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Congressional Testimony of Jay Gulledge Regarding Climate Change: Understanding the Degree of the Problem – and the Nature of its Solutions

TESTIMONY 

JAY GULLEDGE, Ph.D., SENIOR FELLOW
PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

July 20, 2006

At the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform

Regarding: Climate Change: Understanding the Degree of the Problem – and the Nature of its Solutions

Click for a pdf version of this testimony, which includes figures.


Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Members of the Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today.

Although I am replacing Dr. James Hansen on this panel, I would like to clarify that I am not representing Dr. Hansen, and I am fully responsible for my testimony.

There has been landmark progress in the science of climate change since the publication of the last IPCC report in 2001 and even in just the past one or two years, as my testimony will show. I would characterize this progress as falling into two general categories:  (1) greatly reduced uncertainties and (2) global changes in the climate, many of which were predicted years ago based on the anticipated effects of man-made greenhouse gases, are already being observed. The observed changes, especially changes in global ice cover, are occurring sooner and are more intense than had been expected, indicating that the climate is more sensitive to global warming than had been anticipated.

Global Surface Temperature

From 1920 to the present, the earth’s surface temperature has increased by 1.4 °F (Fig. 1). The sharpest rise occurred between 1975 and the present, when temperature rose steadily by about 1 °F. The same pattern of warming is apparent in sea-surface temperatures, as illustrated by the tropical North Atlantic (Fig. 2).

The same pattern of warming is also apparent in the Arctic region, which includes all surface area north of 66° North latitude (Fig. 2). Although the Arctic was relatively warm during the mid-twentieth century, it is clearly warmer today than at anytime in the past century. With an increase of 2 to 3 °F over the past century, the Arctic has warmed more than the global average. This amplification of warming over the high latitudes is a fundamental prediction of the enhanced greenhouse effect.

A long-standing uncertainty has been whether the Antarctic is also warming. In 2006, new long-term data were published based on weather-balloon data (Turner, Lachlan-Cope, Colwell et al. 2006). This is now the longest and most geographically comprehensive data set of direct temperature measurements for the Antarctic continent. The results show that the lower atmosphere above Antarctica cooled between the 1950s and 1975, and then increased sharply from 1975 to the present, similar to the global pattern shown in Fig. 1. Moreover, the Antarctic atmosphere has undergone the largest warming trend (1.2 °F per decade) of any spot on the entire globe (Fig. 3). There was also net warming on the ground.

Tropical sea-surface temperatures show a warming pattern similar to the global average and Arctic warming trends. Again, the present is considerably warmer than the mid-twentieth century warm period, as illustrated for the tropical North Atlantic (Fig. 4).

Not only is the current global temperature higher than at anytime in the past century, recent research on past global climate indicates that the late 20th century is warmer than at anytime in the past 1,000 years or more. One area of research that illustrates this finding is the reconstruction of past surface temperature from multiple proxies (ancient biological or geological structures that store information on the contemporary temperature at the time the structure was formed). Several reconstructions have been produced, none of which find evidence for any time in the past millennium when global surface temperatures approached those that have occurred since 1990 (National Research Council 2006); Fig. 5). Proxy reconstructions provide only one of several lines of evidence that support this conclusion.

The discussion above confirms that the observed pattern of global surface warming extends to the high latitudes in both the north and the south, and that the warming at high latitudes is larger than the warming at low latitudes, as predicted by the enhanced greenhouse theory. Moreover, the degree of warming since 1990 is of historic proportions, both for the twentieth century and the past millennium.

Ocean Heat Uptake

In 2005 a major breakthrough was made in understanding global warming when a large dataset was published showing that the global ocean had been absorbing more heat than it was releasing since at least 1955 (Fig. 6; Levitus, Antonov and Boyer 2005). Over this period, the heat content of the global ocean increased by an amount equivalent to 10,000 times the amount of energy produced for electricity in the U.S. in 2005. This amount of heat is far too large to have been transferred to the ocean from anywhere else within the climate system, and requires the accumulation of new energy from outside the earth system, such as from increased solar radiation or from the trapping of more outgoing infrared heat, as occurs from increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The sun’s intensity has not changed appreciably over the past 5 decades, but this period coincides with the most intense increase in man-made greenhouse gases.

Using the ocean heat content data described above, another recent study demonstrated that the enhanced greenhouse effect explains the ocean’s heat gain over the past 5 decades (Barnett, Pierce, Achutarao et al. 2005). Observations show that the oceans have been warming from the surface downward, which indicates heat transfer from the atmosphere (red dots in Fig. 7). The vertical pattern of heat penetration with depth varies from ocean to ocean as a result of currents transporting heat from one ocean to another (Fig. 7a). Modeling of natural variability from solar and volcanic forcings did not produce temperature profiles that matched this fingerprint (Fig. 7a). However, the combined influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, natural forcings, and internal variability matched the unique fingerprint of heat penetration for each ocean (Fig. 7b). Of the three elements, anthropogenic greenhouse gases strongly dominated the overall forcing.

The ocean absorbs more than 80% of the heat that is initially trapped by greenhouse gases. This heat does not affect the atmosphere right away, but ocean temperature gradually equilibrates with the atmosphere. As a result, the new heat that is currently stored in the ocean will come back out over the next several decades, further warming the earth’s surface. This warming, about 1 °F, is already with us and will occur later even if we were to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions today. Hence, we are already committed to an additional warming approximately equivalent to the warming that occurred during the late 20th century (Meehl et al. 2005).

Sea Level Rise

Based on tide-gauge records, the average rate of sea level rise (SLR) over the twentieth century was about 0.7 inches per decade (Houghton et al. 2001; Church and White 2006). Satellite altimeter measurements taken since 1993, by contrast, indicate that the rate of SLR at the end of the twentieth century was about 1.2 inches per decade (Fig. 8; (Cazenave and Nerem 2004). This result alone indicates that the rate of SLR is higher now than it was earlier in the twentieth century and implies a minimum acceleration rate of 0.05 inches per decade. This exact estimate of acceleration over the twentieth century was obtained using a more sophisticated statistical method from reconstructed tide gauge records (Church and White 2006).

So it is now apparent that SLR has accelerated over the twentieth century. If the current rate of acceleration were to continue through the year 2100, global sea level would rise by about one foot during the twenty-first century, which is consistent with predictions of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (Houghton, Ding, Griggs et al. 2001; Church and White 2006). However, with continued global warming, it is reasonable to expect the rate of acceleration to continue to increase, leading to greater than one foot of sea level rise.

Glacier Water Cycle Intensification

Decades ago, glaciologists predicted that the enhanced greenhouse effect would cause the water cycle of glaciers to become intensified (Oerlemans 1982; Huybrechts et al. 1991). Glaciers gain ice by snowfall at high elevations and they lose ice by melting at low elevations. The amount of snowfall and melting have both increased in mountain glaciers from the tropics to the high latitudes (Dyurgerov 2003), as well as in the large polar ice sheets of Greenland (Johannessen et al. 2005) and Antarctica (Fig. 9; (Vaughan 2005).

These new observations reduce uncertainty about the cause of global climate change because glaciers all around the globe are responding as originally predicted based on the enhanced greenhouse theory; the response is no longer merely a prediction.  Also, the observed change in the glacier water cycle reveals the sensitivity of the climate system to a relatively small amount of warming compared to what is projected for the future as a result of continued greenhouse gas emissions. It is safe to say that glaciologists have been surprised by how quickly and sensitively glaciers around the world, and especially the large polar ice sheets, have responded to late 20th century warming.

New Signs of Climate Sensitivity

Unfortunately, the global climate is already responding to global warming in a sensitive fashion, even though the amount of warming so far is relatively small compared to the projections of future warming. For instance, Arctic sea ice reached the lowest extent ever recorded in September of 2005 and is being lost at current rate of about 8% per year (Fig. 10). Some climatologists predict that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free during the summer by the year 2100, a condition that has not existed for at least one million years (Overpeck et al. 2005).

Mountain glaciers from the tropics to the mid-latitudes are losing ice vary rapidly. The relationship between glacier retreat and surface temperature is so tight that it is a simple matter to infer global surface temperature from historic glacier length records, using a simply physical relationship (Oerlemans 2005). There was no change in glacier lengths during the Little Ice Age that lasted from about 1500 to about 1850 (Fig. 11).

Glaciers began retreating around 1850 at the end of the Little Ice Age, but accelerated during the 20th century, followed by a short period of advance, then a rapid retreat in the late 20th century. By comparing this pattern to the global surface temperature in Fig. 1, it is clear that mountain glaciers are extremely sensitive to temperature changes on the order of those currently caused by human activities.

The changes in glacier length reflected in Fig. 11 correspond to a relatively small amount of warming compared to projections for the future, and there is already another 1 °F of warming stored in the ocean, as explained above. Because billions of people around the world rely exclusively or primarily on mountain glaciers for their water supplies, the sensitivity of these glaciers to warming is of vital policy importance. Western Canada and the Western USA rely heavily on snow pack and glacier water. More critical is the sole reliance of a large population in South America that relies entirely on Andean glaciers for water (Bradley et al. 2006). Some of these glaciers are already gone, and others are perilously close to disintegrating. There is a similarly critical condition in Central Asia, where more than a billion people rely on glaciers for water. These regions are primarily economically underdeveloped and lack the financial resources to adapt to a dwindling water supply.

Mountain glaciers are relatively small and easy to melt compared to the enormous continental ice sheets covering Greenland in the north and Antarctica in the south. For this reason, glaciologists have been surprised in recent years to find these large ice sheets responding sensitively to global warming. The ice sheet covering the Greenland continent contains enough water to raise global sea level by more than 20 feet if completely melted. Until recent months, however, estimates of continental ice loss were biased low because they assumed that the rate of glacier flow was unchanging, and only accounted for mass loss through ice melt (Alley et al. 2005; Rignot and Kanagaratnam 2006). Glaciers are rivers of ice that flow slowly from the high-elevations of the continent to the low-lying coasts and into the sea. New satellite measurements indicate that the flow of Greenland’s glaciers has accelerated dramatically over the past decade. Accounting for the combined effects of accelerating ice melt and flow rates, the most recent study of the Greenland ice mass estimated a net loss of ice twice as high as the previous IPCC estimate (Rignot and Kanagaratnam 2006).

The largest ice sheet on earth covers Antarctica and stores enough water to raise global sea level by 230 feet. Although scientists do not think that anthropogenic climate change could cause a complete meltdown of Antarctica, a loss of just 10 percent of its ice would release more water than a total loss of the Greenland ice sheet. The Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Houghton, Ding, Griggs et al. 2001) estimated that Antarctic ice was more or less in balance (no net ice gain or loss), but the report estimated that the Western Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) was losing ice, while the larger Eastern Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS) was gaining ice at a rate that balanced the ice lost from the WAIS. The most recent results paint a different picture. New gravity-sensing satellites, the first instruments to cover the entire Antarctic continent, indicate that the entire ice sheet is now in negative balance as a result of large losses of ice from the WAIS and no net changes in the EAIS (Velicogna and Wahr 2006). According to these measurements, Antarctica lost about 450 km of ice—roughly the volume of Lake Erie—between 2003 and 2005. Like Greenland, much of the ice loss from the WAIS results from ice flow into the sea, which had been neglected in previous estimates of mass balance (Alley, Clark, Huybrechts et al. 2005; Velicogna and Wahr 2006).

Global ice cover is an important indicator of climate sensitivity. Not only are small mountain glaciers responding, but enormous continental polar ice sheets are also responding. The fact that changes have surprised glaciologists represents a lack of appreciation for how sensitive the climate system is to a relatively small amount of warming. Scientists are currently struggling to reassess the true sensitivity of the climate to the enhanced greenhouse effect, as it appears to have been underestimated.

Conclusions

Together, the recent observations described above have dramatically strengthened the scientific consensus that global climate change is underway and that on a global scale it is caused mostly by man-made greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. Direct observations of climate change also confirm that the climate system is more sensitive than scientists have previously assumed, as illustrated by the fact that the most recent IPCC report, published in 2001, did not project that the large polar ice sheets would be experiencing net ice loss as a result of the relatively small amount of warming that has occurred so far.  Other new evidence also suggests that the amount of greenhouse gases required to warm the earth by a certain amount is smaller than previously thought. These are two critical aspects of climate sensitivity that appear to have been underestimated.

It is now clear from direct observations of climate changes currently underway that the amount of climate change to which we are already committed will have significant impacts on the climate system. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will add further to these impacts.

References

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Barnett, T P, D W Pierce, K M Achutarao, et al. (2005). "Penetration of human-induced warming into the world's oceans." Science 309: 284-287.

Bradley, R S, M Vuille, H F Diaz, et al. (2006). "Climate change: Threats to water supplies in the tropical andes." Science 312(5781): 1755-1756.

Cazenave, A and R S Nerem (2004). "Present-day sea level change:  Observations and causes." Reviews of Geophysics 42: 2003RG000139.

Church, J A and N J White (2006). "A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise." Geophysical Research Letters 33: L01602.

D'arrigo, R, R Wilson and G Jacoby (2006). "On the long-term context for late twentieth century warming." Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 111: D03103.

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Huybrechts, P, A Letreguilly and N Reeh (1991). "The greenland ice-sheet and greenhouse warming." Global and Planetary Change 89(4): 399-412.

Johannessen, O M, K Khvorostovsky, M W Miles, et al. (2005). "Recent ice-sheet growth in the interior of greenland." Science 310(5750): 1013-1016.

Levitus, S, J Antonov and T Boyer (2005). "Warming of the world ocean, 1955-2003." Geophysical Research Letters 32(2): L02604.

Meehl, G A, W M Washington, W D Collins, et al. (2005). "How much more global warming and sea level rise?" Science 307: 1769-1772.

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Oerlemans, J (1982). "Response of the antarctic ice-sheet to a climatic warming - a model study." Journal of Climatology 2(1): 1-11.

Oerlemans, J (2005). "Extracting a climate signal from 169 glacier records." Science 308(5722): 675-677.

Overpeck, J T, M Sturm, J a Francis, et al. (2005). "Arctic system on trajectory to new, seasonally ice-free state." Eos 86: 309-316.

Rignot, E and P Kanagaratnam (2006). "Changes in the velocity structure of the greenland ice sheet." Science 311: 986-990.

Turner, J, T a Lachlan-Cope, S Colwell, et al. (2006). "Significant warming of the antarctic winter troposphere." Science 311: 1914-1917.

Vaughan, D G (2005). "Oceans: How does the antarctic ice sheet affect sea level rise?" Science 308(5730): 1877-1878.

Velicogna, I and J Wahr (2006). "Measurements of time-variable gravity show mass loss in antarctica." Science 311: 1754-1756.

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Congressional Testimony of Theodore Roosevelt IV Regarding Climate Change: Understanding the Degree of the Problem – and the Nature of its Solutions

TESTIMONY

THEODORE ROOSEVELT IV
PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

July 20, 2006

At the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform

Regarding: Climate Change: Understanding the Degree of the Problem – and the Nature of its Solutions

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on climate change.  My name is Theodore Roosevelt IV.  I am the chairman of Strategies for the Global Environment, the umbrella organization of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.  I am also a co-chairman of the board of the Alliance for Climate Protection, and a member of the board of the World Resources Institute, though my statement today will primarily reflect the views of the Pew Center.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. In our eight years of existence, we have published almost seventy reports by experts in climate science, economics, policy and solutions, all of which have been peer-reviewed and reviewed as well by the companies with which we work.

Forty-one major companies sit on the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council, spanning a range of sectors, including oil and gas (BP, Shell), transportation (Boeing, Toyota), utilities (PG&E, Duke Energy, Entergy), high technology (IBM, Intel, HP), diversified manufacturing (GE, United Technologies), and chemicals (DuPont, Rohm and Haas). Collectively, the 41 companies represent two trillion dollars in market capitalization and three million employees. The members of the Council work with the Pew Center to educate the public on the risks, challenges and solutions to climate change.

Mr. Chairman, global climate change is one of the most daunting challenges we have ever faced as a nation. I am not a scientist, but I respect science, and when the nation’s premier science body, the National Academy of Sciences, speaks as clearly on an issue as it does on climate change, it is a good idea to listen. The National Academy of Sciences has said, in a statement signed last summer by the academies of ten other nations as well: “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.”

What do we know about the impacts of climate change?

We know that hurricanes are becoming more intense, not just in the Atlantic, which gave us Katrina and Rita, but in all oceans where hurricanes occur. We know we are experiencing a worldwide loss of mountain glaciers, a trend that is accelerating and has major implications for water supply in this country and around the world. We know that sea level is rising at an accelarated rate. We know that ecosystems around the world are showing signs of responding to climate change, with strong scientific evidence indicating that climate change is promoting the spread of diseases to new areas. The bottom line is this: The earth is warming; the impacts—once only predictions—are now upon us and are likely to worsen; and human activity is largely to blame.

Because carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for so long – a century in the case of carbon dioxide – climate change is largely irreversible, at least in the time scales human society is used to dealing with. But that does not mean we should throw up our hands. Given the current projections, things could get bad. But if we do not act soon, they will get worse.

Beyond the environmental case, though, there is a strong business case for addressing climate change – and doing so in part through mandatory measures.

As I mentioned, the Pew Center works with a wide range of businesses. Each of the companies on our business council is acting voluntarily to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. The voluntary actions have shown the companies there are cost effective – in some cases, cost saving – measures they can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thirty of the companies have targets for their voluntary actions, and 14 have already met their targets.

To give you some examples:

  • Entergy last year met its first goal to stabilize CO2 emissions at 2000 levels, and is now aiming for a 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2010.
  • Weyerhaeuser will reduce its emissions 40 percent by 2020 through greater reliance on biomass to fuel its pulp and paper mills.
  • SC Johnson reduced GHGs 18 percent since 2000, more than doubling initial 8 percent reduction goal, by vastly reducing reliance on fossil fuels and increasing use of alternative forms of energy, like landfill gas and wind.

Why are the companies doing this? In absence of serious climate policy in this country, why are they focused on this issue at all? Among other things, many in the business community realize that the risks of inaction outweigh the costs of action. For example, according to the reinsurance company, Swiss Re, there were $45 billion in total insured losses from Katrina, and $10 billion in insured losses from Rita and Wilma. While we can not say that any one hurricane is the result of climate change, there is strong evidence that we have and will be seeing more intense hurricanes, and these numbers illustrate the cost of that.

Perhaps because it is so exposed to the risks of climate change, the insurance industry has emerged as one of the strongest leaders in addressing the issue. For example:

  • The National Association of Insurance Commissioners formed a task force this year to assess the impacts of climate change on the industry.
  • Lloyd’s of London published “Climate Change: Adapt or Bust,” saying insurers must now take climate risks far more seriously.
  • Marsh, Inc., which has just joined our business council, has committed to be a leading source of climate risk information and solutions. A Marsh white paper on corporate climate risk concluding that “Climate change is a significant global risk. Businesses – if they haven’t already – must begin to account for it in their strategic and operational planning.”

So businesses have a significant interest in climate action.

There is a limit, however, to how far even the bravest corporate leader can go voluntarily. If you expect mandatory climate policy to be enacted within the lifecycle of your capital investments – as most astute businesses managers do – voluntary action today could actually end up hurting you in competition with the laggards in your industry when the policy becomes mandatory.

More importantly, for investors and inventors to start working in earnest on the transformative technologies the world will need to keep growing the economy while shrinking our climate change footprint, they need the certainty that only mandatory policy can provide.

We have a tremendous track record in this country when it comes to meeting environmental challenges, even as we grow our economy. Of the many important lessons we can draw from that experience, here is one especially to keep in mind: No major environmental problem has ever been solved in this country by voluntarism alone.

I have been discussing this in somewhat negative terms, but this is not just an issue in which we must manage risk, it is also an issue that yields business opportunities. That is one reason technology giants like GEDuPontUnited Technologies and the others on our council are working on this issue. The challenge of climate change, like other challenges we have met in the past, will create economic opportunities for U.S. industry. Eighty percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels. Because of this, addressing climate change will involve, among other things, increasing the efficiency of our energy use. That increased efficiency will directly improve U.S. competitiveness, as well as increase our energy security by reducing reliance on foreign energy sources.

Furthermore, financiers are projecting significant growth in demand for renewable energy technologies and energy efficient products. Mandatory climate policy will spur U.S. leadership in environmental and energy technology innovation, assuring U.S. competitiveness in the booming global market for climate-friendly technology.

Again, a few examples:

  • BP has created an Alternative Energy Division and may invest up to $8 billion in this venture over the next 10 years.
  • The 2005 revenues of GE’s ecomagination initiative are over $10 billion, up from $6.2 billion in 2004.
  • Clean technology markets now represent annual global revenues greater than $150 billion.
  • U.S. venture capitalists poured $1.4 billion in clean technology markets in 2005, up 43% from the year before.
  • When the Carbon Disclosure Project was launched in 2003, 35 investors totaling $4.5 trillion in assets signed on. This year, 155 institutional investors with combined assets of $21 trillion signed on. Currently, more than 350 companies report their emissions and climate strategies through the CDP website.

There are also growing opportunities in the carbon trading market. Many of the companies on our business council have experience with the European Union’s emissions trading system, and others participate in the Chicago Climate Exchange. In particular:

  • Baxter International became first company to transfer greenhouse gas allowances from the European Union to the Chicago Climate Exchange, linking the two markets and setting an important precedent.
  • PG&E has a Climate Protection Program that gives customers the opportunity to go “carbon neutral” by paying a small fee on utility bill to offset carbon emissions associated with electricity purchases.

How do we make this outstanding work the norm? In February, the Pew Center released the first comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Our Agenda for Climate Action outlines an ambitious yet practical approach, based on eight years of analysis and work with leading businesses and policymakers.

The Pew Center’s Agenda outlines 15 specific recommendations in six overarching areas where the United States must take action. These six areas are: 1) science and technology; 2) market-based programs; 3) sectoral emissions; 4) energy production and use; 5) adaptation; and 6) international engagement. Let me say a word about a few of these.

First, we believe it is critically important to enact a mandatory cap-and-trade program that applies to large stationary sources – power plants and major manufacturing facilities. Our work over the years has shown that market mechanisms such as emissions trading allow companies to reduce emissions in the cheapest, most efficient manner possible.

What a cap-and-trade system does is tell the market there is value in reducing emissions. It tells inventors and investors there is profit in creating and deploying climate-friendly technologies. It creates an essential pull for new technologies to enter the market. The push for those technologies comes from the funding of innovation, but we need both the push and the pull to achieve real and cost-effective results.

A cap-and-trade system by itself, however, and particularly at the level that would be politically practical, is not enough. This is why the Pew Center’s Agenda also calls for sectoral approaches, such as transforming the much-maligned Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (or CAFE) program. We recommend strengthening and converting the CAFE program to a set of tradable standards based on greenhouse gas emissions. If you are looking to protect the climate, focusing on emissions rather than fuel efficiency is the way to go. By creating a market for emissions reductions through trading, and at the same time supporting the development of low-emission vehicles and fuels (the push and pull approach)—you can reduce the cost of getting the job done.

Another critical issue is coal. We need to be realists here. Coal is responsible for 50 percent of our nation’s electricity. It is cheap and it is plentiful and I believe it will continue to play a role in meeting U.S. and global energy needs for years to come. We need, therefore, to get very serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. First, we need to build the very best, most efficient coal burning power plants possible to reduce emissions per kilowatt-hour of electricity. And then we have to prove that the carbon dioxide that still is emitted from these plants can be captured and stored in geological formations where it can be kept from entering the atmosphere for centuries or millennia.

We recommend an aggressive program of research, development and demonstration for these technologies. A few random demonstration projects done at a leisurely pace clearly are not enough. We need to build the most efficient plants and we need a concerted public-private effort to demonstrate that capture and sequestration can work, and then we have to insist that it be done.

Again, these are not the only issues that need to be addressed. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon sequestration on agricultural and forest lands – all these are essential parts of the solution as well.

Finally, the Pew Center’s Agenda, while primarily focused on domestic actions, also calls for greater U.S. participation in international negotiations on this issue. It is obvious now that there is no chance the United States will sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. Regardless, the fact remains that climate change is a global problem that demands a long-term global solution. We need to engage every country that is a major source of these emissions, not just the United States, but China and India as well. And we need to come up with ways to make the process fair and equitable for all involved.

In closing: climate change is a serious challenge and one we need to begin addressing now in a serious way, including through mandatory policy. Fortunately, there is every indication that if we design our policy right, we will be not just allowing, but helping, the economy to grow. I thank and commend you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. The Pew Center looks forward to working with the committee on the development of any future climate policy.

The Lugar-Biden Climate Change Resolution (Senate Resolution 312)

On May 23, 2006, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed S. Res. 312, a “sense of the Senate” resolution calling for U.S. participation in negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish mitigation commitments for all countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases.  The resolution was introduced by Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana), the committee's chairman, and Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Delaware), the committee's ranking minority member. 

The resolution passed by voice vote.  Four Senators asked to be recorded as opposed to the resolution: Senators Allen (R-Virginia), Coleman (R-Minnesota), Martinez (R-Florida), and Sununu (R-New Hampshire).  The nine other Senators in attendance were Chairman Lugar (R-Indiana) and Senators Alexander (R-Tennessee), Chafee (R-Rhode Island), Dodd (D-Connecticut), Feingold (D-Wisconsin), Hagel (R-Nebraska), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Obama (D-Illinois) and Sarbanes (D-Maryland).

Senators Lugar and Biden announced the introduction of their resolution at a event in November 2005 releasing the report of the Center's Climate Dialogue at Pocantico.  The Pocantico dialogue brought together 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries to recommend approaches for advancing the international climate effort beyond 2012.  The group's report can be seen here.

In a speech before the U.N. Security Council in February 2006, Senator Lugar stressed the need for U.S. leadership on climate change and cited the Pocantico report as a roadmap toward a comprehensive international approach.  Senator Lugar's remarks can be viewed here.

The resolution approved by the Committee reads in part:

“[B]e it Resolved,   That it is the sense of the Senate that the United States should act to reduce the health, environmental, economic, and national security risks posed by global climate change and foster sustained economic growth through a new generation of technologies, by--

(1) participating in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, done at New York May 9, 1992, and entered into force in 1994, and leading efforts in other international fora, with the objective of securing United States participation in agreements that--

(A) advance and protect the economic and national security interests of the United States;

(B) establish mitigation commitments by all countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases, consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities;

(C) establish flexible international mechanisms to minimize the cost of efforts by participating countries; and

(D) achieve a significant long-term reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions; and

(2) establishing a bipartisan Senate observer group, the members of which shall be designated by the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, to--

(A) monitor any international negotiations on climate change; and

(B) ensure that the advice and consent function of the Senate is exercised in a manner to facilitate timely consideration of any applicable treaty submitted to the Senate.”

Statement of Eileen Claussen on Senate Energy Committee Climate Conference

It is not an easy task to craft regulation, but by inviting a wide range of views to be heard Senators Domenici and Bingaman have signaled their intent to craft a workable and fair piece of legislation. Most important, the Senators are not asking if we should do something, they are asking how we should do it.

A successful United States policy must meet the following objectives: it must be comprehensive; it must include a program to cap emissions from large sources and allow for emissions trading; and it should protect U.S. firms in energy-intensive industries against competitiveness impacts. It is important too that other countries adopt measures to reduce and limit their emissions, but the single most important step the United States can take to encourage efforts by other countries is to begin in earnest to address our own greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's hearings are a watershed event and I commend the Energy committee for their political will.

Congressional Testimony of Eileen Claussen: Trading and International Competitiveness

OPENING STATEMENT

HON. EILEEN CLAUSSEN, PRESIDENT
PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE 

At the Climate Conference of
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee
United States Senate

Panel: Trading and International Competitiveness

Washington, DC
April 4, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this conference. The Pew Center works closely with a council of forty-one major companies to advance practical and effective climate change policies. 

I would like to address the issue of the comparability of national efforts by disentangling two distinct but related objectives: (1) achieving adequate action by all major emitting countries, and (2) protecting U.S. firms against competitiveness impacts. 

The first of these objectives is best achieved through multilateral commitments engaging all the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations in a fair and effective long-term effort.   Twenty-five countries account for 83 percent of global emissions.  Engaging these major economies requires a flexible framework that allows different countries to take on different types of binding commitments.  We believe the United States should play a leadership role in developing such a framework.        

But ensuring broad comparability at the national level will not necessarily achieve the second objective:   protecting U.S. firms against competitiveness impacts.  It is not the competitiveness of the U.S. economy as a whole that is at issue.  To the degree that there are competitiveness impacts, they will fall on specific sectors: energy-intensive industries whose goods are traded internationally. These sectors might remain vulnerable even if efforts by all major emitters are broadly comparable, because countries could choose to exempt a given sector from controls, giving that sector an advantage over foreign competitors.

At the international level, one way to ensure a level playing field is to establish multilateral agreements along sectoral lines. These could be one element of the framework I mentioned earlier.

At the domestic level, in designing a national cap-and-trade system, we should set the caps at modest levels, allow offsets, and “grandfather” allowances in a way that protects vulnerable firms or sectors. We could also dedicate funds, possibly by auctioning a portion of allowances, to provide technology assistance to affected industries and transition assistance for their workers.

I would like to note in closing that the single most important step the United States can take to encourage stronger efforts by other countries is to begin in earnest to address our own greenhouse gas emissions. I applaud the Committee for advancing this critical debate.

Thank you.


Read related content on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee's Climate Conference.

An Agenda for Climate Action

AN AGENDA FOR CLIMATE ACTION

SPEECH BY EILEEN CLAUSSEN
PRESIDENT, PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

YALE SCHOOL OF FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

MARCH 30, 2006

Thank you very much.   It is great to be here at Yale.  I want to open my remarks today with some polling numbers.  And I know what some of you may be thinking.  You’re thinking this is a typical Washington thing to do: talk about polls.  And you’re thinking about how polls really don’t get at the real issues.  And you may be right, particularly in this era of television and internet insta-polls.  

I was watching BBC Television shortly after the death of Slobodan Milosevic and the announcer asked viewers to call in with their opinions on this question: “How will Milosevic’s death affect the future of peace in the Balkans?”   And I thought that’s really a fairly sophisticated question.  Sort of the kind of essay question you might have to respond to here at Yale.  And fairly typical, I imagine, of BBC’s expectations of its audience.

In contrast, if you turn on CNN or FOX or one of the other American cable networks, the questions tend to be of the quick yes or no variety.   Here is an actual CNN online poll I found on the Internet: “Would you consider having microchips implanted in your body?  Yes or no.”  I can only imagine how someone might use these results.   

But seriously, I think we can all learn something from looking at the polling on an issue such as climate change, especially when it reveals a clear divergence between public opinion and what is happening in Washington to address this issue.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a national survey showed that Americans of all political beliefs are not happy with the U.S. government’s leadership (or lack thereof) on the issues of global warming and alternative energy. More than three out of four – including two out of three conservatives – said the federal government is not doing enough on either of these issues. And nearly nine out of ten agreed with the following statement—and I quote: “U.S. leaders should take steps to reduce carbon pollution now and speed up the conversion to renewable energy and other alternatives.”

Nine out of ten people. That’s higher than the proportion of dentists who recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum. Seriously, it is an overwhelming majority of Americans. And they all want to see something done to address the climate issue and to put America on a path to a low-carbon future.

Of course, President Bush and Vice President Cheney say they don’t pay attention to polls – and this is one time when I believe them. Because if they were to pay attention to polls, they would be doing something serious to solve the climate problem. In ever-increasing numbers, Americans recognize that we are facing a potential crisis here, and they are looking to their elected leaders in Washington to shape solutions.

I am here today to talk about what those solutions might entail—and I want to do that by focusing on a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States that the Pew Center released in February. But I want to start with a brief look at the science of climate change, as well as what is happening now at both the state level and nationally.

Then I want to reserve the rest of my remarks to talk about the Pew Center’s Agenda – because what is happening right now in this country is clearly not enough.

The Science of Climate Change

So first the science. The polling data I talked about shows a pronounced shift in Americans’ views on the climate issue and what to do about it. And the main reason for this shift is not that people are beginning to notice that it’s getting warmer or that the pond over at the town park just isn’t freezing as much in the winter as it used to.

No, what’s happening is that people are beginning to pay attention to the science on this issue. And they are coming to understand that there is no longer any doubt about it: climate change is a very real and very serious problem.

Scientists now know for certain that the globe has been warming for the past century. They also know that human activities, mainly the burning of coal and oil, but also agriculture and deforestation, have dramatically increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere

In just the past year, the science linking observed climate change directly to human activities has become increasingly solid. And the impacts of climate change, distributed across the globe, are occurring in patterns that can only be explained by human activities and not by natural variations in regional climate. During the first half of the 20th century, natural factors may have been as important as anthropogenic factors. Unfortunately, the more dramatic warming that has occurred since then has been dominated by the human influence. The science is now clear on this point.

But what is really changing how people view this issue is that the impacts we are seeing now—today—are happening much sooner than anyone might have anticipated even a decade ago. These changes were predicted, but even the scientists who made the predictions are surprised at the rate at which they are now occurring.

What do we know about the impacts of climate change?

We know that ice cover around the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Just last month, new satellite-based measurements of ice flow in Greenland were published in the Journal Science. And what they showed is that the second largest land-based ice sheet in the world is losing ice twice as fast as scientists had estimated before these new measurements were available. This ice sheet, if completely melted, could raise global sea level by almost 20 feet. That would permanently flood not just New Orleans, but virtually all of America’s major coastal cities.

We also know that we are experiencing a worldwide loss of mountain glaciers, a trend that is accelerating. By mid-century, most mountain glaciers may be gone.

We know that hurricanes are becoming more intense, not just in the Atlantic, which gave us Katrina and Rita, but in all oceans where hurricanes occur.

We know that ecosystems around the world are showing signs of responding to climate change. One study found that 130 species - both plants and animals - have responded to earlier spring warming over the last 30 years. These organisms have changed their timing of flowering, migration and other spring activities. More startling than this, however, climate change is also driving some species to extinction. For instance, in the past 20 years dozens of species of mountain frogs in Central America have disappeared because of a disease that formerly did not occur where they live. Early this year, a paper in the journal Nature revealed that the disease-causing organism, a fungus, has spread to higher elevations as a result of climate warming. This paper not only provides an example of climate change driving species extinct, but also strong scientific evidence that climate change is promoting the spread of diseases to new areas. In the authors' own words, "With climate change promoting infectious disease and eroding biodiversity, the urgency of reducing greenhouse-gas concentrations is now undeniable."

And these are, if I may say this, just the tip of the melting iceberg.

So the bottom line is this: The earth is warming; the impacts—once only predictions—are now upon us and are likely to worsen; and human activity is largely to blame.

U.S. Action on Climate Change

So we have all this science, and we have Americans responding to it by saying that our government needs to do more. How has our government responded? Well, at the state level at least, the response has been encouraging. For example:

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have enacted renewable energy mandates requiring utilities to generate a share of their power from renewable sources.

  • Twenty-eight state governments have adopted climate action plans; 15 have programs or policies in place to reduce, sequester or register greenhouse gases; and nine states have statewide targets for reducing their emissions.

Connecticut, I am pleased to say, has done all of these things. And more. As many of you know, Connecticut, along with six other northeastern states has signed onto a regional initiative called RGGI that is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the Northeast. This is the first “cap and trade” program to control these emissions in the United States. It couples a mandatory cap on emissions from the electricity sector with a market-based trading program that will allow companies to achieve their reductions at the lowest possible cost.

So Connecticut is really out in front on this issue—and all of you should be proud to live in a state with leaders who understand the need for climate action.

Among the other states that are taking this issue seriously, I have to mention California.

Like Connecticut, California has established greenhouse gas emissions targets, and they are very ambitious. And that state also has taken steps to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks. (a policy that Connecticut will follow if it survives the automakers’ legal challenge)

And then there is New Mexico, a major coal-producing state. NM has established its own targets, and has also announced a partnership with neighboring Arizona to jointly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change in the Southwest.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of things states are doing. Now, you might think one state’s actions cannot possibly affect a global problem like climate change. But consider this: California’s emissions top those of Brazil. Texas comes in ahead of Canada, the UK and Mexico. And Illinois produces more CO2 than the Netherlands. States are a significant part of the climate problem, and many of them, including Connecticut, are showing they can be a significant part of the solution as well.

So what about our national government? To what extent have our leaders in Washington embraced the need for action? Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

First the good news: During the U.S. Senate’s debate on energy legislation last year, senators approved a bipartisan measure calling for a national, mandatory, market-based program to slow, stop and, ultimately, reverse the growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation was sponsored by senators Domenici and Bingaman, the chair and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee. And although it was a nonbinding measure, it marked the first time the Senate has gone on record to support mandatory action on this issue. That is an important achievement – and now Senators Bingaman and Domenici are seeking input on how to create a mandatory climate program that gets real results.

Still in play is the cap and trade legislation proposed by Senators John McCain and Connecticut’s own Joseph Lieberman. And now Senator Dianne Feinstein has joined the issue as well, offering her own version of a cap and trade climate policy. And we are helping others in Congress develop other proposals. So clearly, we’ve seen an up-tick in Congressional interest in this issue. Granted, these proposals may not become law right away, probably not before 2008, but I believe it is only a matter of time before limits on greenhouse gas emissions are in place.

So that’s the good news: people on Capitol Hill, especially in the Senate, are looking at this issue and thinking hard about how to address it.

The bad news is that the White House and leadership of the House of Representatives are strongly opposed to addressing climate change in any significant way. As a result, I do not believe anything substantive is likely to come out of Congress on this issue for some time. I would like to be proved wrong, but it is hard for me to see any leadership on this issue coming from the White House during the remainder of its term.

Despite the President’s famous statement in his State of the Union Address that America is addicted to oil, Washington does not seem truly ready to fight the addiction. The Administration’s budget proposals don’t come anywhere close to providing the shot in the arm we need to accelerate clean energy research in this country. (Again, this is despite the American public’s clear interest in alternative energy solutions.) More importantly, even if the technology programs were properly funded, they simply are not enough.

And this is the problem with what has been happening on this issue to date, whether at the state or the federal level. In addition to being late to start, what we are talking about and doing is simply not enough. As I said, I applaud what many of the states are doing, and I am pleased to see members of Congress beginning to understand the need for action. But we need to remember what this is about.

James Hansen, the NASA scientist who is one of the world’s leading experts on climate change, says we have just 10 years to begin reducing greenhouse gases before global warming reaches what he calls a tipping point; the tipping point, as the phrase implies, is the point from which we may not be able to avert a catastrophe. To forestall a climate crisis, we must stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. And what does that mean? According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it means limiting the concentrations to about 550 parts per million –roughly double the pre-industrial level of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

To get to that level, we need to reduce global CO2 emissions by 55 to 85 percent below what is currently projected. Fifty-five to 85 percent. And we need to do this at the same time that energy demand around the world is growing at an unprecedented rate. We need to act now to come up with ways to limit emissions growth without endangering economic growth. And make no mistake: The United States, which is responsible for one-fourth of global emissions, needs to play a leadership role.

And that is going to require a fundamental shift. We need to move from an economy based on traditional burning of fossil fuels to one based on more energy efficiency; increased use of low-carbon energy sources; and the capture and storage of carbon from fossil fuels. This is not something that one piece of legislation, or even one strategy or one approach, will accomplish. We need a comprehensive approach.

An Agenda for Climate Action

In February, the Pew Center released the first comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Our Agenda outlines an ambitious yet practical approach to addressing this issue. It is based on seven years of Pew Center analysis and work with leading businesses and policymakers.

The number-one lesson we have learned from this work: There is no single technology fix, no single policy and no single sector that can solve this problem on its own. For example, addressing emissions from the utility sector is key, but doing only that leaves out about 60 percent of emissions. In the same way, if we adopt policies to limit emissions from transportation and do nothing else, we’re hitting just 30 percent of the problem—which is significant, of course, but it is not enough.

The Pew Center’s Agenda outlines 15 specific recommendations in six overarching areas where the United States must take action. These six areas are: 1) science and technology; 2) market-based programs; 3) sectoral emissions; 4) energy production and use; 5) adaptation; and 6) international engagement.

I want to provide you with a better sense of what our Agenda is about by highlighting some of the recommendations in each of these six areas.

In the area of science and technology research, we call for increased and stable funding to spur technological innovation. Because it is important to spend this money wisely, we suggest the use of a “reverse auction.” Unlike a traditional auction, where buyers bid against each other to purchase an item, a reverse auction allows providers of goods or services—in this case, new, climate-friendly technologies—to compete for a pot of money by offering emissions reductions.

Since 1998, California has used reverse auctions to promote development of renewable energy. The program collects money through a charge on electric power, and solicits bids for renewable projects, with the money going to the bidder that can provide the renewable energy at the cheapest rate. Thus far, there have been 81 successful bids to produce renewable energy through this competitive and cost-effective system.

Second, we believe it is critically important to enact a mandatory cap and trade program that applies to large stationary sources – power-plants and major manufacturing facilities. Our work over the years has shown that market mechanisms such as emissions trading allow companies to reduce emissions in the cheapest, most efficient manner possible.

What a cap and trade system does in essence is send a signal to the market. It tells the market that there is a value in reducing emissions. And it tells inventors and investors that there is profit in creating and deploying climate-friendly technologies. It creates an essential pull for new technologies to enter the market. The push for those technologies, in turn, comes from the funding of innovation, through mechanisms like the reverse auction. And we need both the push and the pull to achieve real and cost-effective results. A cap and trade system coupled with a reverse auction is a great example of a comprehensive approach.

But the fact is that a cap-and-trade system by itself, and particularly at the level that would be politically practical, is not enough. In fact, many of the current proposals for cap-and-trade programs, tend to leave out the transportation sector, which is of course a major source of emissions.

And this is why the Pew Center’s Agenda also calls for sectoral approaches such as transforming the much-maligned Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (or CAFE) program. CAFE, as you know, sets average fuel efficiency levels for carmakers across their fleets. But the standards have not changed significantly in over 20 years. And, because SUVs and light trucks now make up as much as half of the new-vehicle product mix, the average fuel economy of all the cars and light trucks sold in America—import and domestic— is no better today than it was in the early 1980s. Although NHTSA is currently considering changing the way it classifies different kinds of light trucks, it is unclear what that will translate into as far as actual emission reductions. But I am fairly sure it won’t be enough.

We recommend strengthening and converting the United States’ current fuel economy standards to a set of tradable standards based on greenhouse gas emissions. If you are looking to protect the climate, focusing on emissions rather than fuel efficiency seems more logical. By creating a market for emissions reductions through trading, and at the same time supporting the development of low-emission vehicles and fuels (the push and pull approach)—you can reduce the cost of getting the job done.

Of course, it is not only in the transportation sector where additional action is needed.

Our plan proposes tighter standards for appliance and equipment efficiency, as well as incentives for the manufacture of more climate-friendly products. Similarly, for the building sector, we call for stricter building codes to decrease energy use. We even touch on the role of the agriculture and forestry sectors in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere through climate-friendly practices. Again, all sectors of the economy have a role to play in this, and it is going to take all sectors to achieve the results we need.

But all sectors are not equal when it comes to having a hand in the climate problem and its potential solutions. One sector stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that is, you guessed it, energy. Eighty-percent of US greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels. The ways in which we generate, distribute and use energy have a profound impact on our emissions of greenhouse gases—and that is why the Pew Center’s Agenda reserves a special set of recommendations for this all-important sector. Our recommendations cover all of the major energy sources.

Let’s start with coal. And we need to be realists here. Coal is responsible for 50 percent of our nation’s electricity. It is cheap and it is plentiful and I believe (along with many others) that it will continue to play a role in meeting U.S. and global energy needs for years to come. Let’s look for a moment at our current and projected energy mix and needs. If we assume coal will continue to contribute roughly half of U.S. electricity requirements; and you look at the projected growth of energy demand in this country - by 2025 the U.S. will need to grow our coal capacity by 60% - that would mean emissions from U.S. coal burning alone in 2025 would equal 15% of our current global emissions. Globally, the numbers are even more dramatic. China is even more dependent on coal for electricity than the US. It contributes to 75% of their electricity needs, and despite efforts to ramp up generation in gas, renewables and nuclear, the overall share of coal in the mix is unlikely to change significantly. Think about this: China is building new coal power plants at a rate of one plant per week.

So we need to get serious—and I mean very serious—about reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. First, we need to build the very best, most efficient coal burning power plants possible to reduce emissions per kWh of electricity. And then we have to prove that the carbon dioxide that still is emitted from these plants can be captured and stored (sequestered) in geological formations where it can be kept from entering the atmosphere for centuries or millennia.

We recommend an aggressive program of research, development and demonstration for these technologies. A few random demonstration projects done at a leisurely pace clearly are not enough. We need to build the most efficient plants and we need a concerted public-private effort to demonstrate that capture and sequestration can work, and then we have to insist that it be done.

But dealing with coal alone is not enough. Because capture and storage technologies are not quite ready, we need to work on expanding the role that renewables play in our energy future. We should also concentrate on expanding natural gas supplies and using natural gas more efficiently. And we will need to solve the problems associated with nuclear power. For each energy source, we propose specific measures in areas from R&D to incentives to regulation that can help expand the suite of carbon-friendly technologies that are necessary to put us on a low-carbon path.

It is of course important to understand that none of the things I have talked about can fully prevent all of the potential effects of climate change. In fact, as I mentioned at the start of my remarks, many impacts are already being seen. This is why, at the same time that we are working to reduce emissions in order to minimize the effects of climate change, we also need to develop a national strategy to adapt to those effects. Climate change is happening, and it is going to affect everything from agriculture to public safety and public health. Without a strategy, as well as a system for identifying the early warning signs of climate problems confronting our country, we are going to be caught unprepared.

Finally, the Pew Center’s Agenda, while primarily focused on domestic actions, also calls for greater U.S. participation in international negotiations on this issue. It is obvious now that there is no chance the United States will sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto, of course, is the 1997 agreement that sets country-by-country targets for reducing emissions for industrialized countries. However you feel about Kyoto, the fact remains that climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. It also needs a longer-term solution; Kyoto includes targets only through 2012.

We need to engage every country that is a major source of these emissions, not just the United States but China and India as well. And we need to come up with ways to make the process fair and equitable for all involved.

Finding common ground on global approaches to the climate problem has been the focus of a special Pew Center initiative we launched a couple of years ago and released in Montreal in December. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it here, but we organized a dialogue-with business and political leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Australia, China, India, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries. And a key take-away from the group is that we need a more flexible framework than Kyoto, something that allows different countries to take on different types of commitments, all under the umbrella of a common global framework.

Working with us on global approaches are Senators Lugar and Biden, the majority and minority leaders in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And I cannot speak highly enough of what these Senators have done. They sent senior staff to participate in our dialogue. They co-sponsored a resolution urging US leadership in the international negotiating process, and are committed to getting a majority of Senators to support it this year. And they expect to hold hearings this year on energy security and climate change.

So those are the recommendations in the Pew Center’s Agenda. Once again, they cover the areas of: 1) science and technology; 2) market-based programs; 3) sectoral emissions; 4) energy production and use; 5) adaptation; and 6) international engagement.

The Role of Business

What I want to emphasize about this agenda is that this isn’t pie-in-the-sky thinking. All of the steps we are recommending are eminently doable. We just need the political will to do them.

And, if we do these things thoughtfully, this transition can actually become a platform for new economic growth, new jobs, new manufacturing and service industries, and new roles for sectors such as agriculture and forestry in our nation’s efforts to protect the climate.

America’s business leaders appear to understand this. They know that a mandatory program to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is inevitable, and they know it is in their best interests to see that the program is designed intelligently and fairly.

That’s why so many of them stood with us at the event in February where we unveiled our Agenda. And why so many companies responded to Senator Bingaman and Domenici’s call for proposals and suggestions to fashion legislation setting mandatory caps on U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. And that is why last June, five Fortune 500 companies provided testimony on climate to the Science Committee of the House of Representatives. ;

There are two unifying themes in these examples of corporate and investor leadership. First, most corporate leaders know that greenhouse gas regulation is inevitable. Second, they know that properly designed mandatory climate policies are consistent with sound business planning and good corporate governance. As more companies and investors come to this realization, pressure will mount for other companies to take a more responsible stance on the climate issue. And as corporate leadership aligns with activity at the state and international level, pressure will grow for serious policy change at the federal level.

Why? Because these companies want to ensure that the burden of responding to the climate problem is evenly shared across all sectors of the economy. And they also want another thing: they want certainty. Businesses, particularly electric utilities that have to make significant up-front investments in power plants, are saying they need to be able to plan for the future-and they cannot plan effectively without knowing what kind of policies this country is going to adopt to control emissions.

I opened my remarks with some polling data that shows Americans clearly understand the need for action on this issue. And I have concluded with examples of how business leaders, too, are concerned and how they’re beginning to take action. And, when you consider what many of the states are doing to address this issue, you realize that the one place where climate change still hasn’t achieved priority status is in Washington. Yes, we have seen a fair amount of discussion of this issue. And, yes, there are policymakers who take it seriously and who want to shape solutions.

But we need solutions now. We don’t have time to wait. Climate change policy in this country is at a crossroads, and the American public, together with visionary business and state leaders, are pointing us in the direction we need to go.

The sooner we get started by reversing our current course and adopting a serious and comprehensive approach to addressing this problem, the better off and the safer we will be. And the sooner we’ll begin transforming our economy for the realities and the opportunities that lie ahead.

And so, I will leave you today with another bit of polling described by Jay Leno. "According to a survey in this week’s Time magazine, 85% of Americans think global warming is happening. The other 15%" according to Leno, "work for the White House." Thank you very much. I welcome your questions.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

One sign that the United States Senate is getting serious about crafting domestic climate policy is the interest in the issue shown by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R - New Mexico) and Ranking Member Jeff Bingaman (D - New Mexico). The Committee conducts legislative activity in areas such as energy resources and development, including regulation, conservation, strategic petroleum reserves and appliance standards; nuclear energy; and public lands and their renewable resources. Recently the Committee has been active on the issue of climate change.

In June 2005, Bingaman filed legislation embodying a recommendation by the multi-stakeholder National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) for a mandatory program that would allow greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to continue to rise, though at a slower pace than otherwise projected. Domenici, among others, publicly expressed interest in the measure, though was not then prepared to support it. Consequently, Bingaman chose not to offer it. Instead, with Domenici’s support, Bingaman offered a nonbinding resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that human-caused GHGs are causing temperatures to rise, and that Congress should enact a national mandatory, market-based program to slow, stop, and reverse the growth of these emissions. After the resolution was supported by a strong majority of 53 - 44, Domenici announced his intention to hold a series of hearings on the Bingaman-NCEP proposal. The committee held its hearings on climate science and economics later in 2005.

In early 2006, the Committee issued a white paper on Design Elements of a Mandatory Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System. Read the Center's response to this white paper.

Additional topic 2 - Recent climate science

Pew Center on Global Climate Changes Response to:

"Design Elements of a Mandatory
Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System"

Issued by Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman
February 2006

Additional Topic #2
Download Additional Topic #2 (pdf)

Recent Climate Science

The Center commends the Senate Energy Committee for addressing the climate change issue and urges a continued high level of effort – especially in light of recent developments in climate science.  In the past 3 years, and especially in 2005-06, the science attributing global warming to human enhancement of the greenhouse effect has become very compelling.  At the same time, globally distributed impacts of climate change have occurred in patterns that are readily explained by global warming, and not by natural variations in regional climate.  Many changes that have been predicted by models are now occuring.

1. Attribution of global warming to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Scientists have tested alternate hypotheses of natural versus anthropogenic forcings to explain observed climate change. Two recent studies illustrate the state of the science in this endeavor, but represent a small fraction of the studies that have produced similar conclusions.

a. Physical simulation of 20th century surface warming: A study (Meehl et al. 2004. Journal of Climate 17:3721-3727) by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) examined a variety of natural (solar, volcanoes) and anthropogenic (GHG, ozone, sulfate aerosols) forcings on global surface temperature, comparing model output with observed changes during the 20th century. The study found that all of these factors act additively and all must be included as forcings in the model in order to closely mimic the observed temperature change. During the last half of the 20th century, the largest forcing explaining warmer global temperatures was anthropogenic GHG. These and many other results directly contradict claims that models fail to mimic observed changes.

b. Physical simulation of heat penetration into the oceans. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, the UK’s Hadley Center, and NCAR produced a study (Barnett et al. Science 309:284-287) showing that the global ocean basins are warming simultaneously as a result of global greenhouse warming. Whereas natural variations occur at different times, and often in direct opposite patterns, in different ocean basins, there has been a simultaneous warming of all the major ocean basins over the past 40 years. Moreover, the pattern of penetration of warming at different ocean depths varies from basin to basin. Modeling of natural internal variability alone did not reproduce these complex patterns, whereas combining internal variability with GHG forcing did. Hence, using a very different approach from the study above, scientists once again find that observed patterns of climate change can only be mimicked when anthropogenic GHGs are included as a climate forcing.

 

c. Physical simulation of the increasing height of the tropopause. The tropopause is a region of the atmosphere that separates the lower atmosphere (troposphere) from the upper atmosphere (stratosphere). Its height is determined by physical conditions in the troposphere and stratosphere, among them being the temperature of the troposphere below and the stratosphere above. As these conditions change, the height of the tropopause changes in response. Forcings that either warm the troposphere or cool the stratosphere tend to increase the tropopause height, whereas those that cool the troposphere or warm the stratosphere decrease troposphere height. Changes in solar radiation and volcanic particles are natural forcings and changes in stratospheric ozone and tropospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are anthropogenic forcings.

Scientists from the US, UK, and Germany teamed up to test whether they could simulate observed changes in the height of the tropopause based on changes in the natural and/or anthropogenic forcings and their physical understanding of atmospheric dynamics (Santer et al. 2003. Science 301:479-483; Santer et al. 2004. Journal of Geophysical Research 109:D21104). Observations revealed a 620-foot increase in tropopause height between 1979 and 2001. The scientists obtained a similar increase in the simulated tropopause height when their model was forced by anthropogenic GHG and stratospheric ozone depletion (from man-made chemicals). About 40% of the effect was from GHG and 60% from ozone depletion. Including natural variability of solar input and volcanic emissions in the model had little effect on this outcome, suggesting that enhanced greenhouse warming and stratospheric ozone depletion were the main causes of global tropospheric height increase (Santer et al. 2003. Science 301:479-483; Santer et al. 2004. Journal of Geophysical Research 109:D21104). Because of the Montreal Protocol, ozone depleting substances will decline in the future. GHGs, however, are expected to increase. Hence, the model predicted that tropopause elevation will continue to rise in the future mainly because of anthropogenic GHG.

2. Linking major climate change impacts with global warming. In recent years, several important impacts have been observed that are readily explained by human-induced global warming. In some cases, global warming plus regional variability combine to produce impacts, but natural variability alone cannot explain the observations.

a. Global ice cover – In recent years, glaciologists and oceanographers have been surprised by the unprecedented rates of change in global ice cover, both for Arctic sea ice and land-based glaciers and ice sheets.

Greenland: The second largest land-based ice sheet, with enough water to raise the global sea level by 6 meters if melted, covers the Greenland continent. Fifteen years ago, glaciologists believed that the Greenland ice sheet was in balance (i.e., not losing or gaining ice). Over the past decade, glaciologists documented rapid melting around the coasts of Greenland and adjusted their estimates to reflect a net loss of ice due to melting. In February 2006, new satellite-based measurements of ice flow were published, revealing that Greenland is losing ice even more rapidly than realized as a result of ice flowing into the sea at high rates. This work doubled the estimated rate of ice loss from Greenland and its contribution to the rate of global sea level rise (Rignot et al. 2006. Science 311:986-990).

Antarctic ice sheet. Western Antarctica is losing ice rapidly. Until recently, East Antarctica was thought be gaining ice, but now is thought to be just in balance, such that future warming could quickly shift it to net ice loss. Overall, Antarctica appears to have lost about 450 km3 of ice just in the past three years (Velicogna. 2006. Science Online, March 2). Because these results are from the GRACE satellites launched in 2002, we do not know how long Antarctica has been losing ice. Antarctica holds enough ice to raise sea level by 70 m if melted.

Arctic sea ice: Arctic sea ice is being lost at an unprecedented rate, reaching a record low area during summer 2005. Some scientists estimate that by the end of the 21st century the Arctic Ocean will be completely free of ice during the summer, a condition that probably has not existed for at least a million years (Overpeck et al. 2005. EOS 86:309-312). This loss of ice has important implications for global climate change and for Arctic ecosystems and wildlife (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. 2005. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York).

Mountain glaciers. For several decades, glaciologists have documented a continuing worldwide loss of mountain glaciers, which continue to dwindle at an accelerating rate (Dyurgerov. 2006. AAAS Symposium, St. Louis; Dyurgerov, 2005. INSAAR Occasional Paper No. 58, Univ. of Colorado). Billions of people around the world depend solely on glaciers for their water supply. In Central Asia, mountain glaciers are retreating rapidly and may be virtually gone within decades, creating a billion environmental refugees (V. Aizen, 2006. AAAS Symposium, St. Louis).

The global trend. There is a clear pattern of globally distributed loss of ice indicative of global greenhouse warming, and not isolated regional losses of ice resulting from natural regional variability, as asserted by some. While some regions of the globe may presently be in a phase of natural warming, in addition to enhanced greenhouse warming, other regions are in natural cooling phases that will also reverse at some point. Hence, the overall loss of ice is a fingerprint of global warming.

b. Hurricanes – In 2005, two independent studies found that hurricanes were becoming more intense worldwide (Emanuel, 2005. Nature 436:686-688; Webster et al. 2005. Science 309:1844-1846). All ocean basins where tropical cyclones develop exhibited this change in recent decades. Immediately, some responded that this upswing resulted from natural variability, rather than from greenhouse warming. However, they overlooked the well-established knowledge that natural cycles do not occur in sync across the various basins. In fact, they tend to vary in opposite phases, for instance, in the North Atlantic and North Pacific basins. The existence of a trend of intensification in all six of the tropical cyclone-producing ocean basins thus represents a fingerprint of global warming, consistent with the enhanced greenhouse effect and not with natural variability alone.

c. Species changes – Two recent studies have documented apparent connections between changes in species and anthropogenic climate change. One study (Root et al. 2005. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102:7465-7469) found that 130 species, including many different plants and animals, have responded to earlier spring temperatures between 1970 and 2000. The power of this study, however, was that it linked these changes statistically to a climate model, demonstrating that the relationship between the timing of spring biological events (such as timing of flowering or migration) was well correlated with GHG-driven climate change, but not with natural variability alone. The species were distributed throughout Europe, North America, and Asia, thus representing a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere and not a particular region. Hence, the same type of response occurred regardless of differences in regional climate variability, again suggesting a global driving mechanism. The correlation with anthropogenically driven climate demonstrates that this global response can be explained by enhanced greenhouse warming, but not by natural climate variability alone.

A second study (Pounds et al. 2006. Nature 439:161-167) linked widespread mass amphibian extinctions in the tropics to the timing of climate change events associated with sea-surface and atmospheric temperatures. Warm years, which have increased in frequency over time, are followed closely by extinction events. Also, the majority of recorded extinction events are associated with warm years. While extinction rates correlate with the large-scale warming trend, they do not correlate with local variability associated with regional El Nino events, once again demonstrating that a global trend, rather than regional variability, is the more likely explanation for the impact. The authors explained this relationship as a function of pathogen outbreaks fostered by the observed warming and moistening trend in tropical mountain environments as a result of climate change.

Question 4 - Developing Country Participation

Pew Center on Global Climate Change Response to:

"Design Elements of a Mandatory
Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System"

Issued by Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman
February 2006

Question 4

If a key element of the proposed U.S. system is to “encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions,” should the design concepts in the NCEP plan (i.e., to take some action and then make further steps contingent on a review of what these other nations do) be part of a mandatory market-based program?   If so, how?

Pew Center Response
Download Response to Question 4 (pdf)

It is important to distinguish between two distinct but related policy objectives: 1) achieving adequate action by all major emitting countries, and 2) protecting U.S. firms against competitiveness impacts.  Each requires a different set of policy approaches.

Ensuring that other countries act against climate change is important from a competitiveness standpoint.   However, it is first and foremost an environmental imperative: without adequate action by all major emitters, the goal of climate protection cannot be met.  Of steps the United States can take to encourage other nations to act, establishing a mandatory program to limit and reduce U.S. emissions may in and of itself be the most critical.  Lack of action by the United States stands as the major impediment to stronger efforts by other countries.  Demonstrating the will – and establishing the means – to reduce U.S. emissions will greatly alter the international political dynamic and improve prospects for international cooperation. 

Making future U.S. action expressly contingent on the efforts of other countries may provide some further inducement for action.  Alternatively, by appearing irresolute, it may deter others from commencing ambitious long-term efforts.  A more effective means of achieving adequate and comparable effort by all major emitters would be the establishment of mutual commitments through multilateral negotiation and agreements.60; In the case of developing countries, this should include or be complemented by positive incentives, preferably through market mechanisms.

Ensuring that efforts are broadly comparable, however, will not necessarily achieve the second objective: protecting against competitiveness impacts. It is not the competitiveness of the U.S. economy as a whole that is at issue. Competitiveness at the national scale is largely a reflection of productivity, and the U.S. economy consistently ranks among the world’s most competitive [1]. The cost of achieving mandatory GHG limits at the levels under consideration would only marginally affect projected economic growth and is unlikely to affect overall competitiveness [2].

To the degree there are competitiveness impacts, they would fall on specific sectors – energy-intensive industries whose goods are traded internationally, a relatively small segment of the U.S. economy [3]. However, these sectors could remain vulnerable even if efforts by all major emitters are broadly comparable because countries will choose to allocate effort differently [4]. For instance, a country may reduce overall emissions but exempt a given sector from controls, giving that sector an advantage over foreign competitors that are subject to controls. In that case, a review of comparability, unless undertaken sector by sector, offers little assurance against competitiveness impacts.

A full assessment of policy options for addressing competitiveness would require a more thorough analysis of the potential impacts on vulnerable sectors than is presently available. Generally, the impacts on a given sector or firm would depend on its specific competitive positioning and its ability to substitute and innovate. Most analyses of U.S. industry experience with past environmental regulation find little evidence of competitive harm. One comprehensive review – synthesizing dozens of studies across a range of U.S. regulations and sectors – concluded that while environmental standards may impose significant costs on regulated industries, they do not appreciably affect patterns of trade [5]. Some economic literature suggests that, to the contrary, innovation spurred by regulation may in fact confer a competitive advantage [6].

In the design of a cap-and-trade system, the best way to protect broadly against competitiveness impacts is to set the caps at modest levels and minimize compliance costs by, for instance, allowing offsets and full banking of allowances. The choice of allocation approach also has implications. A free “grandfathering” of allowances based on historic emissions provides inherent protection for potentially vulnerable firms by conferring assets whose sale can offset losses.

One option to mitigate potential competitiveness impacts is to provide supplemental allowances to sectors deemed to be vulnerable. Another is to dedicate funds — possibly by auctioning a portion of allowances — to assist vulnerable sectors. Assistance could include:

  • Incentives for the deployment of cleaner or more efficient technologies, such as accelerated depreciation of existing stock, or tax credits for the deployment of specific technologies or the production of less emissions-intensive products.
  • Support for research and development of long-term technology.
  • Transition assistance for workers in sectors likely to experience job losses.

Further steps to address competitiveness would require some mechanism to identify vulnerable sectors based on an analysis of export patterns among energy-intensive industries and relative energy pricing in competing countries.



[1] The United States ranked second only to Finland in the World Economic Forum’s 2005-2006 Global Competitiveness Report. (World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2005-2006.)

[2] EIA projects that achieving the emission targets of the Climate Stewardship Act would diminish U.S. GDP by 0.4 percent in 2028, thus total GDP is projected to be 89.6 percent higher rather than 90 percent higher than GDP in 2006. (EIA, Analysis of Senate Amendment 2028, the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003. [pdf] May 2004.)

[3] Repetto et al. found in a 1997 analysis that, among all U.S. industries producing tradeable goods and services, roughly 90 percent of output and employment was in industries with energy costs representing 3 percent or less of output value. (Repetto, R., C. Maurer and G.C. Bird. “U.S. Competitiveness is Not at Risk in the Climate Negotiations.” WRI Issue Brief, October 1997.)

[4] The Carbon Trust recently suggested that differences between National Allocation Plans within the EU Emissions Trading system has significant implications on sectoral competitiveness even though country efforts under the overall system are widely viewed as compatible (Carbon Trust, “The European Emissions Trading Scheme: Implications for Industrial Competitiveness.” June, 2004. See also IISD, “Climate Change and Competitiveness: A Survey of the Issues,” March 2005; and European Commission, “International Trade and Competitiveness Effects,” Emissions Trading Policy Brief No. 6, 2003.)

[5] Jaffe, A.B., S.R. Peterson,P.R. Portney, and R.N. Stavins. “Environmental Regulation and the Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturing: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?” Journal of Economic Literature. Vol. XXXIII, March 1995.

[6] Porter, M. “America’s Green Strategy,” Scientific American, 264, 4: 96, 1991; Porter, M. and C. van der Linde, “Toward a New Conception of the Environment-Competitiveness Relationship,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 9, 4:97-118, 1995.

Question 3 - International Linkage

Pew Center on Global Climate Change Response to:

"Design Elements of a Mandatory
Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Regulatory System"

Issued by Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman
February 2006

 

Question 3

Should a U.S. system be designed to eventually allow for trading with other greenhouse gas cap-and-trade systems being put in place around the world, such as the Canadian Large Final Emitter system or the European Union emissions trading system?

Clarifying Question 3a

  • Do the potential benefits of leaving the door open to linkage outweigh the potential difficulties?

Pew Center Response
Download Response to Question 3 (pdf)

Yes. The ability to link to other programs is critical in order to minimize mitigation and transaction costs, and to harmonize obligations under various systems.   Companies whose obligations differ in the many nations in which they operate will have a much harder time complying with the requirements.  For this reason it is crucial not only to link programs, but also to minimize the differences between relevant aspects of the programs as they are developed. 

This position is corroborated by the extensive and ongoing discussions the Pew Center has had with member companies of the Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC ) and other domestic and international corporations about U.S. and international greenhouse gas (GHG) markets.   Those that have expressed an opinion unanimously support designing U.S. cap and trade to allow for linkage to other national and regional trading systems.  They cite several reasons. 

  • Most note that a well-functioning global trading market is perhaps the most critical mechanism for minimizing the long-term costs of GHG reductions for firms and society as a whole. 
  • Among cost-containment approaches, the linking of global GHG markets is among the least distortionary. 
  • Generally, larger trading volume and greater liquidity of GHG allowances will result in clearer, more stable prices.   More stable prices will allow firms to project future prices more accurately and provide the certainty to plan and invest appropriately for the future (for example, in breakthrough technologies).
  • Globalizing GHG markets supports the goal of encouraging all countries, including China and India, to participate in making real and verifiable reductions. (Companies note that offsets originating in large emitter developing countries will be among the lowest cost reductions and can be combined with export opportunities for U.S. firms.)

Note that the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will accept EU and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allowances if certain price triggers are reached, but that under the Kyoto Protocol the EU can not accept RGGI allowances because the United States is not a party to Kyoto. RGGI analyses indicate that international agreements that enable two-way linkages would be economically beneficial.

Clarifying Question 3b

  • If linkage is desirable, what would be the process for deciding whether and how to link to systems in other countries?

Pew Center Response

In order to link a U.S. program with other systems, reductions would have to be considered real and verifiable by the respective systems. Deciding whether to link would involve evaluating the inventory, methodologies, monitoring protocols and compliance mechanisms of the other systems, and as well as the design of these programs to make sure that the environmental effect of a given reduction is roughly equivalent across the two programs. In addition, care should be taken to design a U.S. program that other countries will be interested in linking with. In particular, mechanisms that alter the environmental integrity of the program (e.g., a low safety valve) would make reductions in one program not necessarily equivalent to reductions in another, jeopardizing the ability to link the two.

Federal legislation will need to address the state and regional GHG cap-and-trade programs now under development, some of which may be linked to each other and to other countries. As with any area of federal policy in which the states have taken the lead, Congress will have to decide on the extent to which the federal program will defer to pre-existing state programs, for example, governing allowance allocation.

Clarifying Question 3c

  • What sort of institutions or coordination would be required between linked systems?

Pew Center Response

Because the validity and verifiability of reductions is critical for trading, measuring, monitoring, and compliance mechanisms would need to be comparable. While this may or may not require a central overseeing body, a shared platform on which to carry out the trades – such as an agreement to use a common monotoring and reporting protocol – would be required.

While elements within each country differ, Kyoto signatory countries, including the EU, Canada and Japan, have trading systems that are inherently linked by means of the treaty requirements. Requirements stipulate that each country needs to develop a consistent national system for estimating emissions and removals of GHGs by their common definition of trading units – Assigned Annual Units (AAUs), Joint Implementation (JI) credits and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits – and by the requirement that an international transaction log (ITL) be established. This shared platform will enable the tracking and the issuance of credits, cancellation, retirement and carry-over to the commitment periods following 2012. In essence, Kyoto parties are linked because they share common definitions, common requirements and a common platform for trading.

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