Forthcoming climate legislation in the Senate may outdo the House effort, which called for 17 percent emission cuts from 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent cuts by 2050.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is expected to release its version of legislation Sept. 30, will call for 20 percent cuts by 2020 and 83 percent cuts by 2050, according to various news outlets. The committee is expected to vote on the bill in October.
Like the House version, the Senate bill would call for some form of cap and trade system for emissions, reports Bloomberg.
At least one critic called cap and trade a form of economic stimulus that most benefits utilities and other large emitters that receive the most free carbon permits.
“As long as we’re still losing jobs, there’s room for this bill to be a stimulus package,” said Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners LLC, in an interview with Bloomberg. “It’s monetary policy pure and simple: You create a new currency and then you start giving it away.”
The Senate version would have 40 percent more free domestic offsets, reports the Washington Post. It also is said to be “deficit neutral.”
The Senate version would contain a “carbon collar” provision to help curb speculation in the carbon market, reserving some allowances in a so-called “market stability fund” to keep the price of allowances from exceeding $28 per ton.
The Center for American Progress called the provisions “a safety net to ensure that cleanup costs remain affordable. The draft Boxer-Kerry bill provides a solid foundation for Senate action on clean-energy-jobs legislation,” the Post reports.
The industrial Energy Consumers of America, a manufacturers’ group, said that cap and trade legislation is the wrong way to address emissions reductions, unless the whole world simultaneously adopts such a scheme.
“Without global participation in the cap, it is impossible to achieve lower marginal GHG reduction costs. Without a global system, those without a cap are rewarded and incentivized to not accept a cap,” the group said.
The World Resources Institute, however, said that there is no better time than now to act on climate change.
“Those who say this is the wrong time to act because of the economic recession are wrong. Businesses and investors need certainty, and this is a road map to transform America into the world’s leader in clean energy manufacturing, creating new industry and jobs,” the group said, in a statement.
The Senate version also would offer incentives for building new nuclear plants, a concession that is thought would attract support from Republicans, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The Senate also aims to address airline emissions. The bill would require new standards for aviation emissions by 2013, reports Reuters.
The House bill, passed earlier this year, mandates that 15 percent of the nation’s electricity come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020. In all, it requires electric utilities to meet 20 percent of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020