Former Vice President Al Gore urged members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning to greenlight President Barack Obama’s entire $825 billion economic stimulus package, which includes $54 billion for clean energy. Presenting prepared testimony on climate change solutions leading up to the UN talks taking place in Copenhagen this December, Gore said, “The solutions to the climate crisis are the very same solutions that will address our economic and national security crises as well.”
Not everyone agrees — notably (and not surprisingly) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has advocated against the notion of a green New Deal. But according to Gore, the current U.S. economy remains “shackled to the OPEC roller coaster of rising and falling oil prices,” and borrows money from China to buy oil from some of the world’s most unstable regions. He strongly supports several solutions in Obama’s proposal.
The plan’s unprecedented and critical investments in four key areas – energy efficiency, renewables, a unified national energy grid and the move to clean cars – represent an important down payment and are long overdue. These crucial investments will create millions of new jobs and hasten our economic recovery – while strengthening our national security and beginning to solve the climate crisis.
But that’s not all. Once electricity-generating capacity from renewable sources ramps up, he wants lawmakers to look ahead to a carbon-pricing scheme — laying groundwork for a cap-and-trade system within a year and negotiating a solid treaty in Copenhagen come December.
What might that look like? Gore outlined five key elements for a successful international climate agreement, which included the usual suspects — strong targets and timetables for industrialized countries, binding commitments for developing countries, a compliance and verification system, and resources and technology to help poorer nations adapt to climate change — but also included two less glamorous ideas: Reducing deforestation, and the creation of an accounting system for carbon stored in farmlands.
Images: Slides from former Vice President Al Gore’s Senate testimony today