Climate Legislation: A Blueprint for Success


Earlier today the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a highly unusual coalition of the CEOs of more than 30 major U.S. companies and national environmental organizations companies, released its Blueprint for Legislative Action calling for comprehensive carbon cap and trade legislation.

USCAP’s plan would dramatically reduce the U.S. share of the carbon emissions that are the primary cause of global climate change.

In my role as Director of U.S. Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy I worked with our CEO, Mark Tercek, and our colleagues, particularly with the Conservancy’s U.S. Climate Policy Director, Eric Haxthausen, to struggle through the process of arriving at this Blueprint.  On more than one occasion consensus appeared impossible. 

Why did we try so hard to make this work and why is it important?

First, all of the scientific evidence says that runaway climate change is simply the biggest threat to everything The Nature Conservancy has tried to accomplish over the last 50 years — the biggest threat to millions of acres of protected areas put together to provide enough habitat for the world’s plant and animal species.

Second, reducing carbon emissions is not a simple, feel-good issue; it will impact every part of American society in a difficult period in our history.  If we can’t come to agreement with economic interests on a strategy, nothing is likely to happen in time to make a difference.

And, third, the other parties involved were willing to go along with two parts of a cap and trade plan that mean a lot to the Conservancy:

In the wake of the global financial crisis, much has been written about the consequences of the failure to assess and anticipate risk.  The unprecedented agreement by a group of corporate and environmental group CEOs  to urge action on an environmental issue — climate change — should be a powerful indication of the risk climate change poses to us all. This consensus on risk and basic strategy can, now, help to establish the foundation for similar consensus building and, one would hope, rapid action by the new administration and Congress.

(Photo: Jonathon Colman, Creative Commons License)

If you believe in the work we’re doing, please lend a hand.


  1. Thanks for updating us on the progress made on the carbon tap and trade discussion.

    I am especially glad to see that it was agreed that conserving forests to store and capture carbon was a piece of the climate change equation.

    Now, what according to you is the number one cause of deforestation of old grove and rainforest around the world? For construction material? Nope! More than 90% of the Amazon rainforest cleared since 1970 has been used for livestock pasture! Every second, rainforest the size of a footbal field is destroyed to produce 257 hamburgers!

    In May 2008, his Royal Highness Prince Charles publically stated that we have 18 months to halt deforestation to preserve life on this planet! So if we are really seriously concerned about global warming, we CANNOT continue to let this happen. The massacre of ancient trees, forests and innocent gentle animals MUST end. Not to mention the waste of grain, water, the abject pollution this industry has been allowed to produce without any penalty or onus on cleaning up its horrendous mess.

    Another point, that I would like to make is that conventional agriculture, ladden with petroleum based pesticides and herbicides, produces large amount of C02.

    Organic food, on the other hand, is known to capture C02 and keep it in the soil for long periods of time. Therefore, organic farmers and food should be supported while conventional agro-farming should be penalized for contributing to the problem and adding to the CO2 bill we are trying to reduce.

    We all have to eat, that is one thing we share. So this decision is far reaching. This is also why I am a proponent of having Victory gardens in every city across the nation. This will reduce pollution, create local food security in case climate change continues to create havoc in states that are currently growing our food (like in Ohio last year). We hae no Plan B at the moment. We need one and this is the best one I can think of. It is how we started in this nation and will most likely be how we end!

    Keep up the good work but remember that everything is connected. What we eat plays a huge role in how we will survive the economic downturn, the unknown unravelling of climate change.

Add a Comment