Climate Act introduced to US Senate

26 January 2007

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have re-introduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 to the Senate.

The bill is designed to significantly reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions through a combination of trading markets and the deployment of advanced technologies.

It proposes the utilisation of the cap and trade approach and promotes the commercialisation of emissions reduction and mitigation technologies that can reduce dependence on imported energy resources.

Lieberman and McCain first introduced their landmark bill to curb global warming using a market-based system in 2003. They forced the US Senate to vote on the measure that year, and on the reintroduced bill in 2005. The 2005 version of the bill would have capped US greenhouse gas emissions at year 2000 levels without mandating further reductions. However, the new bill (S. 280) will gradually lower the emissions cap, to reach approximately one third of 2000 levels by 2050.

Like the 2005 version, the reintroduced bill controls compliance costs by allowing companies to trade, save, and borrow emissions credits, and by allowing them to generate “offset” credits by inducing non-covered businesses, farms, and others to reduce their emissions or capture and store greenhouse gases. The reintroduced bill, however, also increases the availability of borrowing and offsets in order to control costs further.

Commenting on the bill, which also advocates public support for new nuclear build, Senator McCain said: “In the electric power sector, which accounts for one-third of US emissions, major pollution reductions can be achieved by improving the efficiency of existing fossil fuel plants, adding new reactor designs for nuclear power, and expanding use of renewable power sources.” McCain added: “I believe that providing zero and low emission technologies such as nuclear, a boost into the market place so that these clean technologies can be utilised as soon as possible is responsible public policy.”

At its heart, the bill is founded on mandatory emission reduction targets and timetables utilising a market-based cap and trade system. Unlike the Energy bill, however, measures to spur the development and deployment of advanced technology, including nuclear, solar, and other alternative energies would be funded using the proceeds from the auctioning of allowable emission credits, rather than from the use of taxpayers’ funds.

The bill would establish a finance programme for first-of-a-kind engineering costs for one new nuclear reactor design together with a financial assistance programme for a total of three advanced reactor projects.


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