Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more
President, Pew Center on Global Climate
The agreement reached today at COP 7 in Marrakech is a critical and commendable step forward in the international effort against climate change. Four years after negotiating the Kyoto Protocol, nations have now succeeded in turning its broad mandate into a workable framework for action. Now they must deliver on Kyoto's promise by bringing the Protocol into force and taking the necessary steps at home to fully implement it.
As other nations move to fulfill their Kyoto commitments, it is imperative that the United States also commit itself to a binding strategy that produces genuine emissions reductions. Over time, the aim must be to merge the U.S. and international efforts, as an effective strategy against climate change ultimately requires an overarching global framework in which all nations work together. Toward that end, any domestic effort in the United States should be consistent wherever possible with the Kyoto Protocol, and opportunities to link the regimes should be explored. The learning opportunities afforded by parallel approaches also can contribute to improved strategies when convergence becomes possible.
The period ahead promises continued uncertainty and new complications for U.S. business. Whatever short-term competitive advantage may result from the United States' rejection of Kyoto will be far outweighed in the long term by the harmful economic and environmental consequences of inaction. As demonstrated in a Pew Center report released last week, forward-thinking companies that have set their own greenhouse gas reduction targets find that the resulting efficiencies and innovations benefit not only the climate but also their bottom lines. A growing number of major companies will continue to work in the domestic and international arenas to advance sensible, cost-effective climate policies that can deliver both environmental and economic gains.
While today's agreement is a significant achievement, we must recognize that Kyoto, and any parallel effort that emerges in the United States, represent only first steps in addressing the long-term threat of climate change. As difficult as it has been to advance over the past decade from Rio to Kyoto to Marrakech, far greater challenges lie ahead as we continue to work toward a truly effective global strategy that will spare future generations from the grave risks of global warming.
Beyond Kyoto: Advancing the International Effort Against Climate Change
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
The report is a compilation of six "think pieces" on core issues in developing an effective international response to global climate change. Working drafts of the papers were the focus of workshops in China, Germany, and Mexico. More than 100 people from nearly three dozen developed and developing countries have contributed as authors, reviewers, or workshop participants.
Dowload the Entire Report (pdf)
Download the Overview (pdf)
Report Topics and Authors:
A Long-Term Target: Framing the Climate Effort (pdf)
Jonathan Pershing and Fernando Tudela
Climate Commitments: Assessing the Options (pdf)
Equity and Climate: In Principle and Practice (pdf)
John Ashton and Xueman Wang
Addressing Cost: The Political Economy of Climate Change (pdf)
Joseph E. Aldy, Richard Baron, and Laurence Tubiana
Development and Climate: Engaging Developing Countries (pdf)
Tom Heller and P.R. Shukla
Trade and Climate: Potential Conflict and Synergies (pdf)
Recent Remarks by Elliot Diringer (June 2004)
Download the Entire Report (ZIP file)
For Immediate Release
December 3, 2003
Contact: Katie Mandes
New Pew Center Report Examines Core Challenges In Advancing
The International Climate Effort
Initiative Involves Experts, Officials, and Stakeholders from More Than 30 Countries
Washington, DC — An effective international response to global climate change requires a more flexible approach so that countries can take on different types of commitments best suited to their domestic circumstances, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The report, “Beyond Kyoto: Advancing the International Effort Against Global Climate Change,” is a compilation of six “think pieces” examining core issues in negotiating an effective long-term climate agreement. Topics include equity, cost, development, trade, commitments, and a long-term climate target.
The new report comes as negotiators are gathering in Milan for the Ninth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and as countries await a decision by Russia on ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Despite U.S. rejection of the Protocol, 120 countries have now ratified the treaty. Ratification by Russia would bring the Protocol into force and trigger negotiations starting in 2005 toward a second round of emission commitments.
“We are at a critical stage in the international climate effort. Kyoto’s entry into force would be a major achievement, but only a start. On the other hand, if Kyoto doesn’t get off the ground, the international community must begin thinking right away about the alternatives,” said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen.
“Either way, with or without Kyoto, we face the same challenge: engaging all the world’s major emitters—including the United States and the major developing countries—in a long-term effort that fairly and effectively mobilizes the resources and technology needed to protect the global climate. This new Pew Center report speaks to that challenge,” said Claussen.
The 170-page report was prepared by a dozen authors, most former climate negotiators, from developed and developing countries. Working drafts of the papers were broadly circulated earlier this year for review and comment and were the focus of international workshops convened by the Pew Center in China, Germany, and Mexico. In all, more than 100 officials, experts, and stakeholders from nearly three dozen countries contributed as authors, reviewers, or workshop participants.
The papers explore critical issues in the climate negotiations and a range of options for addressing them, but do not advocate specific approaches. “Our aim at this stage is to facilitate constructive thinking and dialogue. So the report does not offer definitive conclusions or recommendations. But common themes emerge from the papers and the workshops and we believe these are well worth considering as we move toward the next stage of climate diplomacy,” said Claussen.
Among the common themes highlighted in the report’s overview chapter:
- While the climate challenge is ultimately one of mobilizing technology, it is in the first instance one of mustering political will, and some approaches to international action can better assist in that than others.
- Scientific and economic uncertainty is not a justification for inaction, but rather an additional rationale for acting now.
- While climate change is a common challenge, countries will engage in collective action only if they perceive it to be in their interest. A multilateral approach must therefore recognize domestic concerns such as development and competitiveness.
- Bridging diverse national interests requires new mitigation strategies and a flexible architecture that can accommodate different types of commitments for different countries.
- Engaging actors beyond the climate circle is essential, both to build domestic support for action and to extend the climate effort into non-climate forums such as trade and development.
“One of the strongest themes to emerge in the papers and in our discussions is the need for greater flexibility so countries can take on the types of commitments best suited to their domestic circumstances,” Claussen said. “The challenge is providing that flexibility while at the same time ensuring that national efforts are equitable and that the overall effort is sufficient.”
The six think pieces explore the following issues:
A Long-Term Target: Framing the Climate Effort, by Jonathan Pershing and Fernando Tudela, examines the benefits and difficulties of establishing a more concrete long-term goal to guide and motivate climate action in the near and medium term. It argues that a host of uncertainties make the negotiation of a greenhouse gas concentration target extraordinarily difficult and that alternatives—such as an “activity-based” target or a non-binding hedging strategy—may be more practical.
Climate Commitments: Assessing the Options, by Daniel Bodansky, identifies the key variables in designing mitigation commitments, offers criteria for evaluating different approaches, and discusses the merits of several leading alternatives. It argues that the wide variance in national circumstances makes a unitary approach impractical and unlikely, and that future efforts might need to allow for multiple approaches.
Equity and Climate: In Principle and Practice, by John Ashton and Xueman Wang, explores the fundamental equity concerns that suffuse the climate debate and the challenges in arriving at a fair outcome. It argues that no single equity perspective or formula can be a basis for agreement, and that the goal instead must be a political package that achieves a rough qualitative balancing of competing equity claims. The authors suggest a set of outcomes that together could meet that test.
Addressing Cost: The Political Economy of Climate Change, by Joseph E. Aldy, Richard Baron, and Laurence Tubiana, examines the challenges of managing cost in future mitigation efforts. It identifies three critical cost dimensions that present themselves in negotiations— aggregate cost, relative cost, and cost certainty—and assesses how effectively alternative mitigation approaches address each.
Development and Climate: Engaging Developing Countries, by Thomas C. Heller and P.R. Shukla, explores how future climate efforts can help integrate climate concerns with the core development priorities of developing countries. It argues for a fundamental reorientation of climate policy to focus less on emission “outputs” and more on the underlying activities or “inputs” that drive them.
Trade and Climate: Potential Conflicts and Synergies, by Steve Charnovitz, explores potential interactions between the international trade regime and climate policies at both the national and international levels. It identifies potential conflicts between the goals of climate protection and trade liberalization, possible measures to avert such conflicts, and ways the trade and climate regimes can be mutually supportive.
The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States’ largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
On November 4 and 5, 2003, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, under a grant from the Joyce Foundation, held a workshop in Chicago, IL, on State Policy Solutions to Climate Change. This workshop brought together state officials from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. State agencies represented included Agriculture, Commerce, Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, Administration, Energy, and Transportation. The purpose of the workshop was to have state officials share their experiences in implementing programs that reduce greenhouse gases and to reflect on the lessons learned.
Beyond Kyoto Workshop
In partnership with the
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
September 19-20, 2003
Climate Commitments: Assessing the Options
A Long-Term Target: Framing the Climate Effort
Jonathan Pershing and Fernando Tudela
Equity and Climate: In Principle and Practice
John Ashton and Xueman Wang
Trade and Climate: Potential Conflicts and Synergies
Addressing Cost: The Political Economy of Climate Change
Joseph E. Aldy, Richard Baron and Laurence Tubiana
Development and Climate: Engaging Developing Countries
Thomas C. Heller and P.R. Shukla
Climate Change: Then and Now
Remarks by Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Environmental Council of the States
AUGUST 11, 2003
Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be here in Salt Lake City and among so many friends. And I thank ECOS for inviting me here today.
I understand that a lot of you will be visiting the Utah Olympic Park this evening for some bobsledding and a ski jump aerial show. And I was interested to see that those of you who are actually interested in doing some bobsledding on your own have to pay an additional fee. As if your copayments at the emergency room will not be enough Ã
Seriously, I think it is quite fitting, here at the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, to discuss a topic that calls on all of us, both inside and outside of government, to exert and push ourselves and to test the limits of what we can achieve. That topic, of course, is global climate change. And today, I want to talk with you about what we have achieved looking six years back, and about the future work that must be done.
I know what you are thinking. You are probably thinking that I am here to talk about everything we are not doing. And, I will surely get to some of that, or else I would not be doing my job. I believe that the past six years have been a time of real and legitimate progress in how we think about the problem of climate change, and in what we are doing to address it. And I want to celebrate some of that with you today.
Think about it. In 1997, the debate on this issue was about whether to do anything. There were many, in the scientific, environmental and government community saying we had a very serious problem, and others, in industry, in the States, and in the Congress who either didn't believe that it was a problem or who believed that there was no rush to deal with it.
Fast forward to 2003, and you see how the debate has shifted. Now it is not about whether to do something but about what to do and when to do it. Even President Bush had to revisit his prior assumptions after he assigned a committee of the National Academy of Sciences to look into the matter--and they came back to him reporting that, and I quote "GHGs are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." Temperatures are, in fact rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities. The report goes on to say that we can't exclude the possibility that natural variability has contributed as well--but the main point remains--the earth is warming, and humans must accept some responsibility for that warming.
Back in 1997, the nations of the world gathered in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate the outlines of a treaty that would for the first time establish binding limits on worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. At the time, the Kyoto Protocol was derided by some in the United States as a fantasy itself--impractical to implement and even unfair in that it did not enlist developing countries in this "global" effort.
And, while some of the criticisms of the Protocol were and remain well founded, we can fast forward to today and see that 111 countries have so far ratified this watershed agreement, and its entry into force awaits the action of only one nation, Russia. What's more, now that the focus has shifted from negotiating Kyoto to implementing it, we are seeing the beginnings of a serious discussion about what comes after the first budget period in Kyoto--and how to engage developing countries, as well as the United States, in the global effort to reduce emissions.
We also are seeing the countries that are part of Kyoto starting to get serious about achieving its goals. The European Union, for example, has adopted a carbon dioxide emission trading program. And Prime Minister Tony Blair has committed Great Britain to a 60 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050--the first instance of a world leader taking an ambitious and long-term view on how to address this problem.
Back in 1997, the perception was that business was adamantly opposed to doing anything about climate change. And then things started to change. Lord John Browne, the CEO of British Petroleum (BP), made an announcement that his company accepted the science that global warming is a problem--and that it is caused in large part by the burning of fossil fuels. Browne went on to pledge that BP would voluntarily reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent below 1990 levels before 2010, and they have met that target already, eight years ahead of schedule. In the six years since making its pledge, BP has joined with 37 other companies as part of the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council, a group that is committed to achieving real progress on this issue. Twenty-three of these companies, BP included, now have specific targets for reducing their emissions, and several more will be announcing targets in the coming months.
These companies have moved from acknowledging the science about climate change to showing what can be done to create a climate-friendly future while still maintaining our economic competitiveness, to becoming advocates for strong government requirements to address this issue.
Back in 1997, the issue of global climate change was not much of a concern at the state level, where other environmental priorities held sway. But today, we know that a majority of states have programs that, while not necessarily directed at climate change, are achieving real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Back in 1997, if you mentioned the problem of global climate change on Capitol Hill, you were either laughed at or told to leave the premises. The only congressional action on this issue came in the form of requirements that the United States do nothing. Thus we had the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which passed unanimously in the Senate, laying out strong reservations about the Kyoto Protocol negotiations without offering any alternative. And we also had an array of other amendments and so-called "riders" to appropriation bills that sought to prohibit the State Department, the EPA and other agencies from doing anything whatsoever on the issue of climate change.
Fast forward to 2003, and you see that instead of Byrd-Hagel, we now have Byrd-Stevens, a measure establishing a White House office dedicated to formulating a national strategy to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations.
In 1998, Republican Senator John Chafee and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman were blasted by climate skeptics for writing legislation that would give companies credit for early reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, we had Senators Hagel and Voinovich, offering credit for early reductions, and Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman offering an economy wide cap and trade bill.
The McCain-Lieberman proposal brings together several features that would be critical to the success of a national climate change strategy.
The bill would establish ambitious and binding targets for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Equally important, it would provide companies with the flexibility to reduce emissions as cost-effectively as possible-thanks to the creation of a rigorous nationwide system allowing emissions trading and providing some credit for carbon storage. Last but not least, the bill would recognize those reductions that are being made now by the companies that are taking the lead on this issue and provide additional flexibility for these early actors.
In another couple of years we will look back and realize that the McCain-Lieberman proposal was pretty moderate.
Of course, I am not a Pollyanna on this issue. I know - and you know - that there are still a small number of skeptical scientists, and there are still those that prefer to do nothing. And some of these people have loud megaphones, and they continue to argue that the science is uncertain, and that action to deal with climate change will ruin the economy. And I also know - and you know - that these individuals are working very hard to see that we do not have a legitimate national policy on this issue.
But I do not believe that they will prevail. I believe strongly that there are also many certainties in the science; that there are many actions that can be taken with no negative economic impact, and that, with careful planning and execution, and with continued technological development, we can address this problem and still have a growing global economy. Which is precisely what we need to do.
So what happens now? Well, the first thing that must happen is for the United States to get a better handle on how we will supply and use energy in the decades ahead. The electric power and transport sectors account for over 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The extent to which we weigh the climate impacts of our energy choices will therefore be the key determining factor in whether we can and will achieve progress in reducing our emissions.
The current Capitol Hill debate on U.S. energy policy does not come close to the kind of hard-nosed assessment we need. In this year's House-floor debate over energy policy, congressmen were not even allowed to bring up climate change amendments, perhaps a sign that the House leadership was concerned about an amendment passing.
And the Senate ducked a robust debate on energy and climate policy by simply passing last year's Senate energy bill. Of course, that's not all bad - that Senate bill included the Byrd-Stevens provision, as well as a Brownback-Corzine provision establishing national reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. While the much-heralded vote on the McCain-Lieberman proposal was delayed, an agreement was reached that it will come up for a vote this fall.
In an effort to develop a clearer sense of the future energy picture for the United States, the Pew Center recently teamed up with Peter Schwartz and the Global Business Network to convene relevant experts from the business, academic and NGO sectors. Their charge was to envision a suite of future energy scenarios for the country and to describe the implications of these scenarios for U.S. policy on climate change, going out to 2035.
The group settled on three future energy scenarios:
- The first was titled Awash in Oil and Gas. In this scenario, as you might suspect from the title, oil and gas remain cheap and abundant. Oil and gas production technology continues to improve, OPEC collapses, and a highly competitive global oil market emerges. Concerns about U.S. oil import dependence are rarely mentioned, so there is little incentive to improve energy efficiency, and carbon emissions rise rapidly. Seventy percent of the coal plants operating in 2000 are still operational in 2035.
- The second scenario, Turbulent World, is one in which energy supply disruptions and threats to energy facilities lead to aggressive U.S. energy policy measures. The House of Saud falls, leading to oil price spikes and a federal focus on energy security, including tough vehicle efficiency standards of 50 miles per gallon by 2020, and a crash "moonshot" program to develop and commercialize hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Threats to nuclear facilities and transmission failures lead the public and policy makers to prefer alternative energy systems. Because of its domestic abundance, coal is favored -- it continues its dominant role in electricity generation and becomes an increasingly important source of hydrogen.
- The third scenario, Technology Triumphs, envisions a future in which a convergence of four forces -- state policies, technological breakthroughs, private investment, and consumer interest -- push and pull climate-friendly technologies into the marketplace. Significant advances in renewables, distributed generation, and efficiency -- especially combined heat and power, building-integrated photovoltaics, and fuel cells -- result from the convergence of these four forces. In this scenario, many states adopt greenhouse gas standards for vehicles, move forward with initiatives to control greenhouse gases from powerplants, and continue to implement renewable portfolio standards.
Using an economic model developed by Argonne National Laboratory, we were able to project how each of these scenarios would affect the United States' energy technology mix and annual CO2 emissions over the next 30 years. Since the key purpose of scenario planning is not to predict the future, but rather to facilitate strategic planning in the face of deep uncertainty, it is useful to identify commonalities among the scenarios.
For example, natural gas use and distributed electric generation increase in all three hypothetical futures, continuing current trends. But another commonality across all three scenarios is that even by 2035 we are still using a lot of the same technology we use today because of significant inertia in the energy sector.
National climate policy was deliberately excluded from each of these "base case" scenarios. The most striking finding of the analysis was that even when we modeled the most optimistic assumptions about the future cost and performance of energy technologies, emissions rise. In Technology Triumphs, emissions rise by a total of 15 percent over 2000 levels by 2035; by 20 percent in Turbulent World, and by 50 percent in Awash in Oil and Gas.
Each of the three scenarios we looked at envisions a future when the only national policy measures in place to protect the climate, are voluntary measures. And the fact that none of these scenarios--even the most optimistic--resulted in any reduction in our carbon emissions highlights the fundamental need for a mandatory carbon emissions policy to address climate change. To state it more clearly, no combination of voluntary programs and research and development incentives will put us on a path that sustains economic growth, enhances economic security, and allows the U.S. to participate appropriately and proportionally in protecting the global climate.
But back to right now, a voluntary effort is all we have. Here I am, near the close of my remarks, and I have yet to offer a critique of the climate policies of the current occupant of the White House. I cannot let him and his Administration off the hook, even if he is trying to enjoy a few weeks of vacation in the parched Texas plains, where I would think the appeal of doing something--anything--to arrest global warming would be great. And if you think I am being partisan, I will be happy to offer a critique of the Clinton Administration's all talk no action policy as well.
But seriously, rather than establishing an absolute target for emission reductions-as many of the companies I have talked about have done-the Bush administration's climate strategy sets a voluntary "greenhouse gas intensity" target for the nation. The idea is to reduce the ratio of greenhouse emissions to U.S. economic output, or GDP. And the funny thing about the White House target--an 18 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity by 2012--is that it would allow actual emissions to grow by 12 percent over the same period.
That's not what I call progress. Progress would mean adopting a real-world domestic energy policy. It would mean engaging the full spectrum of business and society in the effort to reduce the U.S. contribution to this problem. It would mean adopting a clear, mandatory goal for emission cuts, along with sensible, business-friendly rules that give companies the flexibility they need to help meet this goal as cost-effectively as possible.
That would be progress. And it would put the federal government in the company of many businesses throughout the world, as well as entire countries and U.S. states that already are moving forward to address this issue.
In closing, allow me pay special tribute to the work that many of you are doing at the state level. In 2002, we released a report entitled Greenhouse and Statehouse: The Evolving State Government Role in Climate Change, that surveyed the current level of state activity on this topic. And we found that a variety of measures that have proven controversial at the federal level, such as renewable portfolio standards and mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, have been implemented at the state level, often with little dissent.
Texas and 13 other states, for example, now require utilities to generate a specified share of their power from renewable sources. Five states have carbon sequestration programs in place. Three have established reporting programs for greenhouse gas emissions, and two of these are mandatory programs. In addition, two states have overall caps on their emissions, and one state, California, is working on direct controls on emissions from motor vehicles.
And then there is the story of the efforts of New York state, under Governor Pataki, to create a regional market in which power plants can buy and sell carbon dioxide credits. To date, nine of ten states contacted by the governor have indicated that they are interested in working together to reduce emissions across the region.
The work that all of you are doing in your states is vitally important, both in reducing emissions and in showing that progress is possible--that we can protect the climate while at the same time promoting economic growth. Over the last six years, we have seen that climate change is an issue where solutions bubble up from below. Businesses, states, and localities begin to take it seriously, and they begin to take action to reduce their contribution to the problem. And, in the process, they create a climate that is more hospitable and more conducive to broader changes at the national and international levels.
As you gather here in this Olympic city, I encourage all of you to keep the torch burning for climate solutions--both within your states and at the federal level. You may not get a medal for your performance, but future generations will surely reward you with their admiration and their thanks.
Thank you very much.
Beyond Kyoto Workshop
July 25-26, 2003
A Long-Term Target: Framing the Climate Effort
Jonathan Pershing and Fernando Tudela
Climate Commitments: Assessing the Options
Equity and Climate: In Principle and Practice
John Ashton and Xueman Wang
Trade and Climate: Potential Conflicts and Synergies
Addressing Cost: The Political Economy of Climate Change
Joseph E. Aldy, Richard Baron, and Laurence Tubiana
Development and Climate: Engaging Developing Countries
Thomas C. Heller and P.R. Shukla
A Vision for a Climate-Friendly Future
Remarks by Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Cliamte Change
Air & Waste Management Association Annual Conference and Exhibition
June 23, 2003
Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be here in San Diego. And I thank the Air & Waste Management Association for inviting me here today.
While looking at the website for this conference, I was surprised to see that the plenary presentation this morning coincides with a recreational opportunity for attendees at the-- conference -- that is, a visit to several of San Diego’s historical sites that is billed as the “step back in time tour.” Let me say, first, that I appreciate the fact that so many of you opted out of that event, preferring to remain in the here and now.
In my speech today I intend to offer a tour of both the past and the future. I want to talk about the need for a vision of what the world might look like 50 years from now -- what the world must look like -- if we finally accept our responsibility to protect the global climate. And I want to talk about how the lessons from the past can help us get there.
Let me start with a brief “step back in time tour” of my own, and reflect for a minute on some advice that I was given when I was working on waste management issues back in the 1970’s. I can clearly remember being berated by a vice president of a major US corporation for my foolish ideas on reuse and recycling. After the critique was over, the VP went on to offer me some counseling. “Eileen,” he said, “be careful that you don’t try to become a monument. Monuments attract pigeons.” Well, I didn’t listen to that advice, and while the pigeons are sometimes a problem, I would be delighted if pigeons were all I had to worry about.
Unfortunately, what I do worry about is whether we have what it takes to create the vision of where we need to be, and then achieve it – whether we are all willing to take the risk of becoming monuments. Because the task at hand is not an easy one: we must wean ourselves away from our reliance on fossil fuels, and begin in earnest to develop the technologies and the alternative energy sources that will help us achieve real and steady reductions in worldwide emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
There are a lot of good things happening right now. Individuals, companies and governments are taking important and worthwhile steps to address this problem, and I want to talk with you a little bit about what they are doing. But what is happening now is not nearly enough. And the priority looking ahead must be to marry a long-term vision of a climate-friendly future with the short-term strategies that will get us there.
In this, we must remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future is literally in our hands to mold as we like. But we cannot wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow is now.”
Of course, the reason we are having this discussion -- and the reason I am laying out this vision -- is that we have a real problem. The earth’s climate is undergoing important and potentially hazardous changes, and human activities are largely to blame. Of this there is no doubt. Even our President (previously referred to as skeptic-in-chief), revised his prior assumptions after he assigned a committee of the National Academy of Sciences to look into the matter -- and they came back to him reporting that, and I quote "GHG's are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities." The report goes on to say that we can't exclude the possibility that natural variability has contributed as well -- but the main point remains - the earth is warming, and humans must accept some responsibility for that warming.
How significant is this warming trend? The earth’s temperature has always fluctuated, but ordinarily these shifts have occurred over the course of centuries or millennia, not decades. Over the last century, we have seen a one-degree increase in global temperatures. And the increase appears to be accelerating. The 1990s were the hottest decade on record. The last five years were among the seven hottest on record. Scientists project that over the next century, average global temperature will rise between two and ten degrees Fahrenheit. The higher-end figure of ten degrees would be the largest swing in global temperature since the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago.
What will be the effects of this warming? In the short term, there will be both winners and losers as farms and forests, for example, become more productive at some latitudes, but less productive at others. In the long term, though, any possible benefits from global warming will likely be far outweighed by the costs -- and the consequences may be irreversible. Consequences such as increased flooding and increased drought, as well as extended heat waves, more powerful storms, and other extreme weather events. And I have not even mentioned the problem of rising sea level, which has potentially far-reaching effects on coastal areas throughout the world.
Global warming, in other words, is not an idle concern. Unfortunately, however, it is a concern that has become overly politicized and polarized, and the main reason for this is that addressing this issue effectively requires us to change. There is no way around it. Responding to climate change will fundamentally alter the way we meet many of our most basic needs.
But a lot of people don't like change; change is hard, it requires effort, and it makes things, well…different. Many would rather keep the status quo. Those who are against the changes that are needed, argue that they would imperil our economy and our way of life. But let me tell you something: those who oppose practical steps to deal with the issue of climate change are misguided, because we can address this issue effectively while still growing our economy. In fact, if we fail to address it, the costs are likely to be greater. Our emissions will have grown; the amounts we will have to reduce will be greater; the time available to make these reductions will be shorter; and the costs for damage control and remediation will increase. In making this argument I am not suggesting that taking the necessary steps will be either free or easy. But I believe strongly that with a long-term vision of where we want to go, we can design reasonable, cost-effective strategies to get us there -- one step, one decade at a time.
Looking 50 years ahead, the questions then become: How will we power our economy? How will the nations of the world -- developing and industrialized countries alike -- achieve reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time achieving their goals for growth? And, at a more every-day level, how will we get to work? What kind of office buildings will we work in? What kind of cars and trucks will we drive? And, if we plug in our hot tubs, our refrigerators, and our TVs and computers, where will the power come from?
This isn’t the Jetsons of cartoon fame that I am talking about -- with people rocketing around in space cars and taking ultra-sonic showers. Rather, it is real life. And there are real changes that need to happen -- and that can happen -- if we give this issue the attention it so desperately deserves.
And now, if you will permit me, I would like to give you a second little “step back in time tour.” The location isn’t San Diego in 2003 but Montreal in 1987. That was the place and the time, as all of you know, when the nations of the world stepped up to the challenge of ozone depletion and negotiated a treaty, The Montreal Protocol, to begin to phase out the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals.
In the years leading up to 1987, there was a great deal of skepticism about whether the depletion of the ozone layer was indeed a problem -- and, more importantly, whether it was a problem we could solve. At first, many people denied that the problem existed, but then the argument shifted to one where many in industry said that replacing the CFCs that were causing the problem was impossible, particularly in the short term. These chemicals, it was said, are in such wide use in everything from refrigerators to aerosol antiperspirants that there is no way that society is going to be able to do without them. But then governments began to work seriously on a framework for action, and industry initiated a major effort to work on alternative chemicals and processes. Soon it became clear that we could develop less harmful substitutes. The Montreal Protocol was agreed and then strengthened over time as industry became more and more comfortable with alternatives. And the rest is history.
I tell this story because it is about reaching for a vision that might not seem immediately attainable but that can indeed become reality with a lot of hard work and imagination. Fast forward to today, and you see that getting rid of CFCs has not stood in the way of our ability to keep our yogurt cold or our ability (indeed, our need) to use antiperspirant -- and for that we can all be very thankful. We were able to change to protect the planet. And, today, we need to start thinking about the changes we have to make in order to protect the climate.
Do we have a climate-friendly vision for the future? I believe we have some of the pieces, but are far from having a complete vision. Let’s look at what the Bush Administration has offered. It seems to consist of three parts: a greenhouse gas intensity target for the next decade; a strategy of voluntary measures to achieve that target; and a set of research efforts to assist in bringing about long-term technological change.
There are a number of fundamental problems with this approach. First, rather than establishing an absolute target for emission reductions – as many of the companies we are working with at the Pew Center have done and as the international community has done with the Kyoto Protocol, the Bush administration’s climate strategy sets a voluntary “greenhouse gas intensity” target for the nation. The idea is to reduce the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to U.S. economic output, or GDP. But the biggest problem with the White House target – an 18 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity by 2012 – is that it would allow actual emissions to grow by 12 percent over the same period.
What’s more, the Administration’s strategy relies entirely on voluntary measures. This despite the fact that U.S. climate policy has consisted primarily of voluntary measures for more than a decade. And what have these voluntary measures achieved? As of 2001, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were up 12 percent over their 1991 levels.
And, finally, while the Administration is putting significant effort into long-term research and development, it is not tied to specific longer term emission reduction goals. It is absolutely clear that technological research and development must be a critical element in any vision of a climate-friendly future. It is also clear that without a specific, binding target that creates the demand for these new technologies, we are unlikely to succeed in our efforts to protect the global climate.
We can do better than that. We have to do better than that. In the months and years ahead, we as a nation need to think more seriously about the short- and long-term steps we should be taking to reduce our contribution to climate change.
And we can learn from many of the promising activities that are taking place all around us starting with the efforts of the members of the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council. The council’s 38 members represent nearly 2.5 million employees and have combined revenues of $855 billion. They include mostly Fortune 500 firms, and they are committed to economically viable climate solutions. What are they doing?
- Alcoa, for example, is developing a new technology for smelting aluminum that, if successful, will allow the company to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to half their 1990 levels over the next nine years.
- Similarly, Shell recently met its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent from 1990 levels -- and it did this in part by revamping its disposal of the waste gases resulting from oil and gas production. Shell also is planning a long-term transition into the renewable energy market, having invested $1 billion in renewables to date.
- Shell is not the only company we are working with that is venturing into new markets or shifting its business focus. ABB is a $25 billion Swiss business-to-business supplier that has divested itself of traditional, large-scale power generation businesses. Instead, the company now supplies distributed energy solutions, such as combined heat and power technology, fuel cells, microturbines, and wind power plants.
- And then there is the case of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., which entered into an agreement to provide the waste stream from one of its chemical plants for use as a fuel source for a neighboring company. Air Products and Chemicals also has numerous operations that recover hydrogen molecules and other waste gases from the industrial processes of other companies. Not only are these waste gases used as a fuel source for cogeneration plants, but the recovery of hydrogen reduces the need for natural gas to create hydrogen anew -- creating a double climate benefit.
All of these are important developments—and they show how increasing numbers of leading companies see a clear business interest both in reducing their emissions and in helping to shape a climate-friendly future.
Even more encouraging is the fact that elected leaders in the states are working to shape that future now -- and they are doing it, in part, by recognizing that climate change is an air and waste management issue.
- Massachusetts, for example, has established a multi-pollutant cap requiring six older power plants to reduce their CO2 emissions by 10 percent.
- In neighboring New Hampshire, lawmakers have adopted a similar, multi-pollutant approach in an effort to require the state’s three fossil fuel-fired power plants to stabilize their CO2 emissions at 1990 levels.
- Elsewhere, states have developed innovative waste management programs that will protect the climate. These include a mandatory statewide recycling program in New Jersey that helped the state avoid 8.7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 1995; and a program in Missouri that provides financing for a project to capture methane from a 70-acre sanitary landfill for use as fuel for the boilers of a local high school.
That is what I call vision. And it is a quality that is desperately needed as the United States sets out in the years ahead to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. Clearly, we have a ways to go. How far? Well, right now, we have a national climate strategy that says it is fine and good for our emissions to continue to grow. So obviously the road ahead is a rather long and probably a winding one. But first we must decide what the future should look like.
Let's take a look at a couple of specific sectors, the power sector and the transportation sector -- which together account for about 2/3 of our nation's energy use.
How do we envision the power sector? With no silver bullet on the horizon, we can expect a future with greater use of natural gas (if we can increase supply and meet our infrastructure needs); with a steadily increasing use of renewables (and the progress of wind energy over the last decade should give us a glimmer of hope); with an increased emphasis on distributed generation and combined heat and power; with nuclear at least maintaining its current level of electric generation; and finally with coal, if we are able to master carbon capture and sequestration and make it economically viable.
Meeting the challenge of the transportation sector will not be easy, but the rewards will yield energy security dividends as well as environmental ones. If we start now by investing and deploying existing technologies and investments, it is possible to reduce carbon emissions by about 20 to 25% by 2015 and 45 to 50% by 2030, compared to business as usual. The transportation sector is a perfect example of the need for both short and longer-term efforts. It typically takes 10-15 years to turnover a vehicle fleet, so if we start making new vehicles more efficient today, it will take more than a decade for these efficiency gains to be realized in all vehicles on the road. At the same time we should be working toward the low-carbon transportation future that we ultimately need, with advanced hybrids, advanced diesel, hydrogen fuel cells and the infrastructure that will be needed to support hydrogen.
But simply having a vision gets you nowhere. You have to be able to achieve it. Starting right now, we have to identify the steps necessary to transition to a new, climate-friendly economy. We know that there are short-term strategies that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions without radical changes in technologies or lifestyles. These are the low-hanging fruit in the effort to create a climate-friendly future: the efficiency and management improvements that will save money and reduce emissions. And we have a vision of our longer-term needs. But most important, we know that we cannot achieve our vision for the future, or even take advantage of the myriad of shorter-term improvements that are environmentally and economically advantageous without a strong national policy.
This policy must be focused on four specific areas:
- One: We need to create a system where reporting and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions becomes the rule -- at the very least, for major sources -- and where companies that are acting now to reduce their emissions are assured of credit under future mandatory regimes.
- Two: We need to use a combination of standards, tax credits and other incentives to expand the use of energy-efficient motor vehicles, appliances and buildings; renewable energy; and alternative fuels and technologies. We need to send the market the right signals in order for change to happen.
- Three: We need to expand our natural gas supply and infrastructure and promote advanced coal technologies with carbon capture and disposal.
- And four: We need to adopt a comprehensive national strategy that couples mandatory reductions in emissions with flexible, market-based approaches such as emissions trading.
Just last month, the Pew Center released a report taking a detailed look at six diverse emissions trading programs. The aim was to draw general lessons for the development of trading programs for greenhouse gases. And the conclusion? A so-called “cap-and-trade” program -- which couples trading with a mandatory goal for reducing emissions -- would be an especially attractive way of reducing the U.S. contribution to climate change. Among the reasons: trading allows for greater efficiency than other approaches, given that the cost of reducing emissions varies widely by source.
Of course, we already know how a market-based strategy such as trading can contribute to environmental progress. We have seen it happen. The year in this case was 1990, and the place was Washington, D.C., where lawmakers, as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments passed that year, set out to mandate significant reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from electric utilities. The results of this program are clear – the goals have been met, and the costs have been far less than anticipated.
The same kind of cap-and-trade system can achieve the same kind of progress in our effort to protect the climate. It is this kind of system, in fact, that is at the heart of national climate change legislation introduced earlier this year by Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain. This landmark measure for the first time brings together several features that would be critical to the success of a national climate change strategy. The bill would establish ambitious and binding targets for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Equally important, it would provide companies with the flexibility to reduce emissions as cost-effectively as possible – thanks to the creation of a rigorous nationwide system allowing emissions trading, the provision of credit for carbon storage, and the ability to use credits earned abroad Last but not least, the bill would recognize those reductions that are being made now by the companies that are taking the lead on this issue and provide additional flexibility for these early actors.
Of course, the Lieberman-McCain measure has no real chance of becoming law any time soon. But it does give us a starting place on the policy vision that we so desperately need.
As we begin building a workable strategy to reduce U.S. emissions, we can at the same time begin demonstrating leadership internationally. As the producer of fully one-fourth of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, we have to show the world, first, that we are stepping up to this problem domestically, and, second, that we can contribute in important and substantive ways to the development of a global framework for action.
Despite the Bush administration’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, it is in the United States’ best interests to forge an effective, long-term international climate agreement – one ensuring that all major emitting countries do their fair share to meet this challenge. Whether you support it or not, the Kyoto Protocol is a reasonable first step and provides an important framework for the continuing evolution of the world’s energy mix.
But in the same way that the United States should be guided by a long-term vision as it works domestically to protect the climate, so too must the global community be looking beyond Kyoto. Because an agreement that’s going to work – an agreement that can bring in not only the United States, but developing countries as well – will in all likelihood be something other than Kyoto. And it’s going to take some time to get there.
The more immediate challenge, though, is here at home. And the longer U.S. policy makers wait to address the climate issue in a serious way, the greater the risk to the climate and to America’s standing in the world.
A “step back in time” is important for learning what works. But Eleanor Roosevelt was right: “Tomorrow is now.” And we need right now to be shaping a vision of a better tomorrow for our climate, for our economy, and for all of us. We need to get on with solutions.
Thank you very much.
Tackling Climate Change: 5 Keys to Success
Remarks by Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Cliamte Change
4th Annual Dartmouth Student Science Congress
May 2, 2003
Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be here at Dartmouth for the Fourth Annual Student Science Congress. I understand that as part of these proceedings, students will be voting on a series of ballot questions. I have not yet seen these questions, but tonight I am nevertheless going to try to influence your answers.
For example, if one of the questions is “How serious a problem is global warming?” I encourage you to answer that it is a very serious problem indeed. And, if one of the questions is “Who was your favorite speaker during the Congress?” . . . well, just keep in mind that Claussen sort of rhymes with awesome.
Seriously, I appreciate this opportunity to address your Student Science Congress, and I applaud the organizers of this event for taking on a topic of such pressing importance. Whether we like it or not, global warming is shaping up as one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. It is going to drive far-reaching changes in how we live and work, how we power our homes, schools, factories and office buildings, how we get from one place to another, how we manufacture and transport goods, and even how we farm and manage forests. It touches every aspect of our economy and our lives, and to ignore it is to live in a fantasy land where nothing ever has to change – and where we never have to accept what the science tells us about what is happening to our world.
My goal tonight is to give you a clear idea of where we stand today in the effort against global climate change. To do that, I’d first like to offer you an insider’s look at how the world and the United States have responded to this challenge over the last decade.
Then, after the history lesson – and don’t worry, there will not be a test – I want to look forward. And I’d like to suggest to you five keys to success – five things we need to do if were are to successfully meet the challenge of climate change.
So, to begin with, let’s travel back in time to 1992, when another George Bush was our President, and when the nations of the world gathered in sunny Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, affectionately known as the Earth Summit. This was the event, you may recall, where more than 150 countries signed an agreement called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The UNFCCC, as it is known, set an ambitious long-term objective: to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would – and I quote – “prevent dangerous anthropogenic (or human-caused) interference with the climate system.” This is a goal that the United States, and virtually every other nation, has embraced.
As a first step, industrialized countries agreed to a voluntary emissions target: they aimed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Before long, however, it became clear that the targets would not be met and that voluntary commitments could not deliver genuine action. So the United States and others countries began to negotiate a new agreement, one with binding targets, and they agreed at the outset that these new commitments would extend only to the industrialized countries, which so far have contributed the most to the problem.
The result, negotiated five years after the Rio summit in Kyoto, Japan, is the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol requires countries to reduce or limit their emissions of greenhouse gases in relation to 1990 levels, with different countries agreeing to different targets. The agreement also includes a number of features advocated by the United States to ensure countries a high degree of flexibility as they work to achieve their targets. They can make actual emission reductions at home, trade emission credits with others who have made reductions, and use “sinks” such as farms and forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
During the negotiations in Kyoto, Vice President Al Gore flew to the ancient Japanese capital to help hammer out the deal. And what the U.S. negotiators ultimately agreed to was a binding 7-percent reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2012.
The problem was that it was already 1997, and U.S. emissions had already risen over 1990 levels by more than 8 percent. In other words, we had pledged to reduce our emissions by nearly 14 percent and we didn’t have any kind of program in place to do this, nor any will to put such a program into place.
Another problem was that the United States Senate, under the Byrd-Hagel resolution, had recently voted unanimously that the United States should not sign any climate treaty that – quote – "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States" or that did not impose some type of commitment on developing countries as well.
Of course Kyoto did not include commitments for developing countries, because the parties, including the United States, agreed at the outset that it would not. And the target agreed to by the United States was portrayed by those who wished to kill the treaty as clearly harmful to our economy, a charge that was not effectively countered by the Administration. So the fact of the matter is that the Kyoto Protocol negotiated by the Clinton administration was about as welcome in the Senate as the proverbial skunk at a lawn party – and senators had no intention of holding their noses so they could tolerate this thing. They just plain didn’t want it anywhere near them.
The Clinton administration, for its part, did nothing to try to bring about the ratification of this treaty that its people had made such a big deal of signing. Granted, the President at the time was caught up in a scandal, and Vice President Gore was gearing up for a presidential run of his own and surely wanted to avoid being publicly associated with anything that could be said to pose a threat the economy. But still, the whole episode of U.S. participation in Kyoto -- and, before that, the UNFCCC -- was enough to recall the line from Shakespeare: “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The bottom line: We clearly were not prepared to deliver at home what we were promising abroad.
But the story does not end there. To fast forward to 2000, American voters elected another President – another Bush – and within months of entering office his administration made a unilateral decision to reject the Kyoto Protocol out of hand, instead of working to change it and make it better. Needless to say, this decision was not received warmly by other nations that had persevered through years of difficult negotiations and that had acceded to U.S. demands early on that the treaty include trading and other business-friendly mechanisms.
As an aside, I think it is interesting to note that in the recent run-up to the war in Iraq, it was hard to find an article about other countries’ perceptions of the United States that did not mention the impolitic way in which this Administration rejected Kyoto. It was perceived as a real slap in the face – a confirmation of global fears that the United States, which is responsible for almost one-fourth of global greenhouse has emissions, had no intention of acting seriously on this issue.
As if to confirm these fears, the Bush administration last year announced a climate strategy that was big on rhetoric but not-so-big on results. Here is what this strategy does: It sets a voluntary “greenhouse gas intensity” target for the nation. The idea is to reduce the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to U.S. economic output, or GDP. But the funny thing about the White House target – an 18 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity by 2012 – is that it would allow actual emissions to grow by 12 percent over the same period.
What’s more, the Administration’s strategy relies entirely on voluntary measures. This despite the fact that U.S. climate policy has consisted primarily of voluntary measures for more than a decade. And what have these voluntary measures achieved? As of 2001, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were up 11.9 percent over their 1991 levels. And so now we are more than ten years removed from the Earth Summit, and we still – still – have no real plan in place to reduce the U.S. contribution to the problem that we and other countries identified back then as – quote – “a common concern of humankind.”
The reason I have presented this history lesson is to show that, as the world has set out in the last decade to respond to the problem of climate change, the United States has been both a driver and a drag on the process, a driver in terms of development of a framework for action, a drag because we have made no serious attempt to implement that framework. We are like the boyfriend or girlfriend who says sweet things all the time but will never truly commit. And lately we aren’t even saying sweet things any more.
The reality is that it is long past the time for playing these sorts of games. We should have committed long ago to serious action on this issue and, having failed, it is all the more urgent that we get serious now. What does that mean? What principles should guide these efforts? I’d like to offer five – five keys to success in meeting the challenge of climate change.
Key Number One: We must forge a global response to the problem of climate change. As I already said, the United States is responsible for one-fourth of global greenhouse gas emissions. The 15 countries of the European Union are responsible for another one-fourth. The remainder is divided among other developed nations and rapidly developing countries such as China and India. And, while developed countries clearly are responsible for a majority of these emissions, that will not be the case in the future as emissions continue to grow more rapidly in developing countries than anywhere else.
It is one of the most contentious issues in the debate over global climate change – that is, the perceived divide between the interests and obligations of developed and developing countries. Equity demands that the industrialized world—the source of most past and current emissions of greenhouse gases—act first to reduce emissions. This principle is embedded in both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding emission targets for developed countries only. However, with the Protocol expected to enter into force sometime this year or next, it is now time to turn our attention to what happens next. And as we do this, we need to think broadly of a framework that will include not only the countries that will be implementing the Kyoto protocol, but also the United States, Australia, and the major emitting countries in the developing world.
I do not claim to know what form this framework should take. But here’s what I do know: It must be effective; over the coming decades, it must significantly reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases. It also must be fair. We must recognize who bears responsibility for climate change, and who will bear the brunt of its impacts; and we must arrive at an equitable sharing of responsibility for addressing it. That probably means different kinds of measures for different countries at different times, but all the major emitting countries must do their part. Finally, this new framework must marry our environmental goals with our economic and development objectives. In the developing world in particular, commitments that are not consistent and compatible with raising standards of living and promoting sustainable economic growth have little chance of success. And even in the developed world, all countries will have to be convinced that the environmental goals they agree to, the carbon limits they accept, will not impede their efforts to sustain economic growth. This will mean not only ensuring that countries are given flexibility in how they meet their goals, but also that they can turn over the existing capital stock and acquire more climate friendly technology at prices that they can afford.
This brings us to the second Key to Success in our efforts to address the climate issue: We need to think in terms of both short-term and long-term actions. There is a great deal we can do now to reduce our emissions. At the same time, we need to be looking ahead to longer-term, and potentially more far-reaching, reductions in the years and decades to come.
At the Pew Center, we are developing a plan we call the 10/50 Solution. The idea is to think ahead to where we need to be 50 years from now if we are going to meet the challenge of climate change, and then to figure out decade by decade how to do it.
Why look 50 years out? Because achieving the necessary reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately require innovation on a level never before seen. It will require a massive shift away from fossil fuels to climate-friendly sources of energy. And, as I said at the start of my remarks, it will require fundamental changes in how we live and work and grow our economies.
The 10-50 approach doesn’t just look long-term, though. It recognizes that in order to realize that 50-year vision, we have to start right now. We can start with the low-hanging fruit – the countless ways we can reduce greenhouse emissions at little or no cost by simply being more efficient: everything from more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, including hybrids, to energy-efficient appliances and computers, efficiency improvements in industry, and even better management of animal wastes.
In the medium to long term, the challenge is to begin what we have called a second industrial revolution. The Pew Center is just now completing a scenario analysis that identifies several technologies as essential to our ability to create a climate-friendly energy future for the United States. Among them:
· Number one: natural gas. Substituting natural gas for coal results in approximately half the carbon emissions per unit of energy supplied, but we need policies to encourage the expansion of natural gas supply and infrastructure.
· Number two: energy efficiency. We have the ability to dramatically improve the fuel economy of cars and light trucks right now and in the very near future through a combination of advances in the internal combustion engine or through hybrid electric vehicles.
· Number three: renewable energy and distributed generation. The potential here is enormous, but policy support will be essential in promoting investment and breaking barriers to market entry for these technologies.
· Number four: nuclear power. Despite its problems, the fact remains that our carbon emissions would be much higher without nuclear power.
· Number five: geological sequestration. Sequestration holds the potential of allowing for the continued production of energy from fossil fuels, including coal, even in the event of mandatory limits on carbon emissions.
· And number six: hydrogen and fuel cells. The President’s recent announcement of a new federal commitment to fuel cell research was a welcome one, but we must have policies that will help pull these vehicles into the market.
Looking down this list, it is hard not to see that most, if not all, of these technologies would be important even in a world where we did not have this pressing obligation to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For energy security and economic growth reasons, and a wide range of environmental reasons as well, these are simply smart things to do. The second industrial revolution is not just about responding to the challenge of climate change; it’s about creating a common-sense energy future.
And, in order to create that energy future, we are going to have to keep in mind Key to Success Number Three: Industry must be a partner in shaping and implementing climate solutions. The Pew Center serves as a convenor of leading businesses that are taking practical steps to reduce their contribution to the climate problem. The 38 members of our Business Environmental Leadership Council represent nearly 2.5 million employees and have combined revenues of $855 billion. They include mostly Fortune 500 firms, and they are deeply committed to climate solutions:
· There is DuPont, for example, which made a voluntary pledge to reduce its global emissions of greenhouse gases by 65 percent by the year 2010. And guess what? Late last year, they announced they had achieved this target eight years ahead of schedule.
· Also ahead of schedule in meeting its target is BP, which in 2002 announced it had reduced global greenhouse emissions by 9 million metric tons in just four years. This marked a 10-percent reduction in the company’s emissions – and, like DuPont, BP had originally intended to achieve this goal in 2010.
Over the past several years, it has become clear that there are three types of companies when it comes to the issue of climate change: those that do not accept the science; those that accept the science and are working internally to reduce their contribution to the problem; and those that accept the science, are working internally and are advocating for strong government action to address this issue.
BP, DuPont and the other companies we are working with at the Pew Center clearly fall into this latter group. And I hope that our government – as well as other governments throughout the world – will take full advantage of their expertise and commitment.
The benefits of active involvement by industry in environmental policy making first became clear to me during negotiations on the Montreal Protocol – the agreement that set out to address the man-made threat to the Earth’s protective ozone layer. An important reason for the success of that agreement, I believe, is that the companies that produced and used ozone-depleting chemicals—and that were developing substitutes for them—were very much engaged in the process. As a result, there was a factual basis and an honesty about what we could achieve, how we could achieve it, and when. And there was an acceptance on the part of industry, particularly U.S. companies, that the depletion of the ozone layer was an important problem and that multilateral action was needed.
I am happy to report that we are seeing the same kind of acceptance and determination to act on the climate issue among the companies we work with at the Pew Center. Their involvement should serve as a reminder that it is industry that will develop the technologies and the strategies that will reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases. It is industry that will have to deliver on government requirements and goals. To ignore this as we try to structure a global response to this enormous challenge is to fail.
Speaking of government, let me introduce a fourth Key to Success in responding to climate change: We have to adopt real, mandatory goals. Voluntary approaches, as I have said, simply have not worked to address this problem. In order to engage the full spectrum of industry and society, we need to set clear, mandatory goals for emission cuts, and at the same time provide sensible, business-friendly rules that give companies the flexibility they need to help meet those goals as cost-effectively as possible.
This is the approach embodied in recent legislation introduced by the bipartisan duo of Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. This landmark measure for the first time brings together several features that would be critical to the success of a national climate change strategy. The bill would establish ambitious and binding targets for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Equally important, it would provide companies with the flexibility to reduce emissions as cost-effectively as possible – thanks to the creation of a rigorous nationwide system allowing emissions trading and providing some credit for carbon storage. Last but not least, the bill would recognize those reductions that are being made now by the companies that are taking the lead on this issue and provide additional flexibility for these early actors.
Of course, the McCain-Lieberman measure has little chance of becoming law any time soon, but it is an encouraging development nonetheless to see our policymakers in Washington finally coming to grips with exactly what it is going to take to yield real progress toward a climate-friendly future. And what it is going to take is a set of real, enforceable commitments.
This leads us finally, and forgive me if this seems redundant, to Key to Success Number Five: The United States must be an integral part of the climate solution. Despite having 4 percent of the world’s population, we have contributed nearly a third of worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases in the last century, and we continue to be the largest source of these emissions worldwide. And still, we have decided to sit on the sidelines while the world moves forward with a plan to begin addressing this challenge. Even worse, we have yet to develop anything resembling a domestic program to reduce our own emissions and protect the climate.
This problem, quite simply, will not be solved without us. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to other nations, and we owe it to future generations, to commit American ingenuity and American leadership to meeting this challenge. I think the job begins at home: We must achieve a national consensus on how best to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. And from there, we must engage constructively with other nations in the searching for a lasting global solution.
So there you have it. Five keys to success: We need to address this issue globally. We need to think and act both short-term and long-term. We need to involve industry. We need mandatory goals. And we need the United States to do its part both at home and abroad.
Yet another key to success, as I have learned over the years, is to keep your remarks to a reasonable length. So I will stop there, and I welcome your questions.
Thank you very much.
Conference of the Parties 6 (COP 6)
Climate Talks in The Hague, The Netherlands
November 13-24, 2000
November 13-24 at the 6th Conference of the Parties (Cop-6) in The Hague. This section of the Web site provides pertinent background materials and coverage of the conference.
On the Table at COP 6
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol includes binding emission reduction targets for developed countries, and general provisions for how the Protocol will operate. But there are few specifics on what rules will govern Protocol operations, and these rules raise many policy and technical issues.
The 1998 Buenos Aires Plan of Action specifies in some detail the particulars that remain to be delineated. It also lists issues from the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change that require action. All of these issues are "on the table" at the 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6).
For background on the issues, check out the following:
- Getting It Right: Climate Change Problem Demands Thoughtful Solutions
Op-ed by Eileen Claussen to be published in The Washington Post on Nov 15 and The International Herald Tribune Nov 18
- "Getting Kyoto Right"
Speech delivered by Eileen Claussen at The Earth Technologies Forum October 30 Washington DC
- Atlantic Monthly Roundtable
Eileen Claussen, Gregg Easterbrook of The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly; Mary A. Gade, an adviser to George W. Bush; and Bill McKibben, the author of The End of Nature participated in an Atlantic Monthly interactive roundtable discussion in September. View transcripts of the discussion, hosted by The Atlantic's Jack Beatty.
More coverage of the proceedings: