Fortune 500s, environmental groups unite for global climate change

By Plant Engineering Staff January 25, 2007

On the eve of President Bush’s State of the Union Address, a diverse group of U.S.-based businesses and leading environmental organizations called on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The group said any delay in action to control emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences that could necessitate even steeper reductions in the future.

This unprecedented alliance, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), consists of market leaders Alcoa , BP America , Caterpillar , Duke Energy , DuPont , FPL Group , General Electric , Lehman Brothers , PG&E , and PNM Resources , along with four leading non-governmental organizations — Environmental Defense , the Natural Resources Defense Council , the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the World Resources Institute .

At a news conference Monday at the National Press Club , USCAP issued a landmark set of principles and recommendations to underscore the urgent need for a policy framework on climate change. The solutions-based report, titled A Call for Action , lays out a blueprint for a mandatory, economy-wide, market-driven approach to climate protection.

“The time has come for constructive action that draws strength equally from business, government and non-governmental stakeholders,” said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric. “These recommendations should catalyze legislative action that encourages innovation and fosters economic growth while enhancing energy security and balance of trade, ensuring U.S. leadership on an issue of significance to our country and the world.”

A Call for Action reflects a growing public concern about global warming. A recent Time magazine/ ABC News / Stanford University poll finds that about 85 percent of Americans, say they believe global warming is probably happening. An even larger percentage — 88 percent — say they think global warming threatens future generations.

USCAP urges policy makers to enact a policy framework for mandatory reductions of GHG emissions from major emitting sectors, including large stationary sources and transportation, and energy use in commercial and residential buildings. The cornerstone of this approach would be a cap-and-trade program. The environmental goal is to reduce global atmospheric GHG concentrations to a level that minimizes large-scale adverse impacts to humans and the natural environment. The group recommends Congress provide leadership and establish short- and mid-term emission reduction targets; a national program to accelerate technology research, development and deployment; and approaches to encourage action by other countries, including those in the developing world, as ultimately the solution must be global.

“The Climate Action Partnership recognizes that the undertaking to address climate change is an enormous one, and should not be underestimated,” said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute. “But enacting environmentally effective, economically sustainable and fair climate change law must be a national priority.”