Congressional Testimony of Eileen Claussen: Regarding the Climate Change Technology Deployment in Developing Countries Act of 2005 (S.883)

TESTIMONY



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


REGARDING THE CLIMATE CHANGE TECHNOLOGY DEPLOYMENT
IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ACT OF 2005 (S.883)

Before the International Economic Policy, Export and
Trade Promotion Subcommittee, The Foreign Relations Committee
United States Senate

Washington, DC
May 19, 2005

 

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the Climate Change Technology Deployment in Developing Countries Act of 2005 (S.883) introduced by the chairman.  My name is Eileen Claussen, and I am the President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change.   Thirty-nine major companies in the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), most included in the Fortune 500, work with the Center to educate the public on the risks, challenges and solutions to climate change. 

Global climate change is real and likely caused mostly by human activities.  While uncertainties remain, they cannot be used as an excuse for inaction.  Temperatures at the Earth’s surface increased by an estimated 1oF over the 20th century.  The 1990s were the hottest decade of the entire century; perhaps even the millennium, and 1998, 2001, and 2002 were three of the hottest years ever recorded. The growing scientific consensus is that this warming is largely the result of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities including industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, and changes in land use, such as deforestation.   Projections of future warming suggest a global increase of 2.5oF to 10.4oF by 2100, with warming in the United States expected to be even higher.  This warming, along with the associated changes in precipitation and sea-level rise, will have important consequences for the U.S. environment, economy and security.

 I believe there are three things we in the United States must do to reduce the real and growing risks posed by global climate change: First, we must enact and implement a comprehensive national program to progressively and significantly reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gas emissions in a manner that contributes to sustained economic growth.  While I am happy to elaborate on this point, that is not my intent today.  Second, we must strengthen our efforts to develop and deploy climate-friendly technologies and to diffuse those technologies on a global scale.  That is the primary thrust of the bill before you today.  And third, the United States must work with other countries to establish an international framework that engages all the major greenhouse gas-emitting nations in a fair and effective long-term effort to protect our global climate.  I would like to return to this point later in my testimony and offer specific ideas on how this third critical challenge can best be met.  First, though, let me discuss the specifics of the Hagel bill.

We must strengthen efforts to develop and deploy climate-friendly technologies on a global scale.  Standards of living are expected to rise in developing countries over the next few decades, and, as they do, energy demand will rise.  China, for example, expects to build 544 gigawatts of new coal capacity between 2003 and 2030, far more than current coal capacity in the United States.  Shanghai predicts a quadrupling of cars and trucks by 2020, and car sales in Delhi have risen 10% per year since the mid-1970s.  If we are going to address the climate change problem, the huge growth in energy demand in developing countries has to be as climate-friendly as possible. 

Sen. Hagel’s bill is intended to address exactly that challenge.  The bill would have the Department of State identify the top 25 energy users among developing countries, describing among other things the quantities and types of energy they use, and the greenhouse gas intensity of their energy, manufacturing, agricultural and transportation sectors.  The bill would require the development of a technology strategic plan, and provide for at least ten demonstration projects to promote the adoption of technologies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas intensity in developing countries.  The bill would identify potential barriers to the export and adoption of climate-friendly technologies.  All of these would be useful activities.

I would, of course, like to offer a few suggestions.

 First, we should tailor the assistance provided to developing countries to their needs.  It is in the interest of the United States for developing countries to develop, and thereby to increase the health and well-being of their people, and it is important to recognize that the path each country takes in its development will vary.  Our efforts to promote the deployment of climate-friendly technologies will occur in the context of these varying paths to development.  Rather than viewing climate-friendly technology deployment as an exercise in funding demonstration projects or increasing technology exports, our objective should be to integrate climate-friendly activities into national strategies for economic growth, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.  We should be helping developing countries build their capacity to assess clean energy options and establish policy frameworks that will favor such options even after our funding assistance is gone. 

The reality is that the highest priority for most developing countries is economic growth and development.  Energy policies and plans are critical to achieving those priorities.  Making climate change one of the drivers of energy policy, as the United Kingdom has done, will move us toward meeting our goal of a stable climate.  It is in this context that we should support and promote efforts by the largest developing countries to identify specific goals for limiting their emissions of greenhouse gases – recognizing that their goals may vary in form, content and timing.  One way to do that would be to require that the largest developing countries, in agreeing to receive assistance under this bill, would establish goals consistent with their development strategies, and periodically report progress towards meeting them. 

Second, we would recommend tracking progress under this bill not only in terms of greenhouse gas intensity, but in terms of actual greenhouse gas emissions.  Measuring intensity is useful in that it allows us to distinguish a reduction in emissions that results from a genuine improvement in the technology from a reduction due to reduced production.  Intensity reduction, however, is not a surrogate for emission reduction, and our objective of achieving a stable climate must entail actual emission reductions.  We therefore should be tracking our progress in those terms.

I would respectfully suggest that Senator Byrd’s International Clean Energy Deployment and Global Energy Markets Investment Act of 2005 (S.745) takes a useful approach to the issues I have just mentioned.  It might be beneficial to merge these aspects of the Byrd bill with the Hagel bill.

 An international technology deployment program, such as the Hagel bill, can only be effective in the context of an international framework that engages all major emitting countries in the effort against climate change.  So even more critical, I believe, is the third challenge I identified at the outset: establishing a fair and effective international framework to engage all major emitting countries in the effort against climate change.

   Through an initiative called the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico,  the Pew Center has engaged with policymakers and stakeholders from around the world in a wide-ranging examination of specific options for advancing the international climate effort.  I would like to share with you some of the insights and observations emerging from this ongoing dialogue.

 First, there is no getting around national interest.  Climate change is a collective challenge.  However, the political reality is that nations will join in meeting this collective challenge only if they perceive it to be in their national interests.  A multilateral framework must therefore recognize and accommodate the very real and significant differences among nations.  The key here is flexibility.  We need a framework flexible enough to allow different countries to undertake the different types of strategies best suited to their national circumstances.  To accommodate different types of strategies, we must allow for different types of commitments.  For instance, a quantified emissions limit may be appropriate for some countries, while for others some form of non-quantified policy commitment may be more feasible and effective.  Also, commitments could apply economy-wide, or they could be structured around specific sectors.

 There are many possibilities and the time to begin considering them is right now.  In its present form, the Kyoto Protocol extends only to 2012.  Under the terms of the Protocol, parties must begin consideration of new commitments this year.  This process will begin when climate negotiators meet later this year in Montreal.  While the United States is not a party to the Protocol, it can, if it so chooses, exert great influence on the pace and direction of these discussions.  Other countries would very much welcome the United States’ engagement.  Most have come to accept that the United States will never be a party to the Kyoto Protocol.  And they understand that a truly effective international approach – one with the full engagement of the United States and the major developing countries – will require moving beyond Kyoto.  The Administration has thus far taken the position that it is premature to discuss post-2012 options.  Quite to the contrary, it is essential that we begin now, with the United States fully and constructively engaged.

 Toward that end, I believe the most powerful step the Senate could take to reestablish U.S. leadership on this vital global issue would be to revisit and update the sense of the Senate on the future of the international climate effort.  As we all know, Senate Resolution 98 of the One Hundred Fifth Congress – the Byrd-Hagel resolution – has had a profound influence on the climate debate here and abroad.  As the international climate effort enters a new stage, a new Senate resolution can again shape the debate.  It can help ensure that the United States is at the table and define the terms of U.S. engagement; and, in so doing, it can help achieve the best possible outcome.
 
I would strongly encourage the Foreign Relations Committee to consider, and to report to the full Senate, a resolution advising the Executive Branch to work with other nations, both under the Framework Convention and in other international fora, with the aim of securing U.S. participation in agreements consistent with the following four objectives:

First, to advance and protect the economic and national security interests of the United States.  Potential climate change impacts such as chronic drought, famine, mass migration, and abrupt climatic shifts may trigger regional instabilities and pose a growing threat to our national security interests.  Addressing climate change, on the other hand, can greatly strengthen U.S. security by reducing our reliance on energy imports.  Sea-level rise and other climate impacts pose a direct economic threat as well, to U.S. communities and to U.S. businesses.  On the other hand, our response to climate change, if not well conceived, could pose a different sort of economic burden.  It is imperative that we both avoid the economic consequences of climate change, and minimize the costs of addressing climate change.

Second, to establish mitigation commitments by all countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases.  Ideally, a global challenge such as climate change should be met with a full global response.  What is most critical at this stage, however, is getting the largest emitters on board.  Twenty-five countries account for 83 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.  Seventeen of them are also among the world’s most populous countries, and twenty-two are among those with the highest GDPs.  To be truly effective, these major emitters must be part of the solution.  While we cannot expect all these countries to act in the same way, or necessarily in the same timeframe, we believe that all must commit to take action.   

Third, to establish flexible international mechanisms to minimize the cost of efforts by participating countries.  The United States has led the world in demonstrating that well-designed market-based approaches can achieve the greatest environmental benefit at the lowest cost.  U.S. negotiators fought rightly and successfully to build market mechanisms into the Kyoto architecture.  U.S. economic and business interests will be best served by an international climate strategy that uses emissions trading and other mechanisms to ensure that our efforts are as cost-effective as possible.   

And, fourth, to achieve a significant long-term reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.  Our initial efforts to address climate change, both domestically and internationally, can be at best first steps.  But in taking these steps, we must remain cognizant of our ultimate objective – stabilizing the global climate – and we should craft policies and agreements robust enough to drive and sustain the long-term efforts needed to achieve it.
 
I believe these four principles form a solid foundation for constructive U.S. engagement and urge that they be incorporated in a new Sense of the Senate resolution.  Moreover, such a resolution strikes me as being very much within the spirit of the Hagel bill and could well be taken up as an amendment to it.

 In closing, the most important thing Sen. Hagel has done in writing S.883, and that the subcommittee has done in holding this hearing, is to join the question of how best to address climate change.  As Senator Hagel has said, “Achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is one of the important challenges of our time.”  And: “We all agree on the need for a clean environment and stable climate.  The debate is about solutions. The question we face is not whether we should take action, but what kind of action we should take.”  I thank and commend Sen. Hagel for placing these issues before you, and thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify.  The Pew Center looks forward to working with the committee and Sen. Hagel on S.883 and on any future climate change legislation.