We are on the cusp of a dramatic transformation of our economy caused by energy security concerns, past and future oil shocks, and imminent and dramatic climatic disruptions caused by greenhouse gases. Take a look at the 2025 Global Trends report if you want another source. We have little choice in these matters and it is up to us to position the US as best possible for the future.
We immediately need two pieces of policy in place to begin to address these problems. First, we need to halt deforestation globally as soon as possible. Deforestation is currently responsible for about 20% of CO2 emissions globally. The REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) process being discussed now at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland is a step in that direction if adopted. Supporting REDD will likely be the cheapest (and fastest) way to reduce emissions globally.
And second, we need a federal cap and trade system for greenhouse gases (GHGs) developed as soon as possible to, first, control our GHG emissions and, second, to gradually lower them to reach a goal of an 80% decrease from the 1990 level by the year 2050. These 2050 goals are now the law in Massachsuetts with the recently passed Global Warming Solutions Act. It is time for the US to show real leadership here. The RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) process now started in 10 northeastern is highly instructive and can serve as model for how we need to proceed nationally. The first RGGI auction of CO2 emission allowances in September went flawlessly and it is likely the second auction on December 17th will go as well. Also, the European emissions trading system (EU ETS) is also highly instructive and we can learn from their successes and mistakes.
Similar initiatives are being started in California and the WCI or the Western States Climate Initiative and in the Midwest with the MGGA or Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord. But, instead of developing different systems for different regions of the country, we clearly need a uniform federal system so that all businesses can play by the same rules. Businesses are asking for a uniform predictable system.