« PreviousContinue »
TUESDAY, MARCH 3, 1992
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room 2123, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Philip R. Sharp (chairman) presiding.
Mr. SHARP. The subcommittee will please come to order.
Today, we are going to focus on the status of the United Nations negotiations on climate change, or global warming, as many call it. We want to look at what the role of the U.S. Government is in these negotiations and hear assessments of the U.S. position in the negotiations, particularly with respect to environmental policy, energy policy, and our international competitive position. This is clearly a long-term problem that we are struggling with, but it requires near-term action because of the long lead times necessary to make any significant changes.
While our focus today is on the U.S. role in international negotiations, it is important to note that there are many actions that we have been taking here in Congress. I simply wanted to indicate that we have the energy bill up next week in the Commerce Committee, and in the process of our subcommittee considering the issues that are within our jurisdiction, we spent a lot of time and effort trying to assess impacts on greenhouse gases and trying to change the path we are now on. I think it is very clear that what we have done in this legislation is clearly an improvement relative to where we would be without the legislation. Indeed, I want to place in the record a chart that outlines the various percentage reductions that we think we will get relative to what otherwise would occur especially in terms of CO2.
[The chart follows:]
Benefits Of H.R. 776, as Reported by Energy and Power Subcommittee
Oil Imports Total Energy U.S Energy-related
Avoided Conserved CO2 Emissions Prevented (Barrels/day) (BOE/day) (Mil. of tons/yr.) (% of total)
1.8% 0.3% 0.2% 1.3% 0.3%* 0.6%t 0.1%
3.6% 0.2% 1.8% 1.6% 6.9%* 0.5%+ 0.0%
methane (not CO2) emissions are prevented. Methane emissions expressed in CO2 equivalents.
1,236,000 894,000 3.249 000 2,032.000
* All CO2 Savings occur abroad.
Mr. SHARP. Indeed, within our legislation we seek to promote in the coal section far greater efficiency in the burning of coal, both here at home and abroad with a technology transfer program. We seek to promote the capture and the utilization of coalbed methane, which often gets vented into the atmosphere and is clearly a greenhouse gas. We seek to achieve in perhaps the most important section—a significant improvement in energy efficiency on many fronts from various products to buildings to the Federal establishments. Indeed, this efficiency section had strong bipartisan support and was a substantial improvement on the position of the administration in the NES, and indeed the Senate has now improved their bill to be very similar to ours on the energy efficiency title.
In addition, we seek to promote greater use of natural gas, which is a lower CO2 emitter than other fossil fuels; we try to promote and accelerate the technologies that are clean burning, such as solar and biomass, which obviously do not emit greenhouse gases; and in our greenhouse title itself we seek to establish a baseline and an accounting system for voluntary reductions in greenhouse gases; and so we will begin to have a clear record of what is being achieved and who is achieving it so that if the Congress and the administration at a later point decide to have a control program, they will be able to give credit where credit is due. In addition, our alternative fuels title will encourage the use of alternatives to gasoline, which in most respects would be an improvement on greenhouse gases as well.
So we have tried to take this issue seriously, recognizing that it does not meet the full requirements that many feel will be necessary overtime on this issue, but it does turn the path that we are on, and it is what we were able to politically achieve at this point in the process.
It is very important that we recognize that this is an international problem, not simply the United States, and while the United States and the developed OECD countries clearly emit more than a majority of the various greenhouse gases from manmade activity today, that picture will change in the future when more than a majority of the greenhouse gases will come from the developing world. Indeed, we must be concerned about the path of China and India in terms of accelerating their coal burning. Indeed, we must be concerned about the cutting of the forests in Indonesia and Brazil, and we must find international agreements and international solutions.
It appears that the United States very recently in New York City took a much more positive and proactive approach to the international negotiations, putting on the table specific proposals of actions that our Government either is taking or is prepared to take at various levels in order to control CO2 emissions as well as other greenhouse gases, and I think this is a very positive development from where we have been.
Many of us have not been satisfied that the U.S. Government was playing the leadership role that it purports to play in so many other international activities. Indeed, now the administration claims we are the only superpower, and, as such, we must take on various responsibilities. Clearly, this is one of the ongoing problems, this and other environmental problems, that we as a leader
will have to deal with and, as an emitter, will be expected to deal with by others around the world.
We want to examine just how significant this change is today and whether further action really is warranted at this time.
With that, let me recognize my colleague from Oklahoma, Mr.
Mr. SHARP. I thought I saw our senior Republican colleague, Mr.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. CARLOS J. MOORHEAD I want to welcome the witnesses this morning and to compliment Bob Reinstein, our chief negotiator, and the other members of the U.S. negotiating team on their perseverance. I know that the U.S. de gation has been very frustrated. Contrary to many U.S. press accounts which exclusively blame the United States for the slow pace of the talks, a variety of countries, particularly India and China, have been obstructing progress at the convention. They have made ever-increasing demands for transfer of state-of-the-art technology on preferential, congressional, and noncommercial terms. They have repeatedly asserted that the developing countries should be compensated by the OECD countries.
I also understand that some Western European countries are trying to use this convention to advance their economic interests.
It has to be very demoralizing for those on the U.S. team who are trying to address a potentially serious global environmental problem to deal with these kinds of geopolitical strategies. I encourage you to continue to strive for the best outcome and I congratulate you on your recent progress. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SHARP. So we now welcome our first panel of witnesses from the executive branch. We are pleased to have back with us Mr. Robert Reinstein, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, with the U.S. Department of State; from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency we have Dr. Morgenstern and Ms. Claussen; from the U.S. Department of Commerce we have Mr. Fred Volcansek; and from the U.S. Department of Energy we have Dr. Gruenspecht.
So, ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to have you with us. I believe we have Mr. Reinstein first. We will be happy to hear your oral testimony at this point. As you all know, we will put your written testimony in our record, and we will be happy to hear your oral summary.
STATEMENTS OF ROBERT A. REINSTEIN, DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH, AND NATURAL RESOURCES, DEPARTMENT OF STATE; EILEEN CLAUSSEN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF ATMOSPHERIC AND INDOOR AIR PROGRAMS, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, ACCOMPANIED BY RICHARD D. MORGENSTERN, ACTING ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR; FREDERICK W. VOLCANSEK, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR BASIC INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMIN. ISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE; AND HOWARD GRUENSPECHT, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY FOR PROGRAM ANALYSIS, OFFICE OF DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL ENERGY POLICY, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Mr. REINSTEIN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will keep my oral remarks very brief and hope that my voice doesn't give out on me.
Indeed, we just completed the fifth negotiating session of the United Nations (U.N.] negotiations on climate change last Friday in New York. The United States approaches these negotiations with a commitment to try to achieve a meaningful and effective framework convention
on climate change in time for signing at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in June.
We agree that there is a real long-term problem here. The science involving climate is quite complex, and national situations differ. For these reasons, each country, in our view, should develop response measures that are appropriate to its national situation and propose these in national plans, such as we have done.
We announced last week three specific commitments that we would make in the context of the negotiations. First, we committed to extend the list of actions which we were prepared to take in this country in addition to those that were listed a year ago in a publication we made available at the first negotiating session. These actions covered a rather broad range of areas, not only energy but also agriculture, forestry, and other natural resources, transportation, and so forth. This is a first step. We will be continuing to look for additional measures that make sense, and we are in the process of trying to quantify the effects of the measures we have already identified in terms of reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions.
Parallel to the efforts we are making in the United States, we believe very strongly that we need to make cooperative efforts with the developing countries to address climate change. As you pointed out, developing countries will be the source of the largest share of emissions over the longer term. To this end, we announced two commitments to assist the developing countries.
First, we announced a contribution of $50 million to the Core Fund of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF!—that is, the revised GEF. We are now in the process of seeing how to make the GEF more transparent and more representative of the full range of countries.
We also announced a $25 million commitment over the next 2 years, $12.5 million in each year, to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition in preparing their own country studies for responding to climate change. These studies