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Concerns about proposed legislation

       Almost all bills for emissions trading are more tentative than required to meet the need. Most specify for example less than the 80% minimum reduction of carbon dioxide emissions (from the 1990 levels by 2050) that has been recommended by scientists to avoid the more severe impacts of climate change. As described in topics in the debate, the main concern is that emissions trading is inherently flawed and would fail to meet goals.

       The few bills for the carbon tax-and-dividend that have been introduced thus far are also preliminary, only increasing the tax on a fixed schedule. In the event that support for the tax builds across the country as this Initiative grows over the coming months, and with concern about climate change continuing to increase, given encouragement from advocates Congress could consider stronger legislation that makes use of price-demand modeling to meet emissions reduction goals.

        Using a guideline based on such modeling the tax could be increased enough, with its associated dividend, to motivate the very substantial reductions in usage of fossil fuels needed. This powerful tax-and-dividend approach would more reliably motivate reductions than emissions trading with its permit price riding the market’s roller coaster.

Links

        Preliminary carbon tax legislation

        For a recent analysis of the latest legislation, click here.

        America's Energy Security Trust Fund Act (H.R. 3416)

        Stark Save Our Climate Act (H.R. 2069)


        Cap-and-trade giveaway

        Unfortunately, yet another bill is under consideration. For the latest analysis of the legislative battle, click here.

        America's Climate Security Act of 2007 (S. 2191)

        This bill by Lieberman-Warner would set up a replication in the U.S. of the European experiment in cap-and-trade that has been called a failure. This legislation exemplifies the ease with which polluters can compromise the complex system of cap-and-trade. 15% offsets would be allowed. (Senator McCain has favored 100% offsets.)

        Lieberman-Warner would give away permits to pollute likely to be valued at hundreds of billions of dollars in windfall profits to coal-burning utilities and other large polluters by starting auctions in 2012 at only 18% of permits and increasing to 73% by 2050. And polluters would be able to charge consumers such as homeowners and small businesses more for energy. This legislation would reward fossil fuel burning utilities for polluting, effectively granting additional subsidies to those power stations and making renewables that do not receive such subsidies (because they don't pollute) less competitive.

        Such giveaways would probably discomfort consumers faced with increased energy costs. Yet consumers’ support for the legislation would be needed for decades to avoid repeal.

        Furthermore, Lieberman-Warner would not take effect until 2012 at the earliest due to the complexity of the system. Even if somehow successful, the scheduled reductions of 64% of carbon dioxide emissions from the 1990 levels by 2050 would not achieve the 80% reduction that scientists estimate could avoid the more severe damages of climate change.

        Tables summarizing mainly cap-trade legislation before congress

        From Resources for the Future

        From Pew Center on Global Climate Change

        If a link doesn’t work, the table may have been updated. One could use that site’s search engine for “legislation” to find the updated table.

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