Obama Administration, New Congress Should Mean Aggressive Approach to Global Warming, Science Group Says

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Lisa Nurnberger, 202-331-6959, or Aaron Huertas, 202-331-5458

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

Obama Administration, New Congress Should Mean Aggressive Approach to Global Warming, Science Group Says

WASHINGTON - The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is looking forward to quick and decisive action to combat climate change by the new Obama administration and Congress, after eight long years of obstruction by the outgoing administration.

"President-elect Obama has argued that our economic, energy and environmental problems share the same solution," said UCS President Kevin Knobloch. "We are looking to the new president and Congress to work together to build a clean energy economy that will create millions of new jobs here at home, expand capital investment, make our nation less dependent on oil, and prevent the worst consequences of global warming.

"The past eight years of denial and delay are over. Voters largely embraced candidates who support clean energy, green jobs, and a safer climate for our children and grandchildren."

Next year the new administration and Congress can do much to jumpstart a "Green Deal" that would help pull the country out of our economic downturn by investing in clean energy and modernizing the national electricity grid, Knobloch said.

"A critical step for Congress is to pass a strong federal climate bill with a declining cap on global warming emissions," Knobloch said. "Such a cap-and-trade system would generate needed revenues to finance new energy sources and help Americans manage and reduce their energy costs."

Federal lawmakers would be following the example set just last month by six of the 10 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states in the Northeast. They raised nearly $39 million in the first U.S. auction of permits to emit carbon dioxide under a regional cap-and-trade regime. If the price of the first auction holds, the auctions would yield more than $500 million each year for investment in energy efficiency initiatives and renewable energy development. That number is modest in comparison to the tens of billions of dollars that a national economywide cap-and-trade program could raise.

President-elect Obama's Web site states that his cap-and-trade policy would require all permits to be auctioned, and the proceeds to go to "investments in a clean energy future, habitat protections, and rebates and other transition relief for families." The new president has called for global warming emissions to be reduced by 80 percent by 2050, a target that is consistent with what leading climate scientists say will be needed to stabilize our climate.

President-elect Obama also has pledged to ensure that 10 percent of the nation's electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025. Such a national renewable electricity standard would cut global warming emissions, create jobs, save ratepayers money, and encourage private investment in clean technology.

According to a UCS analysis, if Congress required 20 percent of the nation's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, for example, it would generate 185,000 new jobs; spur $66.7 billion in private capital investment; provide $25.6 billion to farmers, ranchers and rural landowners for leasing their land for biomass and wind energy production; and generate $2 billion in new local tax revenues by 2020. It would cut consumer electric and natural gas bills $10.5 billion in 2020, and by $31.8 billion in 2030. And it would cut 223 million metric tons of global warming emissions a year in 2020 - the equivalent of taking some 36 million cars off the road.

The Bush administration spent eight years trying to sabotage international progress on climate change. In stark contrast, "President-elect Obama has pledged that United States will lead and inspire other countries to take action," Knobloch said, "and he clearly recognizes that the essential step to restoring our international leadership on global warming is to take bold action here at home." Obama has indicated he will send representatives to the next UN climate meeting, which will take place in Poland next month.
 

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

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