US Group Urges Radical Cuts in Carbon Emissions



A leading U.S. advocate for combating climate change has unveiled an ambitious plan to drastically slash global carbon emissions over the next 12 years, saying aggressive action is both necessary and feasible. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington.

Both major U.S. presidential candidates say they are committed to putting the United States on a path to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called "greenhouse gases" by 60 to 80 percent by the year 2050. Meanwhile, EU officials say they are working on a more immediate plan to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

None of these initiatives or proposals is sufficient, according to Lester Brown, who heads the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. Rather than trimming emissions by one-fifth by 2020 or by more than half by 2050, Brown says the world needs to slash greenhouse gases no less than 80 percent by no later than 2020.

If that sounds overly-ambitious, Brown offers three basic strategies for reaching the goal.

"One is to systematically raise energy efficiency throughout the world economy. The second is a massive shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. And the third: a ban on deforestation and a very ambitious tree-planting initiative that involves the planting of billions of trees," said Brown.

Brown was speaking via teleconference with the U.S. and international news media.

When it comes to energy efficiency, according to Brown, replacing old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent lighting would reduce global electricity consumption by 12 percent. That would allow the United States and other countries to close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown also recommends the large-scale adoption of wind, solar, and geo-thermal power to boost non-polluting electrical output. The increased power capacity could be used to charge the batteries of next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicles being developed by U.S. and Japanese automakers. A shift away from combustion engines combined with renewed investment in public transportation would have a dramatic positive impact on carbon emissions.

Brown says leaders across the globe are attempting to weigh how great a reduction in greenhouse gases is politically feasible, but that this is the wrong approach. Rather, Brown says, politicians should be asking how great a reduction is necessary to avoid ecological catastrophe in the future.

"In looking at the climate issue, I think we are looking at more than just climate. We are looking at food security. If we stay with business as usual, we are probably going to lose the Greenland ice sheet and see from that a 23 foot [7 meter] rise in sea level," added Brown. "The result would be hundreds of millions of 'rising sea' refugees around the world."

Critics of proposals to radically alter energy consumption often argue that such plans are costly to implement and would constrain economic growth. Brown says the long-term costs of inaction are greater, and that governments should consider lowering taxes on income while raising taxes on energy consumption and pollution.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs