Addressing Climate Issues
Various public and private organizations at the national, regional, state and local levels are addressing climate change.
The national climate change policy, as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has three main goals:
- Slow the growth of emissions.
- Strengthen science, technology, and institutions.
- Enhance International Cooperation.
In 2002, the United States pledged to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the American economy by 18 percent over the 10 year period from 2002 to 2012. Voluntary, public-private programs focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy, methane and other non carbon dioxide gases, agricultural practices and implementation of technologies to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.
Carbon dioxide emissions are not currently restricted by the federal government. However the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA failed to use its authority to regulate carbon in automobile exhaust as a pollutant. In the absence of federal laws on the subject of greenhouse gas emissions, states are forming individual and regional tracking and reductions programs.
A Western Regional Climate Action Initiative includes Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. States will identify, evaluate, and implement ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative requires an overall regional goal to reduce emissions. A market-based, multi-sector mechanism must be developed to achieve that reduction. Members also will participate in a greenhouse gas registry. Montana currently has observer status with the organization. The Montana Climate Change Advisory Council (MCCAC) has recommended that Montana join the initiative and in November 2007, Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced the intention to join.
Thirty-one states, including Montana, are part of the Climate Registry, a national initiative to track greenhouse gas emissions. The registry, a nonprofit organization, will be used to track, measure, verify, and publicly report greenhouse gases. The registry will accept data starting in January 2008.
Addressing Climate Change in Montana
Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2005 asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to form a Climate Change Advisory Committee to thoroughly study the impact of climate change in Montana.
The Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee (MCCAC) had 18 members representing industry, environmental concerns, local and tribal governments, transportation, and agriculture. The DEQ contracted with the Center for Climate Strategies to develop a comprehensive inventory and forecast of greenhouse gas emissions in Montana from 1990 to 2020 as well as to develop policy options for reducing greenhouse emissions.
The Environmental Quality Council (EQC) is an interim committee of the Montana Legislature. The EQC has polled public support for the recommendations. However, broad-based legislation addressing climate change has not emerged. The Montana Legislature meets biannually with the next session scheduled to begin in January 2013.