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far stalled, the type of progress that was witnessed at other international environmental negotiations.
THE FIRST INC SESSION
The first negotiations of the INC moved at a glacial pace-despite the agreement among most participants that the first steps to control climate change should come from the industrialized countries, and despite the agreement among virtually every other industrialized country present that CO2 stabilization was for them an achievable and justified policy.
Having agreed to host the opening INC negotiations at Chantilly, the U.S. govern. ment offered its own proposal for a climate policy. Delegates at Chantilly received copies of a glossy pamphlet entitled “America's Climate Change Strategy-An Action Agenda". The document catalogued many pre-existing U.S. programs almost as though they were new initiatives related to climate. It also advocated a "comprehensive approach” policy-a process whereby greenhouse gases are indexed according to warming potential relative to CO2, and countries are free to reduce those gases easiest or cheapest for them to control. From the time the comprehensive approach was first introduced, a year before Chantilly, those of us in the environmental community viewed it with considerable suspicion. Of course, we want to deal with the climate problem comprehensively—but we also want to begin dealing with it now, without unnecessary delay. Our main concern was that the premise of treating all gases equally could be used as a political device to deflect attention away from CO2-the one greenhouse gas for which we have enough data to act now. By combining data on trends of differing gases, this approach could be used to mask a continuing rise in CO2 emissions. Another concern was that countries would seek “double credit” for reductions of CFCs for which we are already taking credit under the Montreal Protocol.
The U.S. “action agenda" bore out both these concerns to the letter. Stripped of credit for the CFC reductions, the U.S. actually projected a 15% increase in CO2 emissions by the year 2000. This increase stood in stark contrast to the CO2 stabilization pledges of our peers, virtually all of whom already produced less than half the per capita CO2 emissions of the United States. The policies of several other countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark, which went beyond stabilization to true reductions, made for an even more unflattering comparison.
UK BREAKS RANKS WITH U.S.
One of the most illuminating incidents reflecting U.S. isolation on climate took place intercessionally to the INC, following distribution in May of a document prepared by the United Kingdom describing a "phased comprehensive approach”. In contrast to the U.S. proposal, the UK document sought to keep the spotlight initially on CO2 reductions (along with methane from energy and waste sectors) and suggested that CFC reductions separately agreed to under the Montreal Protocol ought not receive credit under a future climate agreement.
The British policy was much more in line with views of environmentalists, signalling a split with the U.S. on climate, and a move toward the more forward-looking policies of the European Community (EC). Not surprisingly, the UK document was not embraced by the administration. In early June, British Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine travelled to Washington to discuss climate policy generally and the UK document in particular, in meetings with top U.S. officials-reportedly including, White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, White House Counsel Boyden Gray, and OMB Director Richard Darman.
What had been intended as a British effort to build a bridge from Europe to the U.S. was thoroughly rebuffed. Mr. Heseltine reportedly was told that the U.S. would not consider targets and timetables for CO2 emissions within the next 11 months, period. Articles in the London Times and the Washington Post subsequently reported that Mr. Heseltine's authority to speak for British policy had been called into question at the White House. Mr. Heseltine's message was confirmed, however, by Prime Minister Major in a speech in London three weeks ago that singled out the level of U.S. CO2 emissions at 23% of the worldwide level, by far the highest of any country, and called for leadership by President Bush.
The isolation of the U.S. on this issue was emphasized at the subsequent G-7 summit meeting in London earlier this month. Press briefings and the resulting reports of the summit identified the U.S.'s refusal to commit itself to CO2 reductions as blocking G-7 action on climate change and threatening the formulation of an effective climate change convention.
THE MOST RECENT INC SESSION
At the INC session last month at Geneva, U.S. refusal to move on CO2 led to conciliatory proposals that threaten to undermine the consensus among industrialized countries and may considerably weaken the convention itself. Chief among those was the proposal for an open-ended process, termed “Pledge and Review". In this arrangement, convention signatories would make pledges to control greenhouse gases and a body of the parties to the convention would periodically review their progress in meeting those pledges. It appears that many delegates viewed Pledge and Review as a substitute for any binding commitments on CO2 or any other gas. The Pledges were to be unilateral (not negotiated) and possibly unenforceable. Further, there might be no minimum requirements for action, either in terms of what greenhouse gases would be included or what levels of reduction should be achieved (e.g. slowed rate of increase, stabilization, or actual reductions). The Pledges, moreover, would not be due until after ratification of the Convention and entry-intoforce-possibly years from now and certainly after the UNCED next June.
In summary, we now have an advanced international process on climate change, soon to enter its fourth year of intergovernmental consultation (since the beginning of the IPCC). It is stalled on what must be considered the most fundamental objective of its near-term mission: agreement among industrialized countries to curb their disproportionate contribution to the global build-up of greenhouse gases, chief among them carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion. And it is stalled principally because of the opposition of the U.S. in the face of overwhelming consensus among the rest of the industrialized countries.
There is de facto agreement to curb CO2 among virtually every industrialized country sitting at the Geneva talks—but one. Were this single abstaining party any country but the United States, there is little doubt but that the process of agreement would move swiftly to its proper conclusion at Brazil next year. Because that country is the United States, however, the future of the entire process is now clearly at risk.
US abstinence from an agreement to curb CO2 would, by itself, do great injury to the effectiveness of a climate agreement. Issues of statesmanship and international cooperation aside, U.S. refusal to participate would be damaging because the U.S. alone accounts for almost one-quarter of the total CO2 emissions worldwide, and over one-third of the emissions of the industrialized countries.
Unfortunately, the impact of current U.S. policy reaches far beyond simple refusal to control its own disproportionate contribution to global CO2 emissions. Throughout the first two years of the IPCC process, and now again in the INC, the U.S. has sought to slow the pace of progress, to avoid the very subject of legal obligations, and to weaken the text of documents prepared by the working groups.
It has appeared that the Europeans-particularly the EC countries-were, nonetheless, determined to forge ahead with an agreement. Their political commitments to stabilize CO2 made last October signalled a resolve to force action on CO2 in the INC. Today, however, that collective resolve is showing its first signs of wear, and there is now a danger that U.S. efforts to isolate the EC may be having their intended effect.
Discussions with West European delegates to the INC last month confirm the impact of U.S. diplomacy. EC representatives are candid in saying that their governments may not withstand the political and diplomatic battering expected over the next 10 months, and that the U.S. government may be effective in driving wedges among the members of the OECD CO2 Club. Reportedly, countries perceived as weaker in their commitments have been singled out for intensive lobbying by the U.S..
The emergence last month of Pledge and Review—which could be misused to effectively remove binding obligations from the convention-is evidence of a dangerous trend toward accommodation with the U.S.. Unfortunately, the introduction of Pledge and Review has ramifications far beyond its intended beneficiary. It may significantly weaken the convention text itself.
An irony in this is that the need to act in concert has for years been held out as an excuse for delaying unilateral action. U.S. representatives have been quick to remind us that action by less than all parties present invites “free riders”-countries that share in the benefit of a global agreement but fail to do their fair part. Now that we have within our reach CO2 agreement among the industrialized countries, it is unsettling that the United States is positioned to become the free rider, should our peers find the political courage to move ahead without us.
THE NEED FOR SENATE ACTION
Mr. Chairman and Senators, we at WWF encourage you to do all that you can to urge the administration that the U.S. should take its rightful place of responsible leadership in these negotiations. Consider:
The U.S. emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year than any other country in the world—23% of the world's total, with only 5% of the world's population.
U.S. industries and citizens are responsible for higher levels of per capita CO2 emissions than any other major country in the world. We emit 5 tons per capita per year; Germany, Japan, the U.K., and France all emit fewer than 3 tons. And developing countries aren't even close-China emits 0.6 tons, less than one-eighth the U.S. level; India emits 0.4 tons, and countries such as Bangladesh emit 0.1 ton, one fiftieth of the U.S. level.
The National Academy of Sciences issued its report on climate change this Spring, concluding:
greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now.” (p. 72)
the United States could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 10 and 40 percent of the 1990 level at very low cost.” (p. 63)
substantial mitigation can be accomplished at modest cost. In other words, insurance is cheap.” (p. 67)
The voice of the U.S. Senate has been effective in the past, in the form of resolutions and other actions, even when it was not timely to enact full environmental statutes. We urge you in the Senate to participate in these negotiations. Send members and/or key staff to the INC sessions. And as you follow the progress of the INC negotiations, make your voice heard on key issues in the debate, both here and abroad.
We recommend that you express, in clear and unmistakable terms, the sense of the Congress that the U.S. should assume its rightful position of leadership in combating climate change.
SUMMARY STATEMENT OF THE GLOBAL CLIMATE COALITION The Global Climate Coalition advocates the following principles as a reasoned approach to general climate change. First, the issues relating to global climate change are serious ones that must be addressed comprehensively and equitably by all nations. Second, science must serve as the foundation for overall global climate policy decisions and enhanced scientific research must be the first priority. Third, even if all of the scientific uncertainties were resolved, sound policy decisions must consider the economic and social impacts of alternative policy choices. Fourth, the United States can make important contributions to improving the global environment and conditions for development by encouraging technology transfer to developing nations, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Fifth, the Coalition has encouraged members of the business community and trade associations to voluntarily commit to “Guiding Principles for Business" that are consistent with good business practices and are technically feasible and economically practicable.
A bedrock principle for addressing global climate change issues is that sciencenot emotional or political reactions—must serve as the foundation for global climate policy decisions. Policy decisions, made without benefit of adequate scientific understanding of the complex global change phenomenon, could have far-reaching and unnecessary social and economic impacts, including altered energy use and employment patterns, and perhaps fundamental lifestyle changes. Indeed, strategies that provoke serious economic, social, environmental, or political dislocations could affect worldwide development as profoundly as any potential adverse climate change.
Existing scientific evidence does not support actions aimed solely at reducing or stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition does support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or to increase greenhouse gas sinks that are justified for other economic or environmental reasons.
Global climate change must be addressed comprehensively and suitably by all nations. The United States must not pursue a course of unilateral punitive measures to stabilize or reduce emissions; to do so would impose severe and unsuitable burdens on our economy, our citizens and our competitiveness. Drastic reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would not yield significant reductions it, global emissions. Any U.S. action must be part of an suitable multilateral agreement that minimizes trade and domestic economic distortions.
The active cooperation of developing countries is essential for any effective global response to global climate change. Developing nations already account for a significant portion of total emissions, and their contributions are expected to account for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
Sound policy decisions must consider tile economic and social impacts of alternative policy choices. First, further research on global economic development is essential to help predict the potential growth of emissions and our technological ability to control those emissions. Second, economic analysis is essential to determine the likely costs of various actions, and the benefits that those policies would yield. Third, the economic impact of any particular strategy may vary significantly among different regions. Thus, regional impacts must be examined to ensure that burdens are suitably shared.
The United States can make important contributions to improving the global environment and conditions for development by encouraging technology transfer to developing nations, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. To provide for the transfer of that and other related energy technology, improvements are necessary (1) in the transfer of U.S. technology to the rest of the world, (2) in policies that encourage a stable foreign investment climate, and (3) in the transfer of technology from the public sector to the private sector within the U.S.