Energy and Global Warming

One of the Committees' top priorities is fighting global warming, which is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. The impacts of a changing climate are a threat not only to natural ecosystems but to national security as well. Across the country, global warming will have significant impacts on water cycles, creating major changes for agriculture, land use, growth and development, fisheries, and a host of other issues.

The Committee for a Livable Future supports efforts to combat global warming that involve all sectors of our economy, including energy production, transportation, and architecture. The Committee supports legislation that would reduce emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, transition America to a clean energy economy, recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation, and assist communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from climate change.

The Committee for a Livable Future supported the land mark American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). This act is the first U.S. bill to limit the amount of carbon that can be released into the atmosphere.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

The Committee strongly supports a renewable electricity standard, requiring that utilities generate at least 20% of their energy from renewable resources at both the state and federal levels.

The Committee for a Livable Future believes that a combination of regulations, tax incentives, and investment in research and development in the green market can stimulate the market and help put renewable energy on equal footing with traditional fossil fuels.

Conservation and efficiency are the fastest and least expensive ways to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy required by residential, commercial, and industrial buildings accounts for approximately one-third of U.S carbon dioxide emissions. The Committee supports increasing energy efficiency standards, as well as tax incentives, for buildings and appliances. At the end of 2008, Congress passed the Rural Wind Energy Development Act, legislation supported by the Committee to create an investment tax credit for small wind turbines.

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

The Committee for a Livable Future strongly supports reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, which is the level that scientists say is necessary to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Fortunately, many of the efforts America should undertake to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save the country money in the long-run and will have the added benefit of reducing dependence on oil, much of which is imported at great costs from increasingly volatile regions of the world.

One of the ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is by passing a bill similar to the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) of 2010. ACES created a market based cap and trade system for carbon dioxide pollution credits. ACES passed the House with strong support from the Committee for a Livable Future but unfortunately never made it out of the Senate.

Transportation and Urban Development

The transportation sector represents about one third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The Committee for a Livable Future supports making improvements to the nation's transportation system that will not only reduce emissions, but also help reduce dependence on foreign oil. The Committee strongly supports increasing the fuel efficiency of passenger vehicles to at least 40 miles per gallon and reducing the carbon content of fuel.

While greenhouse gas emissions can be substantially reduced by increasing fuel efficiency, these technological improvements are likely to be offset by continuing growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has grown three times faster than the U.S. population, and almost twice as fast as vehicle registrations. The Committee supports a number of straight-forward policies that can reduce VMT, such as providing people transportation choices through increased mass transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes.

The Committee for a Livable Future supported the Bike Commuter Act which would extend transportation fringe benefits, similar to those offered for parking and transit, to those who commute by bicycle. Shortening the driving distance between destinations through smart growth policies and better planned communities can reduce the amount people have to drive. These policies have additional benefits, including increased mobility, greater affordability, and healthier lifestyles.

International Efforts

Climate change is a global problem whose solution requires active participation by all nations. Committee Founder Rep. Blumenauer has traveled to Greenland and Europe with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to witness first hand the impacts of climate change and what other countries are doing to combat it. The Committee believes that as one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, the United States has a unique responsibility to take the lead in combating global warming. The Committee strongly supports re-engaging in international conversations on climate change.

The Committee for a Livable Future understands that imposing carbon constraints on the U.S. economy could impact the international competitiveness of certain U.S. industries. The Committee believes that federal climate policy can address this issue by imposing the same costs or carbon constraints on imports that are imposed on American owned businesses.

The Federal Government Leading by Example

As the largest consumer of energy in the world, the Committee for a Livable Future believes that the Federal government should lead by example and model the behavior it expects from business and consumers on energy and climate issues. The government can use its own vast resources to reduce or eliminate the problems associated with patterns of oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions

Adaptation

Even if greenhouse gases stopped being emitted today, scientists warn that due to the legacy of historic emissions, changes already observed, and unpredictable feedback processes, a warmer planet is simply inevitable. Impacts felt around the world may include tropical storms increasing in frequency and intensity, sea level rise, biodiversity losses, increased drought, and stress on productive agricultural lands. Addressing these risks may involve reducing development in hazardous or ecologically sensitive areas and changing construction techniques to make communities and their associated infrastructure more resilient. The Committee is working to ensure that government agencies use the best available science to take climate change into account in planning and risk management.