The start of the twenty-first century holds major challenges for the United States, from a shaky economy to rising oil prices to the costs of inaction on global warming. We can rise to these challenges with a significant national response that delivers real solutions for our country.
This is the time to choose a new path, one that uses the practical and long-lasting solutions of efficiency and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and sustainable biomass to reduce global warming pollution and reduce the pain of rising energy costs. Choosing a clean energy future will revitalize the U.S. economy, increase our energy independence, create new jobs, and make our environment cleaner and safer.
The stakes are high. Rising oil prices are straining our nation’s pocketbook and ability to meet our future energy needs. Continued reliance on oil means we remain vulnerable to unexpected price shocks and dependence on foreign countries. And our heavy use of coal and other fossil fuels is exacerbating the effects of global warming, resulting in more extreme droughts, more severe storms, and other climatic disruptions that will take a toll on our nation’s public and economic health.
To leave the era of dirty energy behind us and head toward a clean energy economy, Congress and the president need to create a comprehensive national policy that achieves four key goals:
- Invest in a transition to energy efficiency and clean energy sources that stabilize energy costs, invigorate the economy, and create new opportunities for U.S. workers.
• Invest in the best clean energy and efficiency technologies. • Include and encourage complementary policies. • Preserve states’ authorities to protect their citizens.
- Reduce emissions from the use of coal, oil, and gas on the scale that is needed to avoid dangerous global warming.
• Cap and cut total U.S. global warming emissions to science-based levels of at least 15-20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. • Review and respond to advancing climate science. • Make emissions targets certain and enforceable. • Require the United States to engage with other nations to reduce emissions through commitments and incentives.
- Assist workers and communities most affected by the transition.
• Use public assets for public benefit in a fair and transparent way. • Return revenues to workers and communities. • Protect against global trade disadvantages to U.S. industry.
- Protect the communities and ecosystems most vulnerable to the economic and physical impacts of global warming.
• Assist states, localities and tribes to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. • Assist developing countries to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. • Assist wildlife and ecosystems threatened by global warming.
We need a national climate and energy policy that revitalizes the U.S. economy and ensures that U.S. families, energy companies, and businesses have the tools and help to get us to a new clean energy future.