A team of experts led by the University of Colorado today released a detailed plan for the next President of the United States to assert bold leadership on global warming within 100 days of taking office. The document, called the Presidential Climate Action Plan or PCAP, is the most comprehensive - and in many respects, the boldest - plan for national climate action yet put forth to the American people and the presidential candidates.
“As most Americans now realize, global climate change is very real,” said former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, co-chair of the PCAP National Advisory Committee. “It is caused largely by the fossil fuels we burn for energy. The national discussion today is not about if we should reduce greenhouse gas emissions; it is about how much and how fast.”
“PCAP is the first action agenda that focuses clearly on those first days of the new Administration, when the people of the United States and the world will be watching for signs of substantive U.S. leadership,” Hart said.
The project team has contacted each of the presidential candidates with an offer to brief them on PCAP, Hart said. “This is a nonpartisan project and a nonpartisan plan” he said. “Climate change is an economic issue, a national security issue, a public health issue and an environmental issue. It should not be a political issue.”
“It is critical that all of the presidential candidates address not only what they will do about global warming, but when they will do it,” said noted green industrialist Ray Anderson, the founder and chairman of Interface Inc. of Atlanta, and co-chair of the PCAP Advisory Committee with Hart. “The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is only the latest warning that we must act quickly to slow and reverse the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
PCAP’s project team, led by former U.S. Department of Energy official William Becker, is headquartered at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. The project is funded with grants from foundations and individuals.
Among the organizations contributing substantial research for the plan were the Center for Energy and Environmental Security at the University of Colorado Boulder Law School; the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago; the Alliance to Save Energy in Washington, D.C.; and Natural Capitalism Solutions Inc. in Boulder. The project also drew on action items proposed during four expert summits organized by Becker and the Johnson Foundation over the past two years.
The PCAP document maintains that climate action and greater energy independence are two critical steps toward the larger goal of building a new U.S. economy that works in the 21st Century.
“We need a new economy that delivers security, opportunity and stewardship,” Anderson said. “PCAP offers the beginning of a unifying vision of how to achieve lasting security, new economic opportunity and stewardship of the Earth.”
Also participating in the announcement was Prof. David Orr, a noted environmental author, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, and the person who proposed the PCAP project.
“A growing number of candidates and organizations are putting out terrific, innovative plans to stop global warming,” Orr noted. “We hope this plan sets a higher standard and a clearer agenda for what the federal government can and must do. We also hope it will set the stage for greater collaboration among the many groups working on climate policy. It will be important to offer the 44th President a climate action agenda that he or she knows has broad support.”
PCAP consists of more than 250 specific recommendations for changes in federal policies, programs and laws, across more than 13 topical areas – including energy policy, national security, economic development, natural resource stewardship, public health, transportation and local adaptation. The body of proposals is designed to ignite innovation, mobilize national action, focus federal resources on slowing and reversing global warming, and put the United States back in the forefront of world environmental leadership
Becker said the plan issued today will be updated and improved over the next several months as new science, policy ideas and Congressional action emerge. The final PCAP will be provided to the candidates and the public in September 2008.
Meantime, the University will release several additional documents in months to come, including a legal analysis of the president’s authorities to act without further Congressional approval.
PCAP calls for:
o Reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050
o Raising car and truck fuel economy to 50 mpg by 2020 and 200 mpg by 2050
o Establishing a cap-and-auction system to set a market-driven price on carbon emissions and using the revenues to help those least able to cope with climate change
o Achieving carbon-neutrality in all new buildings by 2030
o Immediately ending federal subsidies for fossil and nuclear energy and redirecting other “perverse” subsidies that encourage the emission of greenhouse gases, using the funds to increase research on low- and no-carbon fuels
o Dramatically reducing U.S. oil consumption toward the goal of virtually eliminating oil imports by mid-century, with the objective of preventing international conflicts and terrorism
o Making the federal government a carbon-neutral enterprise
o Creating a rural renaissance as farms and rural communities become the nation’s principal energy supplier
o Dramatically increasing federal funds to weatherize the homes of low-income families
o Providing $1 billion in “golden carrot” innovation awards over five years to encourage technology breakthroughs
o Allocating $1 billion yearly to states and localities that adopt policies that help the nation meet its carbon-reduction and energy-security goals
o Setting national goals for renewable energy use and energy efficiency
o Restoring federal funding for earth sciences and improving research on the likely local impacts of global warming
o Appointing America’s most talented and knowledgeable climate change experts to key positions in the federal government
o Reforming international development and trade policy to stop subsidizing carbon-intensive energy, in favor of investments in energy efficiency and clean energy projects in developing nations
o Creating millions of new green jobs economy wide, and establishing a program of voluntary training and service for disadvantaged young people.
The full Presidential Climate Action Plan can be found on the project’s web site (www.climateactionproject.com), along with a number of other resources designed to help the presidential candidates build their platforms on climate change. Those resources include a directory of many of the nation’s top climate science and policy experts, a searchable data base of more than 1,000 policy options, and a collection of white papers and studies.
The project team is inviting public input on PCAP at www.helium.com and will consider suggestions as it finalizes the plan.