Realistic Limits Can Fight Global Warming

The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), sets the realistic limits we need on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions responsible for global warming.  Specifically, the bill calls for reductions of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.  Such a cut give us the best chance of holding global warming down to about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).  Higher temperature increases could lock us into large sea level rise and other damaging and irreversible consequences of global warming.

Carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, can stay in the atmosphere for decades and centuries after it has been emitted.  Therefore, the decisions we make today about our global warming emissions will continue to impact our children and grandchildren.  This bill takes an incremental approach to reducing emissions, calling for the U.S. to make 2 percent cuts each year for the first decade, leading to 1990 emissions levels by 2020.  Ultimately, the bill would bring U.S. emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

One key feature of the bill is that it allows for the acceleration of emission reductions, if necessary, to stay below the 2 degrees C target.

The bill takes steps to achieving these cuts with provisions to increase our reliance on clean renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency, test carbon capture and storage technologies, reduce heat-trapping emissions from passenger vehicles and reengage in international negotiations on global warming.