WASHINGTON (AP) – The chief executives of 10 major corporations, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President Bush on Monday to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reductions targets.
“We can and must take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection,” the executives from a broad range of industries said in a letter to the president.
Bush, who in the past has rejected mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases, was expected to address climate change in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but has repeatedly argued that voluntary efforts are the best approach.
Major industry groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers continue to oppose so-called “cap and trade” proposals to cut climate changing pollution, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
The 10 executives, representing major utilities, aluminum and chemical companies and financial institutions, said mandatory reductions are needed and that “the cornerstone of this approach” should be a cap-and-trade system.
Members of the group, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, include chief executives of Alcoa Inc., BP America Inc., DuPont Co., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co., and Duke Energy Corp.
At a news conference, the executives said that mandatory reductions of heat-trapping emissions can be imposed without economic harm and would lead to economic opportunities if done economy-wide and with provisions to mitigate costs.
Many of the companies already have voluntarily moved to curb greenhouse pollution, they said. The executives also said they do not believe voluntary efforts will suffice.
“It must be mandatory, so there is no doubt about our actions,” said Jim Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy. “The science of global warming is clear. We know enough to act now. We must act now.”
Fred Krupp, president of Environmenal Defense, a member of the alliance, called the executives’ support “a game changer” in the debate over climate. “We are asking Congress to not wait for a new administration and not wait for the presidential debates.”
In the letter the executives urged Congress “to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The legislation should cut these releases 10 percent below today’s levels within a decade and at least 60 percent by 2050, according to the action plan.
At his daily news briefing, White House press secretary Tony Snow dismissed any call for mandatory carbon caps to deal with climate. “There’s been some talk about, sort of, binding of economy-wide carbon caps in the speech, but they are not part of the president’s proposal,” said Snow.
The first days of the new Democratically controlled Congress have seen a rush of legislation introduced to address climate change, all of which have some variation of a cap-and-trade approach to dealing with climate change.
Among those pushing cap-and-trade climate bills are two leading presidential aspirants, Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill. and John McCain, R-Ariz.
Essentially such a mechanisms would have mandatory limits of greenhouse gas emissions, but would allow companies to trade emission credits to reduce the cost. Companies that can’t meet the cap could purchase credits from those that exceed them or in some case from a government auction.
Also signing the letter to Bush were the executives of Lehman Brothers, PG’E Corp., PNM Resources, FPL Group and four leading environmental organizations.