The United States needs to act now on environmental issues, Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp ’75 said at a Pierson College Master’s Tea on Tuesday.

Krupp, who was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best leaders, said the government needs to cap carbon dioxide emissions and trade for carbon credits to take the lead on serious global warming and air pollution issues.

“We can put America back in the driver’s seat,” Krupp said. “All is not lost.”

While Krupp admitted that no government will be strong enough to fix global warming alone, anything and everything should be done to alleviate the issue.

“We have to pursue absolutely any avenue we can,” he said.

Krupp emphasized the importance of leveraging the United States’ global influence to negotiate between countries to reduce the emission of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. He said his focus on economic approaches to environmental issues began at Yale because he realized that the federal government would have to find solutions that would not affect people’s pocketbooks if the solution was to have “a prayer of having any public agreement.”

The cap-and-trade system for emissions reduction provides economic incentives to reduce pollutant emissions, Krupp said. He added that creating more jobs in the environmental field can boost the nation in more ways than one.

Krupp continued by encouraging students to become more involved in the cap-and-trade movement by contacting senators and other officials who are indecisive about the cap-and-trade resolution currently being debated in Congress.

When asked about the difficulty of passing a bill relating to cap-and-trade, Krupp said there was a need to build in trade safeguards, adding that the United States Constitution was not designed to make legislative change easy.

Although the bill has a 50 percent chance of being passed this year, Krupp mentioned that he has never seen such a high level of collaboration among environmental groups.

“When people are this engaged, it’s because they think something can really happen,” he said.

His emphasis on the severity of global warming struck audience member Tse Yang Lim ’11.

“Most people are aware that environmental problems exist, but many are not informed about them,” Lim said.

Lily Twining ’11 said Krupp was approachable and easy to talk to.

Krupp served on the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations under presidents Bill Clinton LAW ’73 and George W. Bush ’68.