Greenpeace & ICF: Stimulus Will Fight Global Warming
A new Greenpeace-commissioned carbon footprint analysis of the economic recovery package projects that the bill’s energy efficiency and conservation provisions alone could cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 61 million metric tons annually, equivalent to the greenhouse gases from electricity use in 7.9 million American homes or taking over 13 million cars off the road. However, the transportation provisions of the bill, if spent on new highway construction instead of highway repair or public transit, could reduce the benefits by up to 5 million tons annually.
The analysis was conducted by ICF International, a leading climate and energy consulting firm for governments, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profits (http://www.icfi.com/).
"The fact that the federal government could spend so much money and actually help slow global warming means we've really turned the page as a country," said Kert Davies, Greenpeace's Research Director. "This is a real sign that we're starting to move beyond the era of fossil fuels."
Any effective economic stimulus must address global warming. Climate change will create a $271 billion drag on the U.S. economy by 2025 according to NRDC, and cost 5 - 20 percent of global GDP by 2100, according to the U.K. government's Stern Review.
The report projects how different provisions of the recovery package could affect US greenhouse gas emissions. Across the board, of the measures analyzed, energy efficiency offers the biggest potential for carbon reductions, as well as significant cost savings to consumers and local municipalities.
For example, the report found that $2.5 billion spent on energy efficiency upgrades to homes could reduce carbon emissions by 7.3 million metric tons and save $1.25 billion in annual utility costs. Similarly, a $6.9 billion investment to help state and local governments invest in energy effiiency could generate $3 billion in savings every single year and cut carbon emissions by over 20 million tons per year.
In contrast, if the $30 billion allotted for transportation were spent on new highways, which create sprawl and paradoxically attract more cars, it would cause 10-50 times the global warming pollution than a similar expenditure on light rail or repairing existing roads. Previous research found that investments in mass transit create 19 percent more jobs than new highway construction. (http://www.transact.org/library/decoder/jobs_decoder.pdf)
In order to maximize the recovery package's economic and environmental benefits, Greenpeace recommended the following measures:
1. Since the job-creation potential of clean energy is virtually limitless, Congress should increase funding for these projects still further. Investments in energy efficiency create 4.4 times the number of jobs as the same investment in nuclear energy and 2.6 times the number of jobs as coal. (/usa/Global/usa/binaries/2008/10/green-job-creation-table.pdf)
2. Make the renewable energy tax credits recession-proof. Today, some clean energy companies aren't earning enough profits to pay taxes and claim the credit. Congress should make the tax credit fully refundable.
3. Eliminate the wasteful and environmentally damaging loan guarantees for nuclear power and liquid coal, which generate far fewer economic and jobs benefits than clean energy.
The full report can be downloaded at
Greenpeace's analysis can be downloaded at
The report examined the Economic Stimulus Package proposal circulated to Congress on January 20, 2009. ICF was able to quantify the carbon footprint for roughly $24 billion out of the $52 billion in energy spending detailed in the original proposal. For the transportation spending, which was slated to be distributed by states, ICF analyzed four different scenarios: spending all the money on new highway construction, spending half on new highways and half on road repair, spending it all on repair, and spending on light rail mass transit.
The majority of the remaining spending was determined likely have a beneficial effect on global warming pollution that was not quantifiable with the details provided at the time. For instance, several provisions provide money for research that will likely have long-term global warming benefits, such as a "Smart Grid" that will improve the efficiency of electricity distribution.
Research Director Kert Davies and Global Warming Campaign Director Steven Biel are available to discuss the likely global warming and economic impacts of the variety of different versions of the economic recovery package.
VVPR info: Mike Crocker, Greenpeace USA Media Officer, 202-215-8989; Kert Davies, Greenpeace USA Research Director, 202-319-2455