Big investors Monday called for the U.S. government to pass rules slashing emissions of global warming gases by up to 90 percent, joining a corporate chorus seeking to put money into clean energy.
NEW YORK -- Big investors Monday called for the U.S. government to pass rules slashing emissions of global warming gases by up to 90 percent, joining a corporate chorus seeking to put money into clean energy.
Dozens of investors, who together manage nearly $4 trillion in assets, called on Congress and the Bush administration to pass rules aimed at cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases 60 to 90 percent under 1990 levels by 2050.
Wall Street investment house Merrill Lynch and Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, were among those saying such rules could ensure development of technology to cut emissions from tailpipes, smokestacks, coal mines, and farms.
"We think this is a business in which we can do both well and good," Mark Goldfus, special counsel for Merrill told reporters on a call from Washington about the push.
"To tap American ingenuity and drive business to a leadership position in the low-carbon future, we need regulations to enable the markets to deploy capital and spur innovation," Fred Buenrostro, chief executive officer at Calpers, said in a statement.
Joining the investors were chemical, energy, and insurance companies including DuPont Co., PG&E Corp., Allianz and BP America, a division of British oil major BP Plc.
The group said such deep cuts in emissions could avoid worst-case scenarios of climate change. That agreed with a draft of a U.N. report to be released on April 6 that said steep cuts could head off water shortages for billions of people and crop yield declines that could mean hunger for millions.
President Bush opposes mandatory caps on heat-trapping gases. He pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming in 2001.
But top 2008 presidential contenders from both parties favor mandatory cuts. Efforts to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases also have moved up Congress' list of priorities since Democrats regained control last November.
CAP AND TRADE
National mandatory market-based solutions, such as a cap-and-trade system, should be introduced to cut emissions "wherever possible," said the group, organized by Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmentalists based in Boston.
Cap-and-trade markets, initiated by the United States on pollutants that cause acid rain, set a mandatory baseline in which companies that cut emissions below the target can sell credits to ones that do not. Companies also earn credits by investing in far-away clean energy projects, or "offsets."
U.S. Rep Edward Markey, chair of the U.S. House committee on global warming, said in a statement Monday the United States, as the world's biggest emitter, "must lead the way," with a cap and trade system, to stabilize global emissions.
The European Union set up such a market in 2005 to meet its members' obligations under the Kyoto pact.
The group called for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to clarify which companies should disclose risks of climate change to investors in regular reports. It urged Congress to pass energy and transport policies that would allow research, development and deployment of clean technologies.
A large low-carbon investment could be capturing and burying carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from coal-burning power plants. Development of that technology for commercial use would allow the United States to keep relying on its vast domestic sources of coal.