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GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND
TUESDAY, JULY 30, 1991
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m. in room 406, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Max Baucus (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Baucus, Lieberman, and Simpson.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. MAX BAUCUS, U.S. SENATOR
FROM THE STATE OF MONTANA Senator BAUCUS. Good morning.
The subject of today's hearing, global climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion, presents two of the greatest challenges that the earth and each of us will face. Thinning of the earth's protective ozone layer lets more ultraviolet radiation strike the surface. It has severe health consequences ranging from substantial increases in the number of skin cancers and cataracts to possible suppression of our immune system. This ultraviolet radiation can also damage crops and marine resources.
The implications of rapid global warming have the potential to disrupt and alter life as we know it today. It is not just about a dry spell or a hot summer or cold winter. The climate changes that are predicted by scientists are more rapid that anything that has occurred since man began to walk the face of the earth. Let me give you an example.
In my home State, particularly in eastern Montana-that part of the State is dotted with places where people tried to farm until the Dust Bowl of the 1930's wiped them out. During that drought, whole communities throughout the Great Plains literally dried up and blew away. It was a traumatic experience that marked a generation or more, yet, the Dust Bowl may be just an inkling of what is to come. The Dust Bowl was a short-term natural occurrence.
However, with the greenhouse effect, we are talking about permanent and perhaps even ongoing change. Furthermore, we are not talking about localized areas being affected, but worldwide change, not only in agricultural areas, but for coastal regions as well.
This Spring, we heard testimony on the scientific assessment of climate change prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Cli
mate Change. These international experts concluded that to stabilize global temperatures, world greenhouse gas emissions will have to be cut considerably below their present levels.
In a global response, many nations committed themselves to taking steps to reduce the threat of greenhouse warming. Under the auspices of the United Nations, negotiations have begun on an international climate change convention. The second negotiating session took place in June in Geneva.
Delegates have less than a year to complete a climate change convention in time for signing by heads of state at next June's U.N. Conference on Environmental Development.
Time is not on our side. The second negotiating session ended several weeks ago without agreement on how to limit the buildup of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide. The primary roadblock is the United States' unwillingness to commit to fixed targets and dates for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Virtually all other nations, particularly, industrialized nations, are willing to make this commitment.
The U.S. emits more carbon dioxide than any other industrialized nation and, now, we are also becoming the largest single obstacle to the drafting of an effective climate change convention. Global warming cannot be controlled without limiting emissions of carbon dioxide. CO2 currently accounts for over half of the predicted warming.
The United States alone contributes 23 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, yet, the current climate change policy of the United States will allow carbon dioxide emissions to rise 15 percent by the year 2000 and 25 percent by the year 2025. This is not the policy of a President who claims to be the Environmental President; nor should it be our national policy.
The Administration must change its policy to move the climate change convention process forward. The United States must join with other industrialized countries in limiting our excessive CO2 emissions.
The subcommittee will also be looking at the ongoing negotiations to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. Last year, 92 countries reached agreement in London on major amendments to the Montreal Protocol. These amendments significantly strengthen the Protocol, with a 50 percent cut in CFCs and a freeze of halons to a phase-out of both by the end of the century. They also phase out production of carbon tetrachloride and methachloroform, substances not included in the original Protocol.
Unfortunately, these controls still lag dangerously behind the environmental damage these substances cause. Under the London agreement, industry has 9 to 14 more years to continue producing these destructive compounds. Further, the London Amendments failed to address, except on a voluntary basis, the production and consumption of hydro-chloroflourocarbons, otherwise known as HCFCs.
The contractive parties to the Montreal Protocol met again last month in Nairobi to begin addressing these issues. Though amendments were proposed in Nairobi, seven countries—Sweden, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Denmark-submitted a declaration calling on the parties to tighten the phase-out timetable. I was distressed by the absence of the United States on this declaration.
Section 606 of the Clean Air Act requires that the EPA administrator accelerate the phase-out schedule of ozone-depleting chemicals if necessary to protect human health and environment. I will be asking EPA today to specify the United States' position on future amendments to the Protocol as well as their intentions to accelerate the phase-out schedule, including the HCFCs under the Clean Air Act.
Title VI of the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to promulgate regulations by September of this year on the phase-out of CFCs in this country. This phase-out schedule roughly parallels the phase-out schedule of the London Amendments.
I understand that EPA has completed work on these rules and that the package has been at OMB since June 13th. The statutory deadline for their promulgation is September 15th. Given the fine job that EPA has done to meet the September deadline and the importance of these regulations, I trust that EPA will also break loose the regulations from OMB and will not hold their regulation beyond that time.
I look forward to our witnesses today, but first let me turn to Senator Lieberman for any statement he may have.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, U.S.
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT Senator LIEBERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your leadership in holding this hearing on global warming and ozone depletion.
As you state correctly, today, as the result of the Administration's refusal to make any commitments to reduce or stabilize American emissions of carbon dioxide, we stand literally alone, isolated from our allies on the critical question of global warming. Austria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have all unilaterally adopted carbon dioxide stabilization or reduction goals.
Even our very close allies in Britain have been directly critical of us on this question. Mr. Michael Heseltine, the Environment Secretary for Britain, fired off a very strongly worded letter criticizing the Administration's intransigence on the question of international control of greenhouse gases. Prime Minister Major delivered a speech in which he clearly portrayed the United States as the 800pound gorilla of carbon dioxide emissions globally, responsible for one-quarter of the world's total, as compared-as he pointed outwith the European Community's 13 percent.
Mr. Chairman, on Friday I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Hans Alders, the Minister of Housing, Physical Planning and the Environment of The Netherlands, who serves also as chairman of the European Community Council of Environment Ministers at this time. I presume that he visited other members of the committee.