Via the Union of Concerned Scientists, come info about two bills in Congress that would aim at halting the atmospheric CO2 rise at 450ppm, which is a benchmark that scientists suggest might limit global warming to 2C (3.6F).
Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Senators Jim Jeffords (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have introduced two science-based bills that would require a gradual reduction in global warming emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The 80 percent goal is consistent with the emission reduction targets announced by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and six New England states.
To help achieve these reductions, both bills call for a greater reliance on clean, renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency—solutions that will have far-reaching positive changes such as reducing air pollution, creating new jobs, and reducing our dependence on oil.
Both the Waxman Safe Climate Act(PDF) and the Jeffords-Boxer Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act(PDF) aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, using a flexible economy-wide cap-and-trade program for heat-trapping emissions.
The UCS’s supporting messages are helpful also:
- The message from the world’s climate scientists is clear: global warming is real, its impacts are increasingly evident, and substantial emissions reductions are needed to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system.
- We can reduce the heat-trapping emissions that contribute to global warming by shifting our societal investments away from fossil fuels to cleaner technologies like electricity from wind and solar power, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and more energy-efficient technologies, and by slowing deforestation
- A market-based structure of cap-and-trade offers a flexible and cost-effective way to reduce global warming pollution. Direct investments in energy efficiency and clean energy will benefit consumers by minimizing any price impacts of the program. In addition, investing in energy efficiency and clean energy will foster innovation and investments in companies that provide clean technologies.
- According to analysis by Meinshausen (2006)* if global atmospheric concentration stabilize at 450 ppm CO2 equivalent there is around a 20-75% chance of staying below 2°C while 500 ppm CO2 equivalent has around a 5-50% probability of staying below 2°C warming above pre-industrial levels.
- Meinshausen, M. (2006) What Does a 2°C Target Mean for Greenhouse Gas Concentrations? A Brief Analysis Based on Multi-Gas Emission Pathways and Several Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty Estimates in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, H. J. Schellnhuber, W. Cramer, N. Nakicenovic, T. Wigley, G. Yohe eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 392 pp.