News

US Group Urges Radical Cuts in Carbon Emissions

Multimedia

Audio

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.
Comments
     
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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs