CEOs seek tough global-warming laws

Leaders from GE to Lehman Bros. suggest lawmakers adopt a mandatory, market-driven legislative solution.

NEW YORK ( -- Chief executives from such major corporations as General Electric and DuPont teamed up with environmental organizations Monday, urging U.S. lawmakers Monday to pass sweeping legislation that would ultimately cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"The time has come for constructive action that draws strength equally from business, government, and non-governmental stakeholders," said Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, who participated in the program
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt (L) answered questions Monday at a press conference organized by the US Climate Action Partnership, joined by Jonathan Lash, President of World Resources Institute.
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The United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), which includes 10 various corporations including diversified conglomerate GE (down $0.15 to $36.80, Charts), aluminum producer Alcoa (down $0.18 to $31.22, Charts), oil giant BP (down $0.56 to $63.96, Charts) and investment bank Lehman Brothers (down $0.55 to $82.60, Charts), said it ultimately hopes to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent from its current levels by 2050.

The plan, while not endorsing any particular proposed legislation, comes just before President Bush is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. Bush is expected to discuss U.S. energy policy during his speech.

USCAP's proposal, entitled "A Call For Action", asks Congress to take a mandatory, "market-driven approach" to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Part of that plan would include a "cap-and-trade program," which has taken hold in Europe.

Under the program, a company is given a set number of emission credits, but would have the freedom to sell, or trade, those remaining credits to other firms that might have spent their own emission credits.

USCAP members said that using this market-based approach would not only drive new, greener technology, but it could also be a significant source of growth of economic and job growth for the U.S.

The organization, which includes four environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, said it is hoping that Congress will pass legislation regarding this policy some time this year.

Right now, the United States is the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, although China is set to take over the top spot in the next few years.

The battle against global warming has gained momentum since Democrats reclaimed control of Congress in November, but critics of new carbon restrictions have also made their voice heard.

At a American Petroleum Institute event in December, opponents of mandatory carbon laws suggested that new U.S. legislative changes would have little impact on global warming since other major industrial countries like China and India are not on board.

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