Execs Say U.S. Needs Way to Curb Emissions

by | Jul 30, 2008

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smog_in_new_york.jpgTwo U.S executives told a congressional panel that the country should encourage investment in efficiency and address climate change, perhaps by assigning a dollar cost to carbon emissions, Reuters reports.

John Rice, General Electric vice-chairman, and Daniel Esty, a professor of environmental law at Yale University both told the panel that cap-and-trade would be the best way to encourage investments in energy efficiency. George David, chairman of United Technologies Corp., declined to back the approach.

The European Union already covers over 1,000 industrial sites with a cap-and-trade system, but the U.S. Senate defeated efforts to adopt such a system last month.

Rice also told the panel that carbon capture and sequestration is technically viable today but not commercially viable and suggested the government to do more to help emerging energy technologies through tax credits.

On the issue of offshore drilling as a way to meet America’s energy needs, David said the energy problem can be solved without increasing fossil fuel supplies. Whereas Rice said the option should be left open since about three-quarters of U.S. electricity generation depends on fossil fuels.

Like GE’s Rice, a recent analysis by MIT also found the EU cap-and-trade system operating well and suggested the world learn from the system. One city taking the EU’s lead is Tokyo which will require a cap-and-trade scheme for emissions from 1,300 of the biggest polluters by fall of 2010.

The Financial Times recently reported that if the U.S. implemented a cap-and-trade system, the global carbon market could be worth more than $3 trillion in 2020.

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