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would include estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from these countries and the identification of possible measures to mitigate emissions or to adapt to climate change, as well as, in some countries, an assessment of the relative costs and benefits of those possible options. These studies could be used as a basis for national action plans.
We view the development of this convention as one that should be based on a process. The issues are very complex, as I mentioned. It is unlikely we will get broad consensus on specific actions to be taken across the board among all countries, so we need to begin from where we are today, allowing each country to come into the process from its own perspective, taking those measures that make sense within its national context, encouraging all countries to do as much as they can.
There are more details on this in my written statement. I think that rather than go into further details, I will turn now to the other witnesses and come back to some of these later. You have asked some questions in your letter; in my written statement we give some answers to those questions that appear to be particularly relevant to the State Department.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Reinstein follows. The report entitled "Technology Cooperation Related to Climate Change: A Selected Inventory' has been retained in subcommittee files.)
ROBERT A. REINSTEIN
March 3, 1992
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee,
Thank you for the opportunity to review with you the status of negotiations on a framework convention on climate change, and to provide you with an update on Administration positions within these negotiations. The United States has been an active participant in the climate change negotiations since the first session, which we hosted just over a year ago in Chantilly, Virginia. We continue to support the negotiations with the hope that a convention can be adopted in time for it to be opened for signature during the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, which will take place in Brazil this coming June.
Last Friday we concluded the fifth negotiating session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which was held in New York City at United Nations Headquarters. The session was a positive one. Delegates were generally pleased with the constructive and serious manner in which countries
worked together to move the process forward.
Starting with a largely unmanageable working text, we
managed to streamline this document into a revised text that
more clearly reflects the different positions of countries on key issues such as the objective, commitments, financial resources, technology cooperation and transfer, scientific cooperation and institutional arrangements.
Significant differences remain to be worked out. OECD countries still need to forge a common position on the commitments they will take with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All OECD countries agree that we have a responsibility to take measures to mitigate climate change. At issue here is whether, in the process, we should address all greenhouse gases or just CO2, whether implementation should be carried out by countries acting individually or in cooperation with others, and whether there should be rigid targets and timetables or flexible goals.
Strong differences also remain between the OECD and the G-77 on finances and technology. Developing countries have called for "compensation" from industrialized countries and a new and separate fund to meet "the full incremental costs" associated with implementing the convention. OECD countries
generally support the revised Global Environment Facility (GEF)
of the World Bank to serve as the financial mechanism for the convention to assist Parties in meeting agreed incremental
costs associated with implementing the Convention.
On Technology, developing countries continue to insist on
preferential, non-commercial access to technology transfer,
while industrialized countries support a cooperative approach
in which governments would facilitate the commercial process by
which most transfer of technology takes place. This latter
approach would address needs for "soft" as well as "hard
technology." It would also recognize the importance of and provide for fair and adequate protection of intellectual
It is clear we have a great deal of work ahead of us if we
are to reach agreement and adopt a convention at our final
negotiating session, which will take place in New York City from April 30-May 8. We intend to work hard toward this goal.
Toward that end, you are no doubt aware that during the final days of the fifth session of the INC, the United States announced its commitment to take action and provide money as an indication of what we are prepared to do today -- not two or three years from now when the convention enters into force -to respond to global climate change. In our view, actions speak louder than words. For your information, I have attached a copy of my remarks, including the list of actions we have committed to in order to update our first climate action plan, which was published a little over a year ago.
Underlining its commitment to action, the United States provided this list in keeping with the promise we made in Geneva last December. We noted that our national energy strategy and the recent transportation law, combined with other initiatives, commit us to action in areas such as: energy efficiency, transportation, the use of lower emitting supply technologies, agriculture and natural resources, and technology research and development.
As we have stated many times, we do not think scientific uncertainty related to climate change is a reason for inaction. We need to take steps now that make sense for a variety of reasons, including responding to climate change. We think the actions we outlined in New York, plus others we expect to add to the list, make sense. We also believe that
their effects on the greenhouse gas emissions in the United
States will compare favorably with the effects of actions taken by other developed countries. In connection with these efforts, we have noted that many private sector interests and state and local governments are also contributing to help ensure we have the most comprehensive and effective approach possible as we confront this global problem.
We intend to provide a more exhaustive list of actions,
along with preliminary estimates of what these new actions may