White House Voluntary Program Will Not Slow Greenhouse Gas Pollution

On February 12th, Environmental Defense expressed deep disappointment over the Bush administration's continuing failure to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

"Adding yet another voluntary program for private companies is no substitute for the administration's failure to mandate cuts in greenhouse gas pollution," said Environmental Defense senior attorney Joe Goffman. "Under the administration's plan greenhouse gas pollution goes up, not down. For more than a decade U.S. companies have made voluntary greenhouse gas pollution reductions but emissions are still climbing and will only decrease through mandatory government controls."

The Bush administration withdrew the U.S. from the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change in 2001. Ignoring the U.S. pullout, more than 170 countries finalized rules to implement the Protocol, paving the way for ratification by individual nations, which will likely put the Protocol into effect as early as this year.

The Kyoto Protocol is designed to cut pollution while growing the economy. Using a system known as emissions trading, pioneered by the U.S. to cut acid rain pollution, companies that reduce more pollution than required are able to earn money by selling the excess reductions to those that face difficulty in making their own cuts. This allows companies to make money by reducing pollution and spurs the development of new clean technologies. Following the model of that environmental and economic success story, Senators McCain and Lieberman have proposed a bipartisan bill that would mandate specified reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas pollution.

"Some in Congress are stepping up to the plate and proposing strong mandated pollution cuts that are linked with the low costs of market flexibility, and it's time for the administration to do the same. The Earth is already beginning to show the effects of global climate change, and responsible nations are taking action," said Goffman. "As the world's largest producer of greenhouse gas pollution, it's well past time for the United States to join them."

A graph using data from the U.S. EPA and OMB to show the effects of the Bush administration proposal on emissions trends, is available at www.environmentaldefense.org/go/ghggraphic.

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