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Global Warming: Early Action Bill Heads the Right Way on the Wrong Road

WASHINGTON - March 4 - World Wildlife Fund today called for major changes to The Credit for Voluntary Early Action Act which was reintroduced in Congress by Senator John Chafee. The bill is essentially the same as the environmentally flawed bill introduced in the second session of the 105th Congress last fall.

"Although we endorse the concept of credit for early action, this bill is heading the wrong way on the right road," said Jennifer Morgan, WWF's Climate Policy Officer. "While WWF cannot endorse the bill as it currently stands, we look forward to working with the Senators to turn it around and move it in the right direction," Morgan said.

As drafted, the bill fails to ensure that real reductions of carbon pollution will occur, while offering valuable credits to companies for questionable and unverifiable actions.

Of the changes that need to be made, four stand out as most urgent:

Base crediting program on sound science. The bill should not allow credits for carbon sequestration projects before the international scientific review underway has addressed the key questions still surrounding the effectiveness of such measures. In the meantime, the bill's focus should be on reducing emissions at source, which is the most effective measure possible to address global warming.

Evaluate existing voluntary programs. The bill should not allow companies that registered projects under Section 1605b of the 1992 Energy Policy Act to claim credits at this time. Those programs were originally designed to encourage broad participation and were not subject to the rigorous monitoring or verification rules that are essential when credits are to be awarded. Instead, the bill should set up a process for evaluating past voluntary programs to identify proven reductions before rushing ahead with awarding credits.

Reward newer, cleaner and more efficient companies. A clear mechanism must be established to ensure that companies are rewarded for real improvements in their environmental performance and not for taking advantage of legal loopholes. The proposed bill would reward companies with credits for shifting pollution overseas, closing factories, or even shuffling emissions from one domestic operation to another.

Limit and then evaluate the program budget. The bill should set an initial maximum number of credits that will be allocated. After all have been given out, an evaluation of the early action program should be undertaken as a prerequisite to any reauthorization by Congress.

"Global warming is one of the most serious problems facing our nation's wildlife and natural ecosystems. We need to provide credible incentives for early action by U.S. businesses to reduce carbon pollution. Unfortunately, this bill would create loopholes that would weaken U.S. efforts to reduce emissions and thereby place our national environment at continuing risk. Without major surgery, it is unacceptable," Morgan said.