Principles of Sound Climate Policy
Based on a letter by 18 environmental organizations sent to US leaders and elected officials. Edited for brevity only.
Preventing dangerous global warming: It is essential to adopt mandatory and enforceable limits that start cutting global warming pollution by 2012, with mandated annual reductions in global warming emissions reaching at least 15 to 20 percent below current levels by 2020 and on the order of 80 percent by mid-century. Permits to emit carbon must be used for public benefit, not private windfalls.
Pollution allowances are a public trust. All allowances should be auctioned or otherwise used to benefit the public, not to generate windfall profits for polluting industries. Promoting a clean energy future. Allowances should be used to accelerate deployment of clean technologies. Energy efficiency – more efficient vehicles, appliances, homes, and factories – is the fastest and cheapest way to cut emissions. Investing in efficiency and renewables creates new industries and good jobs here at home.
Ensuring a just transition. Allowances should be used to help finance a just transition, protecting low- and moderate-income citizens and creating new jobs and ensuring fair treatment for affected workers and their communities. We must also take care of communities that suffer the impacts of global warming we were too late to avoid.
Assisting adaptation to an altered climate. Allowances should be used to help facilitate adaptation of distressed and impoverished people, communities and regions at home and abroad. Allowances should also be used to help fish, wildlife and ecosystems adapt in the face of global warming’s complex threats.
Managing costs without breaking the cap. Banking, limited borrowing, and other tools exist to help industry keep costs predictable and manageable. “Safety valves” and other devices that break the cap on emissions must not be allowed. Any offsets must be real, surplus, verifiable, permanent, and enforceable. Use of offsets must be limited in quantity to ensure the transformative investments in low-carbon technology needed to achieve the long-term emission reduction goals.
Energy policy reform is an essential companion of any cap. Our national energy policies need to encourage efficiency, innovation, competition and fairness. A comprehensive set of policies to fight global warming needs to include measures like the CAFE standards increase that has been included in the Senate energy bill and the renewable electricity standard included in its House counterpart.