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DOE programs are focussed on understanding the global carbon budget and evaluating potential impacts to ecological systems from climate change. The Biological and Environmental research account was decreased by 29% from the FY 95 funding levels.
The Committee made cuts in the Environmental Research program of 17% as compared to the FY 95 funding levels. This included a cut to the Ocean Margins Program of $7.2 M. Research in this program is directed toward understanding the uptake of carbon dioxide in particular regions of the ocean where the rates are thought to be greater than in the open ocean. This is a natural mechanism for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Committee also cut $5.3 M from the Ecosystem Functioning and Response program which is directed toward determining the adaptability of plants and ecosystems to increasing carbon dioxide levels and climate changes.
Specific program cuts in the Carbon Dioxide Research program decreased funding in this area by 35% as compared to the FY 95 funding levels. The program cuts include: 1) a reduction of $10.8 M in the Computer Hardware, Advanced Mathematics and Model Physics (CHAMMP) program. This program is intended to adapt existing climate models for transfer to a new generation of massively parallel computers. This will increase the computational capability of climate models and enable more simulations to be run. This program was also endorsed by Dr. Nierenberg in his testimony. 2) a $4.7 M reduction for global change capital equipment. 3) a $4.47 cut for the World Ocean Circulation Experiment which is a cooperative international project to measure carbon dioxide uptake in the ocean. The U.S. contributes a portion of the total funding through this program. 3) a $3.3 M cut to the Global Change Integrated Assessment program which is intended to provide an analysis of the impacts of global change on our economy. 4) a $1.5 M cut to the Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment program which is a cooperative project between USDA and DOE to determine whether forests
DOE - Alternative Energy and Energy Efficiency Research Programs
Cuts of 40% and 55% were made to programs for solar and renewable energy technologies and to the energy conservation research and development accounts. While these areas do not contribute to diminishing the uncertainty in global climate change estimates, they provide technologies that can assist us in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Other nations are investing heavily in these areas of R&D. They see large potential markets in the developing world (e.g. China and India). These countries will increase their fossil fuel consumption as their economies expand. By providing more energy efficient technologies to these nations, global carbon dioxide emissions in the future can be reduced over the amounts that are projected if they utilize existing energy technologies.
EPA is directed to terminate ORD's global climate change research program in H.R. 1814 (p. 13-14 of the Rpt.). EPA's program focusses on assessing the potential social and economic impacts of global climate change.
THREAT OF RISING CATASTROPHIC LOSSES
by Frank Nutter
President, Reinsurance Association of America
In recent years, natural disasters from climate relatedevents such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, severe winterstorms and floods have taken an increasing toll on the public, government and insurers. Much of the dramatic increase in losses can be attributed to population growth in high-risk areas, and to an increase in the value of vulnerable property. There also have been changes in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.
Insurers, policy-holders, and governments (both federal and state) have been greatly affected. For the US insurance industry, claim payments related to natural catastrophes (including events unrelated to the weather, such as earthquakes) rose dramatically between 1949 and 1993. They peaked in 1992 at nearly $23 billion, $15.5 billion of which resulted from Hurricane Andrew alone.
1995 is following the trend. During the first three quarters of 1995, total insured property damage from natural catastrophes in the US amounted to an estimated $5.7 billion. The fourth quarter opened with Hurricane Opal striking on October 4th and inflicting an estimated $2.1 billion in insured damages. Even without additional losses, this year's extraordinary hurricane season has helped make 1995 the third most expensive in the history of the US insurance industry.
Insurers and the victims of weather catastrophes are not theonly losers. All policy-holders pay for these losses through higher insurance premiums. Ultimately, taxpayers pay for the disaster assistance provided by government. From 1990 to 1994, there was a 64% increase in federally certified disasters, compared to 1985-89. During these last 5 years, disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency amounted to billions of dollars.
Climate variations or longer term changes may become dramatically more important. For instance, there now are indications that we may see a major upswing in hurricane activity in coming years. The chances of a major hurricane striking a US city would increase. Insured losses alone from a direct hit could range from over $25 billion in New Orleans to nearly $55 billion in Miami.
INSURANCE INDUSTRY RESPONSE
The insurance industry is responding with a range of initiatives. The Insurance Institute for Property Loss Reduction (IIPLR) was created last year to help reduce deaths and injuries and to limit property damage caused by natural hazards. The Institute promotes building codes improvements and enforcement; and supports superior building design,
Partly in response to meetings in early 1995 with VicePresident Gore, our industry will undertake a comprehensive review of the Administration's climate- and weather- related initiatives, and will evaluate their importance to insurers and policy-holders. The industry will assist the Administration as it investigates the implications of climate scenarios for the vulnerability of property to damage and loss. Insurers will explore synergies between the promotion of alternative energy sources and technologies, improvements in construction design and techniques, and other initiatives which slow global climate change and limit catastrophic losses from extreme weather.
CRITICAL NEED FOR RESEARCH FUNDING
Better building codes and improved understanding of risk exposure for insurers alone are not enough to meet the current threat to our country and our economy. A better understanding of weather patterns, natural climate variability, and fundamental shifts in climate -- along with greater understanding of the potential impacts on society -- are essential if we are to respond to threatening conditions in a cost-effective way. The research needed to build understanding in these areas constitutes the heart of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). This federally-funded effort ultimately can help encourage better contingency planning, save billions of dollars in property losses and most importantly, save lives.
A program the scope and breadth of the USGCRP requires federal resources. This widely acclaimed enterprise successfully embraces a broad range of scientific disciplines, manages a large technological infrastructure from earth-observing satellites to oceanographic vessels -- and is inherently international. The USGCRP widely disseminates information critical to both scientific endeavor and practical decision-making. Nevertheless, the USGCRP offers a tempting target to budget cutters.
It is critically important that the USGCRP continues to receive adequate federal funding. Excessive cuts could contribute to higher costs not just for disaster victims, insurers and policy-holders, but for the federal government itself. In short, continued research is a wise insurance policy.
APPENDIX II-RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
ROBERT S. WALKER, Pennsylvania, CHAIRMAN
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, J., Wisconsin
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
DANA ROHRABACHER, Conformis
STEVEN M. SCHIFF, New Mexico
JOE BARTON, Texas
KEN CALVERT, California
BILL BAKER, Canfornia
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
VERNON J. EHLERS. Michigan
DAVE WELDON, Florida
LINDSEY O. GAANAM. South Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texa
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
ANDREAH SEASTRAND, California
TOOD TIAMAT, Kansas
STEVE LARGENT, Oklahoma
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
DAVID D. CLEMENT
Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel
BARRY C. BERINGER
ROBERT E. PALMER
Democratic Staff Director
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SUITE 2320 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING
Internet: SCIENCE@HR HOUSE.GOV
October 19, 1995
The Honorable Warren M. Christopher
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
The Honorable Hazel R. O'Leary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585
The Honorable Dr. D. James Baker
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Secretaries Christopher and O'Leary and Dr. Baker:
GEORGE L. BROWN, J., Californie ROM
JAMES A TRAFICANT, JA, Ohi
JAMES A HAYES, Louisiana
JOHN S. TANNER Tennes
PETE GEREN, Tex
TIM ROEMER, Indians
ROBERT E BUC) CRAMER, Je, Aisbame
JAMES A BARCIA, Michigan
PAUL MCHALE. Penya
JANE HARMAN. Califor
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON TO
SHERA JACKSON LEE. Texas
I understand that the Second Assessment Report (SAR) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is scheduled to be approved in a plenary session in Rome in December.
I also understand that the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM) established by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met last August in Geneva. At that time, AGBM decided to consider at its third session in March 1996 aspects of the SAR that are relevant to its negotiation of various proposals for new commitments after the year 2000 for Annex I Parties to the Convention, which includes the United States (US). The AGBM will also consider any related conclusions or advice of the Convention's Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)