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Climate Change: A Strategy for the Future
Speech by Eileen Claussen, President
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Honors Colloquium on a Just and Sustainable Future
University of Rhode Island
September 25, 2001
I am very happy to have the opportunity to address this honors colloquium, and I want to pay tribute to the faculty, staff, and students here at the University of Rhode Island's Sustainable Communities Initiative for trying to come to terms with a very serious question-and that is, how do we create a just and sustainable future?
This, of course, is an extraordinary time, and a just and sustainable future may seem very far away as we ponder the horrific events of two weeks past. Usually, when I give a speech, I try to begin with some humor, and I do this because I think it is important that we not take ourselves, or our specific issues and interests, too seriously. But I think the events of September 11th have cast an enormous shadow over all of us-and, with it, a sadness and a seriousness of purpose that we cannot escape. And so I ask you, for the next short while at least, and for longer if you can, to be thoughtful about the issue of climate change, because it, too, requires us to be serious and reflective and determined about what we need to do to make the world a safer place.
In talking about climate change today, I want to touch first on the science - and, more specifically, on the ever-solidifying scientific consensus that this is a very serious problem that demands very serious action. I'd like to talk broadly about the challenge we face, and the ways in which many in the business community are rising to that challenge. I'll turn then to the essential role of government - both internationally and here in the United States. And, finally, I will suggest how we might forge a common path forward that is sustainable, just, and fair to all.
Our goal must be to facilitate the arrival of a second industrial revolution. And this means doing all we can to accelerate the development of new technologies that will move us closer to a low-carbon world economy.
The Science of Climate Change: A Few Observations
Let us focus first on the science of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) is a body created by the United Nations to reach scientific consensus about the magnitude and nature of the climate problem. In its "Third Assessment Report," approved in January of this year, the IPCC said it now expects the global average surface temperature to rise by between 2.5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the 21st century. This is a much greater increase than projected just five years ago. Even at the low end of the projection, the warming trend is expected to cause significant problems-more sea level rise, droughts and floods; increasingly violent storms; damage to our ecosystems; effects on the availability of water; and impacts on our forests and agriculture. And the higher-end projections of 10 degrees or more could prove catastrophic. Studies from the IPCC and others also confirm that greenhouse gases produced by human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, are the principal cause of the continuing warming trend.
These findings were confirmed in June by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, put together at the request of President Bush, and including some scientists who had previously expressed skepticism about the nature and pace of global climate change. The NAS report also affirms that temperatures at the Earth's surface already are rising and that the warming trend has intensified in the last 20 years.
What will be the impact of climate change here in Rhode Island? While it is hard to pinpoint impacts on a state-by-state basis, it is fair to say that Rhode Islanders-and, indeed, all New Englanders-will see temperatures rise, along with significant increases in precipitation. Fragile coastal ecosystems could be at risk as global sea levels rise, barrier reef islands are inundated, and we see an increase in the frequency and severity of storms-as scientists expect we will. Sea-level rise also could lead to flooding of low-lying property, loss of coastal wetlands, erosion of beaches, saltwater contamination of drinking water, and damage to low-lying roads, causeways, and bridges. Agricultural production will surely be affected both here and elsewhere because of warmer temperatures, less soil moisture, and other climate change-related problems. And the possibility of health problems, including increases in heat-related illnesses, cannot be discounted.
The bottom line is that if we need a reason to act on this issue, the latest science certainly provides one. The fact that there is uncertainty about exactly how much temperatures will rise or what the precise effects will be should be expected. Both the IPCC and the NAS have identified a number of critical research challenges that need to be addressed in the coming years. But, increasingly, the science tells us we would be irresponsible not to take the threat of climate change very seriously.
A Second Industrial Revolution
How, then, do we address this threat? How do we avert the many risks that the scientific community is warning us about? Quite obviously, we must reduce our emissions of the greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. And to do that, we must launch a new industrial revolution.
This will be a revolution characterized more than anything else by a growing reliance on low-carbon and even no-carbon energy sources to power the world's continuing economic development and growth. We must embrace the possibility of "decarbonizing" our economies. At the same time, we must also be realistic about what can be done and in what time frame. Before you start to think of me as a latter-day Pangloss, let me assure you that I am fully aware that all countries will continue to use petroleum and coal for many years to come. The challenge with respect to these traditional fuel sources will be to promote ever-increasing levels of efficiency in their transmission and use at the same time as we are working to develop and deploy cleaner energy sources for the future. Coal currently accounts for 24 percent of the United States' total primary energy supply-and a remarkable 57 percent of China's. Even if these numbers edge downward-as they are already doing with the introduction of increasing numbers of natural gas-fired power plants-the predominance of coal in the worldwide energy mix means we need to find and embrace cleaner-burning ways of using it. And we need to think seriously about sequestering coal-related carbon dioxide emissions.
But these types of steps clearly will not be enough. The bottom line is that we need new technologies to meet the energy and environmental challenges we face. To effectively address climate change, we need to lower carbon intensity (that is, the amount of carbon we emit per unit of GDP); we need to become more energy efficient, so that we use less energy to achieve the same results; we need to promote carbon sequestration, so that the carbon we do emit does not enter the atmosphere and affect the climate; and we must find ways to limit emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. This will require fundamentally new technologies, as well as dramatic improvements in existing ones. New, less carbon-intensive ways of producing, distributing, and using energy will be essential. The redesign of industrial processes, consumer products, and agricultural technologies and practices will also be critical.
These changes need not take place overnight. They can be introduced over decades as we turn over our existing capital stocks and establish new infrastructure. But we must begin making the investments needed to usher in this new industrial revolution, and we must begin making those investments now.
Industry Takes the Lead
Many businesses, in fact, already are taking important steps to address climate change. About half of the 36 companies that are part of the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council have set specific, quantitative targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and others are working toward establishing these objectives. Consider DuPont, a corporation that is well on its way to achieving its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent before 2010, relative to 1990 levels. Or Baxter International, which is committed to improving its energy efficiency by 30 percent below 1996 levels by 2005. Or IBM, which has committed to having 90 to 100 percent of its new model computers meet Energy Star criteria for energy efficiency.
Other companies, too, are making process and efficiency improvements that are yielding real reductions in emissions. The energy company Enron, for example, reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by controlling leaks in its natural gas pipelines. And TransAlta Corporation improved its energy efficiency by about 4 percent when it upgraded old, less efficient turbines and other systems.
In addition to these types of steps, some companies are investing in dramatic changes to their production processes. 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 aims to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction target by revamping its disposal of the waste gases resulting from oil and gas production, even as it puts increasing emphasis on renewable energy sources.
The States are Moving
We are also beginning to see real movement on this issue from a number of states. On August 28th of this year, the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian premiers approved a comprehensive Climate Change Action Plan at their annual meeting. This plan includes goals of returning the levels of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, reducing them to 10% below that level by 2020, and putting in place a process to review, adjust and add new goals.
The state of New Jersey is hoping to reduce its levels of greenhouse gases by 3.5% from 1990 levels by 2005. The state of Oregon has put in place carbon dioxide standards for new power plants. The state of Massachusetts is regulating its highest emitting power plants, and expects to see significant reductions in emissions by 2008. And many others are experimenting and beginning to implement different approaches to addressing the climate change issue.
The Role of Federal Government Action
All of these are important developments-and they show how increasing numbers of leading companies and states see a clear interest both in reducing their emissions and in helping to shape the energy economy of the future. But voluntary actions undertaken on a largely random basis by some members of the business community or by a small handful of states are not enough. In the United States, we have had voluntary efforts in place for much of the past decade, and still we have seen a dramatic rise in emissions - almost 12 percent over 1990 levels.
In the end, there is little incentive for any company or state to undertake real action unless, ultimately, all do-and unless all are in some manner held accountable. Markets, of course, will be instrumental in mobilizing the necessary resources and know-how. Market-based strategies such as emissions trading will also help deliver emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost. But markets can move us in the right direction only if they are given the right signals. It is our national government's job to send the right signals.
Government can and must play a critical role in establishing the ground rules for the energy economy of the future. Because this is a global problem that must eventually be solved globally, it means sending global signals and establishing mandatory global frameworks for action, because each country must be assured that others will act too. And it means, in turn, the adoption of mandatory programs on a country-by-country basis. What truly matters, of course, is what individual countries and individual businesses do to reduce their individual contributions to this problem. And there is no substitute for actually requiring countries and businesses to reduce emissions, because it is in the process of trying to meet clear objectives that innovation will flourish.
The Significance of the "Kyoto Compromise"
Is government rising to the challenge? Looking first to the international arena, we see that the world community-minus one very important player-has at long last agreed on a set of first steps to address climate change.
As all of you know, over the summer in Bonn, Germany, 178 nations reached a tentative compromise on the rules that will allow the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force. The Kyoto Protocol, of course is the agreement first negotiated in 1997 that requires developed countries to reduce or limit their emissions of greenhouse in relation to 1990 levels, with different countries agreeing to different targets.
In addition to establishing targets, the Kyoto Protocol outlines how countries can achieve them-for example, by making emission reductions at home, by trading emission credits with others, and by using "sinks" such as farms and forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Although many of the details on how these mechanisms will work still need to be decided, the compromise reached in Bonn will likely provide countries with a high degree of flexibility in how they use these various strategies. And this, I believe, is a very important and positive development, because it will permit countries and businesses to meet their objectives in the most cost-effective ways.
But the Kyoto Protocol is just a first step on what will be a long march to a less carbon-intensive world. Its initial targets for emission reductions take us only to the 2008-2012 period, and they represent just a very small down payment on the level of reductions that scientists say we must achieve in order to have a real effect on mitigating climate change.
It is also important to note that the ultimate impact of the Kyoto Protocol will be severely limited by the United States government's decision not to be a party to the agreement. The Bush Administration has said repeatedly that it believes Kyoto is fatally flawed and not acceptable to the United States. Granted, the Protocol does have its problems-it is, after all, an agreement of approximately 180 countries with differing aspirations, differing economies, and differing views of the environment. But I believe that the other nations of the world, in agreeing to a compromise solution in Bonn, decided to send a message to the United States that an imperfect agreement is better than none-and that we cannot wait any longer to begin working together to solve the most important environmental issue facing the world today.
The Kyoto compromise very clearly does not amount to a solution to the problem of climate change. Rather, it is a first, strong statement of purpose and will to deal with this problem. And, therefore, it is an essential and historic step.
Launching Domestic Efforts in the U.S.
And what of the United States? Interestingly, in the same way that the Bush Administration's rejection of Kyoto seems to have galvanized international support for the Protocol, it appears to have generated new momentum on Capitol Hill to finally begin tackling the challenge of climate change. It is too early to know how the tragic events of September 11 will affect this and so many other vital issues in the months ahead. But prior to those events, there were strong indications that Congress was more prepared than ever to begin building the programs needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions here in the United States.
It is important to note that this new support comes from both sides of the aisle. Perhaps the biggest sign of a "changing climate" in Congress is legislation introduced by Senator Robert Byrd of coal-producing West Virginia and Senator Ted Stevens of oil-producing Alaska. In addition to providing money for technology research, the Senators' bill would require the President to develop a climate change strategy aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman - another bipartisan team - are going even further. They have announced that they plan to introduce major legislation to require greenhouse gas reductions throughout the economy under an emissions trading system - a proven way to cut emissions cost-effectively, and one that we strongly support.
What are some of the other key elements of a serious domestic program? We need, first and foremost, an energy policy that is climate-friendly. We need policies to deal with energy-using products, such as automobiles and appliances, so that they use fuel more efficiently and are compatible with different, non-fossil fuels. And we need a technology policy that will speed our development and diffusion of new technologies.
None of this will happen overnight. But there is good reason to believe that as we approach the mid-term congressional elections next year, and the presidential election in 2004, the prospects will grow only stronger. And as the United States begins to demonstrate real effort to curb its own emissions, it can credibly reenter the international dialogue and work more closely with other nations to chart a common path forward.
Which leads me to the "strategy for the future" that is mentioned in the title of my remarks. The strategy, in my view, is to insure that the Kyoto Protocol stays on the road to ratification and entry into force, while the United States begins to pursue good-faith domestic efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. To the extent that U.S. efforts are compatible with the Kyoto framework-and I hope they will be compatible-then the world can still hold out hope that the two roads will eventually merge, yielding a truly global plan of action.
Resolving the Equity Issue
Achieving that global strategy, however, will mean coming to terms with an issue that has loomed over the climate debate from the start, but has yet to be faced head-on - and that is the issue of fairness. For as the title of your colloquium, "A Just and Sustainable Future," rightly suggests, this is not about sustainability alone, but justice as well. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a future that is truly sustainable unless it is also fair and just.
From Rio in 1992 through Kyoto in 1997 and up to the most recent round of negotiations in Bonn, the international climate talks have proceeded on the basis of a common understanding: developed countries must act first. This bargain of sorts - which obligates one group of countries to act with the understanding that the other group will follow - acknowledges the fundamental inequities presented by climate change. It is an undeniable fact that developed countries account for the vast majority of the greenhouse gases put in the atmosphere over the past century, and that their per capita emissions are many times those of developing countries. (The United States, for example, contributed nearly a third of worldwide emissions last century and continues to produce roughly a quarter of global emissions with only 4 percent of the world's population.)
But historic responsibility for climate change is just one piece of the equity equation. It is also undeniable that those least responsible, the developing countries, face a disproportionate share of the impacts of global warming - from flooding to disease to famine - while having fewer resources with which to cope.
So while many in the United States, including President Bush, fault Kyoto for letting developing countries off the hook, I believe it is only fair that the developed countries act first. But I also believe that, in time, the developing countries must act too. Indeed, the emission reduction efforts finally getting underway in the industrial world will be pointless unless developing countries agree in some way to restrain the rapid rise in their own emissions.
It is important to recognize the steps already being taken by developing countries. Measures such as market reforms and energy efficiency improvements, while more often motivated by concerns other than climate change, are, in fact, resulting in significant emissions savings. China, for example, cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 10 percent over the last five years. But far more effort is needed. In a series of reports looking at electric power in developing countries, the Pew Center found that emissions from that sector alone will triple by 2020 under a business-as-usual scenario. However, we also found that efficiency improvements and the introduction of low-emission technologies could cut this increase in half while maintaining economic growth. Once again, technology is absolutely critical.
Arriving at a truly global strategy, then, will require a fundamental rethinking of the approach taken so far. The straightforward targets set by Kyoto - cutting each country's emissions by an agreed percentage - will hopefully succeed in starting industrialized countries on the right path. But a framework that encompasses both developed and developing countries, and fairly apportions responsibility among them, will have to be more sophisticated. It will have to accommodate the legitimate desire of developing countries to raise their living standards. It will have to recognize that different countries face very different challenges - for developed countries, the challenge is converting from the existing energy infrastructure to a clean one, while for developing countries, it is much more a matter of building the infrastructure right in the first place. An effective global strategy also will have to mobilize the flow of technology, know-how and resources from wealthier nations so that poorer countries are in a position to keep up their end of the bargain. In that sense, our challenge is to ensure not only that the new industrial revolution is launched, but also that its fruits are shared quickly and fairly.
These are my thoughts on where we stand in our effort to spare future generations the grave risks of an overheated planet. Enormous challenges lie ahead. But there are promising signs, both internationally and here in the United States, that we are at last mustering the will to begin confronting them. We must seize on that momentum, and keep moving forward. Thank you.
The Climate Challenge Begins at Home
By Eileen Claussen and Elliot Diringer
The Washington Post
August 19, 2001
Now that the rest of the world has resolved to move ahead with the Kyoto global warming treaty, pressure is mounting on the Bush administration to get back in the game.
The administration, surprised that other nations struck agreement last month in Bonn despite U.S. rejection of the treaty, does not yet know how it intends to approach the next round of talks this fall in Marrakech. The advice from Capitol Hill, however, has been clear and remarkably bipartisan. Voting 19-0, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has urged the administration to return to the negotiating table and to bring with it a new proposal for a retooled Kyoto accord or some other "binding" climate treaty.
In the long run, certainly, no strategy against climate change can succeed unless it secures binding commitments from all countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases -- a roster, as we all know, led by the United States. But pushing the administration to offer up its vision of a Kyoto alternative is probably not the way to get there. While that may have made sense before the July meeting in Bonn, it is too late now to devise a quick diplomatic fix. Instead, the administration should focus its efforts on the more immediate challenge: launching a national strategy to rein in America's soaring greenhouse gas emissions.
Right now it is more critical that we take concrete steps at home to curb emissions than figure out how to reengage the United States in the broader international effort. The sooner we succeed at the former, in fact, the easier it will be to achieve the latter.
As it happens, prospects are suddenly better than ever for getting legislation through Congress to at least begin laying the foundation for genuine emissions reduction. Bush's rejection of the Kyoto pact not only galvanized international support for the treaty; it sparked a new dynamic on the Hill, where both parties now seem eager to show they're serious about global warming.
Democrat Robert Byrd, of coal-producing West Virginia, and Republican Ted Stevens, of oil-producing Alaska, won quick committee passage for a bill that boosts funding for technology research and gives the administration one year to develop a strategy to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. That, incidentally, is the far-reaching goal of the 1992 Rio climate treaty signed by the first President Bush and ratified by the Senate.
Meanwhile, Dianne Feinstein and Olympia Snowe are leading a bipartisan drive in the Senate to improve the fuel efficiency of SUVs; and Jim Jeffords is using his new perch as chairman of the Senate environment committee to move legislation that would cut carbon emissions from power plants.
Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have just teamed up behind an even more ambitious proposal, called "cap-and-trade." Their idea is to set a nationwide cap on emissions and, by letting companies buy and sell emissions credits, allow the market to find the most cost-effective ways to meet it.
"Cap-and-trade" may well be the best way to go. It meets two key tests of an effective, affordable strategy: It sets a binding target, or series of targets, that signals markets to invest in cleaner, more efficient technologies; and it gives companies the flexibility and incentive to cut emissions at the lowest possible cost.
Constructing a workable economy-wide system cannot be done overnight, which is why it is important to start now. McCain and Lieberman say they will meet soon with industry leaders to hear their views on what can be achieved and when, an important first step in designing a system that works for both the environment and the economy.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of immediate steps we can take. For starters, we should require all major emitters to accurately track and disclose their annual greenhouse gas releases. We should create tax credits for new technology development and diffusion, and negotiate arrangements with industry to reduce emissions before mandatory targets are set. And we must ensure that future regulation does not penalize companies that take the lead by acting now.
Achieving the long-term emission cuts needed to avert climate disaster is a monumental undertaking. Our challenge, ultimately, is to wean the global economy from fossil fuels through a second industrial revolution that delivers cleaner alternatives. Fostering better technology is the key, and, given the right signals, the marketplace will do just that. It is government's job to send the right signals.
That has yet to happen here in the United States. American leadership on climate change has been continually undermined by our failure to get our own house in order. Having now abandoned the Kyoto treaty, the United States can return credibly to the negotiating table only when it has shown it is serious about cutting emissions.
We must chart a path that in time will make the United States a full partner in the international effort against climate change. That path begins at home.
Eileen Claussen is president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Elliot Diringer is the center's director of international strategies.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
Greenhouse Action in an Uncertain International Environment
Speech by Eileen Claussen, President
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Electricity Supply Association of Australia
It is a pleasure to be here in Australia. And I must say it is a relief to get out of the United States, if only for a brief time. Washington politics, as always, seem to be highly partisan, and highly unproductive. The perpetual squabbling between the two political parties reminds me of the story of the young boy who comes home from school with a black eye and torn clothes.
"Which one of you started the fight?" asks his mother.
The boy's response: "It started when the other guy hit me back."
I am also glad to be here because it gives me a chance to escape a typically hot and muggy Washington, DC summer. I actually have a theory that President Bush is reluctant to embrace strong action on global warming because of his avowed interest in shrinking the United States government. You see, the hotter it gets in the summer, the fewer people will want to work in Washington. And the more likely they will be to move to Alaska, where they can engage in more productive pursuits such as drilling for oil.
There may be another reason for the President's reluctance to make this issue a priority. If sea levels rise, as predicted in a warmer world, it is possible that parts of America's East and West coasts will be covered by water. Among the states that will face problems will be such Democratic and left-leaning bastions as California, Massachusetts, New York and Maryland. Coincidence? I think not.
Okay, that is probably enough joking around, and I should move on to the subject at hand. Today I would like to talk about what is happening on the issue of climate change, and why we need to make sure we are doing all we can to address this monumental challenge. I want to touch first on the science of climate change-and, more specifically, on the ever-solidifying scientific consensus that this is a very serious problem that demands very serious action. And then I would like to talk about the importance of effective-and mandatory-efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a country-by-country basis.
Our goal, as I will discuss, must be to facilitate the arrival of a second industrial revolution. This means doing all we can to accelerate the development of new technologies that will move us closer to a low-carbon world economy.
The Science of Climate Change: A Few Observations
With that, I will proceed directly to a brief discussion of the science of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) is a body created by the United Nations to reach scientific consensus about the magnitude and nature of the climate problem. In its Third Assessment Report, approved in January of this year, the IPCC said it now expects the global average surface temperature to rise by between 2.5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the 21st century. This is a much greater increase than the rate projected just five years ago. Even at the low end of the projection, the warming trend is expected to cause significant problems. And the higher-end projections of 10 degrees or more could prove catastrophic.
In a series of reports on the potential environmental impacts of climate change, my organization has looked at such issues as how ecosystems, agriculture and water supplies will be affected. From these assessments, we know that climate change will result in significant shifts in agricultural production because of temperature changes and a probable increase in extreme weather events. We also know that climate-induced changes in the water cycle will affect the availability of water to meet growing demand-which I know is a very real concern here in Australia. And we know that fragile ecosystems will be adversely affected. Consider the problem of coral bleaching, which is already draining the life out of coral reefs in Australian waters and throughout the world-in part, scientists say, because of warming ocean temperatures.
After issuing its new projections of temperature increases around the globe, the IPCC in February released a report that looked at the possible effects of these changes. The report warned of droughts, floods, and increasingly violent storms-all as a result of global warming. This is in addition to a projected sea level rise of up to 3 meters as the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melt. We are just beginning to come to grips with the potential impacts of this degree of sea level rise and how it will affect low-lying coastal areas throughout the world. As you might expect, this is more than a passing concern in developing countries such as Bangladesh, where even a one-meter rise in sea-level would inundate 17 percent of the country.
Studies from the IPCC and others also confirm that greenhouse gases produced by human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, are the principal cause of the continuing warming trend.
I must note here that it is not just U.N.-appointed scientists who are saying these changes are taking place. Just last month, a prestigious panel of U.S. scientists seconded the findings of the IPCC in a study specifically requested by the Bush White House. Even more support for the IPCC findings came in a study just a couple of weeks ago from Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Sarah Raper of the University of East Anglia in England. Their conclusion is that there is a 9-in-10 chance that the global average temperature will rise 3 to 9 degrees in the coming century, with a 4-to-7 degree increase most likely.
The bottom line is that if we need a reason to act on this issue, the latest science certainly provides one. The fact that there is uncertainty about exactly how much temperatures will rise or what the precise effects will be should be expected. This is science after all-and science very naturally is built on hypothesis and conjecture. But, increasingly, the science tells us we would be irresponsible not to take the threat of climate change very seriously.
The Significance of the "Kyoto Compromise"
At the same time that we have seen a dramatic and ever-solidifying consensus emerge among scientists about climate change, we have seen the world community-minus one very important player-finally agree on a set of first steps to address the problem.
As all of you know, earlier this month in Bonn, Germany, 178 nations reached a compromise on the rules that will allow the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force. The Protocol, of course, is the agreement first negotiated in 1997 that requires countries to reduce or limit their emissions of greenhouse gases in relation to 1990 levels, with different countries agreeing to different targets. Australia, as you know, actually agreed to a target whereby emissions would be allowed to grow by 8 percent from 1990 to the period between 2008 and 2012. This compared to a business-as-usual scenario where emissions would have grown by significantly more.
In addition to establishing targets, the Kyoto Protocol outlines how countries can achieve their targets-for example, by making real emission reductions at home, by trading emissions credits with others, and by using "sinks" such as farms and forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Although many of the details on how these mechanisms will work still need to be decided, the compromise reached in Bonn will likely provide countries with a high degree of flexibility in how they use these various strategies. And this, I believe, is a very important and positive development, since it will permit countries and businesses to meet their objectives in the most cost-effective ways.
But the Kyoto Protocol, as I have already noted, is just a first step on what will be a long march to a less carbon-intensive world. Its initial targets for emissions reductions take us only to the 2008-2012 period, and they represent just a very small down payment on the level of emissions reductions that scientists say we must achieve in order to have a real effect on mitigating climate change.
The ultimate impact of the Kyoto Protocol also will be severely limited by the United States government's decision not to be party to the agreement. The Bush Administration has said repeatedly that it believes Kyoto is fatally flawed and not acceptable to the United States. Granted, the Protocol does have its problems-it is, after all, an agreement of approximately 180 countries with differing aspirations, differing economies, and differing views of the environment. But I believe that the other nations of the world, in agreeing to a compromise solution in Bonn, decided to send a message to the United States that an imperfect agreement is better than none-and that we cannot wait any longer to take this crucial first step to solving the most important environmental issue facing the world today.
Still, for the global effort to address this issue to be truly effective, the United States, which is the largest generator of greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately will have to have an effective program in place to reduce its emissions, and hopefully, an interest in participating in a global agreement. In addition, many countries in the developing world will have to play larger roles in reducing global emissions in the years ahead. As these nations develop, they will need to do so in ways that are less carbon-intensive and more efficient. This is a challenge they do not face alone-the time has come for all nations of the world, developing or already developed, to consider how best to grow their economies while at the same time reducing the impact of their growth and development on the global environment.
A Second Industrial Revolution
An international framework is an essential element in any effort to address global climate change. We are dealing with a global problem, and it requires a global solution. But the ratification and entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol will not alone produce results. It must be accompanied by domestic action in all countries to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions through innovative tax policies, mandatory requirements, and other steps.
It is these types of measures, I believe, that will play an enormously important role in speeding the advent of what I refer to as a second industrial revolution. This will be a revolution characterized more than anything else by a growing reliance on low-carbon and even no-carbon energy sources to power the world's continuing economic development and growth.
At the same time that we must embrace the possibility of "decarbonizing" our economies, we must also be realistic about what can be done and in what time frame. All of our countries will continue to use petroleum and coal for many years to come. The challenge with respect to these traditional fuel sources will be to promote ever-increasing levels of efficiency and conservation at the same time as we work to develop and deploy cleaner energy sources for the future. Looking at coal, which today accounts for 84 percent of electricity generation here in Australia (and 31 percent in the United States), we need to find and embrace cleaner-burning ways of using it. And we need to think seriously about sequestering coal-related carbon dioxide emissions.
But these steps will clearly not be enough. The bottom line is that we need new technologies to meet the energy and environmental challenges we face. To effectively address climate change, we need to lower carbon intensity, become more energy efficient, promote carbon sequestration, and find ways to limit emissions of non-CO2 gases. This will require fundamentally new technologies, as well as dramatic improvements in existing ones. New, less carbon-intensive ways of producing, distributing and using energy will be essential. The redesign of industrial processes, consumer products and agricultural technologies and practices will also be critical.
These changes can be introduced over decades as we turn over our existing capital stocks and establish new infrastructure. But we must begin making investments, building institutions, and implementing policies now.
Creating the international framework that will encourage and enable these actions is an essential step. This is why the compromise reached in Kyoto this month is so important. But in the end, what truly matters is what individual countries and individual businesses (and even individuals) do to reduce their individual contributions to the problem. Just as we need legally binding commitments at the global level, it is, yes, mandatory that we enact mandatory programs on a country-by-country basis. In the United States, we have had voluntary efforts in place for much of the past decade, and still we have seen a dramatic rise in emissions - almost 12 percent over 1990 levels. In Australia, it is much the same. Despite a strong government effort to enlist industry in voluntary emission reduction programs, emissions here have risen to 18 percent over 1990 levels.
Industry Takes the Lead
This is not to discredit or discount the important steps that many companies are taking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions on a voluntary basis. About half of the 36 companies that are part of the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council have set specific, quantitative targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and others are working toward establishing these objectives. Consider DuPont, a corporation that is well on its way to achieving its goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent before 2010, relative to 1990 levels.
Other companies, too, are making process and efficiency improvements that are yielding real reductions in emissions. The energy company Enron, for example, reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by controlling leaks in its natural gas pipelines. And TransAlta Corporation improved its energy efficiency by about 4 percent when it upgraded old, less efficient turbines and other systems.
In addition to these types of steps, some companies are investing in dramatic changes to their production processes. 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 aims to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction target by revamping its disposal of the waste gases resulting from oil and gas production.
Still other companies are venturing into new markets or shifting their business focus entirely. 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. Likewise, Shell is planning a long-term transition into the renewable energy market, having invested $1 billion in renewables to date.
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 the energy economy of the future. Interestingly, if you look at who's paying the most attention to these issues, you find that industry and not government seems better prepared to lead the way to low- or no-carbon energy solutions. Even some of the largest oil companies are investing in the technologies and experimenting with the strategies that will ultimately decarbonize the energy economy and move us from petroleum-based fuels to hydrogen and other sources.
Industry, I believe, is leading the way because these companies are, by necessity, more nimble and more innovative than government, and more attuned to what the future holds. This does not mean there is no role-or even a minimal role-for the world's governments in ensuring that the process moves ever forward. To quote from a series of articles on the global energy future in The Economist: "The invisible hand may be ascendant, but that does not mean that the visible one has become irrelevant."
The Role of Government Action
The voluntary steps that are being taken by the leading companies throughout the world are dramatic and important, but they are obviously not enough. Government can and must play a critical role in establishing the ground rules for the energy economy of the future. These ground rules, in turn, will help to send signals to industry about the need to develop and deploy new technologies.
In the end, there is little incentive for any company to undertake real action unless, ultimately, all do-and unless all are in some manner held accountable. Markets, of course, will be instrumental in mobilizing the necessary resources and know-how. Market-based strategies such as emissions trading will also help deliver emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost. But markets can move us in the right direction only if they are given the right signals.
I already mentioned the most recent IPCC projections-temperature increases of up to 10 degrees worldwide, together with the accompanying impacts on sea level and weather extremes. As these impacts become more real to people, and as governments and businesses begin to come to terms with the dramatic effect of climate change on our economies and our communities, I believe we will see a dramatic increase in attention and investment going to those energy sources that hold the potential of reducing carbon output and mitigating climate change. This may not happen next year or the year after that, but it will surely happen, because there is only so long that the world-or even one country-can remain in denial about the serious and undeniable threats posed by our changing climate.
In closing, I want to make it clear that the future I am talking about is not a future in which the world uses less energy. Rather, it is a future in which economic growth begins to occur independently of the steady growth we have seen in carbon dioxide emissions. And it is a future in which we realize once and for all that we can indeed achieve our goals for our economies and our businesses while at the same time protecting the global environment.
Thank you very much.
Press Release: New Reports Highlight Opportunities to Curb Growth of Transport Sector Emissions in Developing Countries
For Immediate Release:
July 20, 2001
Contact: Katie Mandes, 703-516-4146
Dale Curtis, 202-777-3530
New Reports Highlight Opportunities to Curb Growth of Transport Sector Emissions in Developing Countries
Delhi, Shanghai studies identify low-cost policies that also improve traffic and air quality
(BONN, Germany) - Greenhouse gas emissions from cars and other vehicles are likely to soar in Delhi and Shanghai over the next two decades, but could be substantially curtailed through public and private sector initiatives that would also ease traffic congestion and cut air pollution, according to two new reports released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The reports' authors found that transport-related greenhouse gas emissions could rise as much as fourfold in Delhi, and sevenfold in Shanghai, by 2020. Policies that promote cleaner technologies, public transit and other transportation alternatives could cut the projected emission increases by as much as half, the authors concluded.
"One of the greatest challenges we face in addressing climate change is helping developing countries forge cleaner, more sustainable paths to development," said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center, an independent U.S.-based organization. "These reports identify ways that fast-growing cities like Delhi and Shanghai can meet the demand for high-quality transportation while easing congestion, improving air quality, and protecting the global climate."
The team of experts that produced the Delhi report was led by Ranjan Bose of the Tata Energy Research Institute in New Delhi, and Daniel Sperling of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis. The Shanghai team was led by Hongchang Zhou of Tongji University in Shanghai and Daniel Sperling.
The Delhi and Shanghai reports are the first in a series of five examining transport-related greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. Case studies of Chile and South Africa, and an overview report, will be released later this year. Earlier Pew Center reports examined the electric power sectors in Argentina, Brazil, China, India and the Republic of Korea.
Delhi: Challenges and Opportunities
Delhi's high scooter and motorcycle ownership rates show that demand for personal mobility can be achieved even at low income levels. Per capita and aggregate greenhouse gas emissions are relatively low, but are poised to increase dramatically. The projected increase in two-wheeled vehicles and cars threatens to bring rising respiratory illness, more chronic traffic jams, further disenfranchisement of the poor, and greater obstacles to economic development.
Under the report's "business-as-usual" scenario, transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions could increase fourfold between 2000 and 2020. An aggressive effort to encourage environmentally friendly forms of travel could reduce the projected increase to a doubling. Low-cost, incremental policy options include:
- Building and maintaining more sidewalks, and bicycle and bus lanes;
- Replacing inefficient, highly polluting engines in scooters and motorcycles;
- Improving fuel efficiency of cars; and
- Improving public transit and expanding charter bus services.
T he authors also discuss more fundamental changes that could have deeper, longer-term impacts, including integrated land-use planning and faster introduction of advanced vehicle and information technologies.
Shanghai: Building on Past Success
Shanghai's transportation sector currently generates extremely low levels of greenhouse gas emissions for a city of its size and affluence. But emissions are expected to soar four- to sevenfold due to the city's efforts to reduce its very high population density and the anticipated increase in automobiles following China's accession to the World Trade Organization. City planners project a quadrupling of the number of cars and trucks in operation by 2020.
Shanghai has already established a highly competent transportation system and large investments are being made in new infrastructure and the coordination of transportation modes. The city is investing in rail and bus transit and "intelligent" transportation technologies. To the extent Shanghai can restrain motorization and emissions, it may serve as a model for other cities in the developing world.
Low-emission policies include:
- Specialized infrastructure for smaller vehicles and bicycles;
- Promotion of small cars and clean, efficient motorcycles and scooters;
- More and better express bus service;
- Greater use of information and communication technologies; and
- Cleaner engine technologies in conventional vehicles.
T he full text of both reports is accessible on the Internet at http://www.c2es.org. The site also offers information on the science and economics of climate change, potential solutions, and the activities of the Pew Center and its Business Environmental Leadership Council.
- Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Delhi, India
- Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Shanghai, China
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, nonprofit, 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.
Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Shanghai, China
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Hongchang Zhou, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Sperling, Mark Delucchi, and Deborah Salon, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis
Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
The transportation sector is a leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, and one of the most difficult to control. In developing countries, where vehicle ownership rates are considerably below the OECD average, transport sector emissions are poised to soar as income levels rise. This is especially true for China, whose imminent accession to the World Trade Organization will contribute to economic growth and could make consumer credit widely available for the first time. These factors are likely to accelerate automobile purchases, and GHG emissions.
Shanghai is one of China's most dynamic cities. Extremely densely populated, with very low personal vehicle ownership rates for its income level, Shanghai is also home to a nascent Chinese automotive industry. Transportation plans and policies there are designed to achieve broader urban objectives of population decentralization, with an eye to controlling increases in traffic congestion and improving environmental quality. Because Shanghai's transportation system and planning process are so sophisticated, Shanghai may be a 'best case' for controlling transportation sector GHG emissions in the absence of climate change mitigation goals.
This report creates two scenarios of GHG emissions from Shanghais transportation sector in 2020. It finds:
- Greenhouse gas emissions quadruple in the low-GHG scenario; they increase sevenfold in the high scenario. On a passenger-kilometer basis, the estimated increase ranges from 10 to 100 percent.
- Providing an array of high-quality options to travelers can help meet the demand for transportation services while keeping traffic congestion in check and meeting other urban objectives.
- Special lanes and other infrastructure to accommodate vehicles such as buses, minicars, and bicycles can save money and improve traffic circulation.
- Using clean technology and fuels in motorized vehicles lowers the environmental impact of various transportation modes.
- Perfecting the use of 'intelligent' traffic control systems through improved coordination will yield higher returns on capital investments.
Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Shanghai, China is the second report in a series examining transportation sector GHG emissions in developing countries. The report's findings are based on a Lifecycle Energy Use and Emissions Model developed by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis, which estimates GHG emissions from the transportation sector.
The Pew Center would like to thank Kebin He of Tsinghua University, Feng An of Argonne National Laboratory, Ralph Gakenheimer of MIT, and Michael Walsh, an independent transportation consultant, for their review of earlier drafts.
Shanghai is experiencing rapid economic growth. Affluence is motivating dramatic and far-ranging changes in urban structure, transportation, and energy use. This report examines two transportation trajectories that Shanghai might follow and how they would affect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Shanghai’s metropolitan population of over 13 million people continues to grow relatively slowly, but its economy is growing rapidly. The average annual per capita income is $4,000, three times higher than the rest of China, and the Shanghai economy is expected to grow at more than 7 percent per year through 2020.
Massive new transport system investments planned for the next two decades are aimed at lowering Shanghai’s extremely high population density, supporting economic growth, and enhancing the quality of life. The list of new investments is impressive: expansion of the new airport, construction of a deep-water harbor, three new bridges and tunnel river crossings, completion of a 200-kilometer modern rapid transit rail system, expansion of suburban highways, and construction of 2,000 kilometers of new and upgraded urban roads. These investments will improve the city's transportation system, but are costly and threaten greater energy use and air pollution.
A central issue in Shanghai’s development is the role of personal vehicles, especially cars. The city currently devotes little land to roads and has only 650,000 cars and trucks — very few of which are privately owned — placing vehicle ownership levels well below virtually all cities of similar income. Even with this small number of vehicles, Shanghai already suffers from serious transport-induced air pollution and traffic congestion.
Shanghai city planners project a quadrupling of cars and trucks in the city by 2020. This projected increase is premised principally on two factors. First is rapid income growth, which will make car ownership possible for a much larger segment of the population. And second is vehicle prices, which are likely to plummet due to China’s imminent accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Lower prices will result from increased competition, compulsory reductions in vehicle tariffs, and easier access to consumer credit.
These projected increases in vehicle use are not certain. Even apart from the WTO membership, vehicle ownership and use--and GHG emissions--will be strongly influenced by three interrelated policy debates: industrial policy toward the automotive industry, air quality policy, and transportation and urban growth policy.
The city's decision about vehicle use will be critical in shaping Taiwan's future.
This report addresses the forces about to transform the transportation system of Shanghai, and examines policies and strategies that that direct it toward greater economic, social and environmental sustainability.
The two transportation scenarios draw upon extensive interviews with decision-makers and experts in Shanghai and Beijing. One scenario is premised on rapid motorization, the other on dramatic interventions to restrain car use and energy consumption, resulting in lower GHG emissions. Neither is the "business-as-usual" scenario, since this characterization is meaningless in a time of massive investments and policy shifts. Instead, these scenarios are meant to estimate likely upper and lower bounds of greenhouse gas emissions from Shanghai transport in 2020, taking as given the projected strong economic growth. If the economy grows more slowly, emissions will likely be lower than the scenarios indicate.
The rapid motorization scenario is based on the projected quadrupling of cars by 2020, coupled with a substantial increase in population. It results in a seven-fold increase in GHG emissions. The restrained scenario results in a four fold increase in GHG emissions. In this restrained scenario, almost all emissions growth is due to increase in travel, not increases in energy intensity or GHG intensity of the travel. Emissions per passenger-kilometer increase only about 10 percent the restrained scenario compared to a doubling in the rapid motorization scenario.
Caution is urged in generalizing the findings of this report to other cities in developing nations. Shanghai is not a typical Asian city, given its surging economy and its world-class planning capabilities. However, the conditions for alternative transportation options are more propitious here than perhaps any other megacity in the world. If the city is effective at restraining growth in vehicle use (and GHG emissions), Shanghai may serve as a model for other cities in the developing world.
Making Collaboration a Matter of Course: A New Approach to Environmental Policy Making
Speech by Eileen Claussen, President
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Society of Environmental Professionals Meeting
June 25, 2001
Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be here with a group of environmental professionals from around the country. And I must say I am glad you have all gathered here in Washington. Judging from what's been going on over the last several months—and, indeed, over the last several years—this town could certainly use a few more environmental professionals.
"In its totality, the explosion of congressional activism that produced these landmark environmental statutes must be considered one of the great legislative achievements in the nation's history."
And, as we all know, it was an explosion of activism that produced very real results—two-thirds of the nation's waters now safe for fishing and swimming, up from one-third in 1970; dramatic improvements in air quality due to reductions in carbon monoxide, lead, ozone, particulates and other pollutants.
To see how the prevailing model of environmental governance is not delivering the results we need, one has only to take a cursory look at where things stand today on the two issues that are currently the focus of my work.
Climate Change: Moving Forward at Home and Abroad
Joint Center Policy Matters
There has been much argument in the United States over whether the Kyoto Protocol is an appropriate first step in the effort to find a global solution to the challenge of climate change. But the question of Americas rightful role in the fight against global warming extends far beyond the diplomatic realm. The real hurdles are on the domestic front, for truly addressing climate change will require serious and sustained effort across virtually every sector of the U.S. economy. Ultimately, what the United States can deliver internationally hinges on what it can and is prepared to do at home. For the United States—and hence, the world—to effectively combat climate change, it is critical that our domestic and diplomatic strategies proceed in tandem.
So far, unfortunately, they have not. While the Clinton administration agreed to a tough emissions reduction target in Kyoto, it never put forward anything approaching the kind of domestic strategy that would be required to meet it. In fact, while we have had some discussion in the United States on what other countries should do, we have not had a serious debate about what we ourselves are willing to do. What we need is a national dialogue, with serious arguments about costs, benefits, and fairness. Only if we achieve something approaching a national view, broadly supported by the American people, our legislative representatives and our President, can we successfully address this issue.
In assessing how the United States could or should proceed domestically and, in turn, internationally, it is important to recognize certain defining characteristics of the climate challenge, and what they imply for the effort required to meet it. First, climate change is truly a global challenge: Averting the worst consequences of global warming ultimately requires action by all major emitting nations. Second, it is a long-term challenge. Reducing emissions to the levels necessary to prevent serious climate disruption will take many decades because it essentially requires a new industrial revolution—one enabling the broad introduction of low-carbon technologies to power a growing global economy.
Much as some would like to believe otherwise, it will be extraordinary difficult if not impossible to muster the kind of global, sustained effort that is needed without the force of legally binding commitments. There is little incentive for any country—or any company—to undertake real action unless, ultimately, all do, and are in some manner held accountable. Markets, of course, will be instrumental in mobilizing the necessary resources and know-how; market-based strategies such as emissions trading also can help deliver emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost. But markets can move us in the right direction only if they are given the right signals. In the United States, those signals have been neither fully given nor fully accepted.
So what would constitute an effective domestic program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? To date, efforts to reduce U.S. emissions have been limited almost exclusively to voluntary activities at the federal, state, local and corporate level. Spurred on by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which the United States is a party, a number of these efforts have resulted in significant emission reductions. Some companies, for example, have cut emissions 10 percent or more from 1990 levels. And while technology has enabled the energy intensity of products and processes to decrease over the last 50 years, the increased efficiency has been outpaced by increased demand driven by economic expansion, population growth, and changing consumer preferences. In the aggregate, voluntary efforts have not ended overall growth in U.S. emissions. Indeed, U.S. emissions grew approximately 12 percent over the past decade. The lesson here is clear: voluntary programs can make a contribution but will not, on their own, be enough.
What would? To effectively address climate change, we need to lower carbon intensity, become more energy efficient, promote carbon sequestration, and find ways to limit emissions of non-CO2 gases. This will require fundamentally new technologies, as well as dramatic improvements in existing ones. New, less carbon-intensive ways of producing, distributing and using energy will be essential. The redesign of industrial processes, consumer products and agricultural technologies and practices will also be critical. These changes can be introduced over decades as we turn over our existing capital stocks and establish new infrastructure. But we must begin making investments, building institutions, and implementing policies now.
Three decades of experience fighting pollution in the United States have taught us a great deal about what works best. In general, the most cost-effective approaches allow emitters flexibility to decide how best to meet a given, binding emissions limit; provide early direction so targets can be anticipated and factored into major capital and investment decisions; and employ market mechanisms, such as emissions trading, to achieve reductions where they cost least. To ease the transition from established ways of doing business, targets should be realistic and achievable. What is important is that they be strong enough to spur real action and to encourage investment in development of the technology and infrastructure needed to achieve the long-term objective.
A good first step is to get our house in order by immediately requiring accurate measurement, tracking and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. Current efforts lack rigorous reporting standards and verification requirements. Public disclosure of the reported data, similar to what is required for certain pollutants under the federal Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program, would encourage companies to hunt for ways to reduce their greenhouse emissions.
There are other ways we can and should spur companies to act ahead of any mandatory requirements. One is for the government to enter into voluntary enforceable agreements with companies or sectors willing to commit to significant reductions—either in process emissions, or those from the use of products they make (e.g. automobiles or washing machines). In exchange for its commitment to cut emissions, a company or sector should be guaranteed that it would not be bound by subsequent mandates for greenhouse gas controls over the same time period. A similar approach could encourage companies, particularly in the electric utility sector, to cut carbon emissions as they undertake air pollution reductions required by existing law––a more cost-effective way to achieve multiple environmental objectives.
While such efforts can help get the United States on track, the long-term emission reductions needed can be achieved only with a far more comprehensive—and binding—strategy. Alternative approaches should be closely studied, and the results publicly debated. But much of the analysis thus far suggests that a “cap-and-trade” system—which sets an overall cap on emissions and establishes a market in carbon credits—can provide the private sector the flexibility and incentive to achieve emission reductions at the least possible cost. As yet, no economic model can accurately account for factors such as the rate of technological change that are key to assessing the long-term costs and benefits of a serious climate strategy. However, the best analyses to date suggest that the costs are reasonable, particularly when weighed against the serious and significant costs of not acting.
Ideally, a domestic climate strategy, particularly one employing emissions trading, would be coordinated with those of other countries under the aegis of a binding global framework. And this brings us back to the question of a constructive, credible U.S. position in the international negotiations set to resume in July in Bonn.
In broad terms, an international climate agreement must meet three fundamental criteria if it is to be effective: It must be environmentally sound; it must be cost-effective; and it must be fair. To be environmentally sound, an agreement must ensure that emissions actually are reduced over time to levels that achieve safe, stable atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. This, again, will require economically achievable binding targets. And any agreement should include a strong compliance mechanism to ensure that the targets are met.
To be cost-effective, an agreement must allow nations to meet their targets flexibly and at the least possible cost. International emissions trading and other market-based mechanisms can help direct capital toward least-cost reductions. Other flexible approaches—such as allowing credit for sequestration of carbon in trees and soils, and measuring all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide—also can help achieve reductions where they are most cost-effective. While the Kyoto Protocol includes all these provisions, there is still no agreement on the rules for implementing them. Bad rules—for instance, an arbitrary cap on the portion of a nation’s target that could be met through emissions trading—could drive up cost, with no environmental benefit.
Fairness could prove the trickiest of the three criteria. An international agreement will not work unless, in time, it entails binding commitments by all major emitting countries. The Framework Convention, signed by Bush the elder and ratified by the U.S. Senate, rightly commits developed countries to taking the lead. And as a practical matter, developing countries will not (and as a matter of principle, they should not be asked to) make binding commitments until the developed countries demonstrate real progress in reducing their own emissions. Ultimately, the parties must decide when—and in what manner—developing countries will be required to act. But for the moment, the best that can be hoped for is some formal acknowledgement by all parties that those issues will be squarely faced by a date certain.
We stand at a critical juncture, and whether nations can agree on a common path forward depends heavily on decisions now being weighed at the White House. The United States bears a special responsibility here, because we account for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and also because our economy is the largest and most vibrant in the world. If the United State wishes to be a leader in this global effort—rather than sit on the sidelines as other nations push ahead with the Kyoto Protocol—it must come forward with a credible proposal that provides a basis for further negotiation. To be credible, though, the United States must demonstrate that it is prepared to back up commitments abroad with real action at home. This requires a comprehensive climate policy that moves us forward, in a coordinated fashion, on both the domestic and the international fronts. We must close the gap between what we promise and what we can deliver.
Global Warming Creates Rift Over North-South Waters
Elliot Diringer; Malik Amin Aslam
Elliot Diringer is director of international strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Malik Amin Aslam is executive director of ENVORK, a research organization based in Islamabad, Pakistan
Los Angeles Times - Home Edition
July 13, 2001
The diplomatic uproar over U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol has played largely as a drama between Europe and the United States. Yet there's a deeper worry: deteriorating prospects for ever enlisting the rest of the world, in particular developing nations, in the fight against global warming.
President Bush contends that any climate agreement binding the U.S. but not developing countries like China and India is unfair.
It is true that annual greenhouse gas emissions from developing nations will soon rival those of the industrialized nations. But the president's notion of fairness obscures physical and geopolitical realities that are far more complex.
First, global warming is not the product of gases put in the atmosphere today, yesterday or even last year. It results from the buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases over a century or more. A fair approach starts with an honest accounting of who is responsible for these emissions; that is, who has benefited most from the soaring energy use and industrial output that produced them. The answer is no surprise. Experts calculate that nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere over the past century as a result of human activity originated in industrialized countries, nearly a third in the U.S. alone.
This legacy was understood a decade ago when nations set out to negotiate a global climate agreement. That is why the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change signed by President Bush's father at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro commits developed countries to "take the lead in combating climate change." They have yet to deliver on that. Until they do, developing countries will not take on binding commitments of their own.
That is not to say that developing countries are not acutely aware of the risks posed by climate change. Indeed, they face a far graver risk of flooding, drought, disease and crop failure and the forced migrations that could follow. For some, particularly small island countries, survival itself may be at stake. And these nations cannot easily divert scarce resources to build sea walls or otherwise "adapt" to a warming climate.
Still, although not prepared to commit to binding limits, many developing countries are taking steps to reduce or avoid emissions, including market reforms, the phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies and dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. Although these changes are more often motivated by concerns other than climate change, they have the effect of slowing the growth of emissions.
Take China. Through the 1990s, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, China's emissions grew just 8.4%--a rate one-third lower than that of the United Sstates. From 1997 to 1999, China's emissions dropped a remarkable 17%. The latest U.S. data, meanwhile, suggest a surge in emissions despite a slowing economy. It is no longer so clear that China will surpass the U.S. as the world's largest emitter any time soon.
Steps to further curb greenhouse emissions can pay multiple dividends for developing countries. They can help combat smog and other local environmental threats, for instance, while encouraging sustainable development. There are benefits for industrial countries as well. Big profits can be made promoting clean technology to help developing countries meet their energy needs.
This commonality of interest is no guarantee that developing countries will move quickly or aggressively, just as compelling science and moral obligation are no guarantee that industrialized countries will do as they should. Sovereign nations will take real, sustained action only when bound by legal commitments. And no international climate agreement can be truly effective unless, in time, commitments extend to major developing nations as well.
But President Bush's strategy--rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, committing to no concrete measures to reduce U.S. emissions and equating the near-term responsibilities of the world's wealthiest and poorest nations--only delays the day when developing countries are ready to even contemplate binding emissions limits. Through his actions and words, the president is deepening the rift between developed and developing nations, a rift that will be far more difficult to bridge than the one between Europe and the U.S.
Copyright © 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Delhi, India
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Ranjan Bose and K.S. Nesamani, Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI)
Geetam Tiwari, Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi
Daniel Sperling, Mark Delucchi, and Lorien Redmond, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis
Lee Schipper, International Energy Agency
Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries are increasing most rapidly in the transportation sector. Even people with low incomes are meeting their need for mobility, and projected income growth over the next two decades suggests that many more will acquire personal modes of transportation. How this will affect the earth's climate is a great concern.
In Delhi, India, transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions are expected to soar. There are policy and technology choices that could significantly lower the emissions growth rate while increasing mobility, improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, and lowering transport and energy costs. To realize these benefits, vision, leadership, and political will must be brought to bear. Delhi has high vehicle ownership rates for the city's income level, increasing congestion, poor air quality, poor safety conditions, and insufficient coordination among the responsible government institutions. Travelers in Delhi desire transportation services, reflected by the increasing numbers of inexpensive but highly polluting scooters and motorcycles.
This report creates two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions from Delhi's transportation sector in 2020. It finds:
- Greenhouse gas emissions quadruple in the high-GHG, or business-as-usual, scenario; but only double in the low scenario.
- Transportation policies are readily available that will not only slow emissions growth, but also significantly improve local environmental, economic, and social conditions.
- Improved technology would maximize the efficiency of automobiles, buses, and other modes of transportation and could play a key role in reducing emission increases.
- Keeping many travel mode options available - including minicars and new efficient scooters and motorcycles - will help individuals at various income levels meet their mobility needs.
- The time to act is now. The issues facing Delhi represent opportunities for improvement, but the longer authorities wait to address transportation inefficiencies, the more difficult and expensive it will be to produce a positive outcome.
Transportation in Developing Countries: Greenhouse Gas Scenarios for Delhi, India is the first report in a five-part series examining transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. The report findings are based on (1) a regression model developed by TERI to forecast future increases in vehicle ownership and travel by different modes and (2) a Lifecycle Energy Use and Emissions Model developed by the Institute of Transportation Studies at U.C.-Davis which estimates greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
The Pew Center gratefully acknowledges Anita Ahuja of Conserve, Ralph Gakenheimer of MIT, and Michael Walsh, an independent transportation consultant, for their review of earlier drafts.
Delhi, India is a rapidly expanding megacity. Like many other cities its size, Delhi faces urban gridlock and dangerous levels of air pollution. Vehicle ownership is still a fraction of that in industrialized countries, but remarkably high considering the population's relatively low income. Worldwide, energy use is increasing faster in the transport sector than in any other sector, and fastest of all in developing countries. From 1980 to 1997, transportation energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased over 5 percent per year in Asia (excluding the former Soviet Union) and 2.6 percent in Latin America, compared to one percent growth in greenhouse gases from all sectors worldwide.
Delhi faces the same transportation, economic, and environmental challenges of other megacities. Population, motor vehicles, pollution, and traffic congestion are all increasing. Air pollution levels greatly exceed national and World Health Organization health-based standards, and transportation is by far the largest source of pollution. In the past 30 years, Delhi's population more than tripled and the number of vehicles increased almost fifteenfold.
By 2000, Delhi had about 2.6 million motor vehicles - 200 for every 1,000 inhabitants, a rate far higher than most cities with similar incomes. Most of these vehicles are small, inexpensive motorcycles and scooters, rather than automobiles. This proliferation of vehicles in a relatively poor city indicates the strong desire for personal transport - a phenomenon observed virtually everywhere. Delhi is an example of how that desire can now be met with relatively low incomes.
Delhi is expected to continue growing at a rapid rate. Its population is expected to surpass 22 million by 2020. Motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, and motorized two- and three-wheelers, are expected to grow at an even faster rate. The domestic auto industry is predicting car sale increases of 10 percent per year. With an extensive network of roads and increasing income, there is every reason to expect vehicle sales and use to continue on a sharp, upward trajectory.
April 17-18, 2001 - Washington, DC
The Pew Center conference on Equity and Global Climate Change will bring together experts from a variety of disciplines and nationalities to explore how best to ensure fair and reasonable actions by all countries in addressing climate change. Given critical differences among nations -- in their economies, their historic and projected emissions, and their vulnerability to climate change impacts -- achieving equitable international commitments is an extraordinary challenge. Speakers and panelists will examine the underlying economic, cultural, and ethical issues and how they influence this crucial debate. Through this conference, the Pew Center hopes to stimulate an ongoing international dialogue leading to the better understanding of equity concerns and solutions that all parties believe are fair.
Approaches to Equity
Equity concerns are at the very core of the climate change debate: Who bears the greatest responsibility for climate change? Who is at greatest risk? Who is best able to act? Even if we agree that equity is a goal, how do we define "equitable"? Many approaches to conceptualizing and addressing equity in the context of climate change have been advanced, including: per capita emission rights; various forms of "grandfathering;" allocating reductions according to ability to pay; sharing costs according to historic emissions; and combinations of these and other critiera. This panel will explore some of these approaches and will ask whether, ultimately, equity is more feasibly addressed through a political bargain than through a given principle or formula.
At the root of many equity concerns are stark economic realities. Countries face widely divergent costs in addressing climate change - both the direct costs of mitigation, and the opportunity costs of diverting scarce capital from other social needs. The stakes of not acting also vary widely; and those facing the greatest costs from flooding, drought and other climate change impacts may be those with the fewest resources to spare. While some developed countries are concerned about competitiveness impacts if other nations do not act, developing countries are reluctant to assume obligations that may jeopardize their economic development. This panel will explore these differing perspectives, and will examine opportunities to address economic inequities through technology transfer, capacity building, clean energy investment, and other climate change strategies.
Ethical, Moral, and Cultural Considerations
Equity concerns are also shaped by differing ethical, religious, and cultural perspectives. Some cultures and traditions place a higher priority on meeting collective needs and those of future generations. Some argue that developed countries must be willing to sacrifice the comforts of an energy-intensive lifestyle. Some hold more strongly than others to the creed of market efficiency. While these differences can exert a powerful influence on national perspectives, they are typically overshadowed by pure economic concerns. This panel will explore how these differences color the climate change debate, and how a better understanding of other cultures and traditions can lead to stronger international cooperation against climate change.
Fair and Reasonable Action: First Steps
The Kyoto Protocol attempts to address equity concerns in at least two respects: it sets binding emissions targets only for developed countries, reflecting broad agreement that it is their obligation to act first; and among developed countries, it sets differentiated targets reflecting differences in national circumstance. How equitable are these decisions? Negotiations over rules to implement Kyoto raise another set of concerns: How is fair representation on the body overseeing the Clean Development Mechanism ensured? What must developed countries do to fulfill their commitments on finance and technology transfer? This panel will examine the underlying rationale for agreed-upon measures such as differentiated targets, and explore ways to resolve other equity issues that arise within the existing climate framework.
Fair and Reasonable Action: The Path Forward
Ultimately, it will be impossible to achieve safe, stable atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases by addressing only developed country emissions. There is growing pressure in the United States and elsewhere for developing countries to take stronger action against climate change. Developing countries want greater recognition for efforts already underway and are unwilling to commit to stronger action, insisting that industrial countries first demonstrate real progress toward achieving their emission targets and fulfilling their commitments on finance and technology transfer. This panel will explore differing perspectives on this central issue, and consider when and how a real dialogue on developing country commitments can or should begin.