change

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Analysis by Center for Biological Diversity

As the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history devastates the Gulf of Mexico, clarifying the urgent need for bold, effective climate legislation, a new Center for Biological Diversity analysis of the American Power Act demonstrates the bill’s gross inadequacies.

WASHINGTON - June 22 - As the worst environmental disaster in
U.S. history devastates the Gulf of Mexico, clarifying the urgent need
for bold,
effective climate legislation, a new Center for Biological Diversity
analysis of
the American Power Act demonstrates the bill’s gross inadequacies.

The Center’s analysis shows that the
domestic
greenhouse gas emissions allowed under the bill could lead to global
greenhouse
gas concentrations of 650 parts per million (ppm). At these
concentrations,
global mean temperatures would almost certainly rise 2°C (3.6°F) over
preindustrial levels. There is also an 80-percent chance that the
increase
would exceed 3°C (5.4°F), and a 40-percent chance that the
increase would
exceed 4°C (7.2°F), according to leading scientists. Even a 2°C
increase
could cause the displacement of millions due to sea-level rise,
irreversible
loss of entire ecosystems, and the triggering of multiple climactic
“tipping
points” that would result in additional, accelerated warming.

“The decisions we make today will
determine the
health and livability of the planet for generations to come,” said Bill
Snape,
senior counsel at the Center. “Policymakers need to acknowledge the
great danger
from proposals like the American Power Act, which simply do not provide
the
pollution reductions that scientists warn are needed to tackle this
crisis. The
hard truth is that the bill would leave our children and grandchildren
to deal
with what can only be called climate catastrophe.”

To limit future warming to 2°C, developed
countries
like the United States must make firm commitments to reduce their
emissions by
25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels within the next decade. Even assuming

successful implementation of the bill’s programs — an unlikely scenario
given
its many loopholes — the Act would likely reduce emissions by less than 1

percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The Act would also offer a smorgasbord of
subsidies,
regulatory streamlining provisions, and other incentives for expanded
offshore
oil exploration, nuclear power, and continued reliance on coal-fired
electricity
generation.

Making matters worse, the climate bill
also
devastates proven, effective programs under the federal Clean Air Act
that could
be used to achieve the immediate and long-lasting emissions reductions
that are
needed. It removes EPA’s ability to set a national pollutant cap for
greenhouse
gases, permanently removes the agency’s ability to set greenhouse
standards for
major polluters like oil refineries and cement plants, and prohibits the

regulation of important greenhouse gases like methane from sources such
as coal
mines until at least 2020.

“Passing a climate bill with inadequate
greenhouse
gas reduction goals is bad enough, but adding subsidies for offshore oil

drilling and other fossil fuels to the mix while gutting successful
existing
laws that can get the job done is downright crazy,” said Snape.

The Center’s longer analysis of the
American Power
Act is available here.

The Center’s short summary of key
provisions of the
bill is available here.

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