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Presidential climate action project

“Climate action
is a powerful
engine for new
industries and
jobs, and the
next challenge
for America’s

“I recognize the right and duty

of this generation to develop and use
the natural resources of our land;
but I do not recognize the right to waste
them, or to rob, by wasteful use,
the generation that comes after us.”
- President Theodore Roosevelt
F or the first time in human history, America and the international
community face a truly planetary challenge: global warming.
Paradoxically, the challenge also represents one of humanity’s
greatest opportunities. The need to transform how we power the
world’s economies opens vast new global markets for energy,
technologies and services. As the world’s leader in innovation,
and as the nation whose citizens generate more greenhouse gas
emissions than any other, the United States has both a moral
and an economic imperative to seize this moment.

The bold steps America must take to prevent the worst consequences
of global warming offer an array of benefits. Climate action is a
powerful engine for new industries and jobs, a way forward on the
tough issues of global security and terrorism, the next challenge for
America’s genius, the chance for an unprecedented public-private
partnership, the catalyst for America’s re-emergence as a constructive
leader in the international community, and an opportunity to give our
children the legacy of a safe, prosperous and healthy future.

“Dealing with Dealing with climate change requires strong, visionary leadership
climate change at every level of American society. We must begin to demand that
vision from one another. It is necessary to transform the way
requires strong, developed nations sustain their prosperity and developing nations
visionary achieve it. This will require an urgent new level of collaboration
leadership at among nations and all sectors and political philosophies within the
United States – a level we have rarely, if ever, seen. Because the
every level
challenge is so vast, the leaders who we elect to help us meet this
of American challenge – including the next President of the United States –
society.” will be the most important in our history.
“The Presidential
Climate Action Plan...
presents a specific and
comprehensive blueprint
for bold leadership,
rooted in current
climate science and
designed to ignite
innovation at every level
of the American
The Presidential Climate Action Plan
From the moment the 44th President of the United States takes office
on January 20, 2009, the American people, and the world community
will watch closely for indications of how our new leader addresses
global climate change.

The signal should be clear: The President will take immediate and
decisive action to mobilize the federal government and the nation
to build a new, low-carbon economy to meet the emerging realities
of the 21st Century.

Toward that goal, the Presidential Climate Action Project has

developed a non-partisan plan for presidential leadership within
100 days of Inauguration. The Presidential Climate Action Plan,
or PCAP, presents a specific and comprehensive blueprint for bold
leadership, rooted in climate science and designed to ignite
innovation at every level of the American economy.

The University of Colorado Denver has facilitated the development

of the plan with the advice of a prestigious board of top climate science
and policy experts. PCAP incorporates many of the best ideas put
forward by the presidential candidates, universities, non-governmental
organizations and others, as well as new ideas based on original
analyses commissioned by the project. PCAP’s comprehensive plan
encourages a more creative level of public discussion about how the
nation will address global warming. A final plan will be issued to
the candidates in September 2008, reflecting new policy ideas, science,
research and federal action that emerge during the campaign.

PCAP is rooted in the conviction that we must build an innovative,

environmentally-sound economy for the new realities of the 21st
Century. That economy must achieve three goals for this and future
generations: security, opportunity and stewardship.

PCAP: The most specific and comprehensive action plan

so far presented to the American public, and the most
detailed roadmap yet for America to assert constructive
leadership in international policy and markets.


Million metric tons CO2e

Business as usual

Historical emissions 6,000




Stabilize 450-550 ppm

2010 2020 2030 2040 2050

Bingaman-Specter Lieberman-Warner
range with price cap (projected only through 2030) draft outline
Bingaman-Specter Bingaman-Specter
no price cap conditional target
Lieberman-McCain Kerry-Snowe
Olver-Gilchrest Sanders-Boxer, Waxman
Emissions with PCAP Proposals

Comparison of
Climate Change Targets
in Legislation Proposed by the
110th Congress and by the
Presidential Climate Action Plan,
1. Security
Stabilizing the Climate, the Economy
and the International Community
To achieve true security, the people of all nations must achieve a decent
and sustainable standard of living. This cannot be done with the same
carbon-intensive energy resources that powered the industrial era.
Those resources are moving us to the threshold of dangerous climate
change. Further, we cannot be secure in a future of global resource
conflicts as developed and developing nations compete for the same
finite fossil fuels. We must make a rapid transition to unprecedented
levels of energy efficiency and to low-carbon, renewable resources.
PCAP’s recommendations include:
• To stop subsidizing war, conflict and terrorism, cut America’s
oil consumption in half by 2020 and eliminate all petroleum
imports by 2040 without increasing domestic production.
• Create an international Organization of Petroleum Importing
Countries (OPIC) to collaborate on reducing international
dependence on oil.
• Redirect federal subsidies for fossil fuels to dramatically
increase our investment in low-carbon energy technologies,
“...we cannot be
designs and products.
secure in a future
• Conduct a national security analysis on the implications of
of global resource increasing America’s reliance on imported resources such
conflicts as as natural gas and uranium, and the homeland security
developed and implications of constructing additional LNG import facilities
and nuclear power plants.
developing nations
• Seek the declaration of the Persian Gulf as a “zone of
compete for
international interest” protected by a multi-national peace-
the same finite keeping force that guarantees the free flow of oil as OPIC
fossil fuels.” nations reduce dependence on petroleum imports.
America’s farms
and rural
communities our
rich new energy belt
for renewable
2. Opportunity
Unleashing the Marketplace
Millions of new jobs will be created to stabilize the climate, sequester
carbon and adapt to climate changes already underway. The federal
government should align, synchronize and create incentives, bust barriers
and help correct price signals in the marketplace. It also should launch
new public-private partnerships to build a robust low-carbon economy.
PCAP’s recommendations include:
• Set life-cycle performance standards for new power plants,
buildings and vehicles – the principal sources of greenhouse
gas emissions. Starting immediately, new power plants must
be carbon-neutral. By 2020, America’s passenger vehicles
must average at least 50 miles per gallon. By 2030, all new
buildings must be carbon-neutral.
• Establish an oil price floor of $45 per barrel to encourage and
protect capital investments in renewable energy.
• Offer $1 billion in incentive awards for breakthrough technologies.
• Create 40 million new jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable
energy industries by 2030.
• Provide $1 billion annually to states and localities to implement
their own aggressive plans for energy efficiency, renewable
energy and climate action, including rate reforms that allow
utilities to profit from energy efficiency.
• Replace the U.S. Department of Energy with a small dynamic
agency that merges DOE’s technology programs with the U.S.
Small Business Administration to create the new businesses
and jobs that will transform our energy economy.
• Redirect federal rural development programs, including the
Rural Utility Service loan program, to invest in the technologies
and infrastructure that will make America’s farms and rural
communities the rich new frontier for renewable resources.

“The green economy has the power

to deliver new sources of work,
wealth and health to low-income
people - while honoring the Earth.”
- Van Jones, Ella Baker
Center for Human Rights
If the presidential election
were held today, how
important would a
candidate’s position on
global warming be in
your decision about
whom to vote for?

Percent of Responses


.25 .24


Extremely Very Somewhat Not That
Important Important Important Important

From a survey of 1,011 adults conducted July 23-26, 2007 by Yale University, Gallup and the Clear Vision Institute.
At the 95% confidence level, the margin of sampling error is ± 4 percentage points.
3. Stewardship
Marrying Ecology, Economy and Equity
Global warming proves that economic and ecological health are
interdependent. The impacts of climate change on natural systems and
their services affect not only our species but all species; not only this
generation but those that will follow. These adverse impacts will hit
some nations, industries, communities and families more than others.
For these reasons, stewardship – in other words, caring for natural systems,
the disadvantaged and future generations – forms an essential component
of the 21st Century economy. PCAP’s recommendations include:
• Reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 3% each year until
2020 and 2% annually thereafter to achieve a 30% reduction
by 2020 and a 90% reduction by mid-century.
• Engage the international community to set similar goals for
the world’s five largest developing nations, starting in 2020.
• Implement a cap-and-auction system involving the 2,000
“first providers” of fossil fuels to achieve carbon pricing in
100% of the economy.
“The impacts
• To guarantee early reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
of climate change while the cap-and-auction regime is taking hold, direct EPA
on natural systems to regulate greenhouse gas emissions immediately under
and their services the Clean Air Act.

affect not only • Champion a 10-fold increase in the Weatherization Assistance

Program for low-income families.
our species but all
• Create a Green Jobs Corps to train 35,000 underprivileged
species; not only
youth each year in the “green trades” essential to the new
this generation energy economy.
but also those that • Make the nation’s largest energy user – the federal
will follow.” government – carbon neutral by 2050.
• Propose omnibus legislation to reshape federal programs and
update current environmental laws to address global warming
and climate adaptation.
• Reform U.S. lending and development
programs to stop funding carbon-
intensive projects overseas and
champion changes in international
trade agreements to remove the
barriers to climate action.
The Presidential Climate Action Plan will present
these and many other policy recommendations to the
Presidential candidates and their staffs during the
2008 election. We invite your voice and your support.

Join the Dialogue

To access more complete explanations of climate

issues and solutions, visit the PCAP web site at

The PCAP team encourages your comments and

ideas for climate leadership. Please submit them to

Presidential Climate Action Project

University of Colorado School of Public Affairs
Campus Box 133, PO Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Bill Becker, Executive Director

Presidential Climate Action Project

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