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Global Engagement

The responsibility of controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be shared equitably by the top emitting countries of the world through long-term and coordinated national frameworks.

GHGs do not recognize sovereign borders. Integrated and flexible global carbon management is necessary to effect change. Most emissions come from a relatively small number of countries. However, emissions are rising the fastest in developing countries. Equitable sharing among all top emitting nations will promote the efficacy of GHG controls and will help ensure that individual countries are not put at a competitive disadvantage.

Energy Security

Oil, natural gas and coal are expected to provide the majority of global energy supply for decades to come. Climate policy must recognize the role these critical energy sources play to ensure a secure, reliable and affordable supply, and economic growth.

To meet projected global energy demand, we will need all the energy we can develop.

Reliable, affordable energy supplies are crucial to the development of strong economies, sustained improvements in quality of life and the eradication of poverty. Even with accelerated development of low-carbon and renewable energy sources, fossil fuels will continue to provide most of the world's energy needs. Therefore, a diverse energy mix should be pursued, which includes renewable energy and fossil fuels, to ensure a secure energy future.

Maximize Conservation and Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency and conservation are the most immediate and cost-effective sources of "new" energy, with no GHG emissions. Government research and development programs to promote energy efficiency and conservation must continue and should be enhanced. In addition, the private sector should increase efforts to enhance efficiency in everything from manufacturing and transportation to building management and construction.

Finally, for sustained reductions, consumers will need to be committed to behaviors and decisions that control their individual carbon emissions impacts.

Measured and Flexible Approach

Efforts to control GHG emissions must avoid disruptive economic impacts, allow for realistic turnover of capital, and a phase-in of new, cost-effective, low-carbon technologies.

As new scientific and economic impact information becomes available, we as a society should evaluate our performance and determine if, and what, adjustments are needed.

As we develop policies, we need to remain pragmatic, realistic and flexible about solutions. It took a century to create the modern energy industry and half as long to realize groundbreaking advances such as the computer industry and the development of the Internet. Addressing climate change in a meaningful way is a far more complex, long-term proposition, requiring implementation of multiple solutions. Along the way, it will require periodic assessments to determine if we are achieving the right results from climate change policies, if we're sharing actions equitably, and if global economic growth continues.

Broad, Equitable Treatment

Broad, Equitable TreatmentEnlarge Image

Broad and equitable treatment of all sectors of the economy is necessary to ensure no sector or company is disproportionately burdened.

GHGs are a function of many activities, from manufacturing and agriculture to how we power our homes and how much we drive. We should implement policies equitably across all sectors so that all significant sources of emissions are addressed. This broadly shares the challenge of emissions reduction, making it more likely to succeed and creating a level playing field.

Enable Technology

Government support for pre-commercial research and development of carbon mitigation and clean energy technologies must proceed at an accelerated pace.

Emerging technology and as-yet-unknown technological breakthroughs have the potential to significantly control GHG emissions if they can be developed at commercial scale. At the same time, we should realize there is no "silver bullet," and controlling GHG emissions will come from multiple solutions that will be developed over time. Having the right policies in place that encourage capital investment in technology and infrastructure will help.

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency

Broader implementation of existing technologies and the development of new technologies can create enhanced energy efficiency across a wide range of activities. Buildings, for example, directly and indirectly generate substantial emissions. New advances in design and construction, such as ventilated double-skin facades, glass coatings and advanced batteries that can store solar power, can significantly reduce power demand and lower CO2 emissions.

Natural Gas

Natural Gas

Natural gas is approximately half as CO2 intensive as coal per unit of electricity generated. New technology can enable the efficient production and transportation of natural gas supplies for power generation and help meet the demand for energy.

Biofuels and Renewables

Renewable Energy

Technology is advancing across a wide range of renewable energy sources—biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal and others. Cellulosic biofuels, for example, are currently under development to enable a wide variety of agricultural and forest waste to be manufactured into low-carbon transportation fuels. Technology advancements need to continue to achieve scale and economic competitiveness.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power is another option in the energy portfolio. Significant strides have been made in safely operating nuclear plants and improvements need to continue. We also need to continue developing ways to store nuclear waste.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage

CO2 resulting from the production and combustion of fossil fuels can be captured and stored with current technologies, but at great cost. The future economic viability of carbon capture and storage is uncertain. Continued research and development is needed for broad commercial application. Hurdles, which need to be overcome for wide-scale deployment, include the high cost of capture, the need for broad deployment of a CO2 pipeline infrastructure, storage assurances and acceptance of long-term liability.

Transparency

The costs, risks, trade-offs and uncertainties associated with climate policies must be openly communicated.

Developing solutions of the scale required by the climate change challenge will be a complex endeavor. It is vitally important to understand and communicate transparently the economic and social costs of various policies and the projected environmental benefits, both in the near term and the long term, so we can agree on solutions that are equitable, balanced and effective.

Updated: May 2014