Al Gore has recently presented a ten-point plan for the United States to deal with climate change over the course of the next few decades:
- An immediate “carbon freeze” that would cap U.S. CO2 emissions at current levels, followed by a program to generate 90% reductions by 2050.
- Start a long-term tax shift to reduce payroll taxes and increase taxes on CO2 emissions.
- Put aside a portion of carbon tax revenues to help low-income people make the transition.
- Create a strong international treaty by working toward “de facto compliance with Kyoto” and moving up the start date for Kyoto’s successor from 2012 to 2010.
- Implement a moratorium on construction of new coal-fired power plants that are not compatible with carbon capture and sequestration.
- Create an “ELECTRANET” — a smart electricity grid that allows individuals and businesses to feed power back in at prevailing market rates.
- Raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
- Set a date for a ban on incandescent light bulbs.
- Create “Connie Mae,” a carbon-neutral mortgage association, to help defray the upfront costs of energy-efficient building.
- Have the Securities and Exchange Commission require disclosure of carbon emissions in corporate reporting, as a relevant “material risk.”
A much more detailed discussion of the points can be found on Grist. It is safe to expect considerable elaboration in Gore’s upcoming book: The Path to Survival. It will be available as of Earth Day (April 22nd) of 2008.
It is an interesting – and distinctly American – mix. It seems like number one is the uber-recommendation, while the others are more specific subsidiary policies. Exactly how such a freeze could be implemented – politically, economically, and legally – is a massive question. That said, it is a list that targets many of the major opportunities for domestic emission mitigation. It will be interesting to see whether any of these get the endorsement of Democratic or Republican candidates in the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election. If so, it will make for a big break with past half-hearted and voluntary measures.
PS. Those unfamiliar with the American mortgages will understand number nine better if they read about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: America’s huge and bizarrely named quasi-government-backed mortgage corporations.