Testimony of Eileen Claussen on Competitiveness and Climate Policy Before the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee

Source Organization: Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Speaker: Eileen Claussen

President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Venue: House Energy and Environment Subcommittee


03/18/2009 - Mr. Chairman, Mr. Upton, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the topic of competitiveness and climate policy, and avoiding leakage of jobs and greenhouse gas emissions. My name is Eileen Claussen, and I am the President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing practical and effective solutions and policies to address global climate change. Our work is informed by our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), a group of 44 major companies, most in the Fortune 500, that work with the Center to educate opinion leaders on climate change risks, challenges, and solutions. The Pew Center is also a founding member of the U. S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of 25 leading businesses and five environmental organizations that have come together to call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Addressing global climate change presents policy challenges at both the domestic and the international levels, and the issue of competitiveness underscores the very close nexus between the two. The immediate task before this subcommittee, and before the Congress, is developing and enacting a comprehensive domestic program to limit and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Moving forward with a mandatory program to reduce U.S. emissions in advance of a comprehensive international agreement presents both risks and opportunities. On the one hand, domestic GHG limits may lead to a shift of some energy-intensive production to countries without climate constraints, resulting in “emissions leakage” and posing competitiveness concerns for some domestic industries. On the other hand, a mandatory domestic program in the United States is an essential step towards the development of an effective global climate agreement.

In the long term, a strong multilateral framework ensuring that all major economies contribute their fair share to the global climate effort is, I believe, the most effective means of addressing competitiveness concerns. Achieving such an agreement must be a fundamental objective of U.S. climate policy. In designing a domestic climate program, the question before Congress is what to do in the interim – until an effective global agreement is in place. In considering this question, it is important to distinguish two distinct but closely related policy challenges: how best to encourage strong climate action by other countries, and in particular, by the major emerging economies; and how best to minimize potential competitiveness impacts on U.S. industry. I believe that each of these two objectives is most effectively addressed through a different set of policy responses, and it is important to ensure that our efforts to address one do not undermine the other.

I will focus today primarily on the second of these challenges: designing transitional policies to minimize potential competitiveness impacts on U.S. industry.Our analysis of the underlying issues leads us to conclude that the potential competitiveness impacts of domestic climate policy are modest and are manageable.

Read the complete Congressional Testimony of Eileen Claussen on Competitiveness and Climate Policy.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions site.

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