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U.S. could reduce gas emissions by up to 29% by 2020, report says

Dec 8, 2009 - The Associated Press

COPENHAGEN - U.S. greenhouse gas emissions could be cut up to 29 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels if all gas-cutting measures contained in bills currently under deliberation at Congress are implemented, a private-sector think tank report says.

The World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank, put forth the analysis in the report released in late October, titled Emission Reductions Under Congress' Cap & Trade Proposals.

The 29 percent figure, which is equivalent to 17 percent reductions from 1990 levels, is much more ambitious than the 17 percent reduction target from 2005 levels the U.S. government unveiled last month.

The report suggests that the United States can be ready to set a larger target.

The bills currently under deliberation at Congress are the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act and the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

The bills, which call for launching the so-called cap and trade mechanism, are intended to impose an upper limit, or cap, on greenhouse gas emissions from business corporations or organizations and encourage them to trade their emissions quotas, or credits.

The emissions caps in these bills achieve reductions of 17 and 14 percent respectively relative to 2005 levels in 2020, the report says, adding that by 2050, both the bills achieve reductions of 72 percent relative to 2005 levels.

Estimates of total U.S. emissions in 2012 under the emissions caps in both the bills "are approximately 300 million tons higher than recent short-term projections of U.S. emissions for 2010 published by the Energy Information Administration."

While the bills contain similar complementary measures in addition to emissions caps, "they are sometimes applied in different ways and in turn result in somewhat different relative emission reductions," it says.

Specifically, the report says, "When all complementary requirements are considered in addition to the caps, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced 29 and 28 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2020 and 73 and 75 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2050" for the two bills respectively.

When additional potential emission reductions are considered, the bills could achieve up to 34 and 33 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2020 and up to 78 and 81 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2050 respectively, the report says.

"The actual amount of reductions will depend on the quantity and quality of international offsets used for compliance and the effectiveness of supplemental reduction programs that do not explicitly contain greenhouse gas reduction requirements," it says.