Britain has become the first country in the world to put into law restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions to counteract global warming.
The plan calls for a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2050 and aims to achieve that result by instituting an economy-wide carbon trading program so that market forces govern the reduction in emissions.
A similar cap-and-trade program, which President Bush has opposed, is on the agenda of the U.S. Congress, as well as every major Democratic presidential nominee, as well as Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. (To compare all the candidates' energy and environmental policies, see Green Your Vote 2008.)
McCain, in 2003, backed the same goal to be enacted by the U.K. a 60% reduction by 2050. The Democratic presidential candidates have called for 80% reductions in that time, as does the most aggressive bill in Congress. The bipartisan Lieberman-Warner bill calls for 70% reductions.
Al Gore has suggested that industrialized nations need to go even further, reducing emissions 90% in order for the world as a whole to achieve the reductions necessary to stave off the worst catastrophic consequences of global warming.
Already, the United Nations has warned that many consequences are inevitable, given the buildup and longevity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These government initiatives, however, have the potential to reduce the long-term threat, and at the same time transform the economies of the world, which will inevitably both destroy some jobs now familiar and create legions of new jobs.
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