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Greenhouse Gases

In an effort to address the effect of greenhouse gases on global climate change, nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states are developing a regional strategy to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

There is broad consensus among climate scientists that human activities have contributed to the observed increase in global surface temperatures. In the Northeast, average annual temperature has risen 1.4o F in the last 30 years alone. While uncertainties exist in predicting the global response to climate change, our region has already experienced reduced snowfall, earlier ice-out dates on New England lakes, and fewer days with snowcover as a result of this warming.

The recent warming trend is attributed to an increase in heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), that are generated during combustion of fossil fuels. A continued increase in greenhouse gases poses major environmental, public health, and economic risks. Lacking a national plan to address this issue, nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states are developing a regional strategy to reduce emissions of CO2 from power plants, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

RGGI is designed to achieve reductions in CO2 emissions from power plants in its member states (CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT) in a cost-effective manner. Under this cap and trade system, an overall regional CO2 emission limit will be established and divided among power plants into "right to emit" permits, which possess financial value. The plants may then purchase and sell permits, establishing a market-based strategy for reducing overall emissions. The proposed goal of RGGI is to stabilize current regional CO2 emission levels by year 2015, and achieve a 10% reduction of those levels by 2020. Combined, RGGI states emitted more CO2 than all but five industrialized countries in 2000; therefore, such a regional initiative has the potential to considerably reduce the global atmospheric concentration of heat-trapping gases.

AMC is encouraging its members to contact their governors to urge the strengthening and finalizing of the RGGI draft rule. AMC members may also adopt personal measures to reduce CO2, such as:

Personal energy use. Reduce gasoline consumption by carpooling, using mass transit, walking, or biking. Reduce the amount of electricity used at home, and ask a local utility company to perform an energy audit of your home.
Energy-efficient purchases. When in the market for a vehicle, consider gas mileage efficiency. If purchasing a new appliance, look for models that are energy-efficient.
Take action! Promote carpooling and bike lanes in your community. Write to senators and congressional representatives to support actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Contact governors, state legislators and public utility regulators to promote energy efficiency measures.
Stay informed. You can join AMC's Conservation Action Network for monthly updates on RGGI and other important conservation issues.

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