Agenda for Climate Action

 

 Agenda for Climate Action cover

Agenda for Climate Action

Prepared by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
February 2006

Press Release

Download report (pdf)

Download a brochure summarizing the report (pdf)

Foreword

Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Over the past seven years, the Pew Center has published more than 60 reports on the science, economics, solutions, and policy options related to global climate change. Over that time, the scientific consensus on this issue has only strengthened, but there is, as yet, no consensus on the appropriate portfolio of policies that are required to address global climate change successfully. This Agenda for Climate Action is C2ES’s attempt to fill that gap. It takes a comprehensive look at a suite of climate, energy, and technology policies that could provide meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions throughout the economy.

This report finds six areas in which the U.S. must take action: (I) science and technology research, (II) market-based emissions management, (III) emissions reductions in key sectors, (IV) energy production and use, (V) adaptation, and (VI) international engagement. In the areas of science and technology research, we call for increased stable funding for both, along with innovative approaches to distribute funds efficiently. We propose a mandatory GHG reporting system, which can form the basis for tracking voluntary reductions, accompanied by a large-source, economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. This combination of technology investment and market development will provide for the most cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gases, as well as create a market for GHG-reducing technologies.

While these broader efforts are critical, sector-specific actions are also needed. To address emissions from the transportation sector, we propose converting the struggling Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program into a more ambitious but tradable GHG standard, along with increased support for low-emission vehicles and fuels. For the industrial sector, we encourage greater outreach and incentives for improvements in process efficiency and the manufacture of low-GHG products. In the agriculture sector, biological sequestration programs in Farm Bill legislation must receive proper funding and prioritization. Because energy is at the heart of this issue, we tackle this sector separately, making recommendations for each major energy source. To enable continued use of coal in a climate-friendly manner, we promote aggressive research and development on carbon separation and capture technologies, development of a regulatory framework for geologic sequestration, and advanced generation coal plants. Natural gas is an important transition fuel, and we support the expansion of natural gas transportation infrastructure and production. We propose extending incentives for renewable fuels and electricity generation, an increased focus on biomass, and federal-level support for renewable credit-trading programs. We also support continued use of nuclear power generation, pending resolution of issues such as safety and waste storage. There are vast opportunities for improving efficiency on an economy-wide basis, so we promote improved efficiency in electricity production (through distributed generation, combined heat and power technologies), in electricity transmission (through test beds for an advanced grid), and during energy use (through building codes, product standards, and manufacturing process improvements).

Because none of these efforts will fully prevent all potential effects of climate change (indeed, many impacts are already being observed), we propose the development of a national adaptation strategy and the funding of early warning systems. Last but not least, while the Agenda focuses on domestic actions, it argues for greater participation by the U.S. in international negotiations to engage all major emitters in a global solution.

Despite the specificity of many of the steps included here, there is still much room for ongoing refinement and elaboration of these recommendations. While we have consulted with many stakeholders in the development of this report, we look forward to building upon the suggestions described here through further outreach and consultation.

This report follows the publication of International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012: Report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, an examination of options for advancing the international climate effort post-2012. Taken together, these two documents offer a promising path forward for the U.S. and the world in tackling global climate change.

Executive Summary

Climate change is one of the most complex issues that the world will face in this century. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have already reached levels unprecedented for hundreds of thousands of years, causing changes not only in global temperature, but also in observable impacts throughout the world, and these changes are happening more quickly than expected.  The broad consensus of established scientific experts both internationally and domestically is that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.  In addition, the rate and severity of these changes will increase without significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).  Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations will require a fundamental shift in our energy system, but this transition will have other benefits as well, including improved competitiveness, security, air quality, public health, and job creation. This transition will not be easy, but it is crucial to begin now. 

This Agenda is the Pew Center's attempt to develop and articulate a responsible course of action for addressing climate change.  It identifies fifteen actions that should be started now, including U.S. domestic reductions and engagement in the international negotiation process.  It includes both broad and specific policies, combining recommendations on technology development, scientific research, energy supply, economy-wide markets, and adaptation with critical steps that can be taken in key sectors. While reductions across sectors and sources of emissions are key, these steps are not likely to happen simultaneously, nor without costs.  However, these recommendations have been designed to be both cost-effective and comprehensive.

Recommendations:

Invest in science and technology research.

1. Ensure a robust research program though the Climate Change Science Program.

2. Offer long-term, stable funds—in the form of a reverse auction—to GHG-related technology research and development.

Establish mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions and harness market mechanisms for economy-wide reductions.

3. Create a mandatory GHG reporting system as a basis for an economy-wide emissions trading program.

4. Implement a large-source, economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.

Stimulate innovation across key economic sectors.

5. Transportation: Convert the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program into strengthened, tradable corporate average emissions standards. Support biofuels, hydrogen, and other low-GHG fuel alternatives.

6. Manufacturing: Provide outreach and incentives to manufacturers for improvements in industrial efficiency and low-GHG technologies, and support the production of low-GHG products.

7. Agriculture: Raise the priority and funding levels for Farm Bill programs and other federal initiatives on carbon sequestration.

Drive the energy system toward greater efficiency, lower-carbon fuels and carbon capture technologies.

8. Coal and Carbon Sequestration: Provide funding for tests of geologic carbon sequestration and for research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects on separation and capture technologies, in combination with advanced generation coal plants. Establish an appropriate regulatory framework for carbon storage.

9. Natural Gas: Expand natural gas transportation infrastructure and production.

10. Renewables: Significantly “ramp up” renewables for electricity and fuels, including an extension and expansion of the production tax credit, a uniform system for tracking renewable energy credits, and increased emphasis on biomass.

11. Nuclear Power: Provide opportunities for nuclear power to play a continuing role in a future low-carbon electricity sector.

12. Efficient Energy Production and Distribution: Support the development and use of combined heat and power installations, distributed generation technologies, and test beds for an upgraded electricity grid.

13. Efficient Energy Usage: Reduce energy consumption through policies that spur efficiency, including appliance and equipment standards, building R&D and codes, and consumer education.

Begin now to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change.

14. Develop a national adaptation strategy through the Climate Change Science Program and Climate Change Technology Program, and fund development of early-warning systems for related threats.

Engage in negotiations to strengthen the international climate effort.

15. Review options for a new or modified agreement to ensure fair and timely action by all major emitting countries, and participate in negotiations to establish binding climate commitments consistent with domestic interests.

These fifteen recommendations are not the only means of achieving a lower-carbon future, but taken together, they would chart a climate-friendly path for the U.S.. Putting the Agenda into practice will take political will and policy action. All recommendations require government leadership, private sector commitment and time. Nonetheless, the details of specific recommendations in this Agenda are less critical than the compelling need to get started. Further delay will only make the challenge before us more daunting and costly.

Business Support

Agenda for Climate Action
Report Release
February 8, 2006
National Press Club, Washington, DC


Remarks made by business representatives at the release:

David Hone
Group Climate Change Adviser
Shell International Limited (pdf)

Melissa Lavinson
Director for Federal, Governmental and Regulatory Relations
PG&E Corporation (pdf)

Bill Gerwing
Western Hemisphere Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Director
BP (pdf)

John Stowell
Vice President of Federal Affairs and Environmental Safety
Cinergy (pdf)

Ruksana Mirza
Vice President, Environmental Health and Safety
Holcim (US) Inc. (pdf)

Tom Catania
Vice President, Government Relations
Whirlpool Corporation (pdf)

Supporting statements: Agenda for Climate Action

The Pew Agenda is an example of the kind of big picture, integrated thinking that is needed to tackle the climate issue.  We're pleased that the Agenda makes the point that climate solutions should be market based while covering all parts of the economy and resolving regulatory uncertainty.  These are all vital as the utility industry prepares to build the next generation of power plants needed by our growing economy.

James E. Rogers, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
Cinergy Corp.


The changes needed in our energy infrastructure to meet future demand and respond to climate change will not happen by chance - a clear, long term framework will give business the necessary incentive and confidence to invest further.

John D. Hofmeister, President and US Country Chair
Shell Oil Company


Holcim is pleased with the leadership that the Pew Center has taken with regard to greenhouse gas reduction policies and the depth of research that comprises the foundation of this report. Importantly, the Pew Center recognizes the necessity of market-based solutions and that various sector needs must be taken into consideration if we are to have consensus in what must be done to contain and ultimately reduce the generation of greenhouse gases.

Patrick Dolberg, President & Chief Executive Officer
Holcim (US) Inc.


Through its association with the Pew Center, Alcan has identified another avenue through which to actively address climate change and its effects on the long-term sustainability of the Company. This report sends a clear message, calling on all stakeholders to broaden their investment in tackling the economic, social, and environmental issues that climate change presents.”

Daniel Gagnier, Senior Vice President, Corporate and External Affairs
Alcan Inc.


Intel supports Pew's efforts to advance the national discussion on climate change by proposing options that merit careful consideration. Intel agrees that climate change is a serious issue, and has been actively working to mitigate its own climate impact through aggressive programs to reduce energy consumption and emissions of global warming compounds.

Dane Parker, General Manager of Environmental Health and Safety
Intel