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Congressional Testimony of Elliot Diringer - International Climate Change Negotiations

January 24, 2008

Submitted to the United States Senate,
Committee on Foreign Relations

January 24, 2008

International Climate Change Negotiations:
Bali and the Path Toward a Post-2012 Climate Treaty

Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the recent Bali climate change negotiations and the path toward a post-2012 climate treaty. My name is Elliot Diringer, and I am the Director of International Strategies for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to advancing practical and effective policies to address global climate change. Our work is informed by our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), a group of 44 major companies, most in the Fortune 500, which work with the Center to educate opinion leaders on climate change risks, challenges, and solutions.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you and the members of this committee for convening this hearing today. Over the past year, the U.S. Congress has for the first time engaged in a genuine debate over how – not if, but how – the United States should address global climate change. So far, this debate has focused primarily on questions of domestic climate policy. This is a critical first step. But as you know, meeting the challenge of climate change requires global solutions as well, and these are possible only with strong leadership from the United States. The U.S. Senate has a vital role in mobilizing and setting the terms of U.S. engagement in the global climate effort. This committee, with your leadership, can ensure the Senate is well prepared to fulfill that responsibility. We are very encouraged that you are initiating this process with this hearing today.

In my testimony, I would like to address four topics. First, I will offer our perspective on the post-2012 international climate framework – both what it must achieve, and how it should be structured. Second, I will assess the recently agreed Bali Roadmap and the opportunities it presents. Third, I will outline key steps the United States must take to seize these opportunities. Finally, I will suggest a diplomatic strategy working within and outside the U.N. negotiating process, and the potential role of the Bush administration’s major economies initiative.

My key points are as follows:

  • A post-2012 international climate treaty must establish binding international commitments for all the major economies. However, the form of commitment can vary. While the United States and other developed countries should commit to absolute economy-wide emission targets, other forms such as policy-based commitments are appropriate for the major emerging economies.
  • The Bali Roadmap represents an historic turning point in the international climate negotiations. By not excluding the possibility of developing country commitments, it for the first time offers the prospect of a fair, effective, and comprehensive post-2012 agreement.
  • To ensure the Bali Roadmap’s success, the United States must: move as quickly as possible to enact mandatory domestic limits on U.S. emissions; declare unambiguously its willingness to negotiate a binding international commitment; and outline the support it will provide to developing countries if they, too, assume reasonable commitments.
  • In addition, the United States should mount a major diplomatic initiative, working both bilaterally and multilaterally to clarify and advance the negotiating agenda and find common ground. The administration’s major economies process could lay important groundwork with agreement on elements such as a long-term climate goal and an international technology fund.

1) The Post-2012 International Climate Framework Must Be Flexible but Binding

The Pew Center’s perspective on the post-2012 climate framework reflects not only our own detailed analysis but also the collective views of an impressive group of policymakers and stakeholders from around the world. As part of our effort to help build consensus on these issues, we convened the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of 25 individuals from government, business, and civil society in 15 key countries, participating in their personal capacities. The group included senior policymakers from Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. It also included senior executives from companies in several key sectors, including Alcoa, BP, DuPont, Exelon, Eskom (the largest electric utility in Africa), Rio Tinto, and Toyota. The group’s consensus report was released in late 2005 at an event in this room hosted by Senators Biden and Lugar. Since that time, we have produced a number of analyses further elaborating on the Pocantico recommendations. I would like to highlight several key points.

Engaging All Major Economies – First, the post-2012 framework must engage all of the world’s major economies. Twenty-five countries account for about 85 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. These same countries also account for about 75 percent of global population and 90 percent of global GDP. The participation of all the major economies is obviously critical from an environmental perspective, as all must take sustained action if we are to achieve the steep reductions in emissions needed in the coming decades to avert dangerous climate change. But the participation of all major economies is critical from a political perspective as well. All have concerns about fairness and competitiveness, and for that reason, none can sustain an ambitious effort against climate change without confidence that the others are contributing their fair share. We must agree to proceed together.

The Need for Flexibility – At the same time, we must recognize the tremendous diversity among the major economies. This group includes industrialized countries, developing countries, and economies in transition. Their per capita emissions, and their per capita incomes, range by a factor of 18. The post-2012 framework must provide flexibility for these widely varying national circumstances. As the kinds of policies that can address climate change in ways consistent with other national priorities will vary from country to country, it also must accommodate different national strategies. To achieve broad participation, a post-2012 treaty must allow for variation both in the nature of countries’ commitments and in the timeframes within which these commitments must be fulfilled.

The Need for Binding Commitments – Allowing diverse approaches does not mean that each country should be entirely free to decide for itself how it will contribute to the global effort. The failure of most developed countries to reduce their emissions as pledged in the U.S.-ratified U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change demonstrates the inadequacy of a voluntary approach. A strong effort – one adequate to the challenge – will be possible only if national contributions are integrated in a common framework and reflected in binding international commitments. As I stated earlier, countries will deliver their best efforts only if they are confident that their counterparts and competitors also are putting forward their fair share of effort. To establish that confidence, there must be some measure of accountability at the international level, and that is best achieved through binding international commitments. If countries are accountable only to themselves, we will not achieve the critical mass of effort needed to deter global warming.

Multiple Commitment Types – A country’s commitment should be of a form appropriate to its level of responsibility and capacity and its national circumstances. For the United States and other developed countries, we believe the appropriate form of commitment is a binding absolute economy-wide emissions target. The United States was the first to advocate the use of targets and emissions trading to address climate change, based on its success in combating acid rain. This market-based approach also is reflected in most of the major bills before Congress aimed at limiting and reducing U.S. emissions. Within the international framework, stronger absolute targets for developed countries are absolutely critical to drive emission reduction and to sustain and strengthen the emerging greenhouse gas market.

We must accept, however, that China, India, and other developing countries are very unlikely to commit at this stage to binding economy-wide emission limits. With standards of living just a fraction of our own, they are fearful of jeopardizing their growing economies, and will have to be persuaded by the example of developed countries that a cap on emissions is not a cap on growth. For now, economy-wide targets are also technically impractical for most developing countries: to accept a binding target, a country must be able to reliably quantify its current emissions and project its future emissions, a capacity that few if any have.

As an alternative to binding economy-wide targets, developing countries could be encouraged to make policy-based commitments. Under this approach, countries would commit to undertake national policies that would moderate or reduce their emissions, without being bound to an economy-wide emissions limit. These commitments could be tailored to national circumstances and build directly on domestic policies. China, for example, has domestic energy efficiency targets, renewable energy goals, and auto fuel economy standards, and some version of these could be put forward as international commitments. Tropical forest countries could commit to policies to reduce deforestation. To be credible and effective, policy-based commitments would need to be measurable and binding, with mechanisms to ensure monitoring and compliance.

A third potential element of the post-2012 framework is sectoral agreements, in which governments commit to targets, standards, or other measures to reduce emissions from a given sector, rather than economy-wide. In energy-intensive industries whose goods trade globally – the sectors most vulnerable to potential competitiveness impacts from carbon constraints – sectoral agreements can ensure a more level playing field. Sectoral agreements also may be a practical way to engage developing countries not yet prepared to take on economy-wide commitments. Sectoral approaches are being explored by global industry groups in the aluminum and cement sectors. We believe they also are worth exploring in sectors such as power and transportation, where competitiveness is less of a concern but large-scale emission reduction efforts are most urgent.

In addition to these different types of emission reduction commitments, the post-2012 framework must address technology, finance and adaptation. On technology and finance, it could include two types of agreements: the first, for joint research and development of “breakthrough” technologies with long investment horizons; the second, to broaden access to existing and new technologies by addressing finance, intellectual property rights, and other issues impeding the flow of low-carbon technologies to developing countries. On adaptation, the top priority within the climate framework should be assistance to those countries most vulnerable to climate change for national adaptation planning and implementation. But broader efforts to reduce climate vulnerability also should be integrated across the full range of bilateral and multilateral development support.

I would emphasize again the need to integrate these elements in a coherent framework. An ad hoc agglomeration of nationally defined programs will not produce the level of effort that is needed. Strong global action requires binding international commitments negotiated and agreed as a package. The framework must be flexible enough to accommodate different types of commitments, and reciprocal enough to achieve a strong, sustained level of effort.

2) The Bali Roadmap is an Opportunity for a Fair, Effective Post-2012 Framework

I would like to turn now to the Bali Roadmap adopted by governments at the UN Climate Change Conference last month in Bali. In our judgment, the Bali Roadmap initiates a process that, for the first time ever, offers the prospect of a comprehensive international climate framework of the type I have just described. The process is far less than ideal. However, we believe it is the best that could have been achieved given present political constraints – the first and foremost of these being the unwillingness to date of the Bush administration to negotiate a binding international commitment.

The Bali Roadmap in actuality encompasses two parallel negotiating processes. The first of these was launched two years ago under the Kyoto Protocol. Its aim is to negotiate post-2012 commitments for those countries that presently have binding targets under the protocol. As these countries are highly unlikely to assume new commitments on their own, however, a parallel process was needed to engage the United States and developing countries in the post-2012 negotiations. This second process, under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, was launched in Bali and is called the Bali Action Plan. Although these two processes are not formally linked, the expectation is that they will converge in a comprehensive agreement in 2009, with some commitments established under the Kyoto Protocol and others under the Framework Convention.

In our analysis, the ideal outcome in Bali would have been a negotiating mandate clearly specifying the types of commitments to be negotiated by different groups of countries. The Bali Action Plan, by contrast, is very loosely framed. With respect to mitigation, it calls for “measurable, reportable and verifiable” actions on the part of both developed and developing countries. In the case of developed countries, it speaks of “mitigation commitments or actions,” and identifies emission targets as one option. In the case of developing countries, it speaks of “mitigation actions,” not commitments, “supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building.” The Action Plan specifically identifies sectoral approaches and measures to reduce deforestation as potential mitigation elements. It also calls for the post-2012 agreement to include provisions addressing adaptation, technology, and finance and investment.

In sum, the Bali Action Plan identifies the full set of issues that must be addressed but leaves entirely open the nature of the actions or commitments to be negotiated by any country or group of countries. In this sense, the Bali Roadmap puts no country on the hook for anything. At the same time, however, it lets no country off the hook either. This, in fact, is what is most significant about the Bali agreement. The 1995 Berlin Mandate, which launched the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol, explicitly excluded the possibility of new commitments for developing countries. Up until the Bali conference, developing countries had steadfastly maintained that posture. The Bali Action Plan does not expressly contemplate binding commitments for developing countries; with the United States not yet prepared to negotiate such commitments, developed countries can not reasonably be expected to. But the Bali Action Plan does not explicitly exclude the question of developing country commitments either. This presents a significant opening, one the United States must capitalize on if we are to achieve a fair and effective post-2012 agreement.

Under the Bali Roadmap, this agreement is to be reached at the 15th conference of the Framework Convention parties in Copenhagen in late 2009. We believe that, even under the best of circumstances, this is an extraordinarily ambitious timeline. The reality is that negotiations will not begin in earnest until the United States is prepared to negotiate a binding commitment. Without a change in policy by the Bush administration, this can occur only when a new president takes office in January 2009. Even then, it will likely take the incoming administration a matter of months to appoint senior officials and develop a formal negotiating position. That will leave precious little time to meet the Bali deadline. We believe that as the deadline approaches, parties should revisit and revise it if necessary to allow time for a successful negotiation and avert what would be perceived as a dramatic failure at the Copenhagen conference.

3) U.S. Leadership at Home and Abroad is Key to the Bali Roadmap’s Success

I now would like to outline steps that the United States can take to ensure that the Bali Roadmap leads to a fair, effective, and durable post-2012 agreement.

The success of the Bali Roadmap depends ultimately on the willingness of each of the world’s major economies to assume and fulfill a binding commitment commensurate with its responsibilities and its capabilities. The willingness of other countries to assume such commitments will depend in large measure on the willingness of the United States. As the world’s largest economy and largest historic emitter, the United States has a singular responsibility not only to reduce its own emissions but also to lead the international community in forging an effective global response. To date, the United States has failed to deliver on either score. In our view, the United States must do three things to reverse this record and set the stage for a post-2012 agreement.

First, Congress and the President must move as quickly as possible to enact mandatory domestic legislation to limit and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP, the Pew Center strongly supports the establishment of a cap-and-trade system as the centerpiece of a mandatory federal program with the goal of reducing U.S. emissions 60 to 80 percent by 2050. We are very encouraged by the progress achieved in the Senate toward enactment of such a program, and are fully committed to working with you and your colleagues towards that end. Domestically, a mandatory market-based program will stimulate technology development and deployment and give U.S. businesses the certainty and incentives they need to reduce emissions as cost-effectively as possible. Internationally, a mandatory domestic target will enable the United States to negotiate with greater confidence and credibility. Having resolved what it is prepared to do at home, the United States will know far better what it is prepared to deliver abroad. And, having taken concrete action to meet its responsibilities, it can more credibly call on other countries to fulfill theirs.

Second, the United States must state clearly and unambiguously that it is prepared to negotiate a binding international commitment. As long as that remains in question, other countries will have a legitimate excuse to avoid negotiating commitments of their own. As I stated earlier, we believe that the United States’ commitment, and those of other developed countries, should be in the form of a binding absolute economy-wide emissions targets.

Third, the United States should make clear the type of support it is prepared to offer developing countries if they, too, assume appropriate commitments. Once we have demonstrated a willingness to reduce our own emissions and assume a binding international commitment, it will be reasonable for us to expect that major emerging economies such as China assume commitments as well. However, it also will be reasonable for these countries to expect that we and other industrialized nations will assist them in fulfilling their commitments. This is in part a matter of fairness, given our greater historic contribution to climate change and our greater capacity to address it. Indeed, we and other industrialized countries agreed in the Framework Convention to assist developing countries in their efforts to address climate change, and the Bali Roadmap identifies such support as an essential element of a post-2012 agreement. However, providing such support is also very much in our self-interest, as we will bear the consequences if developing countries fail to act.

Support can be provided both on a bilateral basis and as part of a post-2012 agreement. A domestic cap-and-trade program, for instance, could allow for crediting of emission reductions in developing countries; additional incentives could be conditioned on the acceptance by developing countries of reasonable international commitments. Congress also could provide tax and other export incentives to support the adoption of U.S. clean energy technologies. A post-2012 agreement could establish an international financing mechanism and address issues such as intellectual property rights. Determining the appropriate forms and level of support requires a far better understanding of developing countries’ needs and the barriers to achieving them. To the degree feasible, however, we believe that support for developing country efforts should take the form of market-based incentives that leverage private financial flows.

As I noted earlier, the Bali Roadmap presents an unprecedented opening to engage developing countries more deeply in the climate effort. To seize this opportunity, the United States must come forward with an offer that fairly addresses the legitimate needs of developing countries, while being realistic about the nature and level of commitment that can be expected in return.

4) Reaching Agreement Requires a Major U.S. Diplomatic Initiative

We believe that these three steps by the United States – enacting mandatory domestic emission limits, declaring a willingness to negotiate a binding commitment, and offering a package of incentives for developing country action – are essential preconditions for a comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement. But these steps must be accompanied by vigorous and sustained U.S. diplomacy both within and outside the U.N. negotiating process.

Within the U.N. process, the new Ad Hoc Working Group established by the Bali Action Plan must now agree on how it will take up the complex set of issues before it. Despite the tight deadline, it will not be feasible for the parties to go directly to negotiating commitments. First, they must come to a firmer common understanding of the central issues and the options for addressing them. Key among these are different commitment types and their potentials, specific technology needs, and financing mechanisms. The United States should fully engage in the Working Group process and help ensure that it focuses on the right issues in the right order.

Simultaneously, the United States should engage in intensive bilateral diplomacy to better understand the perspectives of other key countries and to seek common ground for a comprehensive agreement. Within the negotiations, issues often are debated only in general terms. To fully understand the concrete needs and concerns of other countries, it is better to engage them one on one. Trust and understanding developed on a bilateral basis will make a comprehensive agreement far more feasible.

The United States also can work outside the formal negotiating process to promote consensus among the group of major economies. The participants in the Pocantico dialogue I described earlier were among the first to urge a high-level dialogue among major economies as a prelude to formal post-2012 negotiations. The goal of the administration’s major economies initiative is to reach consensus among these key countries in 2008 as a basis for a global U.N. agreement in 2009. However, the administration brings to this initiative a specific vision of the post-2012 framework – one based on nationally defined programs, rather than binding international commitments. There was little indication at the first major economies meeting in September that other countries support this approach. Still, by aiming for agreement on discrete elements, rather than a comprehensive approach, the initiative could in the months remaining make a significant contribution. In particular, if the major economies were to achieve consensus on a long-term climate goal, or on an international technology fund, as the president has proposed, these could serve as important elements of the post-2012 agreement envisioned in the Bali Roadmap.

To summarize, I believe the Bali Roadmap presents an historic opportunity to mobilize an effective multilateral response to climate change, and it is incumbent upon the United States to lead both at home and abroad to ensure its success. I again commend the Committee for bringing the attention of the Senate to bear on these critical issues, and I thank you for the opportunity to present our views. I would be happy to answer your questions.

A Look at Emissions Targets

United States:

State & Regional
Proposed Federal Legislation
Bush Administration



United States - State & Regional



Notes and Source

Arizona: State-wide2000 levels by 2020
50% below 2000 by 2040
Executive Order 2006-13
California: State-wide

2000 levels by 2010
1990 levels by 2020
80% below 1990 by 2050

Executive Order S-3-05
California: Major industries state-wide1990 levels by 2020AB 32
Connecticut: State-wide1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75-85% below 2001 levels in the long term
Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan
Florida: State-wide

2000 levels by 2017
1990 levels by 2025
80% below 1990 levels by 2050

EO 07-127
Florida: Electric Utilities

2000 levels by 2017
1990 levels by 2025
80% below 1990 levels by 2050

EO 07-127
Hawaii: State-wide1990 levels by 2020Act 234
Illinois: State-wide1990 levels by 2020
60% below 1990 levels by 2050
Press Release
Maine: State-wide1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75-80% below 2003 long-term
LD 845 (HP 622)
Massachusetts: State-wide1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75-85% below 1990 long-term
Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan of 2004
Massachusetts: Electric Utilities10% below 1997-1999CO2 target only.
310 CMR 7.29
Minnesota: State-wide

15% below 2005 levels by 2015
30% below 2005 levels by 2025
80% below 2005 levels by 2050

Next Generation Energy Act
New Hampshire: State-wide1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75-85% below 2001 long-term
The Climate Change Challenge
New Hampshire: Electric Utilities1990 levels by 2006CO2 target only.
HB 284
New Jersey: State-wide1990 levels by 2020
80% below 2006 levels by 2050
Press release and executive order
New Mexico: State-wide2000 levels by 2012
10% below 2000 by 2020
75% below 2000 by 2050
Executive Order 05-033
New York: State-wide5% below 1990 by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
State Energy Plan of 2002
Oregon: State-wideStabilize by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75% below 1990 by 2050
Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions
Rhode Island: State-wide1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
Rhode Island Greenhouse Gas Action Plan
Vermont: State-wide1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75-85% below 2001 long-term
Washington: State-wide1990 levels by 2020
25% below 1990 levels by 2035
50% below 1990 levels by 2050
Executive Order 07-02

Western Climate Initiative

15% below 2005 levels by 2020Western Climate Initiative Statement of Regional Goal
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: CO2 emissions from power plants

Cap emissions at current levels in 2009
Reduce emissions 10% by 2019.

our summary
New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers:
Regional economy-wide
1990 levels by 2010
10% below 1990 by 2020
75-85% below 2001 long-term
Climate Change Action Plan of 2001

United States - Proposed Federal Legislation



Notes & Source

Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act

4% below 2005 level by 2012
19% below 2005 level by 2020
71% below 2005 level by 2050 
As introduced 5/2008

Low Carbon Economy Act (Bingaman-Specter)


2012 level in 2012
2006 level in 2020
1990 level in 2030
President may set long-term target greater than or equal to 60% below 2006 level by 2050 contingent upon international effort

As introduced 7/2007
Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (McCain-Lieberman)

2004 level in 2012
1990 level in 2020
20% below 1990 level in 2030
60% below 1990 level in 2050
As introduced 1/2007
Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (Sanders-Boxer)

2010 level in 2010
2%/year reduction from 2010-2020
1990 level in 2020
27% below 1990 level in 2030
53% below 1990 level in 2040
80% below 1990 level in 2050
As introduced 1/2007
Climate Stewardship Act (Olver-Gilchrest)

2006 level in 2012
1990 level in 2020
22% below 1990 level in 2030
70% below 1990 level in 2050
As introduced 1/2007
Global Warming Reduction Act (Kerry-Snowe)

2010 level in 2010
1990 level in 2020
2.5%/year reduction from 2020-2029
3.5%/year reduction from 2030-2050
62% below 1990 level in 2050
As introduced 2/2007
Safe Climate Act of 2007 (Waxman)

2009 level in 2010
2%/year reduction from 2011-2020
1990 levels in 2020
5%/year reduction from 2020-2029
5%/year reduction from 2030-2050
80% below 1990 levels in 2050
As introduced 3/2007
Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act (Feinstein-Carper)

2006 level in 2011
2001 level in 2015
1%/year reduction from 2016-2019
1.5%/year reduction starting in 2020 (may be adjusted by Administrator)

Electricity sector; all GHGs

As introduced 1/2007

Clean Air Climate Change Act of 2007 (Alexander-Lieberman)

2300 MMT CO2 (approx. 2006 level) from 2011-2014
2100 MMT CO2 (approx. 1997 level) from 2015-2019
1800 MMT CO2 (approx.1990 level) from 2020-2024
1500 MMT CO2 (approx.17% below 1990 level) from 2025 forward
Electricity sector; 4 pollutants

As introduced 4/2007
Clean Air Planning Act of 2007 (Carper)

S. 1177
2006 CO2 level in 2012-2014
2001 CO2 level in 2015
1%/year reduction CO2 level from 2016-2019
1.5%/year reduction CO2 levels starting in 2020
1.5%/year reduction CO2 levels starting in 2020 (may be adjusted by Administrator to 3% in 2030 & beyond)
25% below 1990 CO2 level in 2050
Electricity sector; 4 pollutants

As introduced 4/2007
Clean Power Act of 2007 (Sanders)

S. 1201

Goal is to facilitate the worldwide stabilization of atmospheric concentrations of global warming pollutants at 450ppm CO2e by 2050*

2300 MMT CO2 (approx. 2006 level) by 2011
2100 MMT CO2 (approx. 1997 level) by 2015*
1803 MMT CO2 (approx. 1990 level) by 2020*
1500 MMT CO2 (approx. 17% below 1990 level) by 2025*

* If Congress has not passed, and the President has not signed, legislation to address 85% of GHG emissions economy-wide by 2012, further 3%/year reduction in CO2 limits until global GHG emissions reach 450ppm.

Electricity sector; 4 pollutants

As introduced 4/2007

United States - Bush Administration



Notes & Source

Voluntary "greenhouse gas intensity" target for the U.S.18% below 2002 intensity levels by 2012Announced 2/14/2002
Our Analysis




Notes & Source


8% above 1990 by 2008-2012

Kyoto Target


6% below 1990 by 2008-2012

Kyoto Target

European Community

8% below 1990 by 2008-2012

Kyoto Target


6% below 1990 by 2008-2012

Kyoto Target

New Zealand

1990 levels by 2008-2012

Kyoto Target

United Kingdom

20% below 1990 by 2020
60% below 1990 by 2050

CO2 target only.
Energy White Paper of 2003

European Community
Kyoto Bubble Targets

Target for 2008-2012

European Community Council Decision of April 2002


13% below 1990



7.5% below 1990



21% below 1990



1990 levels



1990 levels



21% below 1990



25% above 1990



13% above 1990



6.5% below 1990



28% below 1990



6% below 1990



27% above 1990



15% above 1990



4% above 1990


United Kingdom

12.5% below 1990


[i] The EU-15 nations have joined a "bubble" which allows the joint fulfillment of emissions commitments and preserves the collective emissions reduction goal of 8% below 1990 levels by 2008/2012


Our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) is a group of leading companies worldwide that are responding to the challenges posed by climate change. This section provides a sampling of GHG reduction targets set by these companies. Through their efforts, they are demonstrating that GHG emissions can be reduced significantly and cost-effectively.


Coal Initiative Consultative Group

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Coal-Fired Electricity Generation 

To inform all aspects of the Coal Initiative work, we formed a Consultative Group of experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from both the United States and abroad. Members advise on the overall scope of work, provide ongoing input in their areas of expertise, review draft papers, and help ensure that this initiative complements related efforts by other institutions. 

Consultative Group Members:

  • Sally Benson, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Graham Campbell, Natural Resources Canada
  • Vas Choudhry, General Electric
  • Dan Desmond, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Jim Dooley, Joint Global Change Research Institute, Battelle
  • Julie Fitch, California Public Utilities Commission
  • David Hawkins, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Gardiner Hill, BP
  • Anhar Karimjee, U.S. EPA
  • Scott Klara, National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Wenhua Li, General Electric, China Technology Center
  • Jeff Logan, World Resources Institute
  • Jim McGinnis, AIG Financial Products Corp.
  • Nancy Mohn, Alstom
  • Wendy Poulton, Eskom Enterprises
  • Darlene Radcliffe, Duke Energy
  • T L Sankar, Administrative Staff College of India
  • Marcelle Shoop, Rio Tinto Services Inc.
  • Franz Wuerfmannsdobler, Office of Senator Robert C. Byrd
  • Shisen Xu, China Thermal Power Research Institute


  • Ed Rubin, Carnegie Mellon University 
  • Vello Kuuskraa, Advanced Resources Int.
  • Energy Technology Innovation Project, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act Passes Committee

Summary of Bill as Passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
December 5, 2007
Read the full summary (pdf)

The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) is the first greenhouse gas cap-and-trade legislation approved by a full Congressional committee. The bill, as passed by the committee in an 11-8 vote, would establish a cap-and-trade program within the United States requiring a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from covered sources, which represent over 80% of total U.S. emissions. The bill as amended also includes complementary policies, such as a low carbon fuel standard and provisions aimed at enhancing energy efficiency. Taken together, the bill’s sponsors believe these provisions will reduce overall U.S. GHG emissions roughly 63% by 2050.

Click here for details of the committee debate and vote. (pdf)

More information on Lieberman-Warner

Table and Chart Summary of Cap-and-Trade Proposed Legislation (10-2007)


Scope of Coverage

2010-2019 Cap

2020-2029 Cap

2030-2050 Cap


Offsets and Other Cost Controls

Early Action

Technology and Misc.

S. 2191 – 10/18/2007
Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007
Version passed by the   Senate Environment and Public Works Committee 11-8 on 12-5-07

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, “hybrid” – upstream for transport fuels & natural gas; downstream for large coal users; separate cap for HFC production

4% below 2005 level in 2012

19% below 2005 level in 2020



37% below 2005 level in 2030
55% below 2005 level in 2040
70% below 2005 level in 2050

Increasing auction: 26.5% in 2012, rising to 69.5% from 2031- 2050
Some sector allocations are specified including: 19% to power plants and10% to manufacturers (transitions to zero in 2031), 11% to states, 9% to load serving entities (LSEs)
5% set-aside for domestic agriculture and forestry

15% limit on use of domestic offsets
15% limit on use of international emission allowances
Borrowing up to 15% per company
Creates Carbon Market Efficiency Board to monitor the trading market and implement specific cost relief measures, including increased borrowing and use of offsets

5% of allowances for early action in 2012, phasing to zero in 2017

Bonus allocations for carbon capture and storage
Funds and incentives for technology, adaptation, & mitigating effects on poor
Cap-and-trade system performance and targets subject to 3-year NAS review

S. 1766 – 7/11/2007
Low Carbon Economy Act

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, “hybrid” – upstream for natural gas & petroleum; downstream for coal

2012 level in 2012

2006 level in 2020

1990 level in 2030
President may set long-term target =60% below 2006 level by 2050 contingent upon international effort

Increasing auction: 24% from 2012-2017, rising to 53% in 2030
Some sector allocations are specified including: 9% to states, 53% to industry declining 2%/year starting in 2017
5% set-aside of allowances for agricultural

Provides certain initial categories including bio sequestration and industrial offsets
President may implement use of international offsets subject to 10% limit $12/ton CO2e “technology accelerator payment” (i.e., safety valve) starting in 2012 and increasing 5%/year above inflation
Allows banking

From 2012-2020, 1% of allowances allocated to those registering GHG reductions prior to enactment

Bonus allocation for carbon capture and storage
Funds and incentives for technology R&D
Target subject to 5-year review of new science and actions by other nations

S.280 – 1/12/2007
Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, “hybrid” – upstream for transportation sector; downstream for electric utilities & large sources

2004 level in 2012

1990 level in 2020

20% below 1990 level in 2030
60% below 1990 level in 2050

Administrator determines allocation/auction split; considering consumer impact, competitiveness, etc.

30% limit on use of international credits and domestic reduction or sequestration offsets  
Borrowing for 5-year periods with interest

Credit for reductions before 2012
Early actors may use offsets to meet 40% of reductions

Funds and incentives for tech R&D, efficiency adaptation, mitigating effects on poor

S.309 – 1/16/2007
Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, point of regulation not specified

2010 level in 2010
2%/year reduction from 2010-2020

1990 level in 2020

27% below 1990 level in 2030.
53% below 1990 level in 2040
80% below 1990 level in 2050

Cap and trade permitted but not required. Allocation criteria include transition assistance and consumer impacts

Includes provision for offsets generated from biological sequestration
“Technology-indexed stop price” freezes cap if prices high relative to tech options

Program may recognize early reductions made under state or local laws

Standards for vehicles, power plants, efficiency, renewables, certain categories of bio sequestration

S.485 –  2/1/2007
Global Warming Reduction Act

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, point of regulation not specified

2010 level in 2010

1990 level in 2020
2.5%/year reduction from 2020-2029

3.5%/year reduction from 2030-2050.
62% below 1990 level in 2050

Determined by the President; requires unspecified amount of allowances to be auctioned

Includes provision for offsets generated from biological sequestration  

Goal to “recognize and reward early reductions”

Funds for tech. R&D, consumer impacts, adaptation
Standards for vehicles, efficiency, renewables, certain categories of bio sequestration

H.R. 620 – 1/22/2007
Climate Stewardship Act

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, “hybrid” – upstream for transportation sector; downstream for electric utilities & large sources

2004 level in 2012

1990 level in 2020

22% below 1990 level in 2030
70% below 1990 level in 2050

Administrator determines allocation/auction split; considering consumer impact, competitiveness, etc.

15% limit on use of international credits and domestic reduction or sequestration offsets
Borrowing for 5-year periods with interest

Credit for reductions before 2012
Early actors may use offsets to meet 35% of reductions

Funds and incentives for tech R&D, efficiency adaptation, mitigating effects on poor

H.R.1590 – 3/20/2007
Safe Climate Act of 2007

All 6 GHGs
Economy-wide, point of regulation not specified

2009 level in 2010
2%/year reduction from 2011-2020

1990 levels in 2020
5%/year reduction from 2020-2029

5%/year reduction from 2030-2050
80% below 1990 levels in 2050

Determined by the President; requires unspecified amount of  allowances to be auctioned

Not specified

Goal to “recognize and reward early reductions”

Standards for vehicles, efficiency, renewables

Statement: Senators Lieberman and Warner’s 2020 Vision

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

Pew Center Contact: Katie Mandes

October 18, 2007

This is the breakthrough we have been waiting for. Senators Lieberman and Warner have achieved something I thought impossible one year ago - they have written a climate bill that has a very real chance of passage. They demonstrated a clear commitment for meeting critical objectives of the business and environmental communities while bringing together their colleagues on both sides of the aisle. We are optimistic about their vision and look forward to working with them to make this bill a reality.

I am very excited about the prospects of moving this bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee. The bill will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at an ambitious yet achievable rate through 2050, it will use a suite of market-based measures to do so in the least costly way possible, and it will drive deployment of the climate-friendly technologies we need to fight climate change while growing our economy. I remain hopeful that this process, combined with the effort being led by Chairman Dingell in the House, will yield a law by next year.

A Cap's in Hand

Full article (PDF)

by Truman Semans, Director for Markets and Business Strategy--Appeared in the World Energy Book which is available from http://www.petroleum-economist.com/

Statement on Major Climate Meetings in New York and Washington

The United Nations and the United States convened major climate meetings during the week of September 24, 2007, to discuss future international climate change efforts.

Statement by Eileen Claussen, President, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change


September 28, 2007

This week’s climate meetings in New York and Washington demonstrate that climate change is finally taking its rightful place at the top of the global agenda. The high-level UN meeting, in particular, underscored a strong and growing consensus among world leaders on the urgency of forging a new global agreement addressing climate change. Both meetings also reaffirmed the United Nations as the appropriate forum for negotiating this agreement.

The meetings also laid bare key differences between the approaches favored by the Bush administration and by most other governments. In convening its Meeting of Major Economies, the administration hoped to sway other governments to its vision of a voluntary international framework. Under this approach, as President Bush described it in his address this morning, countries would agree on a long-term global goal but each would decide independently what its contribution to meeting it would be. Thankfully, other countries rejected the idea that the climate challenge can be met through voluntary measures alone, and emphasized the need for new international commitments.

In describing their own domestic efforts, other developed nations also showed they are prepared to take much stronger action than the Bush administration. Europe reiterated its commitment to reduce emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Canada said it plans to reduce emissions 20 percent below current levels in that timeframe. Australia said it plans to establish a domestic cap-and-trade system by 2011. Meantime, the Bush administration clings to an emissions intensity goal that keeps emissions rising through 2012, and continues to oppose bills before Congress to establish a mandatory economy-wide cap-and-trade system.

Perhaps the clearest message to emerge from this week’s meetings is the importance of the UN climate negotiations later this year in Bali. An effective agreement can be reached only if formal negotiations are launched. Bali is a critical opportunity to do just that. If President Bush is sincere in his goal of an effective UN agreement, the United States must support the launch of formal negotiations in Bali.

White House Major Economies Meeting


whITE HOUSE Major Economies Meeting

September 27, 2007  

  • There are a number of reasons why it is critical that our strategies to address energy and climate change take full account of the land use sector.  
    • First, from an environmental perspective, agriculture, deforestation and other land use activities account for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally.  For some countries, they are by far the largest source of emissions.  Indeed, some countries [Indonesia, Malaysia] rank among the world’s largest emitters only by virtue of their emissions from deforestation.  For those countries, and globally, a comprehensive approach to climate change must reduce emissions from this sector.
    • Second, from an economic perspective, some of the lowest-cost opportunities for emission reduction are to be found in this sector.  A number of analyses, including the Stern Review and work done by McKinsey and Company, show significant mitigation potential in the forestry sector for well under $20 per ton of CO2.  The Stern Review concluded that in some regions emissions from deforestation could be reduced for less than $5 a ton.   
    • Third, from a development perspective, addressing emissions from this sector can deliver some very significant co-benefits.  Protecting forests protects biodiversity and soils and creates new opportunities to reduce poverty.  Healthy ecosystems support healthy economies.  Putting a value of the climate benefits provided by forests is one of the keys to sustainable development.  
  • So for all of these reasons, this is a sector we can not afford to ignore.     
  •  That said, there are number of caveats and complications. 
    •  First, land use is an area where it’s been notoriously difficult to measure emissions and monitor trends.  We’ve made significant headway, with new methodologies technologies, in particular remote sensing by satellite.  But greater progress is needed.  We need enough precision so that we are confident that a ton is a ton.  
    • Second, there is no resource more fundamental than land, and we must be mindful of the many competing demands on it.  This is especially true in the case of biofuels, which potentially are a very important part of the answer to climate change and energy security.  But the move toward biofuels will be beneficial only if we ensure that these truly are low-carbon fuels, calculated on a life-cycle basis.  Our land use and biofuels policies need to be closely coordinated to make sure that we are not simply substituting one form of emissions for another. So, what can be done internationally to fit land use into our climate change strategies? 
  • I would first emphasize how encouraging it is that this question is being put on the table by those countries that have the most to contribute.  A coalition led by Papau New Guinea and Costa Rica, and separately Brazil, are calling for new measures under the Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce tropical deforestation.  At the moment, this appears to be among the most promising avenues for deeper developing country engagement in the global climate effort.
  • Let me offer a few observations on how forestry and land use can be addressed in a post-2012 climate framework.  
    • First, there appears to be a growing consensus among the experts and policymakers that we should approach this not project by project, but sector-wide.  In other words, a country’s progress is best ascertained by measuring emissions and changes in those emissions across its entire forestry or land use sector.   
    • Second, the overriding message from the tropical forest countries is that incentives are needed if they are to undertake stronger efforts.  There are differences among them on just what form these incentives should take.  Realistically, I think we are far more likely to see significant flows under a market-based approach than through an international fund supported by donor countries.  Either way, it is perfectly reasonable for these countries to ask for incentives.  By the same token, though, I think it’s reasonable for those countries providing the incentives to ask in exchange that the countries receiving them be prepared to deliver action on the basis of commitments, not just voluntary pledges. 
    • And this leads to my third, and final, point: I do not believe we will be able to mobilize the efforts needed globally in this sector or in any other without a comprehensive set of binding international commitments.  An aspirational long-term goal is not enough.  To sustain ambitious efforts nationally, and to generate the strong incentives tropical forest countries are asking for, countries must have confidence that their counterparts are contributing their fair share to the global effort.  That’s best done through fair, credible, and verifiable commitments.  We should be open to different types of commitments – for some countries, a commitment to reduce deforestation might be the best approach.  But we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can do what’s needed without binding international commitments.  I look forward to our discussion.  Thank you. 

Climate Policy Should Focus on Reducing Emissions

Climate Policy Should Focus on Reducing Emissions

By Vicki Arroyo

Originally published in the September/October 2007 issue of The Environmental Forum

I wish there were an easy solution to climate change — one that didn’t require fundamental and difficult changes in our energy system, law, or behavior. I also wish I could lose weight without diet or exercise. But depending on “geoengineering” to solve global warming is a dangerous delusion. Like a fad diet or liposuction, it may not provide sustainable benefits and will undoubtedly be accompanied by unforeseen adverse consequences (think fen-phen).

Granted, tackling climate change requires a Herculean effort: emissions are on the rise, while the newest science reveals impacts occurring faster than we envisioned. We are running out of time. To avoid the most serious consequences of warming — loss of species, irreversible breakdown of ice sheets, and the human toll from more intense heat waves and hurricanes — scientists say we need to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide at less than a doubling of preindustrial levels (in the range of 450–550 ppm of CO2). If we’re very lucky, that might hold us to a 3.6ºF (2ºC) global average temperature rise.

It’s tempting to dismiss projected impacts as hyperbole or to believe that we can engineer a “fix,” the way the Apollo 13 crew saved themselves by using duct tape to fashion a make-shift filter in their struggle against rising CO2 levels on board their malfunctioning space capsule. I applaud those working on grand fixes and wish them every success. But I place more stock in solutions that exist now. A Princeton University study shows that choosing just seven current technologies from a number of options, including renewables, energy efficiency, and nuclear power, can curb emissions growth sufficiently now, while buying time for technological breakthroughs. Each of these so-called “wedges” can cut emissions by 1 gigaton per year within 50 years.

But these technologies won’t be deployed on the necessary scale without the right policies. One key policy is emissions trading, which has worked for traditional air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and is even better suited to curbing greenhouse gases. The European Union has already developed the world’s largest carbon market. Some U.S. states are following suit, and a number of cap-and-trade proposals are pending in Congress. By combining cap-and-trade with efficiency standards for cars and appliances, advanced technology research, and development of geological storage, we can reach our emissions reductions goals.

So the essential first step is simple: stimulate existing technologies through demonstrated, cost-effective policies. This takes political will, and there is no time to lose. Greenhouse gases differ from traditional air pollutants, which can be eliminated with more than 99 percent efficiency at the stack. Greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere — and our oceans — for hundreds of years. Even if geoengineering manages to cool a warming planet, it won’t solve other problems, such as ocean acidification from conversion of CO2 to carbonic acid. And the risks of such “fixes” as seeding the oceans with iron and adding cooling particles to the atmosphere are too big to ignore.

Yes, we should research all options. But right now our focus should be on putting policies in place to reduce our emissions and on preparing to cope with a changing world.

(Ms. Arroyo offers a view on the direction for climate policy that differs from one advocated by Alan Carlin, a senior economist at the EPA. Carlin advocates a “geoengineering” approach called solar radiation management as an effective and economical climate policy. While such long-shot approaches may be necessary to consider in the future, Arroyo argues that the current focus should be on greenhouse gas mitigation.)
by Vicki Arroyo, Director of Policy Analysis--Appeared in The Environmental Forum, September/October 2007
Vicki Arroyo
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