Last week on Sea Change Radio, we featured the pros and cons of the climate bill now set to wend its way through the halls of Congress. Today, we take a look at two proposals from the grassroots that have some important bearing on climate policy. We talk with Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists about the group’s National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy, Climate 2030 and with David Goldberg about Transportation for America‘s Route to Reform.
Economic recession doesn’t mean the world can’t afford to tackle climate change. In fact, the costs of delay dwarf the costs of moving to a clean energy economy. The British economist Lord Stern says it will take 2% of the world’s GDP to avert catastrophic climate change, whereas GDP would drop 20% or more if we don’t. But the Union of Concerned Scientists goes further. In Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy, the UCS argues that strong climate change policy will actually create substantial savings for consumers and the economy as a whole, not just in the distant future, but right here and now. The report forecasts $1.7 trillion in net cumulative savings between 2010 and 2030 and annual savings of $465 billion by the latter date.
Francesca Rheannon spoke with Rachel Cleetus, economist with the Climate program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Her work focuses on designing and advocating for effective global warming policies at the federal, regional, state and international levels. Dr. Cleetus has also worked as a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund and the Tellus Institute.
In light of climate change, peak oil, and energy dependence on volatile regions like the Middle East and Central Asia, how our transportation system is structured is a matter of national and economic security. Every six years, the United States Congress passes a bill to authorize federal spending on transportation, and it’s up for renewal this year. The third largest spending bill in the budget, it covers both funding targets and policy goals.
How should we fund transportation: with a gas tax or a road-use tax (or other ways)? How much of the transportation pie should go to roads and bridges or to high speed, light rail, and even bike paths? Do we want to keep plumping up suburban sprawl by investing in roads and bridges or do we want to encourage denser, walkable communities with light intercity rail? These questions are up for grabs in the 2009 bill. They are being addressed by Transportation for America in a blueprint proposal to the Congress, called Route to Reform. Francesca spoke with communications director, David Goldberg.