January 17, 2007

Reed & Whitehouse Call for 80% Cut to Global Warming Pollutants by 2050

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to slow and reverse the devastating effects of global climate change, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined with Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and several of their colleagues in introducing The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. The bill calls for an 80% reduction — compared to 1990 levels — in global warming pollutants by 2050 and offers the most progressive and comprehensive solution to reduce greenhouse gasses across the nation.

“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and the United States must provide meaningful action to address this problem. Climate change affects our environment, economy, and security. We must take steps at the local, state, and national levels to slow, stop, and reverse global warming emissions. It is time for the federal government to step up in this fight, and that is what this legislation seeks to do,” said Reed, who cosponsored a similar bill with Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT), last year.

“Global warming is a serious and pressing issue that can no longer be ignored. We can already see climate change at work in warmer winters, rising sea levels, and flowers in bloom in January,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This bill will tackle global warming at its source, reducing airborne pollutants and greenhouse gasses to slow the potentially disastrous effects of higher temperatures across the world.”

This legislation sets out a roadmap of targets, requirements, and incentives that EPA will use to reduce U.S. emissions and help stabilize global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Specifically, the act sets a goal of achieving a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that will help stabilize global concentrations below 450 parts per million–a critical level as recognized by leading climate scientists. To achieve this goal, the United States must reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and make additional reductions between 2020 and 2050. The bill includes a combination of economy wide reduction targets, mandatory measures, and incentives for the development and diffusion of cleaner technologies to achieve these goals.

“Global climate change is a major concern for Rhode Island. It affects our coastal communities, drinking water, energy supply, economy, and public health,” said Reed. “Tourism is a very important part of Rhode Island’s economy and global warming brings stronger storms that can wash away beaches, roads, and homes. Our efforts to reverse these trends will not come without cost, but we simply can not afford the price of inaction.”

“From Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay to ecosystems and communities all over the world, global warming is a serious threat that demands immediate and urgent action,” said Whitehouse. “This measure will put the United States in a position of real global leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and I’m proud to support it.”

Global warming is leading to increased energy and water demands, and contributing to stronger storms throughout the area. The rising ocean temperatures also bring diseases that affect oysters, scallops and quahogs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that the ocean around Rhode Island could rise as much as 12 inches in the next 50 years.

Reed also noted that evidence shows that in Providence, the average temperature in the summer has increased 3.3 degrees over the last century. Higher temperatures allow insects that carry disease, such as mosquitoes and ticks, to show up in new areas, cover a wider range, and have longer periods of time when they are active. Rhode Island has the second-highest incident of Lyme disease in the nation.

The legislation is supported by such national groups as The Earth Day Network, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense, Environmental & Energy Study Institute, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Environmental Trust, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, and U.S. PIRG.


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