Senate Bill Adds Momentum for Action on Global Warming, Vital Strengthening Needed

Stronger targets are necessary to deliver what scientists say is needed, polluters should not get a free ride


Martin Hayden, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

The following statement is from Martin Hayden, Vice President of Policy and Legislation at Earthjustice on today’s introduction of America’s Climate Security Act by Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner:


"We applaud Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner for their leadership on global warming. Today’s introduction of their ‘America’s Climate Security Act’ further adds to the imperative for Congress to act on the greatest threat facing people and our planet. The tireless efforts by Senators Barbara Boxer, Bernie Sanders and others have set the stage for real action in the Senate this Congress. For too many years, Washington has fiddled while the planet has warmed.

"Just as early action is vital, so is the need to get it right. Some 20 years of inaction have left the U.S. with fewer options and far less time. Congress must deliver what scientists tell us is needed to avoid the most catastrophic impacts from global warming.

"While we commend several of the improvements Senators Lieberman and Warner made to their bill, such as increasing the 2020 target to a 15% reduction in covered sectors and recognizing the vital check-and-balance role that enforcement must play in any climate bill, their bill must be strengthened in some vital areas.

"Achieving a guaranteed 15% reduction of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is crucial. But this bill is limited to economic sectors that account for only 75 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. While a number of other polices were added to the bill to try to address some of this shortfall, a final bill must unequivocally ensure that we meet that near-term goal. Moreover, current science tells us that we must reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 if we are to avoid catastrophic impacts due to global warming. As currently drafted, the Lieberman-Warner bill will result in a 51-63% reduction in emissions by 2050.

"Despite some improvements, the bill continues to give global warming polluters too much for too long. Nearly half of the billions of dollars in free allowances in the early years will go to the very industries responsible for the majority of our global warming pollution. The bill phases out this free allocation over 24 years. The free allocation must be reduced and the phase-out needs to be shortened. Big Coal and Big Oil spent millions to stall action on global warming in the past 20 years. Global warming polluters should not be rewarded with a windfall of free rights to pollute our atmosphere now.

"Maximizing the auction of carbon credits would also provide billions of dollars for energy efficiency improvements, efforts to curtail tropical deforestation, and assistance to consumers, workers and the low-income. A provision to provide 10 percent of auction proceeds for global relief for the world’s lowest income populations hit hardest by climate change impacts should be restored. The fact that the bill recognizes the needs of wildlife in a warming world is laudable and should be strengthened to ensure that adequate resources and scientific information is available to provide for those species most imperiled by global warming."

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