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their 1990 levels but can consider all non-CFC greenhouse gases together under the so-called "comprehensive approach".
Viewed in isolation, therefore, the language of subparagraphs (a) and (b) of Paragraph 2 of Article 4 represents a victory for the Bush administration in avoiding à binding commitment to meet a target or timetable for reducing its CO2 or other greenhouse gas emissions. Viewed in the context of other provisions of the convention and the surrounding political dynamics, however, I believe the language does create a moral and political obligation on the United States to use its best efforts to achieve CO2 stabilization at 1990 levels in 2000.
With respect to other provisions of the convention, the convention establishes an objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthroprogenic interference with the climate system. Within this context, the convention stipulates that this level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”
If this objective is to be taken at all seriously, worldwide anthroprogenic greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced as much as 60 percent from current levels during the first half of the next century. China, India and other developing countries will have an increasing need for more energy services to support the growth in their economies. To have any hope of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations at safe levels, therefore, the United States and other developed countries will have to rapidly reduce their own emissions through the deployment of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies while simultaneously creating the conditions for the rapid spread of these technologies within poorer countries. In the context of the massive worldwide effort that will be required, U.S. CO2 Stabilization looks like an extremely modest first step.
Achieving stabilization of U.S. CO2 emissions at 1990 levels, moreover, is relatively easy. Throughout the convention there is a recognition that countries cannot be asked to sacrifice economic growth in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. If the United States really had to incur a significant economic penalty to stabilize its CO2 emissions at 1990 levels, there might be some justification for its refusal to accept a short-term target. Fortunately almost every serious study of the issue including the National Academy report Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming has concluded that reductions in U.S. CO2 emissions of up to 20 percent can be achieved with little or no reduction in economic growth.
Last year the Alliance joined the American Gas Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association in publishing a study entitled An Alternative Energy Future. This study showed how U.S. CO2 emissions could actually be reduced by almost 10 percent between 1990 and 2000 without any sacrifice of economic growth simply through more rapid deployment of existing technologies under then existing policies. The new broad-based energy tax and other elements of the Clinton administration's economic package should bring this goal much closer into reach.
Under these circumstances the United States has a moral duty to take the costeffective steps necessary to achieve CO2 stabilization at 1990 levels by 2000. Regardless of who was elected last November, it would have been difficult if not impossible for the United States to justify continued refusal to accept a stabilization target. Fortunately President Clinton and Vice President Gore recognized the need for such a target and committed themselves to it during the campaign. Thus the moral and political obligation implicit in the overall text of the convention has been made explicit by the new administration.
In addition to the political imperative for the United States to translate the nonbinding “aim” in subparagraph 2 (b) of Article 4 into a more binding commitment, there are a number of procedural provisions in the convention that point in the same direction. Under Article 12 of the convention, each party is required to submit to the other parties through the Secretariat in accordance with Article 4:
(a) a national inventory of its anthroprogenic emissions and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol; and
(b) a general description of the steps taken or envisaged by the party to implement the convention.
Article 12 further requires each developed country party to include in its national report under Article 4:
(a) a detailed description of the policies and measures that it has adopted to implement its commitment under subparagraphs 2 (a) and 2 (b) of Article 4; and
(b) a specific estimate of the effects that these policies and measures will have on its net emission levels.
Thus the convention institutes a process for preparing, sharing with other parties, and continually updating national action plans for reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally the convention provides for ongoing periodic reviews of the adequacy of the commitments contained in subparagraphs 2 (a) and (b) of Article 4. The first of these reviews will occur during the first session of the Conference of the Parties (likely to take place in 1994) and the second not later than the end of 1998. Thereafter such reviews are to take place at regular intervals determined by the Conference of the Parties, until the objective of the convention is met (underscoring added). These reviews will take into account new information about climate change science, impacts and policy responses and, although it is not explicitly stated in the convention, information about specific policies or measures contained in national reports or action plans. This process will have a “ratchet effect” whereby parties will be under growing pressure to upgrade their own policies and measures in light of actions being taken by others. As this process gains momentum, we will hopefully see rapid adoption of more ambitious emissions reduction targets similar to what has happened under the Montreal Protocol.
The Bush Administration took an important first step in meeting U.S. obligations under the convention by publishing a National Action Plan for Global Climate Change (the “National Action Plan”) last December. The National Action Plan has been severely criticized for failing to include additional policy measures beyond those the United States was already committed to for other reasons sufficient to achieve CO2 Stabilization. This criticism is valid as far as it goes, but should not cause us to overlook two positive aspects of the Plan.
First, in the comprehensiveness of its information about overall U.S. conditions, greenhouse gas sources and sinks, and policies affecting those sources and sinks, the report serves as a model for other countries' national reports or action plans required under Article 4 of the convention. Second, in showing how existing U.S. policies primarily instituted for nonclimate reasons will actually bring the United States to within 1 to 6 percent of stabilizing its CO2 emissions at 1990 levels in 2000, the National Action Plan provides strong justification for both the so-called “no regrets” approach to reducing the threat of climate change and the underlying theory of sustainable development itself.
Therefore the Clinton administration should use the National Action Plan as the foundation for an updated and expanded plan rather than discarding it and starting from square one. There are at least three key areas in which the Plan can be immediately updated and expanded:
The National Action Plan's assumption for U.S. economic growth during the 1990's is unrealistically high. By lowering the assumed growth rate from 3.5 percent to a more realistic 2.5-3.0 percent during the decade, base case primary energy demand and associated greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, thereby making CO2 stabilization more attainable.
The broad-based energy tax contained in the President's economic package announced on February 17 is estimated by the administration to reduce U.S. primary energy demand in 2000 by approximately 1.7 percent. This impact should also be factored into the revised plan.
The stimulus and investment components of the economic package also contain a number of energy and environmental initiatives, including funding for a number of provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The impact of these provisions should be realistically quantified and included in the updated action plan. In this respect it should be noted that the technology penetration rates associated with EPA's “green” programs in the existing National Action Plan have been criticized as being too optimistic. Whatever penetration rates are assumed in the new plan should have more detailed justification and back-up.
The transportation sector accounts for almost a third of U.S. energy consumption and an equivalent portion of U.S. CO2 emissions. Yet the transportation measures contained in the existing National Action Plan account for only 6.5 to 9.3 percent of the estimated emissions reductions from United States' actions. This portion will have to be substantially increased under the revised plan by reflecting increasing fuel efficiency, growing penetration of alternative fuels, and a reduced rate of growth in vehicle miles travelled.
The Clinton administration can and should publicly confirm its commitment to stabilize U.S. CO2 emissions at 1990 levels in 2000 and present a detailed program for achieving that goal in its revised climate change action plan. The administration should also encourage other OECD members to do likewise. But the most cost-effective opportunities for long-term emissions reductions clearly lie outside of the OECD in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, India and other large developing countries. To achieve the objective of the convention, the United States and other OECD countries will have to devote an increasing proportion of their available resources to reducing emissions in those countries.
The convention anticipates the creation of a mechanism for such joint implementation in the last sentence of subparagraph 2 (a) of Article 4, which states that the developed country parties “may implement such policies and measures jointly with other (p]arties and may assist other (p)arties in contributing to the achievement of the objective of the [c]onvention and, in particular, that of this subparagraph.” Once it has established its credibility by committing to a domestic CO2. Stabilization target, the United States can and should take the lead in negotiating a set of rules for such joint implementation and making it a reality.
One rule that should be included is a requirement that OECD or other countries contributing resources to joint implementation projects in non-OECD countries can only apply any emissions credits they receive from such contributions to reductions in their emissions below 1990 or other baseline levels. A possible method for formalizing this rule would be to create an entitlements scheme with each OECD country receiving a gradually declining number of emissions entitlements and the right to earn make-up entitlements within its ceiling through joint implementation projects elsewhere.
The immediate priority, however, is to provide the project development support, training, investment incentives and financing to get a critical number of projects underway in the former Soviet Union and key developing countries. Norway has already announced several joint implementation projects and other OECD countries appear ready to follow. President Clinton should use his meeting with Boris Yeltsin on April 3 to announce a set of joint implementation projects in Russia. An outstanding candidate that has already attracted World Bank, Global Environment Facility and bilateral assistance agency attention is to retrofit the Russian natural gas production and transportation system. This project could substantially reduce worldwide methane emissions, provide for the replacement of Chemobyl style RBMK reactors with combined cycle gas turbines, and generate foreign exchange to modernize the Russian economy. It could also create significant commercial opportunities for U.S. natural gas, equipment manufacturing and engineering companies.
The United States should also emulate Japan in creating a long-range vision for the deployment of new technologies that would allow both OECĎ and non-OECD countries to substantially eliminate energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. This vision would have to be carefully developed so as not to interfere with technological innovation and unforeseeable market developments. One way of structuring such a vision would be to establish indicative goals for the deployment of certain categories of technologies in various timeframes and to link those targets to specific joint RD&D initiatives by Government and the private sector. One benefit of such a vision would be to reduce some of the political sound and fury associated with fuel switching and other shorter term measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The technologies to be covered in the initial version of such a vision might include:
-solar, wind and other non-hydro renewables;
The vision should also include accelerated improvement in energy efficiency and nontechnological changes in land-use patterns and other social conditions. The vision should be periodically updated to reflect new developments.
A fourth area where the Clinton administration needs to take the initiative in implementing the convention is policy harmonization, particularly among OECD countries. As different countries begin to develop and implement detailed action plans under the convention, they will come up with different fiscal, regulatory and other measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These measures will increasingly impact world trade and economic activity. The recent debate over the European Commission's “green” tax proposal and its relationship to similar initiatives such as the President's BTU tax proposal in the United States and Japan is a foretaste of problems to come. To the extent that the OECD countries can create mechanisms for harmonizing their fiscal and regulatory regimes early on, we can avoid more serious problems down the road.
The climate change convention and the steps we have already taken to implement it have put us further down the road to an international strategy for addressing the climate change issue than many people think. What we need to do now is to address some of the practical implementation tasks discussed above. Until we have made more progress in carrying out those tasks, it would be a mistake to divert resources to the negotiation of follow-on agreements or protocols.
Mr. SHARP. Dr. Mintzer, we are happy to hear from you now.
STATEMENT OF IRVING M. MINTZER Mr. MINTZER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Dr. Irving Mintzer. I am a senior research scholar at the Center for Global Change at the University of Maryland, and I want to say that it is an honor and a privilege for me to have a chance to talk to you about the range and selection of policy options with respect to global warming.
I appreciate your willingness to accept my written statement. In my oral testimony today I would like to focus principally on three points: (1) I would like to place the policy options for responding to the risks of rapid climate change in a strategic context.; (2) I would like to outline what the range of possible strategy responses might be; and (3) I would like to identify a set of options that can support the complementary objectives of sustaining the prospects for economic development domestically while minimizing our national contribution to long-term irreversible risks of environmental damage globally.
In establishing that initial strategic context, I would like to start by giving you a few benchmarks for some of the quantitative data that you have heard so far from some of my friends and colleagues. As Dr. Albritton pointed out, the natural background greenhouse effect has over a number of millennia warmed the Earth's surface by about 59 degrees Fahrenheit, or 33 degrees Centigrade, from what it otherwise would have been absent natural background concentrations of carbon dioxide and water vapor.
The climate changes that we are talking about here today are relatively small by comparison. Yet they make a big difference to the kinds of weather and climate regimes that human societies and natural ecosystems must live in. If we see a doubling or its equivalent of the pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the next century, the international scientific community, as Dr. Albritton has summarized, suggest that we would see an increase of 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit in average global surface temperature.
In order to have a sense for what that means it is worth keeping in mind that the difference between today's climate and that of the Little Ice Age is only about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The Little Ice Age, I might remind you, is the period in which some of our friends in Scandinavia during a variety of cold snaps could walk from Brussels to Stockholm when the Baltic froze over. We are not likely to see that because we are talking about a warming rather than a cooling, but that is the magnitude of the change.
If we were to see a change on the order of, say, 4 degrees Fahrenheit, it would take us outside the range of what has been experienced in the period of written human history. That wouldn't mean human beings couldn't survive it. Of course they could. Many of us survive a 4 degree change from Tuesday to Wednesday in Washington. But a change in the average global surface temperature of 4 degrees Fahrenheit means a lot more. It means we have no historical or cultural record to go back to to say, what did people do last time? Which things eased the transition? Which things made the problem worse? And finally, if we see a warming on the order of 9 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century, it will take us out
side the range of what has been experienced in the last million years.
I offer you these benchmarks only to focus the attention not so much on the magnitude of the numbers, but on the rate of change. We are talking about a rate of change in average global climate and responding to the risks of rapid climate change that is potentially unprecedented in human history.
What we face, therefore, is a situation of decisionmaking under uncertainty. We don't know when these changes will take place. We don't know how the regional distribution effects of global warming will emerge. We don't know much about the timing. And despite using extremely sophisticated, very complex computer models that run on the largest numerical processing machines that our society has been able to develop, we can't identify where there may be non-linear changes, thresholds of response in this process whereby instead of going from a slow, gradual response, responding to a small global increase in the average concentrations, you may hit thresholds of response as we did in the problem that led to the emergence of an ozone hole over Antarctica. That was one of the surprises or discoveries of the class that Dr. Albritton was referring to as we try to learn more about the problem of climate change.
We are not likely to see an ozone hole resulting from climate change, but we may see some surprises in the way these complex coupled systems respond. But let's talk for a minute about what does this mean in terms of a policy response and investment decisionmaking.
What I would suggest to you is that we face a situation today in the United States a little bit like the position of many of our young families with small children. These families know that the adults or the children sometime over the next few years will fall ill. Yet they do not know what the diseases they will experience are or what the severity is likely to be or what the cost of the losses that results from those diseases are. They can choose a variety of options, as can we as a country. They can choose to wait and see, to continue their normal daily habits and hope that another Dr. Salk or another Dr. Sabin will emerge on the scene with the miracle cure for the disease they are not yet sure they will get, and that they will get the vaccine in time.
They can do what they have been doing. We can do what we have been doing. We can make no changes and continue business as usual, and that will probably work for a while. We can, as an alternative, adjust. We know that something is going to change. We can move. The family can change homes. It can move to another region. It can live in the sun instead of in the cool Northeast. We as a country can adjust what we do, arbitrarily or deliberately and systematically.
Finally, they face a choice of buying a little insurance, investing in increasing their resistance to changes that they can't anticipate but know they may occur, strengthening their ability to respond to those changes. In our case-in the case of the family that may mean things like changing their dietary habits, foregoing tobacco or excessive use of alcohol, excessive use of sugar, avoiding drugs, maybe even getting a little regular exercise, and trying to lay aside