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Brookings: How to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Now

Authors: Mary Graham, and Elena Fagotto
June 1, 2007

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Support is growing in the 110th Congress for legislation to counter climate change. Yet action on any of the major cap-and-trade proposals will leave a critical policy gap. None of the proposed systems would take full effect for at least five years. Meanwhile, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and company executives are locking in future emissions as they finalize plans for new power plants, factories and cars. The Administration's latest climate action report, circulated in draft in March 2007, estimates that a 19 percent increase in U.S. emissions between 2000 and 2020 will contribute to persistent drought, coastal flooding and water shortages in many parts of the country and around the world. This policy brief proposes that Congress legislate product-by-product and factory-by-factory disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions to create immediate incentives for companies to cut those emissions. Labeling products and disclosing factory emissions would provide market benefits now by exposing inefficiencies and informing the choices of investors, business partners, employees and consumers and would give companies the information base they need to prepare for cap-and-trade regulation.

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