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For Immediate Release, September 30, 2009

Contact: Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351,

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Senate Climate Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Center for Biological Diversity issued the following statement today from Executive Director Kierán Suckling, responding to the Kerry-Boxer Senate Climate bill released today.

“The Kerry-Boxer climate bill marks a baby step forward in the ever more urgent fight against climate catastrophe, but much bolder action is needed.

“We applaud senators Kerry and Boxer for introducing legislation that builds on the success of the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act has reduced air pollution for 40 years and is one of our most powerful tools in fighting global warming and protecting human health. This legislation recognizes that now more than ever, we need every tool in the tool box to curb global warming, and it retains the safety net of the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse emissions.

“While the Senate bill recognizes the absolute necessity of stronger emissions reduction targets, the targets in the Senate bill – like those in the House bill – are woefully inadequate. This legislation would not save the polar bear and numerous other species and ecosystems because it simply does not go far enough quickly enough.

“The scientific consensus is clear: We must reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to no more than 350 parts per million. Leading climate scientists have called for reductions of approximately 40 percent below 1990 levels to avoid climate catastrophe, and yet this bill aims to deliver only a 20-percent reduction from 2005 levels.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to reach even 450 ppm CO2eq (corresponding to approximately 400 ppm CO2), the emissions of the United States and other developed countries should be reduced by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.1 Thus, to reach 350 ppm CO2, the United States must achieve or exceed the upper end of this range.

Forty of the world’s leading climate scientists, including former IPCC chair Sir John Houghton, have called for industrialized countries to make a commitment at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen to cut carbon emissions to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 “to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is advocating for legislation that sets an overall cap on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels consistent with the best available science of no more than 350 ppm, which would require reducing emissions approximately 40 to 45 percent below 1990 levels; that works with, rather than replaces, the Clean Air Act; and that eliminates or greatly reduces offsets and other loopholes.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 225,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

1 Gupta, S. et al. 2007: Policies, Instruments and Co-operative Arrangements. In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, B. Metz et al, eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA at 776.
den Elzen, M. and N. Höhne. 2008. Reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in Annex I and non-Annex I countries for meeting concentration stabilization targets. Climatic Change 91: 249-274.

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