Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Climate Change
SECTION TITLE: CLIMATE CHANGE
SECTION SUBTITLE: Meeting our generation's greatest challenge
OUR POSITION: Greens want to stop runaway climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 40% by 2020 and 95% by 2050, over 1990 levels.
Climate change is the most grave environmental, social and economic peril that humanity has ever met. Across the world, it is causing vanishing polar ice, melting glaciers, growing deserts, stronger storms, rising oceans, less biodiversity, deepening droughts, as well as more disease, hunger, strife and human misery. It is a tragedy unfolding in slow motion.
Greenhouse gases warm the Earth by trapping heat in the atmosphere. Much of that heat is initially absorbed by the ocean, creating roughly a 30-year delay in the impact of that heat at the surface of the planet. Practically speaking, that means that the melting glaciers and expanding deserts of 2009 were the result of greenhouse gases dumped into the atmosphere in the late 1970s, when the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was below 350 parts per million (ppm). To return to a safe level of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, we must reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases as quickly as possible to levels that existed before 1980, to 350ppm carbon dioxide.
Greens support science-based policies to curb climate change. We have an ambitious plan to make drastic changes quickly to avert global catastrophe. We will expend maximum effort to preserve a planet friendly to life as we know it by curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
A STRONG INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE TREATY
1. Support a strong international climate treaty under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States must do far better than its offer in Copenhagen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4% below 1990 levels. We should support at least a 40% reduction by 2020 and 95% reduction by 2050, over 1990 levels.
ECONOMIC POLICY FOR A SAFER CLIMATE
2. Establish carbon taxes on fossil fuels, to reflect the environmental cost of their extraction and use. Carbon taxes should be applied as far upstream as possible, preferably when possession of the carbon-bearing fuel passes from extraction (for example, coal mine; oil wellhead or tanker; gas wellhead) to the next entity in the supply chain (for example, coal shipper or utility; oil refiner or importer; natural gas pipeline). Offset potential regressivity for lower income individuals by cutting income taxes and/or other approaches. Carbon taxes are better than market-based policies because they lead to more predictable carbon pricing, are more transparent, take effect more quickly, and do not enable profiteering by the financial industry.
3. Eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, biomass and waste incineration, and biofuels. We must also acknowledge that the bulk of our military budget is, in fact, an indirect subsidy for oil and gas production.
4. Prevent perverse incentives arising from higher carbon prices. By putting an increased price on carbon, all energy sources that do not have the carbon price imposed look relatively more attractive: nuclear power, biomass and biofuels are all in that category. Carbon pricing could easily result in massive deforestation to produce additional biofuels that have suddenly become relatively cheap and economically attractive. In addition to pricing carbon, we must mandate real clean solutions.
REPAY OUR CLIMATE DEBT
5. Pay for adaptation to climate change in countries with less responsibility for climate change.
6. Provide a carbon neutral development path for those countries that can no longer be permitted to develop in the same way we did - by burning cheap fossil fuels.
MORE EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION
7. Adopt energy efficiency standards that reduce energy demand economy-wide by 50% over the next 20-30 years. The U.S. can make massive reductions in its energy use through a combination of conservation and efficiency measures. We don't actually need any additional power. Instead, we can and should reduce our consumption of power.
8. Build an efficient, low cost public transportation system. The best incentive we can provide to live closer to work and reduce the use of private vehicles is to make the alternative inexpensive and convenient to use.
9. Adopt a national zero waste policy. The less we consume and throw away, the less we will need to produce and replace.
CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY AND JOBS
10. Create an inclusive program to train workers for the new, clean energy economy. Focusing on both the environment and social justice, prioritize the creation of green jobs in communities of color and low income communities.
11. Adopt a clean energy portfolio standard that rapidly replaces our combustion-based power sources with wind, solar, ocean, small-scale hydro, and geothermal power.
12. End the use of nuclear power. Nuclear energy is massively polluting, dangerous, financially risky, expensive and slow to implement. Our money is better spent on wind, solar, geothermal, conservation and small-scale hydroelectric.
13. Stop "dirty clean energy." Many of the "solutions" offered in climate legislation aren't real solutions. Biomass incineration (trees, crops, construction debris and certain types of waste), landfill gas and many types of biofuels will dump massive quantities of toxic pollutants into the air and water, and some of these energy sources produce more greenhouse gas emissions than coal. Natural gas is primarily methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Consequently, when pipeline leakage is considered, the clean-burning characteristics of natural gas can be lost, resulting in a fuel with climate impacts as bad as coal. Biomass and biofuels will also increase deforestation, contributing to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
CLEAN, GREEN AGRICULTURE
14. Convert U.S farm and ranchland to organic practices. Chemical and industrial agriculture produces 35-50% of climate destabilizing greenhouse gases.
15. Switch to local food production and distribution. Localized, organic food production and distribution reduce fossil fuel usage and enriches soil that that sequesters more carbon dioxide.
16. Reduce methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by rapidly phasing out confined animal feeding operations, encouraging a reduction in meat consumption, and transitioning to a plant-based agricultural system.
CONDITIONAL GREEN PARTY SUPPORT FOR CAP (or FEE) AND DIVIDEND POLICY
The Green Party supports in concept “cap & dividend” policy, where proceeds from a market-based program are disbursed to the general populace to offset increased consumer energy costs, with the following qualifiers: • Acceptable forms of energy generation that are alternatives to fossil sources must first be agreed upon before a cap & dividend program is established. Nuclear power and waste incineration should not be included as acceptable alternatives to fossil sources. • There should be no limitation on the number of children or other people in a household for rebate purposes. • Mechanisms for dividend distribution must not ignore the homeless or those in the cash economy. There must be an equitable and rapid dividend distribution system for those living on the edge that cannot withstand higher prices while waiting for a monthly dividend check • U.S. households must not be interpreted as U.S. citizens. The mechanism for rebate should be independent of immigration status. • Border adjustments that are intended to equalize carbon content of imported products should not be blanket policy applying to all countries. It is fair to impose carbon border adjustments on serious competition from heavy polluters in industries where embedded carbon is an issue. It is not appropriate for this to be a blanket policy. • Current Cap & Dividend proposals allow an exception for demonstrated effective Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). The Green Party opposes coal extraction and burning even with CCS. No exceptions.
2004 PLATFORM ON Clean Air/Greenhouse Effect/Ozone Depletion
The strict, comprehensive protections of the Clean Air Act must be maintained and enhanced if we are to keep in place effective federal programs that deal with urban smog, toxic air pollution, acid rain, and ozone depletion. State and local clean air initiatives should advance and improve national efforts. For example moving forward with stricter clean air and fuel efficiency standards, and with vehicle and fleet conversions.
Earth’s atmosphere is in great danger due to man-made chemicals and hydrocarbon emissions. Chloro-fluorocarbons, hydrochloro-fluorocarbons, and other related ozone-depleting substances should be banned as soon as is possible.
The Green Party urges the U.S. Congress to act immediately to address the critical global warming and climate change issues. When the U.S. Senate voted 95-to-0 to oppose any global warming treaty that does not also bind developing countries to specific, if smaller, carbon emissions reductions in the future, which many industrializing countries oppose, it put a roadblock in the way of progress by all nations.
With only 4% of the earth’s people, the United States produces more than 20% of carbon emissions. From 1990 to 1996, total U.S. emissions grew by an amount equal to what Brazil and Indonesia produce every year. Per capita, the United States emits 85% more than Germany, twice as much as England and Japan, and currently nearly 10-times as much as China.
Climate change presents very real economic and social opportunities for new and sustainable jobs from new energy technologies, including both energy efficiency and renewables. Yet, too often, the focus of debate has been only on the pain of adjustment to carbon reductions, This is because of the influence of multinational business on government policies.
We must implement the following policies if we are to make a start on protecting our global climate:
1. An early target must be set to prevent emissions from rising so far that future reductions become even more difficult.
2. Avoiding loopholes is even more important now than an ambitious target. Unless a very ambitious target is set, which now seems unlikely, allowing sinks and trading within the protocol will create such loopholes that no real reductions will occur. Trading and sinks must be left until there is much more scientific precision in how they are measured.
3. Targets are not enough without credible policies and measures to achieve them. We urge all governments to table a list of the policies and measures they intend to adopt to attain their target, for example eco-taxes and energy performance standards.
4. Nuclear power is not an acceptable alternative to fossil energy. We should not accept country commitments that depend on increasing nuclear capability. We must join the solar age.
5. We endorse the Contraction and Convergence model under discussion at international talks (which as proposed would eventually give every human being an equal right to the atmosphere) as the most practical way to achieve justice and participation for developing countries.
6. As a nation, we must implement public and private initiatives at every level to support the Global Climate Treaty signed at the Earth Summit in 1992, committing industrial nations within a time framework to reducing emissions to 1990 levels.
7. The most authoritative assessment to date concludes that a worldwide carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 50-70 percent is necessary to contain climate change. The Kyoto Climate Protocol in 1998 falls far short, calling for only a five percent reduction. Nonetheless, the agreement is an important first step that all parties – especially the U.S. – should ratify as soon as possible.
8. We must drastically reduce, then eliminate, the use of fossil fuels. We must use energy more efficiently, and from clean, renewable sources. We must preserve the many valuable natural services including climactic stability provided by intact ecosystems. [See section E.2. Fair Taxation on page 62 in chapter IV]
9. If we fail to summon the political will now to make these investments, the costs of climatic disruptions will almost certainly force us to make them later at a greater expense. Greenhouse gases and the threat of global warming must be addressed by the international community in concert, through international treaties and conventions, with the industrial nations at the forefront of this vital effort. Bold text