A New Analysis of the Energy Bill

September 27, 2007

A new analysis released this week by Environmental Defense shows that the energy bill currently before Congress could begin to curb the rapid rise in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades. Passage of such a bill would be a down payment on efforts to combat global warming.
The analysis reveals, however, that even under optimistic scenarios, the bill would allow emissions to grow above today’s levels, underscoring the critical need for Congress to cap emissions if it is to reduce them to levels that scientists say are necessary to avoid irreversible damage to the climate.
Our Findings:
In evaluating the potential benefits of the energy bill, Environmental Defense assumed that Congress would ultimately approve a bill that contained all the provisions that would have the greatest impact on emissions passed in the House and Senate versions of the bill.
But because many of those measures grant a large degree of flexibility to the Administration in implementing them, Environmental Defense evaluated two scenarios: a “more optimistic” scenario, in which the measures are fully implemented, and a “less optimistic” scenario, in which they are less so.
The results show that in the less optimistic scenario, emissions climb above today’s levels by 22 percent by 2030, while they would climb by only 4 percent under the more optimistic scenario. Without the energy bill, emissions would be expected to grow by 35 percent.
Scientists say that to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change the world must dramatically reduce emissions below current levels. Earlier this year, a group of major companies representing a broad swath of American industry called on Congress to pass legislation reducing U.S. emissions by 60 to 80 percent below today’s levels by 2050.
Next Steps:
Congress should quickly pass the energy bill. If the bill contains the best provisions of the Senate and House versions and is vigorously implemented, it would slow the rapid escalation in greenhouse gas emissions. 
But Congress also should waste no time in producing legislation to cap emissions at levels that protect the climate, and should move ahead even while the energy bill is in conference. If the United States is to resume its appropriate role leading the world to reduce emissions and protect the environment, there is little time left to act.

The full analysis is available online at www.environmentaldefense.org/energybill.