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INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC) THIRD ASSESSMENT REPORT

TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2001

U.S. SENATE, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION,

Washington, DC. The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m. in room SR253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. John McCain, Chairman of the Committee, presiding. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN MCCAIN, U.S. SENATOR

FROM ARIZONA The CHAIRMAN. Good morning. Last year, we held three hearings on the issue of climate change. Today we hope to continue the dialog on this very important matter confronting not only the nation but the world. In recent discussions surrounding the President's position on the Kyoto Protocol there were several questions concerning the availability of sound science in the decisionmaking process.

At this hearing, we hope to have an open and frank discussion on the recent third assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC efforts are recognized as one of the most comprehensive in this matter. It involves the work of hundreds of scientists from around the world.

The third assessment report is an up-to-date assessment of published and peer-reviewed policy relevant scientific, technical, and socioeconomic literature. The previous assessment report was issued 5 years ago. The latest report concludes that a firmer association between human activities and climate seems to have emerged. I look forward to discussing the basis for such a conclusion by the panel.

I am disappointed, but not surprised to hear that the most vulnerable to these changing conditions are those with the least resources. The report states the effects of climate change are expected to be the greatest in developing countries in terms of loss of life and effects on investment and the economy. Therefore, the developed countries like the United States must do its share in addressing this global problem.

Any agreement on the Kyoto Protocol will have real effects on our economy. It is interesting to note that the report indicates that about half of the emissions reductions targets may be achieved with a net economic benefit, according to the report. This sounds like the basis for action to me.

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While we appreciate the work of the hundreds of scientists involved in this effort, we recognize that a substantial amount of research remains before we can fully understand the complex and dynamic relationship between the atmosphere, the oceans, land, and mankind. I plan to review the U.S. research contributions to this global problem to ensure that our contributions are helpful and adequate.

I note that much of the assessment report is based upon computer models, and I must say that I am alarmed to hear about the recent National Research Council's report on the shortcomings of the U.S. climate modeling program. We hope that today's discussion will go a long way in aiding this Committee and the Congress in crafting future actions to address this issue. This is the fourth hearing we have held on this topic in the past year.

I plan to work with the other members of this Committee and the Senate, along with our witnesses today, to determine the appropriate next step in this complicated process of addressing the changing global climate. I welcome all of our witnesses here today. We would like to start with our two colleagues from the Senate, Senator Craig and Senator Hagel, and obviously we would appreciate your remarks and hope that they can be relatively brief. Senator Craig, welcome. STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY E. CRAIG, U.S. SENATOR

FROM IDAHO Senator CRAIG. Well, Mr. Chairman, certainly I thank you for convening this hearing today, and I think you and I both agree that the potential of climate change is a serious issue with high stakes. I do believe that premature government action to cut back energy use to levels lower than those in the growth-oriented nineties could cool the economy faster than it cools the climate.

On the other hand, you and I agree that ignoring the concerns expressed by some respected scientists about recent warming trends is equally irresponsible. During the last 4 years, Mr. Chairman, you have held hearings, I have held hearings, Senator Hagel, I, and a good many others have been involved in the fascinating issue.

I have traveled to Woods Hole to listen to the scientists. I have traveled to the Hague to see the international politics of this. I have attended numerous hearings. I have listened and read the testimony out of the hearings that you have assembled. Clearly, the scientific community has made impressive gains in its understanding of global climate change, but with increased understanding has come increased uncertainty about the relative roles of greenhouse gases, aerosols, land coverage changes, ocean currents, in the last century's temperature changes.

In my opinion, Mr. Chairman, moving ahead with strict government action based upon our current best guess of what we are thinking is not a wise action. This is especially true in light of the potential economic and national security implications that are likely as consequences of restricting our nation's energy use.

What is needed at this time, Mr. Chairman, is steady and thoughtful leadership, and I think your hearings demonstrate that national policy on this issue must evolve commensurately with the increasing confidence we achieve in our scientific understanding. Consensus on appropriate action should be the cornerstone of our national policy on this issue.

The National Academy of Science, upon the authority of a charter granted by the Congress in 1863, has a mandate that requires it to advise our government on scientific and technical matters. The creation of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which you have referenced, the IPCC, does not, indeed, should not, extinguish the mandate of the National Academy to advise our government on scientific and technical matters.

Let me be clear, Mr. Chairman, that I am not here today to impugn the work of the scientists associated with the IPCC's third assessment. Frankly, after conferring with many of the scientists who are credentialed in the disciplines of atmospheric and ocean science, I am quite confident that much of the underlying work contained in the assessment is relatively sound. However, these same scientists who I have conferred with caution that the conclusions contained in the assessment summary, much of which have been reported by the media, are by no means certain and, at the very least, in need of scrutiny.

The computer modeling that you referenced in your opening statement, Mr. Chairman, is a part of our concern. In my opinion, the President of the National Academy of Science should be tasked to review the IPCC Third Assessment conclusions, for the following reasons:

First, The National Academy, through its operating arm, the National Research Council, has been reviewing the science of climate change for most of two decades.

Second, many of the scientists involved in the NRC research on climate change have contributed scientific analysis to the IPCC's third assessment.

And, finally, the NRC has prepared recent reports themselves, a synthesis of many other studies, that are useful guides to the state of knowledge and the requirements for the scientific path forward.

Mr. Chairman, I have reviewed the recent scientific reports, as I know you have. The NRC's “Pathways" and "Climate Modeling" reports raise some profoundly important questions. Our best policy decisions could turn on answers to any of them. Now, the “Pathways” report stated that presently available observation and modeling information-again, you have expressed that concern on climate change-is useful, but cannot provide the knowledge needed to make informed decisions on the kinds of critical policies that we would direct.

The most recent National Research Council's report, “The Science of Regional and Global Change-Putting Knowledge to Work, which I and Senator Hagel and Senator Murkowski made available to all Senators in March, reaffirms the very findings and the very concerns I am expressing. Last week, I met with Charles Kennel, who co-authored that report and has chaired a NRC Committee on climate change, also heads up the Scripps Institution of Oceanography out at La Jolla. He expressed those concerns, and suggests some approaches to bringing about a better modeling system.

In addition, Mr. Chairman, the National Academy recognizes the legitimacy of our concern about the increasing use of science as an

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