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September 29, 2009
7:19 PM

Statement on Senate Climate Bill

WASHINGTON - September 29 - The Center for Biological Diversity issued the following statement today from Executive Director Kieran Suckling, responding to a close-to-final version of the Senate climate bill released today.

“The Boxer-Kerry climate bill marks a baby step forward in the ever more urgent fight against climate catastrophe, but much bolder action is needed.

“We applaud senators Boxer and Kerry for introducing legislation that builds on the success of the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act has reduced air pollution for 40 years and is one of our most powerful tools in fighting global warming and protecting human health. This legislation recognizes that now more than ever, we need every tool in the tool box to curb global warming, and it retains the safety net of the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse emissions.

“While the Senate bill recognizes the absolute necessity of stronger emissions reduction targets, the targets in the Senate bill — like those in the House bill — are woefully inadequate. This legislation would not save the polar bear and numerous other species and ecosystems because it simply does not go far enough quickly enough.

“The scientific consensus is clear: We must reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to no more than 350 parts per million. Leading climate scientists have called for reductions of approximately 40 percent below 1990 levels to avoid climate catastrophe, and yet this bill aims to deliver only a 20-percent reduction from 2005 levels.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to reach even 450 ppm CO2eq (corresponding to approximately 400 ppm CO2), the emissions of the United States and other developed countries should be reduced by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.1 Thus, to reach 350 ppm CO2, the United States must achieve or exceed the upper end of this range.

Forty of the world’s leading climate scientists, including former IPCC chair Sir John Houghton, have called for industrialized countries to make a commitment at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen to cut carbon emissions to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 “to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is advocating for legislation that sets an overall cap on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels consistent with the best available science of no more than 350 ppm, which would require reducing emissions approximately 40 to 45 percent below 1990 levels; that works with, rather than replaces, the Clean Air Act; and that eliminates or greatly reduces offsets and other loopholes.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.


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