Addressing Climate Change and Growing the Global Economy: Can We Do It?

Addressing Climate Change and Growing the Global Economy: Can We Do It?

Lake Louise Energy Conference

January 26, 2001

Thank you very much. It is a great pleasure to be here with such an interesting and distinguished group of business and investment leaders. And how appropriate to be discussing the implications of global climate change against the backdrop of the beautiful Victoria Glacier and glacier-fed Lake Louise. In assessing the future of this remarkable area under a global warming scenario, I can't help but borrow from the investment lingo and say this: the glacier may not have much of a future, but there are real growth opportunities for the lake.

Seriously, I truly appreciate this opportunity to provide you with some perspective on: 1) what is happening on the issue of climate change today; 2) how this might affect your business and investment decisions in the years ahead; and 3) more fundamentally, whether we can address climate change and still maintain a growing global economy.

In preparing for my speech, I found it helpful to think of it as a visit to the ski slopes. I will take you up the lift with a brief overview of where things stand today, and then we will be free to explore the trails ahead. Rest assured that I fully intend to avoid any extreme plunges or expert runs. I am reminded of the old definition of a skier as someone who pays an arm and a leg for an opportunity to break them.

One of the messages I want to convey to you today is that climate change is real. The earth is warming, and the human hand in this warming is becoming clearer and clearer. A report due this spring (and already leaked) from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that the upper range of global warming over the next 100 years could be far higher than previously thought, with temperatures rising by 11 degrees Fahrenheit since 1990. By comparison, average temperatures today are 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they were at the end of the last ice age.

Even at the low end of the projected warming range, we can expect to see significant changes in weather patterns and sea-level rise. Such changes will be accompanied by effects on areas as diverse as human health, managed ecosystems (such as agriculture and water supply systems), and natural ecosystems. You may have heard that these changes could bring with them potential benefits as well as risks for certain regions - particularly parts of North America, where temperature increases could lead to longer growing seasons. But it is important to note that any positive impacts from global warming are unlikely to be sustained as the globe continues to warm. At higher temperatures, even high-latitude areas will eventually face decreased crop yields and negative impacts.

In the same way that we must accept that climate change is real, we must also accept that the time will have to come when we become significantly less dependent on the sources of energy that have fueled the world economy since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Environmental necessity, combined with the relentless drive to improve efficiencies and reduce costs, will spur a movement away from fossil fuels and toward a new energy future. And while it will be neither cheap nor easy, rewards will surely come to the early adopters and first movers. The task at hand is to allow these first movers the ability to experiment and innovate, while at the same time establishing the framework that sends clear signals to the market about what must be done in the long term.

Where Things Stand Today

So where do we stand today on responses to climate change? As we board the ski lift, I caution you to heed the advice of an actual sign on a lift in Taos, New Mexico. The sign reads: "No jumping from lift. Survivors will be prosecuted." That reminds me of another actual sign I heard about that read-and I quote-"Door Alarmed." Nearby, someone had posted a hand-made sign reading, "Window Frightened."

Well, in November, a great many people became both frightened and alarmed-or at the very least, somewhat concerned-about the current status of the international negotiations on climate change. As all of you know, that was when negotiators from 180 countries gathered in The Hague for the latest round of global climate talks. The goal of the meeting-officially known as the Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 6-was to put the finishing touches on the rules needed to implement the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the international agreement negotiated in 1997 that commits industrialized countries, including Canada and the U.S., to binding reductions below 1990 levels in their emissions of greenhouse gases.

The talks in The Hague, however, failed to reach their intended outcome. One of the key sticking points was how to account for the role of forestry and land-use practices in keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. There also was no agreement on whether there should be limits on how much of a country's emission reductions could be achieved by actions taken abroad, either through emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism or joint implementation.

But the standoff in The Hague should not have come as a complete surprise. There is no escaping the fact that expectations for the talks were too high. I can only compare it to the expectation that Washington, D.C. will become a partisanship-free zone in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. If you believe that one, then I have a bridge to the 22nd century that you might be interested in purchasing.

As we consider why the November meeting failed, as well as what needs to happen now, it is important to remember how we arrived at this point. The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in recognition of the fact that the emission reduction provisions outlined in 1992's U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change were not effectively limiting atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. It had become eminently clear that the voluntary measures spelled out in the Convention were inadequate. Few developed countries were on track to reducing their emissions to 1990 levels by 2000, as they voluntarily agreed to do.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries agreed to binding emissions reductions during the period from 2008 to 2012, with countries' targets averaging about 5 percent below 1990 levels. The Protocol also began to outline how countries could achieve their targets-for example, by trading emission credits or by using "sinks" such as forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere. However, further elaboration of the rules that would allow the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force was still needed.

The breadth of the agenda for the meeting in The Hague--approximately 275 pages of text covering the full spectrum of tough political and technical issues-was enough to give new meaning to the term "full plate."

But the fact that the agenda was dominated by many complicated political and technical issues was not the only reason the talks failed. The U.S.-EU split on the issue of carbon sinks was emblematic of a deep divide between Europe on one side and the United States on the other over how best to respond to climate change. The EU takes as its starting point the need to effect widespread-and immediate-behavioral changes to address this problem: using public transportation, for example, and keeping our houses colder in the winter and warmer in the summer.

In contrast, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan come down on the side of short-term, cost-effective actions, coupled with an effort to develop and deliver the technologies that will be needed for the long-term.

The negotiating positions inherent in these distinct philosophical approaches proved too far apart to bridge in The Hague. And there were other difficulties as well. These included the inability of the European Union to reach internal agreement on how to proceed; the position of the United States and others that credit should be given for "business as usual" activities and practices; and the virtual neglect of the developing world, which had important contributions to make to the discussion, and which would have to be a part of any consensus that emerged from the meeting.

The result of all these difficulties was a failed meeting, and although most countries are anxious to pick up the scattered ideas and pieces of negotiated language and meld them back together again, it is clear that this can only happen if there is a willingness to compromise. And, in this instance, compromise will mean the acceptance of different approaches under a common Kyoto umbrella. Hope is not a strategy, but I am hopeful that over time, we will develop a framework that will allow for these differences of view.

The Response from Business

So now we have taken the lift to the top of the mountain with an overview of where things stand today. I hope you are all still with me, and trust that no one has jumped off into the snow. (If you did, I understand that the Canadians have a wonderful health care system, and you will be back on your feet in no time.)

As I promised at the start of my speech, I will use the time I have left to explore the trails ahead. And I can think of no better place to start than by exploring the role of business in national and global efforts to reduce the risk of climate change.

Over the past several years, we have witnessed a remarkable shift in business activity and thinking on the issue of climate change. Many corporate leaders in North America and throughout the world no longer view climate protection efforts as a threat. Rather, they acknowledge the strength of the scientific case for action. And they accept that businesses must play a leading role in the global effort to reduce emissions.

I found it particularly interesting, in fact, that it was not just government officials and environmentalists who were disappointed in the unhappy ending to the talks in The Hague last November. Business leaders, as I mentioned before, also were notably glum. As a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce put it in an interview with the Los Angeles Times:

"We came here expecting a decision which would have clarified the rules and guidelines of the Kyoto Protocol. We now walk away as empty-handed as everyone else and leave as confused as when we arrived about the role we might play in contributing to solutions."

Or, as another business representative said, "There was industry, all dressed up with nowhere to go."

But all hope is not lost. Disappointing as the meeting in the Hague was for the progressive business community, most companies will forge ahead with existing programs to reduce their emissions, encourage greater energy efficiency, begin a switch to less carbon intensive fuels, and continue to develop alternative energy technologies. What they may not do is to undertake activities that are dependent on the Kyoto rules. For example, some industries are eager to pursue emissions-reducing power projects in other countries. But they are unlikely to move ahead vigorously until they know what kinds of projects will be eligible for credits under the Protocol. Similarly, there are many companies in a variety of industries that would like to begin participating in global emissions trading. And while they may begin these activities, they will hold off on major transactions until the climate negotiations paint a clearer picture of exactly how the market in emissions might work.

This turnaround in business behavior has been most evident in statements and actions from the companies associated with the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council. This Council now comprises 28 major corporations, including ABB, Alcoa, American Electric Power, Baxter, Boeing, BP, Dupont, Enron, Georgia-Pacific, IBM, Intel, Shell, Toyota, United Technologies, Weyerhaeuser, and Whirlpool. And just for comparison purposes, it is interesting to note that the combined annual revenues of these companies is in excess of $770 billion per year, greater than the GDP of most countries. In fact, it would rank number 11 in the world, ahead of Mexico, Canada, Russia and 180 other countries.

The fact remains, however, that industry efforts to meet the challenge of climate change will not be applied as broadly or as seriously as they need to be in the absence of a viable framework for national and international action on this issue. So to those who argue for an even greater commitment to protecting the climate on the part of the private sector, I say it will come. But only if we see a similar commitment on the part of national governments throughout the world to develop an environmentally effective, private-sector friendly framework for action. Companies will not sit on their hands and wait for governments to catch up, but governments will have to provide clear direction.

Speeding Technology Development

The way I see it, the business response to the issue of climate change in the years ahead will go through three phases. The first, short-term phase is the one I have already described, where companies are investing in energy efficiency and exploring and participating in emissions trading and carbon sequestration. The second, medium-term phase (and these are not sequential - there will clearly be overlap) will see a shift to fuels that are less carbon-intensive, particularly natural gas, but also to other fuels, including hydrogen, in those cases where the existing fossil fuel infrastructure can still be used.

The longer-term outlook is dramatically different. As individual countries and the international community finally come to grips with the need for serious, long-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are destined to see a flood of new attention and new investment going to those technologies that are essentially carbon free. The development and delivery of these new technologies will be absolutely crucial to the success of national and international efforts to reduce worldwide concentrations of greenhouse gases. In fact, there is no other possibility. Behavioral changes, no matter how drastic (and drastic ones are politically impossible as we have seen over last summer and this winter in both North America and Europe), will not be sufficient to address the problem. What we need is a second industrial revolution, but one that allows us to move to a brave new world in an orderly and systematic way, a way that meets both our environmental and economic objectives.

In fact, I believe we are beginning to see attention being paid to this kind of phased approach. Industry leaders are now beginning to make serious commitments to everything from solar energy, biomass and other renewables to fuel cell technologies. Of course, many of you know more about this than I do, but let me offer a couple of examples from the companies that are part of the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council:

BP-which, as we all know, now stands for "Beyond Petroleum"-announced in June of last year that it was planning to invest $500 million in renewable energy projects. BP Solar, the world's largest solar electric company, now provides photovoltaic energy technology in 150 countries around the world, with major, multi-million dollar contracts for rural electrification in Indonesia and the Philippines. BP Solar's revenue projections for 2007? Over $1 billion.

Also making a significant investment in solar power and other alternative energy technologies is Shell. Shell Hydrogen was formed in 1999 to develop business opportunities related to hydrogen and fuel cells on a global basis. Among other activities, Shell is now cooperating with both Daimler Benz and Zevco (which stands for the Zero Emissions Vehicle Company) in the development of hydrogen fuel cells and the necessary infrastructure to support the supply and distribution of hydrogen fuels. The company also is investing $500 million in Shell International Renewables, with projects on forestry, photovoltaics, and biomass.

Toyota, for its part, also is working to develop fuel cell vehicles. The year 2000 marked the introduction of the Toyota Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid gas-electric car. The car's fuel efficiency rating is a remarkable 52 miles per gallon in city driving. This is a dramatic improvement, of course, over where we now stand on fuel efficiency for vehicles. And greater improvements, and more innovative technologies that will take us beyond hybrid vehicles, are now under development.

And finally, let us look at United Technologies, which through its International Fuel Cells (or IFC) subsidiary, produces the world's only commercial fuel cell power plants. More than 200 units have been installed in 15 countries on four continents to date. Since 1996, all U.S. manned (and womanned) space flights, including the Space Shuttle, have been powered with fuel cells supplied by IFC. And in 1999, IFC delivered its first hydrogen-fuel power unit to BMW.

As these examples show, there is a remarkable transition going on in how industry views environmental issues such as climate change. These issues are no longer considered mere opportunities for public relations gambits. Rather, they are serious problems that demand serious solutions. And, equally important, they represent serious opportunities for continued growth, innovation and improved performance.

The key in the years ahead, I believe, will be for governments in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere to work with industry to craft long-term policies that will enable a smooth transition. These policies can include incentives and support for research and development as well as conservation and energy efficiency, and, most importantly, clear goals and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions both domestically and throughout the world.

The Future of the Kyoto Protocol

To return to the skiing metaphor for a moment, allow me to make the observation that the trails ahead for government and business may not be one and the same, but they certainly cross at important points. And the goal for the future should be to make a serious effort to coordinate and manage these crossings so there are as few collisions as possible. Speaking of collisions on the slopes, how could I forget the words of the minister at the funeral for a fallen skier: "We are gathered together on this slalom occasion." (You will be glad to know that is my final ski joke for the day.)

So where do the trails ahead for business and government cross? The answer is in the use of market-based strategies to achieve environmental progress. This has become a bedrock principle of national and global efforts on issues from climate change to reducing acid rain. The Kyoto Protocol reflects this principle by including a number of market-based strategies among the avenues that countries can pursue in order to meet their targets for reducing emissions.

Emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, the use of carbon sinks, and other elements of the accord all rely to varying degrees on markets and business initiative to work effectively. It is my belief that all of these elements, which will keep costs down as they promise environmental improvement, will have to be part of a final agreement. I also believe that governments and industry will need to be granted a high degree of flexibility in how the market mechanisms are applied.

Right now, the EU nations and many countries in the developing world do not fully appreciate how market mechanisms can be put to work for the betterment of the environment. This must change, and I believe it will change

Of course, the alternative to reaching consensus on international action is to put the negotiations on hold and to proceed with domestic actions on a piecemeal basis. But everyone knows this is not a real solution. Global climate change is a global problem. And it can only be solved if the nations of the world work together to create an effective yet flexible regime for reducing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

This does not mean that Canada and the United States and other nations should sit idly by while we wait for the negotiations to produce a final agreement that we all can live with. Rather, at the same time that we are working on this issue internationally, our nations must begin to take serious action at home to reduce our contribution to climate change. The United States in particular has a clear responsibility to move forward on this issue. With only 4 percent of the world's population, we are responsible for 24 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases. And we have yet to forge a coherent national policy for significantly reducing our emissions.

A priority for the United States, I believe, should be to design a straightforward system that will recognize and give credit to corporations that want to take early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Put very simply, these companies need to know that reducing their emissions now will not put them at a competitive disadvantage down the line.

In addition to addressing the early action issue, governments must put in place the kinds of programs that will pave the way for dealing with this issue over the medium and long-term. We need to do more to improve the energy and carbon intensity of our economy, and we need to provide incentives for the development and diffusion of the best technologies that we are capable of producing. Governments can play an important role by setting targets that are ambitious, but not impossible to meet. And industry can do what it does best: experiment and innovate, until we have found the most effective and efficient ways of moving forward.

In short, we need to accept once and for all that this problem is real-and that real programs will be taking shape in the coming years that will require the world to shift away from fossil fuel combustion and implement changes in land use practices, such as deforestation, that are altering the global climate.

Now that we have concluded our little visit to the slopes-and our exploration of the trails ahead for climate change-I would like to leave you with two quotes to consider as you head out for a ski this afternoon. The first is from a great American outdoorsman who visited this area in 1915 and called the landscape here "as lovely as it is varied." President Theodore Roosevelt, in his inaugural address, told Americans, "There is no good reason why we should fear the future, but there is every reason why we should face it seriously."

The second is from a former Saudi Arabia Oil Minister, Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, who, in speaking about the potential of alternative fuels, said, " The Stone Age came to an end not for a lack of stones, and the Oil Age will end, but not for a lack of oil."

Looking ahead, we would be wise to keep these words in mind as we consider how to address one of the critical challenges of our time.

Thank you very much.

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Press Release: IBM Joins Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council

For Immediate Release:
November 22, 2000

Contact: Juan Cortinas, 202-777-3519
Dale Curtis, 011-44-77-300-522-06 (in The Hague)
Katie Mandes, 011-44-77-300-521-94 (in The Hague)

IBM Joins Effort To Mitigate Climate Change - Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council Climbs to 28 Members

Washington, D.C.-The Pew Center on Global Climate Change today announced that IBM has joined the organization's efforts to battle global climate change.

The Pew Center established the Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) with 13 members in May 1998. The addition of IBM brings the BELC's total membership to 28 companies.

Members of the BELC are committed to take steps in their domestic and foreign operations to assess their greenhouse gas emissions and establish programs to reduce those emissions. The BELC considers the Kyoto Protocol a first step in global efforts to mitigate climate change and supports the development of market-based mechanisms as called for in the Kyoto Protocol.

The BELC includes many Fortune 500 companies in a diverse group of industries including energy, chemicals, metal, consumer appliances and high technology. These companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center, which is supported solely by contributions from charitable organizations.

"The private sector is increasingly taking independent steps to address climate change because companies understand that ignoring the problem could bring greater costs in the long run," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center. "The companies that compose the BELC are providing innovative solutions to the climate change problem that many governments, including our own, should recognize."

The other members of the BELC are: ABB; Air Products and Chemicals; Alcoa; American Electric Power; Baxter International; Boeing; BP; CH2M HILL; DTE Energy; DuPont; Enron; Entergy; Georgia-Pacific; Holnam; Intel; Lockheed Martin; Maytag; Ontario Power Generation; PG&E; Rohm and Haas; Shell International; Sunoco; Toyota; United Technologies; Weyerhaeuser, Whirlpool and Wisconsin Electric.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center and the BELC, visit

About the Pew Center: The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is a nonprofit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Op-Ed: Getting It Right: Climate Change Problem Demands Thoughtful Solutions

"Getting It Right: Climate Change Problem Demands Thoughtful Solutions"

By Eileen Claussen, Executive Director for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Appeared in the Washington Post

November 14, 2000

Many of the government officials gathering this month for the climate change negotiations in The Hague are hoping to put the finishing touches on rules to implement the Kyoto Protocol. But getting those rules right is more important than getting them all completed.

Still unresolved on the eve of the meeting are a range of very complicated political and technical issues that will play a decisive role in determining whether we achieve our goal of stabilizing the earth's climate system. It is not a stretch to say that how we decide these issues will determine how we are judged by future generations.

Decision-makers in The Hague should remember that the Kyoto Protocol was designed as both a first step in reducing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and as a framework for long-term, cost-effective action. In other words, this is a treaty that will have to stand the test of time. Short-term political considerations-including the desire to resolve all remaining issues this year-should therefore take a backseat to the goal of creating a global system that is transparent, fair, environmentally effective, economically efficient, and as simple as possible.

The Remaining Issues

Four key sets of issues remain in play as the negotiators come together:

  1. The Kyoto Mechanisms. The Kyoto mechanisms were designed to allow countries to pursue the most cost-effective means of reducing their emissions-for example, by engaging in international emissions trading. But there are provisions being negotiated that would make the Kyoto mechanisms totally inoperable, and others that would seriously limit their use. If the negotiators are careless in defining the rules, or determined to constrain when and how the mechanisms can be used, this will simply increase the costs of complying with the Protocol. And the result might be a higher level of noncompliance, an outcome that no one should want.
  2. Carbon Sequestration. The question here is whether and how countries should receive credit toward their emissions reduction targets for using agricultural lands and forests to store carbon. A related question is whether credit should be given for investments in sequestration projects in developing countries. The important role of soil and forest sequestration in stabilizing the global climate system cannot be denied. However, we have not yet defined what types of sequestration activities ought to count-or even how to count them.
  3. Compliance. Yet another unanswered question is whether the Kyoto Protocol will include binding consequences for noncompliance. In other words, how will we penalize those countries that miss their targets? This is a crucial issue to the Protocol's success. Only by establishing and enforcing significant noncompliance penalties can we create a fair and efficient global system, and one that yields results.
  4. Assistance to Developing Countries. Developing countries properly argue that the industrialized world is not doing enough to implement provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In that precursor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, the United States and other nations pledged to support developing countries in their efforts to reduce emissions through capacity building, technology transfer, and funding for "adaptation" initiatives. Decision makers in The Hague will have to respond seriously to these concerns at the same time as they are working on the more fractious issues of the Kyoto framework.

Looking Ahead

As if resolving these immediate questions were not enough of a challenge, everyone concerned with this issue must also give serious thought to the future. After all, the 2008-2012 deadline for achieving the first round of emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol is fast approaching. And, even if these initial targets are met (an unlikely prospect), they represent only a first step toward the sustained and significant reductions in emissions that will be necessary to reduce the threat of climate change throughout the 21st century.

A crucial issue for the future, then, is to think about what kind of targets we will have to establish in the years after 2012. At the same time, we need to think about how to involve developing countries in these future global efforts in a more active way. Developing countries are struggling to lift their people to a higher standard of living, and doing so will mean absolute increases in energy use and emissions.

We will accomplish very little, if anything, by requiring developing countries to achieve short-term emissions reductions. The better approach is to craft an equitable and effective framework for future targets for all countries, bearing in mind that we face a common challenge: maximizing the environmental benefits we are able to achieve while minimizing the costs of reducing and limiting our emissions.

Meeting the challenge of global climate change calls for no less than a second industrial revolution. We need to promote new technologies and new investments that will put the entire world on a path to clean economic development. And, in creating the global legal framework to make this happen, we need to make absolutely certain that we get it right.

Appeared in the Washington Post, Tuesday, November 14, 2000— by Eileen Claussen

Technology and the Economics of Climate Change Policy

Technology and the Economics of Climate Change Policy

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
September 2000

Jae Edmonds, Joseph M. Roop, and Michael J. Scott of Battelle, Washington, DC

Press Release

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Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Climate change policy analysis is fraught with uncertainty and controversy, but at least one thing is perfectly clear: technological innovation is the key to addressing climate change. Moving the economy to a greenhouse - friendly future will necessitate a profound economic transition - a transition that simply cannot come to pass without technological progress.

In this report, an impressive team of economists led by Jae Edmonds and Joe Roop explains how economic models of climate change take technological innovation into account. The authors demystify a highly technical subject that is essential to sound policy formulation, raising five central insights:

  • All future projections of technological change are a matter of assumption. Much is known about how technological change has occurred in the past and what will drive it in the future. However, all projections require assumptions about the future role of technological change in the way the economy grows, in the way energy is used, and in the options available as alternatives to fossil fuels.
  • Technological progress reduces the cost of climate change mitigation. This result is robust across a broad range of model types and assumptions.
  • Significant technological progress occurs over long time horizons. This fact should be taken into account in establishing lead times for climate policies.
  • Policies and prices can "induce" technological change. Thus both policy-makers and businesses play a major role in fostering technological change.
  • Modeling "induced" technological change (that is, change stimulated by climate policies or price changes) is important because it more closely reflects reality. However, modeling this phenomenon is in its infancy.

This report on technological change addresses one of the factors identified by the Pew Center as having the largest influence on economic modeling results. An earlier Center report, "An Introduction to the Economics of Climate Change Policy," by John Weyant describes the five factors, which include: how baseline greenhouse gas projections are measured, what climate policies are considered, how the substitution of goods and services by producers and consumers is represented, and whether and how GHG reduction benefits are addressed. Two other Pew Center reports explore in detail the role of climate policies, with an emphasis on international emissions trading, and the role of substitution in determining the outcome of economic modeling.

The Center and the authors appreciate the valuable insights of several reviewers of early drafts of this paper, including Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Ian Parry, and Alan Sanstad. Special thanks are due to Ev Ehrlich for serving as a consultant for the Center's economics series and to Judi Greenwald for her editorial assistance.

Jae Edmonds
Joseph M. Roop
Michael J. Scott

An Overview of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Issues

An Overview of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Issues

Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
August 2000

Christopher P. Loreti, William F. Wescott, and Michael A. Isenberg, Arthur D. Little Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts

Press Release

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Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

At a Pew Center conference on Early Action held in September 1999, DuPont announced plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 65 percent from 1990 levels by 2010. BP Amoco intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent of 1990 levels by 2010 and has implemented an emissions trading system across all of its businesses. United Technologies Corporation has announced targets to reduce energy and water usage by 25 percent per dollar of sales by 2007.

Motivated by factors ranging from a desire to monitor and reduce energy consumption to concern for the environment to anticipation of future requirements to cut emissions that contribute to climate change, a growing number of companies are voluntarily undertaking action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This report provides an overview of how greenhouse gas emissions are estimated and reported in emissions inventories. It highlights a variety of approaches taken by companies to identify, track, and curb their emissions, and provides insights from their experiences.

This Pew Center report is the first in a new series aimed at identifying practical solutions to address climate change. The Solutions series is aimed at providing individuals and organizations with tools to evaluate and reduce their contributions to climate change. This first report, prepared by Christopher Loreti, William Wescott, and Michael Isenberg of Arthur D. Little, Inc., identifies credible approaches and offers a set of principles for conducting emissions inventories. The authors identify key decision points in efforts to conduct an emissions inventory. They note that the purpose of an inventory should influence the approach, pointing out, for example, the tension that exists between encouraging consistency in reporting practices and providing flexibility to reflect a specific company's unique circumstances.

In the absence of a comprehensive climate policy regime, voluntary efforts to identify and reduce greenhouse gases at the source are critical. Ensuring that such efforts are ultimately recognized under future policy regimes is equally important and only likely to be possible if greenhouse gas emissions reductions are found to be real, quantifiable, and verifiable. A subsequent Pew Center report will address key issues in the verification of emissions inventories and emissions reductions.

The authors and the Pew Center would like to thank the companies featured in this report for sharing their stories and insights, and acknowledge the members of the Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council, as well as Janet Raganathan and others involved in the Greenhouse Gas Measurement & Reporting Protocol Collaboration, for their review and advice on a previous draft of this report.

Executive Summary

There is great interest today in the inventorying of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by corporations — perhaps more than there has ever been for a voluntary environmental initiative. This interest is part of the general trend among corporations towards increased reporting of environmental performance. In addition, many organizations have concluded that enough is known to begin taking action now to understand, to manage, and to reduce their GHG emissions. The possibility of earning credit for taking voluntary actions to reduce emissions is also a motivating factor for many companies to conduct inventories. Conducting an inventory is a necessary first step in managing greenhouse gas emissions.

This paper provides an overview of key issues in developing greenhouse gas emissions inventories, with particular emphasis on corporate-level inventories. It illustrates the range of current activities in the field and the experience of major corporations that conduct GHG emissions inventories. Areas of general agreement, as well as unresolved issues in emissions inventorying, are described. More specifically, the paper discusses:

  • How national level emissions inventories relate to corporate and facility inventories,
  • How companies conduct their inventories,
  • Inventory accuracy,
  • How companies decide which emissions to include (drawing boundaries),
  • Baselines and metrics,
  • Challenges for corporations in conducting global inventories, and
  • Learning from similar measurement approaches.

One important issue this paper does not address is the verification of emissions inventories and emissions reductions. Verification is the subject of another paper being prepared by Arthur D. Little, Inc. for the Center.

This review of GHG emissions inventory issues is based on meetings and discussions with the Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council, a survey of selected major corporations on their greenhouse gas inventory practices, and a review of pertinent literature. It is also informed by the participation of the Center and Arthur D. Little, Inc. in a collaborative effort led by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to develop an internationally accepted protocol for conducting GHG emissions inventories.

The intent of this paper is not to advocate any specific methodology or approach for conducting GHG emissions inventories, nor to promote any particular policy positions. The review of the experience to date and issues surrounding GHG emissions inventories, however, suggests several general principles for developing effective GHG emissions inventory programs:

1. Start by understanding your emissions. Knowing the relative magnitude of emissions coming from various sources is necessary to understand whether or not they are material contributors to a firm's total emissions. Understanding the nature and the number of the emissions sources will facilitate the use of the inventory development guidance that is becoming available.

2. Understand the likely uses of the emissions inventory. Companies conduct GHG emissions inventories for purposes that range from internal goal-setting to external reporting to obtaining financial benefits. These different uses of the inventory information imply different levels of completeness, accuracy, and documentation in the inventory. Each organization will need to reach its own conclusion as to the cost/benefit balance of developing its inventory, depending upon its set of likely uses.

3. Decide carefully which emissions to include by establishing meaningful boundaries. Questions of which emissions to include in a firm's inventory and which are best accounted for elsewhere are among the most difficult aspects of establishing GHG emissions inventories. Since the purpose of conducting an inventory is to track emissions and emissions reductions, companies are encouraged to include emissions they are in a position to significantly control and to clearly communicate how they have drawn their boundaries.

4. Maximize flexibility. Since requirements to report or reduce greenhouse gas emissions under a future climate policy regime are uncertain, companies should prepare for a range of possibilities. By maximizing the flexibility in their emissions inventories — for example, by being able to track emissions by organizational unit, location, and type of emission or by expressing emissions in absolute terms or normalized for production — organizations will be prepared for a wide range of possible future scenarios.

5. Ensure transparency. Transparency in reporting how emissions and emissions reductions are arrived at is critical to achieving credibility with stakeholders. Unless the emissions baseline, estimation methods, emissions boundaries, and means of reducing emissions are adequately documented and explained in the inventory, stakeholders will not know how to interpret the results.

6. Encourage innovation. Now is the time to try innovative inventory approaches tailored to a company's particular circumstances. The range of experience and lessons learned will be invaluable as voluntary reporting protocols are developed or as possible regulatory requirements are established. Learning what works best — and doing it before any requirements for reporting are in place — will be as important as learning what does not work.

Christopher P. Loreti
Michael A. Isenberg
William F. Wescott

Press Release: Report Describes Companies' Efforts To "Inventory" Greenhouse Gas Emissions

For Immediate Release :
August 1, 2000

Contact:  Katie Mandes, 703-516-0606
              Dale Curtis, 202-777-3530

Report Describes Companies' Efforts To "Inventory" Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Voluntary Initiatives Mark First Step Toward Emissions Reductions

Washington, DC - A growing number of companies are launching voluntary efforts to measure and track their greenhouse gas emissions, raising a host of practical questions and presenting opportunities for others to learn from their experiences.

A new report released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change describes the pioneering work being done by some of the world's leading companies to inventory and report their greenhouse gas emissions. The report, authored by a team from Arthur D. Little, Inc., presents a set of principles for such efforts; describes credible approaches being tried by more than a dozen major companies; identifies key decision points in the process; and lists information resources that are available to companies contemplating such projects.

"In the absence of a comprehensive policy regime, we must encourage voluntary efforts to identify and reduce greenhouse gases," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center. "Ensuring that such efforts are recognized in the future requires that they be well thought out and documented today. This report is a thorough guide to the choices involved in inventorying greenhouse gas emissions."

Benefits of Emissions Inventories

The trend toward increased corporate reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is driven in part by the companies' recognition that enough is known about climate change to warrant emissions reductions in the near term. An emissions inventory is the first step in that process.

Beyond considerations of environmental concern and good corporate citizenship, companies conducting inventories can also identify ways to enhance their productivity and energy efficiency; improve relationships with key stakeholders; and support the development of flexible, market-oriented policies such as emissions trading. An accurate inventory will also put companies in a better position to count voluntary, near-term emissions reductions toward any future regulatory requirements.

Among the practical issues addressed by the report are:

  • How national-level emissions inventories influence corporate- and facility-level inventories;
  • The specifics of a dozen companies' inventory programs;
  • How companies decide which emissions to count, given complex questions of ownership, direct versus indirect emissions, and more;
  • Questions of accuracy and estimates;
  • Baselines and metrics;
  • The challenges of conducting inventories across international boundaries; and
  • Lessons learned from emissions inventories conducted under the acid rain title of the U.S. Clean Air Act and the U.S. EPA's Toxics Release Inventory program.

The report also describes the efforts of many specific companies, including American Electric Power of Columbus, OH; Air Products of Allentown, PA; Baxter International Inc. of Deerfield, IL; BP of London, England and New York, NY; DuPont of Wilmington, DE; Entergy of New Orleans, LA; ICI of London, England and Bridgewater, NJ; Niagara Mohawk of Syracuse, NY; Shell International of the London, England and Houston, TX; Suncor of Calgary, Canada; Sunoco of Philadelphia, PA; United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, CT; and Whirlpool Corp. of Benton Harbor, MI.

The report also lists 14 respected sources of information that companies may use to get started, including official government guidance, software programs, and guidebooks produced by environmental groups and business associations.

The report was authored by Christopher Loreti, William Wescott and Michael Isenberg of Arthur D. Little, Inc.

First in "Solutions" Series

The inventory report is the first in a new series aimed at identifying practical solutions to the challenges presented by climate change. Other Pew Center series focus on domestic and international policy issues, environmental impacts, and the economics of climate change.

A complete copy of this report - and information on previous reports -- is available on the Pew Center's web site,

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is conducting studies, launching public education efforts and working with businesses to develop market-oriented solutions to reduce greenhouse gases. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 21 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center - it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.

Press Relase: Corporate and Government Leaders Focus On Global Climate Change At Washington Conference

For Immediate Release:
April 12, 2000

Contact: Kelly Sullivan, 202-289-5900
             Katie Mandes, 703-516-4146

Corporate and Government Leaders Focus On Global Climate Change At Washington Conference

Developing Country Perspectives Roundtable To Conclude The Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senior decision-makers and leaders will gather on April 25th and 26th in Washington, D.C. to participate in the "Innovative Policy Solutions to Global Climate Change" Conference. The international conference will discuss the proactive initiatives governments and the private sector are implementing in industrialized countries and key questions related to program design and implementation.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the Chatham House/Royal Institute of International Affairs will host the conference at the Willard Inter-Continental Washington Hotel. Featured speakers are:

  • John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • Jan Pronk, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, The Netherlands
  • Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Australia
  • Theodore Roosevelt, IV, Managing Director, Lehman Brothers, Inc.
  • Rodney Chase, Deputy Group Chief Executive, BP Amoco

Governments and the private sector are beginning to address the climate change challenge because they recognize that the problem and its consequences cannot be ignored. The conference will highlight the measures that are being implemented to address global climate change," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. She will deliver the opening and closing remarks at the conference.

The conference also includes various discussion panels on the climate change problems. State and local policies to help alleviate climate change, energy and transportation policies, and competitiveness and trade effects on climate change are among the topics the international gathering will address.

The conference will conclude with a Roundtable Discussion, co-sponsored by the Pew Center and the Shell Foundation Sustainable Energy Programme. The Developing Country Perspectives on climate change discussion will be chaired by Bakary Kante of the United Nations Environment Programme and will feature Luiz Gylvan Meira Filho, Espen Ronneberg and other distinguished individuals from various developing countries. There is no fee to register for the Roundtable.

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation's largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the U.S. environment. The Pew Center is conducting studies, launching public education efforts, promoting climate change solutions globally and working with businesses to develop marketplace solutions to reduce greenhouse gases. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 21 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations working with the Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Center, which is solely supported by charitable foundations.

For more information on the Innovative Policy Solutions conference, the Developing Country Perspectives Roundtable, or on the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, please visit the Center's web site at

Getting Real on Climate

Address by Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Berlin, Germany

February 3, 2000
Thank you very much. I am delighted to be here, and to take part in these very important discussions about how we can move forward to address what may be the most important global issue of the 21st century.

Whenever I appear before an international group such as this, with people from different countries who speak different languages, I am reminded of a joke I first heard long ago. We all know that if you can speak three languages, you're trilingual. And if you can speak two languages, you're bilingual. But what are you if you can speak only one language? Why, you're American, of course.

Today, I would like to speak to you as an American, but as an American who has been in close contact with others around the world on the topic of global climate change. And I would like to base my remarks on an American expression. That expression is "reality check." It means taking a moment to reflect on what is really happening in the world. And it means being truthful with ourselves and others about what we are capable of achieving. A reality check is an affirmation of yet another American expression-an expression that our mothers repeated again and again while we were young. "Honesty is the best policy," they would tell us. And, of course, there was no doubt that they were right. They were our mothers, after all.

And the reality is that honesty is the best policy when we are addressing the issue of global climate change. It was honesty about the risks of a changing climate that brought 150 nations together to negotiate a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the world. In the same way, today we all need to be honest about what we can achieve and when-and about how best to move forward so that future generations don't look back and wonder why we couldn't work together to meet this global challenge.

In the time that I have with you tonight, I want to talk about some of the issues that the United States, Germany and other nations need to be more honest about in order to achieve real progress in addressing the challenge of climate change. I also would like to offer a realistic view of what is happening on this issue in the United States-in both the public and private sectors, as well as among the media and the general public. And I will close with some recommendations about how to move the global dialogue on this issue forward and achieve real progress.

Getting Real: What We Can Achieve

So let us begin with a few reality checks. From my perspective, there are three issues that our governments need to be more honest about as the world addresses the challenge of climate change in the months and years ahead. The first is the timeframe in which the world can achieve entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. The German government-which, to its infinite credit, has been out front on this issue for years-is urging entry into force in 2002. Although this is surely an admirable goal, the honest truth is that it is unlikely to happen.

While it is certainly true that many European countries are anxious and willing to ratify the Protocol in the near term, some of them-such as the Netherlands-have said that the United States must ratify at the same time. Ratification by non-European countries such as Japan, Canada and Australia also is unlikely without U.S. action on this issue. And here is the reality check: Given the current mood and political situation in Washington, U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol-in the near term at least-is about as likely as hell freezing over. And if hell did freeze over, I am certain that many in the U.S. Congress would make every effort to attribute it to nothing more than normal climatic variations.

Another reason why entry into force in 2002 is unlikely is the sheer volume of work that remains to be done. We should not diminish the complexity or the importance of establishing environmentally effective, private sector-friendly rules for the Kyoto mechanisms; or of determining how to handle the sequestration of carbon in trees or soils; or of establishing a compliance regime that is both meaningful and fair. It is absolutely essential that these issues be addressed in an honest and an effective way. The system we create is likely to be in place for many, many years. Completing all of these jobs this year to give countries the time that would be required for entry into force in 2002 is both unrealistic and unlikely.

The second thing that our governments need to be realistic and honest about is the ability to meet the targets in the Kyoto Protocol if entry into force comes later in this decade. Reality check number two, therefore, is this: For the United States at least, meeting the targets in the existing timeframe will be impossible.

Even if we saw a profound shift in Washington on this issue in the next one or two years, the United States will not be able to achieve the Kyoto targets as they are currently drawn for the simple reason that administrative process in our county can be enormously time-consuming. For the Kyoto Protocol to become U.S. law, the Senate would have to grant its advice and consent; both Houses of Congress would have to pass implementing legislation that would then have to be signed by the President; and a designated Agency would have to draft rules and regulations that would have to go through formal notice and comment procedures before they could be finalized and then implemented.

Given that such legislation and regulation would clearly result in regional and sectoral economic impacts, the odds of all this activity occurring by 2008 are very small indeed.

Lest you think that my doubts are reserved to my own country, I firmly believe that the United States will not be alone in its inability to move fast enough to meet the Kyoto targets. Surely, there is much effort on this issue in Europe and elsewhere, but even in the countries that have fully embraced the importance of reducing emissions, it is not a given that the targets can be met, particularly with current programs. And I would venture to say that the likelihood that these targets will be met will decrease as people and governments become convinced that the United States will not be able to meet its targets.

This brings up the third issue that we all must be realistic and honest about, which is the serious engagement of the developing world. The reality, whether we like it or not, is that most developing countries are unlikely to agree to binding emission reduction targets that would take effect in this decade. This is based in part on their fear that emission limitations would place unacceptable constraints on their economic development. It is also based on their view that, even among environmental issues, climate change is less of a priority than such things as reducing local air and water pollution.

But the developing world's opposition to targets cannot be allowed to hide the fact there is movement on this issue among these countries. For example:

Privatization of the electricity sector is moving forward in India, where competition is expected to increase the use of natural gas and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Korea is beginning to plan for opening up its power sector to competition, again with a projected increase in the use of natural gas.

And China, which has dramatically lowered its energy consumption per unit of output over the last decade, is on a path to continue making significant energy-saving improvements over the decade to come.

In these and other developing nations, investment decisions made in the power and transportation sectors in the coming years will have a significant impact on global greenhouse emissions for decades to come. And the reality is that many opportunities exist for lowering these countries' emissions from a business-as-usual trajectory. In other words, binding commitments for these countries may not be possible, but significant action to lower emissions from their expected path may very well be. Indeed, this is already happening in some countries.

So there they are-three issues that the governments of the United States, Germany and other nations need to get real about in order to push this discussion forward. The timeframe for entry into force. Whether the existing Kyoto targets can be met. And the serious engagement of the developing world. If we follow our mothers' advice and are honest with one another about these issues, I believe we will go a long way to ushering in the next phase in the global effort to meet the challenge of climate change-a phase that will move us from rhetoric to reality and from discussion to action.

The View from the U.S.

Just as it is important to understand what is truly happening on this issue in developing countries, I believe it is also critical that everyone clearly understand the current situation in the United States. While there is still bickering within and outside the U.S. government about: 1) whether climate change is even real; and 2) what the United States should do about it and when, the reality is that the American news media is devoting more attention than ever before to the topic of climate change, the American people accept that it is something that demands our government's attention, and American businesses are moving ahead on their own in the absence of government action.

Let me talk briefly about the news media first, because I believe this is a very important development. Based in part on the growing consensus among scientists that global climate change is real-and in part as well on the fact that 1997, 1998 and 1999 were the three hottest years on record-the U.S. news media has devoted increasing attention to this issue over the last year or two.

In a television news report just last month, CBS correspondent Jim Axelrod reviewed some of the likely effects of global climate change-including rising sea levels and shifts in water resources. He also made note of a likely increase in global temperatures that he suggested, rightly or wrongly, was already evident in the early January hot spell that hit much of the country and had residents of Washington, DC, jogging in shorts and t-shirts. The correspondent concluded his report with this observation:

"Such thoughts used to be called "doom and gloom" by many. Now, however, a growing number of scientists are hearing the critics, looking at the data, and saying it's a forecast that can't be ignored."

The U.S. television networks are not alone in drawing fresh attention to the risks of global climate change. The Washington Post, in a January editorial entitled "Warming to Reality," issued its own warning that-quote-"reckless inaction in the face of global warming is the costliest of all options." And, in the American news media's turn-of-the-century rush to identify the critical issues of the new millennium, global climate change was always front and center.

No doubt in response to the news media's increasing attention to this issue, the American public is more willing than ever to accept that global climate change poses a real threat and that action is needed to avert a crisis.

A September 1998 survey conducted for the World Wildlife Fund revealed that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening now, and another 26 percent believe it will happen in the future. According to the survey, fully three-quarters of Americans want the United States to take action to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide as a way to address the problem.

In an effort to determine whether these opinions carry over into the realm of national decisionmakers and opinion leaders who influence U.S. policy, the Pew Center did its own survey in March 1999. We conducted nearly 450 interviews with staff members in Congress, industry association leaders, corporate decisionmakers in the affected industries, media representatives, economists, scientists and policy experts across the country-in short, a fairly comprehensive sample of the wide assortment of quote-unquote "elites" who are in a position to influence U.S. action-or inaction-on this topic.

What did we find? Well, to our surprise, we found that these elites are even more likely than the general public to believe that global warming is happening now. We also found broad support among elites for U.S. action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Even the Kyoto Protocol-the target of often-harsh criticism from many in Congress--attracted strong bipartisan support. More than one-third said the agreement actually would help our economy and create new jobs because we would develop new technologies that would help reduce our greenhouse emissions.

Business Accepts the Challenge

The belief that progress on this issue can be compatible with sustained economic growth in the United States-and may even contribute to that growth-is one reason there is increasing acceptance among U.S. businesses of the need for strong action to reduce emissions.

In late 1999, as many of you may know, the Ford Motor Company announced it was resigning from a coalition of oil companies, auto makers, electric utilities and others who stubbornly argue that we still don't have enough evidence to know whether or not global warming is real-and that we shouldn't do anything serious about it until more is known. Word of Ford's decision was followed closely by the news that Daimler Chrysler also would be leaving the group known as the Global Climate Coalition. The companies' moves were seen as an indication of the growing acceptance of the reality and the urgency of this issue-even in the nation's corporate boardrooms-and as yet another sign of a growing consensus for rational action to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

But the fact is that many American businesses have long been way ahead of the U.S. government-and even ahead of the media and the general public-in their willingness to acknowledge and work on the issue of global climate change. This progressive stance became obvious when a large group of mostly Fortune 500 companies became affiliated with my organization, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, to help forge a consensus response to the problem.

The Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council now includes 21 companies with combined annual revenues of more than $550 billion. Working together, these companies developed a joint statement asserting that in the new millennium-quote-"one of our most important challenges at home and abroad will be addressing global climate change as we work to sustain a growing global economy."

"One of our most important challenges." That is an enormously powerful statement coming from these companies, which include such household names as American Electric Power, Boeing, BP Amoco, Lockheed Martin, Shell International, Toyota, Enron, United Technologies and Whirlpool. And, in making this statement, these companies announced publicly that they:

1) Accepted that there was enough known about the science of global climate change to warrant action;

2) Would establish their own emission reduction targets--and meet them;

3) Viewed the Kyoto Treaty as a first although incomplete step to addressing the issue internationally; and

4) Believed that addressing climate change can be compatible with sustained economic growth in the United States.

Some of the member companies of our Business Environmental Leadership Council already have announced their emission reduction targets, all of which are at least as stringent as those in the Kyoto Protocol. One large company affiliated with the Pew Center, DuPont, has established a goal of reducing emissions to 65-percent below 1990 levels by 2010, with an additional commitment of obtaining 10 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources. This is a stunning target, far in excess of the 7-percent reduction required for the United States as a whole in the Kyoto Protocol.

The commitment of DuPont and these other companies is an important reminder that there are many steps industry can and should be taking now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, however, the fact that these forward-thinking companies are acting of their own volition and without a clear sense that their actions will be rewarded in the marketplace is a reminder of something else. And that something else is the lack of leadership the U.S. government has taken on this issue, particularly at home, where a government framework for reducing U.S. emissions is sorely needed.

The U.S. Government: A Lack of Leadership

The U.S. government's lack of leadership is especially unfortunate because the United States is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world--responsible for 25 percent of global emissions in a nation that comprises less than 5 percent of the global population. If leadership on this issue should come from anywhere, it should come from the United States.

But leadership is not coming from the United States. It is rare both in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail for the discussion of this issue to get past the question of whether to support the Kyoto Protocol or whether to declare it dead. What the discussion has not touched on-and should-is the further development and implementation of programs that would change the expected trajectory of our nation's greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Congress, in particular, appears determined to let absolutely nothing happen that would even remotely suggest that the United States is concerned about this issue. Virtually every budget item that deals with emission reductions is viewed by many in Congress as a quote-unquote "backdoor" attempt to implement the Kyoto Protocol and is therefore voted down or pushed aside.

What, you may ask, is driving the U.S. government's reluctance to deal with this issue in a serious way? I would like to suggest that there are two issues at the heart of the debate. And, while these issues are significant, my belief is that they have not been framed in ways that are honest or open to solution. The first issue relates to the economic costs of action to reduce emissions; the second centers on developing country participation. In my view, these are the chief stumbling blocks to serious action on this issue in the United States. Only by confronting them head-on will we be able to mount an effective response to the challenge of global climate change-both in the United States and throughout the world.

So let me begin with the economics. There is a popular joke in the United States that says economists have predicted nine of the last five U.S. recessions. And it is hard to argue with the premise of the joke when one looks at the varying predictions that have been made about the potential impacts of achieving the Kyoto targets on the U.S. economy. Interest groups across the ideological spectrum have produced markedly different results from economic models that are often not that different in their structure but that use very different assumptions to achieve the results these groups want to achieve. And the only result that is truly achieved is confusion.

How do we get beyond this confusion? We get beyond it by admitting that the models we are using-even when stripped of assumptions that bear no resemblance to reality-are not infallible. The complexity and time frame of the climate change problem stretches the capabilities of even the most sophisticated economic models on the benefits side. And the ability of models to quantify the value of reducing the risks of climate change is still in its infancy. On the cost side, models are still confronted with a series of challenges, the most important of which is anticipating the pace and direction of technological progress. As far as I know, no economic model would have predicted the information technology or communications revolutions that we are now witnessing. Nor have any models anticipated the decoupling of economic growth and carbon emissions that has occurred in the United States in recent years.

I am not mentioning these things to suggest there will be no costs to the United States should it act decisively to reduce emissions. There is almost always a cost associated with major changes to the economy. What I would like to suggest is that a fixation with 10 or 20-year-out predictions of increases or decreases in the U.S. GDP really misses the mark. To argue, as some have done, that the costs will be catastrophic and that entire industrial sectors will immediately be wiped out is as dishonest as the assertion that the economy can effortlessly achieve major emission reductions at no cost. What the United States should be concerned about are the impacts that are likely to occur in certain industries, certain labor categories, and certain regions of the country. The question is how these impacts can be minimized over time--and with careful transitional planning.

The second issue that has become a roadblock to progress in the United States is that of developing country commitments. I call this the "fairness issue." Is it fair, people ask, for the United States to have to abide by the Kyoto targets while competitors such as China, India and Mexico get a quote-unquote "free ride?" One fear is that American jobs will be lost to these and other countries because their production costs will be lower. But lost in the debate is the reality that fairness demands a decisive U.S. response for two reasons. First, because the United States is responsible, both historically and currently, for more emissions than anyone else. And second, because the United States has the ability to pay the costs of reducing our emissions.

Also lost in the debate about global climate change in the United States-and this may be even more important-is the question of what the problem actually is, and how it can most effectively be addressed. As I suggested earlier, emissions in developing countries will grow as these nations industrialize, and the infrastructure that will support this growth--for power generation and transportation, in particular--will set in place the global emissions trajectory for decades to come. So the real issue is not how to pressure these countries into accepting binding emission reduction targets in this decade. Rather, the issue should be how to influence the character of this infrastructure investment so that it becomes more climate friendly. We should look to our export credit agencies and to private investors for the tools to accomplish these objectives.

Moving Forward

So what is the world to do? We have all these difficult issues on the table, and yet we all understand-or at least most of us do-that we need to start acting to address this global challenge as soon as possible. I already have laid out some of the steps I believe need to be taken in order for this discussion to move forward and in order for Germany, the United States and other nations to move from discussion to action. These include being honest about the Kyoto targets and timetables even while working to complete the Kyoto framework; devoting more attention to encouraging progress on this issue in the developing world; and fostering discussion in the United States and elsewhere of some of the fairness and economic issues that must be resolved in order to build support for strong and decisive action.

But what about the Kyoto Protocol itself? I would not be honest if I didn't tell you there are many voices in the United States that have proclaimed that Kyoto is dead-some of them with the same satisfaction as the characters in the American movie "The Wizard of Oz" who dance and sing to celebrate the demise of the wicked old witch. But I believe it is important for all of us to remember that while some of those who have said Kyoto is dead come from industries that would be negatively affected by any regime to control greenhouse gases, others have much less, if anything, at stake. At issue for these critics are the complexity of the Kyoto framework, and the stringency of its targets and timetables.

Of course, the reality about the fate of the Kyoto Protocol is that it is unlikely to be cast aside even if it does not deliver on its first set of emission reduction targets. But at the same time, we all must accept that Kyoto remains a work in progress.

This leads me to one final reality check: Making the Kyoto Protocol into an agreement that can deliver on the promise of reducing the risk of global climate change will, in all likelihood, take longer than from now until the meeting this November in The Hague. The delegates should do what they can at that meeting, but they cannot and should not expect that all of these issues will be resolved. And, just because it takes longer than everyone hoped does not mean the Kyoto framework is not valuable and ultimately viable. In fact, I believe that structuring the framework more definitively into one that has realistic timetables and targets and is environmentally effective, economically sound, and-yes-fair will go a long way to improving its chances of success, whether we have agreement this year, next year or the year after that.

In the meantime, I am not suggesting that the governments of the world stand around and wait for a better document on which to base their work on this issue. The reality is that the United States and other governments should be implementing substantive programs now that seriously respond to the overall Convention goal of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at levels that will prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. And it is heartening to see the initiatives that have been taken by Germany since the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol.

A priority for the United States, I believe, should be to design a straightforward system that will recognize and give credit to corporations that want to take early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Put very simply, these companies need to know that reducing their emissions now won't put them at a competitive disadvantage down the line.

In addition to addressing the early action issue, the United States must start planning seriously for how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long haul. I cannot state more emphatically that what is most important now is the trying. In the United States, in Germany, and throughout the world, we need to experiment with different approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions-for example, by testing both national and company-specific emissions-trading regimes, or by imposing carbon taxes. We need to establish clear procedures for inventorying and verifying emission reductions, something that many in the private sector are already working on. And we must begin to build the capabilities and the institutions we will need when a full-fledged international regime does come into effect.

These will not be easy or painless goals to achieve, but the reality is that we need to achieve them. There is no escaping our responsibility to address the challenge of global climate change in an effective and, of course, an honest way. We all have a higher authority to answer to on this issue. That's right, our mothers. And we all need to work together to make them proud.

Thank you very much.

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Press Release: DuPont Announces New Targets to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

For Immediate Release:
September 13, 1999

Contact:  Kelly Sullivan/Heather Fass (202) 289-5900 (Pew)
Lori Fenimore (302)-773-0220 (DuPont )

DuPont Announces New Targets to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Pledge Made at Pew Center on Global Climate Change Early Action Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. — DuPont, a member of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change's Business Environmental Leadership Council, today announced an ambitious set of new targets to address the challenge of climate change.

Dennis H. Reilley, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at DuPont, made the announcement today in a keynote address at the Pew Center's Early Action Conference in Washington D.C. The Pew Center, in cooperation with the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, is hosting the two-day conference to examine issues related to credit for early action by companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically the new goals for 2010 unveiled by Reilley include:

  • Reducing global carbon equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent, using 1990 as a base year;
  • Holding total energy use flat, using 1990 as a base year; and,
  • Using renewable resources for ten percent of global energy use.

"We applaud DuPont's leadership in rising to meet the challenge of climate change," said Eileen Claussen, Executive Director, Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "DuPont's commitment is an important reminder that there are steps companies can take now to reduce emissions. A legal framework for early action would only inspire more businesses to take similar voluntary steps."

The Pew Center's Early Action Conference is exploring why the United States should seriously consider a framework to recognize companies' voluntary efforts; what policymakers must do to ensure that companies acting in advance of an international agreement are not penalized; and how to create an early action crediting program that avoids putting climate-conscious companies at a competitive disadvantage, yet does not reward phantom emission reductions.

In his address, Reilley pointed to the value of an early action framework. "Credit for early action and other incentives offer the possibility of eliminating cost penalties and encouraging, and possibly accelerating, the growth of cost-effective sources of renewable energy."

DuPont's work on climate change is part of a long-standing commitment. As a result of an earlier initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by the year 2000 DuPont will have reduced emissions for global operations by 45 percent and improved energy efficiency by 15 percent below 1990 levels. DuPont also has succeeded in holding energy use constant for the last ten years.

DuPont's work on climate change will be highlighted in a Pew Center-sponsored advertisement under the banner headline of "a leap forward on climate change." The print advertisement will appear in Newsweek, Business Week, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wilmington News Journal.

In addition to the address by Reilley, the Pew Center Early Action Conference will include presentations from proponents of current early action proposals, as well as discussion on the complex legal, policy, and technical issues that confront the architects of early action programs.

"By bringing business leaders, policymakers and others with a stake in the climate change debate together, we hope the conference will provide new and balanced insight on the need for a legal framework on early action," said Claussen.

DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition; health care; apparel; home and construction; electronics; and transportation. Founded in 1802, the company operates in 65 countries and has 92,000 employees.

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation's largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of America's environment. The Pew Center supports businesses in developing marketplace solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, produces analytical reports on the science, and economic and environmental impacts of climate change, launches public education efforts and promotes better understanding of market mechanisms globally. Eileen Claussen, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, is the executive director of the Pew Center.

The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 21 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center - it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.

Early Action Conference

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 

Early Action Conference

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, in cooperation with The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, held a conference to explore the subject of credit for early action. The conference featured a keynote address by DuPont Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Dennis H. Reilley, announcing the company's rigorous new greenhouse gas reduction targets. Another conference highlight was luncheon speaker Robert Luft, Chairman of Entergy Corp., speaking on the importance of an early action crediting program in the United States to facilitate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The conference offered an overview of the early action issue from the perspectives of various industry sectors (including oil and gas, and manufacturing), electric utility, Congressional staff, state and city government; a review of current proposals; and roundtable discussions of the legal, policy, and technical issues that confront the architects of early action programs. Valuable participation by the audience contributed to a balanced and well-informed discussion.

Keynote Address by Dennis H. Reilley
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, DuPont

DuPont Announcement Press Release

Luncheon Speech by Robert Luft
Chairman, Entergy Corp.

Pew Center Early Action Report

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