Scientists said Wednesday that the U.S. has to lead the global fight on climate change by breaking with business-as-usual and setting tough standards for the amount of greenhouse gases it emits into the atmosphere
The National Research Council scientists said the U.S. should set a budget that would limit greenhouse gas emissions to a total of between 170 and 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent between 2012 and 2050.
The report said that limit would correspond to a reduction of U.S. emissions from 1990 levels by 80 to 50 percent, and would require a "major departure from business-as-usual emission trends."
U.S. emissions have been rising at a rate of one percent each year for the past three decades. In 2008, the emission levels reached about seven gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Even if emissions stuck around the 2008 rate and the higher budget target of 200 gigatons were chosen, the U.S. would exceed its emissions budget by 2041.
The NRC report asked the U.S. to lead the way in the fight against climate change so that other nations would follow.
"Although limiting emissions must be a global effort to be effective, strong US actions to reduce emissions will help encourage other countries to do the same," they said.
The report said the cap-and-trade system was one of the most effective ways of reducing emissions.
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