| Dec 31 2006
Californians have spoken loudly and clearly that it is time to act on climate change. Unfortunately, there is no one thing we can do to solve the problem of global warming. Every business, home and industry must do its share.
The good news is that California is already leading the way. The state recently enacted a law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and to 1990 levels by 2020. And this is just one part of the state's efforts to address the root causes of global warming. But California alone cannot solve the problem.
In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must have concerted national action. The fuels we use to power our homes, our cars and our businesses are causing the Earth to warm faster than anyone expected. And it is the burning of these fossil fuels (coal, oil, gasoline and natural gas) that is the primary cause of emissions, such as carbon dioxide, that contribute to global warming.
Carbon dioxide doesn't dissipate. It stays in the atmosphere for five decades or more -- causing the Earth's temperature to rise. That means that the carbon dioxide produced in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and '80s is still in the atmosphere today. And the carbon dioxide produced today will still be in the atmosphere in 2050 and beyond.
The largest contributor to global warming is electricity generation at 33 percent, followed by transportation at 28 percent. That totals 61 percent. The remaining contributors are: industry (20 percent), agriculture (7 percent), residential (6 percent) and commercial (buildings/small businesses) at 6 percent.
So, carbon dioxide emissions come from our everyday activities at work and at home. That is why I will be introducing a series of bills in the 110th Congress next month to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy.
The first bill will propose reducing emissions from the electricity sector. The bill would establish a cap-and-trade program that would promote cost-effective greenhouse-gas reductions by the utility sector. The bill is supported by the Clean Energy Group, which includes Calpine, Entergy, Exelon, Florida Power & Light, PG&E Corp. and the Public Service Enterprise Group.
The second bill is a mandatory cap-and-trade program for industrial and corporate polluters, modeled after the electrical sector program.
The third bill would require the average fuel economy of all cars and sport utility vehicles to increase from 25 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon over the next 10 years. This would save 420 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2025 -- equal to the amount of oil the United States imports daily from the Persian Gulf.
Fourth, I will propose a biofuels bill to promote the use of low-carbon fuels and require a reduction in emissions from vehicles, based on California's own vehicle tailpipe emissions law.
Finally, my fifth bill would establish a national energy-efficiency program. This bill includes strict appliance and building standards, and requires utilities to use energy-efficiency measures to meet a portion of their demand.
Leading scientists say that to stabilize the planet's climate by the end of the century, we need a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. If we act now, and if further temperature increases are kept to 1 degree or 2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, the damages -- though significant -- will be manageable. But if we don't act, and warming increases by 5 degrees to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, the damage will be catastrophic and irreversible. We must act now.