Climate Change Policy

U.S. Climate Action Partnership

Mark Tercek

is the president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. Previously, he was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he headed the firm’s Center for Environmental Markets and its Environmental Strategy Group.

The Nature Conservancy and its fellow members of The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) has unveiled a comprehensive and detailed set of integrated policy recommendations for developing legislation that would create an environmentally effective and economically sustainable national climate protection program.

The landmark document – titled A Blueprint for Legislative Action – echoes the sense of urgency that President-elect Obama has articulated regarding the need for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

"If this diverse group of energy, manufacturing, and environmental groups can agree on a blueprint to stop climate change – you know collaboration between Congress and the Administration is possible,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “The world's current financial situation coupled with the growing urgency of climate change calls us to a new green economy. It is possible to reduce emissions, grow our economy and safeguard our forests and natural resources. This Blueprint offers our government leaders a roadmap for how that can be done.

Based on Analysis and Consensus

Developed through two years of intensive analysis and consensus-building among 26 corporations and five environmental organizations, the Blueprint offers policymakers a clear path forward endorsed by a coalition representing a broad swath of the economy and diverse environmental interests.

USCAP believes that strong climate legislation is a critical element of any effort to stimulate investment and innovation in low-carbon technologies. The Blueprint provides specific guidelines for the Administration and Congress to enact legislation that both protects the environment and facilitates the necessary transition to a vibrant, low-carbon economy. That includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 2005 levels by 2050 through an economy-wide cap-and-trade program.

The Blueprint details steps for creating a mandatory, economy-wide cap-and-trade program, coupled with cost containment measures and complementary policies addressing a federal technology research development and deployment program, coal technology, transportation, and building and energy efficiency.

The Blueprint also recognizes the critical role conservation plays in a global warming solution. The Blueprint provides the incentives needed to make forests a powerful tool against climate change.

And the Blueprint recognizes that our ecosystems are already suffering the devastating impacts of climate change. It calls for us to take proactive steps now to safeguard the natural resources that we and future generations depend upon for survival.

A Solution that Makes Economic and Environmental Sense

Expanding significantly on USCAP’s 2007 groundbreaking Call for Action, the Blueprint includes an aggressive emission reduction schedule, further details on the scope of coverage for the cap-and-trade program, and recommendations for how to include as much of the U.S. economy under the cap as administratively and politically feasible.

Highlights from the Blueprint include:

  • Requiring an 80 percent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2050: National climate legislation should include aggressive emission reduction targets that can be achieved at manageable costs to the economy. The targets and timetables in the Blueprint are consistent with the schedule proposed by President-elect Obama.
  • Allowing the ample use of offsets to manage program costs: Offsets – including investment in forest conservation – should be used to help meet compliance obligations and should be environmentally additional, verifiable, permanent, measurable, and enforceable. Other cost containment measures to limit price spikes and volatility are detailed in the Blueprint.
  • Using the value of emissions allowances to protect consumers and businesses while advancing climate program goals: USCAP believes the distribution of allowance value should facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy for consumers and businesses, provide capital to support new low- and zero-GHG-emitting technologies, and address the need for humans and the environment to adapt to climate change. A significant portion of allowances should be initially distributed to capped entities and particularly disadvantaged economic sectors. The Blueprint identifies principles to guide the fair and equitable allocation of allowance value to mitigate costs to consumers and impacted sectors of the economy.
  • Creating incentives for technology development and deployment: In addition to outlining the design and function of a cap-and-trade system, the Blueprint details complementary measures for coal, technology transformation, transportation, and buildings and energy efficiency that are needed to facilitate rapid technology transformation and to ensure that actual reductions in emissions occur across the economy. These measures are presented as necessary components of the cap-and-trade recommendations.

A summary overview of the Blueprint for Legislative Action as well as the full text of USCAP’s recommendations are available online at


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