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Advancing climate change policy in a difficult economy

 

New presidential transition report charts first steps to advance climate change policy in difficult economy. Clean Air-Cool Planet unveils 25 early-action items to implement in first 150 days.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The ongoing economic crisis, volatile energy prices, and the rapid increase in global CO2 levels will force critical choices on climate action by the new President in the early days of the next administration, according to a report released today by Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP), an independent organization dedicated to finding and promoting solutions to global warming.

“The next president can lead America and the world in addressing climate change if he links our effort to reduce emissions to the revitalization of our economy and the creation of a more secure energy future.” ~~ Rafe Pomerance, CA-CP’s president.

To advance a new strategy, the report recommends 25 early steps through which the incoming President can establish clear priorities for his administration, build a consensus for legislation in Congress, and inspire the public and private sector to action to reduce the threat of climate change.   

“Building a Foundation for Success:  Recommendations for Early Action on Climate Change for the 44th President of the United States” outlines a focused set of actions that can be accomplished within 150 days of taking office, as opposed to prescribing long-term policy outcomes. The actions include organizational steps, administrative and diplomatic initiatives and early approaches with Congress.  Taking account of the changed political situation resulting from high-energy prices and the turbulence in financial markets, CA-CP also proposes a new, auction-based approach to cap and trade legislation that will return 80 percent of the auction revenues to the public through tax reductions.

“The next President will have the opportunity to establish American leadership on climate change with a robust new strategy, but to be successful will require taking early action in a number of areas, including White House organization and the administration’s initial budget proposal,” said Brooks Yeager, executive vice president for policy at CA-CP. “The first steps in crafting a more successful approach have to be taken during the transition and the first 100 days of the administration – and they must lay the foundation for a comprehensive approach which builds a new consensus for action on this critically important issue.”

CA-CP identifies seven broad climate change goals for the upcoming presidential transition:

1. Pick the right team to carry the initiative;
2. Reallocate budget resources, to make climate change a priority;
3. Legislate for economy-wide emissions reductions;
4. Aggressive research and development for low-carbon energy technology;
5. Federal planning for adaptation to climate change impacts;
6. Enable and encourage citizens to build efficiency and conservation in their homes and communities;
7. Re-engage cooperation with international partners.

The recommendations draw on interviews with more than 40 professionals experienced in presidential transitions, senior White House officials and Executive Branch staff from Republican and Democratic administrations, economists and climate change experts.  The agenda is derived out of the concerns of New Hampshire citizens, expressed at the grassroots level and in town meetings during the 2007 primary season.

“In 1961, President Kennedy began the Space Race with the intent to land a man on the moon within the decade. His powerful speeches and leadership were the driving forces in diminishing public skepticism and making a lunar landing a reality,” said Rafe Pomerance, CA-CP’s president, “In a similar way, the next president should inspire citizen engagement on climate action in communities all though America by stressing the moral importance of action, and the growth of clean energy jobs and investments in the future as tools for economic revitalization.”

A link to the entire report and executive summary is online at http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/cpc/PLI_report.php

Summary of Early-Action Recommendations by CA-CP

Picking the right team to carry the initiative: The central issue for the next President is how to organize the
Administration’s core team, starting with White House staff, to help him carry out a climate agenda. The President should:

  • Establish a transition team focused on climate policy before Inauguration Day.
  • Create a National Energy and Climate Council in the White House to ensure a central, empowered entity that reports directly to the President.
  • Designate a Special Envoy on Climate Change to undertake initial high-level international contacts.
  • Put critical sub-Cabinet positions on the fast track for nomination and confirmation.

Reallocation of budget priorities: The President’s budget proposal for FY2010 is the first key policy opportunity to make climate change a priority. The President should:

  • Identify climate change as an early budget priority.
  • Include a climate change rebate in the budget of $80 billion annually over 10 years, derived from future carbon auction revenues.
  • Expand capacity at key agencies and provide at least $400-500 million to make a new climate strategy operational.
  • Increase funding for the Climate Change Science Program from $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion, and to $3 billion byFY2013.
  • Increase funding for the Climate Change Technology Program from $3.7 billion to $6 billion, and to $13 billion by FY2015.

Legislation for economy-wide emissions reductions:  New legislation to limit emissions of greenhouse gases is an essential policy step. The President should:

  • Articulate principles for Congressional action that include long-term emissions reductions linked to the goal for global emissions reductions of 50% by 2050, and which establish a program with auctioned permits that returns 80% of revenue from the auction process to the American public.
  • Establish a White House-Congressional bipartisan working group to shape legislation.

Aggressive research and development for low-carbon energy technology: While currently available technologies can do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, new breakthroughs will be needed for the long term. The President should:

  • Establish and empower the Advanced Research Projects Administration for Energy (ARPA-E) to embrace a risk-taking culture and a focus on game-changing technology.
  • Fully fund ARPA-E start up in a separate funding line in the DOE budget at $150 million in FY2010.

Federal planning for adaptation to climate change impacts: The reality of climate change at the local level is placing a new priority on helping Americans understand and adapt to its impacts. The President should:

  • Issue an Executive Order requiring all federal agencies to report on the potential impacts of climate change on their areas of responsibility.
  • Increase investment in regional climate change assessments and update regional scientific assessments on vulnerability.
  • Restore the “Mission to Planet Earth” as a NASA priority and invest in our capacity to monitor the changing  climate.
  • Direct the Secretaries of Commerce, Interior and the EPA Administrator to provide needed information on climate change impacts to the American public through an initial pilot project on water resources.

Enable and encourage citizens to build efficiency and conservation in their Homes and Communities: The next President has the opportunity to mobilize the American public to be more energy efficient in their homes and communities, the most effective strategy for cutting energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. The President should:

  • Initiate a national effort to retrofit half of America’s homes and buildings by 2020 with average energy savings of 30%.
  • Support a fundamental change in electric utility rules that creates incentives for electric utility companies to help building owners save energy.
  • Call for the establishment of local energy committees across the United States, and direct EPA and DOE to assist local efforts to increase efficiency with information and technical support.

Re-engage cooperation with international partners: Climate change cannot be solved without U.S. leadership for a global response that engages key countries. The President should:

  • Direct the Special Envoy on Climate Change to consult with key nations.
  • Declare a change in U.S. policy, the centerpiece of which is the commitment to enact a mandatory domestic  emissions reduction program.
  • Act early to engage developing countries through bilateral and collective efforts to reduce emissions.
  • Initiate or expand practical emissions reductions efforts in which other nations can participate, such as the Methane to Markets Partnership and a cooperative effort to reduce short-lived climate forcing pollutants in the Arctic.
  • Fully engage in the U.N.-based international negotiating process.

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One Response to “Advancing climate change policy in a difficult economy”

  1. dobermanmacleod Says:
    November 10th, 2008 at 6:10 am

    I hate to shoot down the hard work some put in to write the above article, but carbon dieting schemes are largely unfeasible:

    “Processes that would normally regulate climate are being driven to amplify warming. Such feedbacks, as well as the inertia of the Earth system — and that of our response — make it doubtful that any of the well-intentioned technical or social schemes for carbon dieting will (work). What is needed is a fundamental cure.” –Dr James Lovelock

    Instead, I would like to announce the arrival of a clean, cheap, abundant, and portable form of energy production that will make burning fossil fuel obsolete. Wind a solenoidal coil around a magnet, and apply electricity. The magnetic field is amplified, and the magnetic gradient can be exploited to yield more electricity than was used powering the solenoidal coil.

    A private California company called Magnetic Power Inc ( http://www.magneticpowerinc.com ) exceeded breakeven (i.e. produced more electricity than it used) with a prototype in late 2004!

    By the way, I am NOT associated with MPI (www.myspace.com/dobermanmacleod), but instead am an internet global warming activist, and believe I’ve found the fundamental cure to cutting our emissions (introduce a superior form of energy production to the market that is clean, cheap, abundant, and portable).

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