WASHINGTON -- November 10 -- The Sustainable Energy Coalition today sharply criticized recent comments by senior White House officials rejecting any limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The criticism was in response to statements made following President Bush's re-election, by James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, White House science adviser John Marburger, and Mike Leavitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
In light of the recent release of two major new studies* that conclude global warming is dramatically impacting the United States faster than many scientists had anticipated, the Administration's position is shortsighted and irresponsible. Moreover, given the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the Russian Federation and more than 120 other nations, the U.S. is now out of touch with virtually every other industrialized country on the planet other than Australia.
The Administration continues to rely on questionable economic analyses as justification for its lack of effective policy and argues that the Kyoto Protocol would cost the U.S. economy nearly 5 million jobs. Accordingly, the Sustainable Energy Coalition calls upon the Administration to identify the analysis upon which this 5 million job loss figure is based, and to explain why the findings of multiple other analyses that smart strategies to reduce U.S. carbon emissions can produce a net increase in domestic employment were rejected.
According to analyses by SEC member group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Administration's own computer model and assumptions show that increasing the use of renewable electricity sources to just 20 percent by 2020 would cut the growth of power plant carbon emissions by more than half, while saving consumers billions of dollars and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.** Adopting other renewable energy incentives such as a Renewable Fuels Standard and incorporating cost-effective energy efficiency savings could further reduce U.S. carbon emissions substantially compared to the Administration's business-as-usual projections.
Ironically, while the White House has based its rejection of both the Kyoto Protocol and other form of mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions on economic grounds, its position actually threatens to undermine the nation's economic health -- as well as its environmental health.
In a letter sent to President Bush on October 14, the Sustainable Energy Coalition warned that the U.S.'s "continued rejection of meaningful international involvement in the effort to address climate change is not only undermining the global environment but also risks great damage to the American economy. By not being a signatory, the United States now faces the very real possibility of putting itself at a serious competitive disadvantage in the world marketplace.
"Russia's approval of the Kyoto Protocol means that U.S. business may be cut out of the new carbon trading markets which have already been set up in London. Furthermore, carbon trading and incentives to install renewables and other clean technologies in the treaty will give companies in Europe and elsewhere a financial advantage in joint trading agreements with former Eastern bloc and developing countries.
"In addition, by giving industry, local authorities and consumers incentives to take action on climate change, Russia, Japan, the European Union and the other industrialized countries that have joined the protocol will set themselves on a path to greater economic efficiency. This will ultimately translate into foreign enterprises being significantly more competitive in the global marketplace."
Moreover, post-election analyses reveal that whatever policy support President Bush may have received from the voters did not include inaction on the issue of global warming. In fact, the Administration's climate change policies may be handicapping the economies of many of the very states that assured his election. For example, America's agricultural sector is already profitably reducing greenhouse gases by turning to no-till or minimum-till farming practices, producing ethanol, biodiesel, biogas (reducing methane emissions) and other biofuels, hosting a rapidly increasing number of wind farms and seeking efficiencies throughout their operations.
The Sustainable Energy Coalition consequently reiterates its call to President Bush to commit the United States to binding goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Addressing climate change with policies and investments that favor increased energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies will not only help the environment but also create millions of new, high-quality domestic jobs and businesses. It will be a net win for the U.S. economy.
A report by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change found "abundant evidence" that global warming has begun to affect plants and animals in every region of the United States, from the earlier nesting of birds in the desert Southwest to the earlier flowering of trees in forests around the Great Lakes. Another report, commissioned by the United States and other nations with Arctic territory, found that northern Alaska and the rest of the Arctic are warming rapidly, with the loss of polar ice projected to accelerate global warming as well as contributing to sea-level rise and flooding.
Documented at <http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy/page.cfm?pageID=1370>
A November 8 report prepared by the polling firm of Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research Inc. for SEC member group, the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center, concluded: "In a campaign season that divided Americans like few others, voters find broad consensus on the reality of global warming and the need to do something about it. In a national debate dominated by war and terrorism, voters still invest a fair degree of urgency and priority in global warming, particularly when framed around broader concerns of the nations energy policy. And in a period of economic stagnation, voters reject arguments about delaying or curtailing changes in global warming policy due to alleged deleterious economic outcomes."
The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of nearly 90 national and state energy policy, business, environmental, and consumer organizations that collectively represent several thousand companies and community-based groups. Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition supports expanded use of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies.