_ “~ .._- _.._. .Janu ary 1990 GLOBAL WARMING Administration Approach Cautious Pending Validation of Threat (;A()/ NSIAI)-!w~i:l United States General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20548 National Security and International Affairs Division H-236 128 I January 8, 1990 / , The IIonorable John D. Dingell Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations I Committee on Energy and Commerce , Ilouse of Representatives Dear Mr. Chairman: This report discusses federal government leadership, coordination, and international cooperation in developing a national policy on and strategy for obtaining a unified international response to the perceived problem of global climate change. As you requested, we examined the extent and adequacy of federal agency coordination, effectiveness of U.S. participation in international activities, and the status of federal agency actions required to address congressional concerns. As arranged with your Office, unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no !‘urthcr distribution of this report until 30 days from the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to interested parties and make copies available to others upon request. This report was prepared under the general direction of Nancy R. Kingsbury, Director, Foreign Economic Assistance Issues. Other major contributors are listed in appendix III. Sincerely yours, Frank C. Conahan Assistant Comptroller General EfxecutiveSummary The earth appears to be getting warmer, but scientists are uncertain Piurpose about the rate and extent of the warming. They believe that global warming is primarily attributable to increased “greenhouse” gas concen- trations in the atmosphere. Although scientists do not know what the global and regional effects will be if this theory is correct, they antici- pate that climate change will present unprecedented economic and polit- ical challenges. In response to a request by the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Over- sight and Investigations, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, GAO examined the government’s activities related to development of a coordinated national policy, determination of agency responsibilities, and participation in research and planning aimed at improving the understanding of and encouraging an international response to actual and potential global climate change. Mounting scientific evidence indicates that man-made pollution resulting fiackground from release of carbon dioxide and other industrial gases into the atmo- sphere may be producing a long-term and substantial increase in the earth’s surface temperature. The surface is warmed because gases released into the atmosphere are transparent to incoming solar rays, but trap outgoing thermal radiation through a process known as the “green- house effect.” Scientists attribute an observed global temperature increase of 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century to an increase of “greenhouse” gas concentrations in the atmosphere. They predict that, if continued, the earth’s surface will probably be warmed by another 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit by the middle of the next century. Further, they warn that such a magnitude of global warming would have serious envi- ronmental and economic consequences. The build-up of “greenhouse” gas emissions in the atmosphere is pri- marily a global energy issue. Carbon dioxide, mainly generated by con- sumption of energy derived from fossil fuels, is responsible for an estimated one-half of current emissions, World energy use, led by the United States, is expected to double the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases within the next half-cen- tury. There is general consensus that ways must be found to balance the economic and industrial growth of countries in various stages of devel- opment with improving and protecting the environment. Y Page 2 GAO/NSLAD-90-63 Global Warming Executive Summary -- .-_.... Recognizing the importance of U.S. leadership in achieving a viable global climate change policy, the Congress enacted the 1987 Global Cli- mate Protection Act (P-L. lOO-204), which sets goals and agency respon- sibilities for developing a national policy and encouraging international cooperation. The administration has not as yet established national policy, defined Res Its in Brief federal agency roles and interagency relationships, or provided ade- quate guidance to agencies to effectively address the global warming issue. In light of considerable uncertainty that exists concerning the reality and timing of the threat posed by global warming, administration policy thus far has focused on conducting scientific research needed to reduce this uncertainty and assuming a leading international role in for- mulating policy responses aimed at limiting or adapting to global climate change. Although the United States has placed itself in strong position to assert international leadership and to foster cooperation on this issue, its early approach has been to proceed cautiously and defer specific new commitments until more is known about the validity and consequences of global warming. GAO’s Analysis National Policy Not The administration has not established a coordinated national policy to Established guide federal agency efforts related to global climate change. The Con- gress directed the Environmental Protection Agency to develop and pro- pose such a policy, but the Agency’s efforts were delayed pending further discussions and clarification of agency roles and responsibilities. The administration has further taken the position that action on the global warming threat should not wait until the scientific uncertainties have been resolved; rather, its strategy has focused on steps that may alleviate the threat and are justified on other considerations-such as reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency and reforestation. Agency Responsibilities The administration has not tasked any agency with providing overall Not Defined y policy direction or leadership, nor has any agency acted as the adminis- tration’s voice on global climate change. Lacking executive guidance and because of limited focus and oversight by the Office of Management and Hudgct on this issue until recently, agencies have determined their own Page 3 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Executive Summary policies and research priorities. The Congress created institutional struc- tures such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Coun- cil on Environmental Quality to advise and assist in formulating national environmental policy and the National Climate Program Office to man- age climate activities. However, it appears that low funding, inadequate staff, and unclear relationships with other agencies have reduced their effectiveness. Interagency coordination of climate change activity occurred through mechanisms that were established to address the national climate pro- gram, U.S. global change research, and U.S. participation in the Intcr- governmental Panel on Climate Change, the principal international forum addressing global warming. Their objectives differ but some over- lap occurs because of commonality in their functional responsibility and constituency. .-_* ..-.- Strong International Role The United States assumed a key leadership role in the international Partly Realized arena through chairmanship of the U.N.‘s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change response strategies working group and by providing meaningful resources for research and cooperation. IIowever, despite giving rise to expectations among other nations that it was giving high priority and was ready to act on the global warming issue, the IJnited States so far has emphasized the need for continued further study rather than commit too early to specific targets or timetables that could result in unwarranted actions to protect the environment. International environmental officials that we contacted were generally pleased with the initial indications of US. support. However, they were uncertain about the authority of spokespersons and consistency of I J.S. positions at international meetings, the identification of proper focal points for information and funding, and the adequacy of coordination mechanisms. -. This report provides information on the development of a coordinated Recommendations national strategy and international cooperation for addressing global cli- mate change. GAOmakes no recommendations, . As requested, GAOdid not seek formal comments on its report, but did Agency Comments discuss the results of its findings with responsible agency officials in Page 4 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Executive Summary Washington, Geneva, and Nairobi to verify the accuracy of the data con- tained in the report. Page 6 GAO/NSIAD-90-M Global Warming contents E?ecutive Summary 2 I Chapter 1 8 Introduction Background Current Administration Approach 10 13 Congressional Concern 14 Participation by Nongovernmental Organizations 14 Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 14 Ck,apter 2 16 D&elopment of U.S. National Policy and Strategy Not Yet Established National Policy Advisory and Climate Program Functions 16 19 Pollicy on Global Not Fully Discharged Climate Change Interagency Coordination for Climate Change Activity 22 Conclusions 25 Chapter 3 26 U.S. Participation in Agency Roles and Responsibilities Multilateral Activities 26 27 International Climate 1J.S.Participation in the IPCC 28 Change Activities IJ.S. Participation in Bilateral Climate Change Programs 33 Reporting on and Promoting Global Climate Protection 33 Conclusions 34 Appendixes Appendix I: Brief Chronology of Key Events Affecting 36 Global Climate Change Appendix II: Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis 37 and Advisory Organizations Appendix III: Major Contributors to This Report 44 Figures Figure 1.1: The Greenhouse Effect 9 Figure 1.2: Contribution of Greenhouse Gases 11 Figure 1.3: Contributors to Greenhouse Gases 12 Figure 2.1: Executive Branch Organizations Principally 18 Involved in Global Climate Change Page 6 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Contents Abbreviations Agency for International Development Council on Environmental Quality Committee on Earth Sciences Chlorofluorocarbon Department of Energy Environmental Protection Agency Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology GAO General Accounting Office ICSIJ International Council of Scientific Unions II’CC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NW0 National Climate Program Office NCPPB National Climate Program Policy Board NGO Nongovernment Organization NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NSF National Science Foundation OES Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs OMB Office of Management and Budget OSTP Office of Science and Technology Policy UNEP United Nations Environment Program WMO World Meteorological Organization Page 7 GAO/NSIAD-9083 Global Warming Ch$q)tCr1 - I&roduction The phenomenon known as global warming by the “greenhouse effect” received substantial attention during the last year. Recent atmospheric events, such as the discovery of ozone “holes” over the polar caps, rec- ord hot weather in the 198Os, and extreme heat waves, floods, and droughts occurring in 1988, focused increased public attention on the impact that human activity and natural events may have on the earth’s climate. This impact, or global climate change, refers to the process through which complex natural and human-induced chemicals affect the earth’s surface temperature and precipitation patterns. Mounting cvi- dence indicates that human-induced pollution resulting from the release of carbon dioxide and other gases, including chlorofluorocarbons (WCS), methane, nitrous oxides, and other pollutants into the atmosphere may be producing a long-term and substantial increase in the cart,h’s average temperature. Simply stated, gases released into the atmosphere are transparent to incoming solar rays but they partially block or absorb heat radiating from the earth, and redirect the heat back to t;hc earth, thus warming its surface. (See fig. 1.1.) Chapter 1 Introduction Figure 1.1: The Greenhouse Effect source: Oceanus Magazine, published by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. ..--____ Page 9 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 1 Introduction The general scientific consensus is that atmospheric greenhouse gas con- kkground centrations are increasing and that the result will be a change in climate. This consensus is partly supported by an observed average global tem- perature increase of about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century. Scientists consider such temperature change to be a substantial altera- tion Further, because a significant time lag can exist between the gas emissions and their consequences, the effects of past emissions may not yet be fully realized. Considerable scientific uncertainty remains about what global and regional effects may occur if the global warming threat proves to be real. The National Academy of Sciences predicted that the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will, if continued, probably result in a warming of the earth’s surface temperature of 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit before the middle of the next century. However, other major earth system processes, such as the net cooling or warming effect of clouds and the absorption ability of oceans, are not well under- stood and may mitigate or intensify this effect. Also, many scientists question the ability of current models to predict future climatic effects, because models have not reliably explained past global observations, The observed average global temperature increase in the past century is generally consistent with (though slightly below) the theoretical predicted temperature increase attributable to increased greenhouse gas concentrations. Furthermore, the models cannot yet pre- dict regional changes with confidence. If global warming on the scale predicted by some scientists were to occur, the likely long-term effects would be a sea-level rise of 1 to 5 feet due to thermal expansion and melting of land-based ice-with obvious adverse consequences for coastal areas and estuaries-and shifts in rainfall patterns, making huge areas infertile or uninhabitable and touching off unprecedented population movements, Over the near term, climatologists believe that extreme temperature and rainfall patterns will become more frequent and perhaps more intense as greenhouse gases accumulate. Global warming is mainly a global energy policy issue. World energy production and use is the largest source of greenhouse gases. Atmos- Y pheric concentration of greenhouse gases is also significantly affected by CFCs,industrial processes, agricultural practices, and land use modifi- cation Scientists estimate that, at current levels of energy consumption, Page 10 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming . Chapter 1 Introduction increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, resulting pri- ” ,‘(. marily from fossil fuel use and contributing approximately one-half of current emissions (see fig. 1.2) and its equivalent of other greenhouse gases may double within the next half-century. Gases I CFCs - 14% Methane - 18% co2 - 49% Source: Environmental Protection Agency As the world’s largest energy consumer, the United States is responsible for an estimated one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions (see fig. 1.3). Although substantial gains were made in U.S. energy efficiency since the early 1970s and the fraction of global contribution of U.S. fossil fuel emissions has declined, the United States is still a major contributor to greenhouse gases. While the United States accounts for about one-fourth of the world’s energy use, it produces only about half the gross national product per unit of energy input achieved by countries such as Brazil, France, *Japan, Sweden, and West Germany. The United States also pro- duces about one-third the world total of CFCS, the fastest growing and one of the more enduring greenhouse gases having greater heat-trapping capability than other gases. Page 11 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming _.. ...I Chapter 1 Introduction Figuk 1.3: Contributors to Greenhouse Gase+ 11 USA-21% Rest of world - 32% 4% Japan - 4% Brazil - 4% China - 7% European Economic Community - 14% USSR - 14% Source: Environmental Protection Agency Climate change is clearly an international issue that will require global political solutions to balance the demands to improve and protect the environment with economic and industrial growth of countries in vari- ous stages of development. Because the United States is a major contrib- utor of greenhouse gases, U.S. social, economic, and political interests will be profoundly influenced by any set of internationally adopted measures. Accordingly, the Congress and the administration have expressed the need for U.S. leadership for the rest of the world. Recognizing the importance of U.S. leadership in international coopera- tion, the Congress enacted the Global Climate Protection Act of 1987 (P.1,. 100-204) in December 1987. The act states that vigorous efforts are necessary to achieve international cooperation and that IJS. leader- ship will greatly enhance such cooperation. It also states that effective Page 12 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 1 Introduction leadership in the international arena depends on a coordinated national policy and addresses the need for coordinating mechanisms to achieve international cooperation to confront the global warming threat. Because of uncertainties about the reality and timing of the threat posed by global warming, many national and international research efforts are underway to study the scope of the problem and its possible effects in order to formulate appropriate policy responses. This report discusses policy and coordination mechanisms and how they are working. A brief chronology of key events affecting global climate change is provided in appendix I. The administration has pledged support for actions that address the Cwfent global climate change issue. The President stated in February 1989 that Administration international cooperation and global action were essential, and added Apqroach that 1J.S.leadership was needed to focus attention on this issue by the highest levels of government worldwide. The President further outlined policies that his administration would pursue, including sponsoring an international conference on the environment, providing for increased research to address the scientific uncertainties regarding global change,’ and defining the responsibilities and establishing effective coordination mechanisms for the federal agencies and departments involved with this issue. In March 1989, the President announced that the United States was joining with other industrialized countries to amend the 1987 Mon- treal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to expedite phasing out, before the year 2000, the production and consumption of CIX’S. While the President has made no similar commitment to control carbon dioxide emissions, he directed the Secretary of Energy in July 1989 to develop a national energy strategy which will consider possible actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy sources. The IJnited States is also attempting to develop a realistic and effective, internationally accepted global climate change strategy through a IJ.N.- sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has become the principal international forum for addressing this topic. The IJnited States will host the next IPCC meeting in Washington, D.C. in Feb- ruary 1990. ‘Global change research constitutes a broad study of the full range of interrelated natural and human-induced earth system processes, including climatic, volcanic, seismic, ecological, and biological changes, of which global warming is an important element. Page 13 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 1 Introduction -’Cdngressional Concern to global climate change. The proposals seek various approaches to (1) improve the understanding of the causes and effects resulting from human activity, (2) improve coordination of national scientific research efforts, (3) reduce the generation of greenhouse gases, (4) foster interna- tional cooperation, and (5) determine appropriate policy responses. Ongoing debate and public interest indicates that global climate change will continue to receive high priority in the current Congress. Developing viable global climate change policies will depend not only on P&ticipation by the ability of governments to develop a common understanding and con- Nbngovernmental sensus among the domestic and international communities, but will OGganizations require the cooperation of nongovernment sectors as well. Nongovern- mental organizations (NGO) represent many viewpoints, including the perspectives of environmental/conservation organizations, scientific institutes, universities, and the business community, Efforts have been made to integrate this wide spectrum of NGOparticipation into the public policy process. The Congress, federal agencies, and international organizations have sought out the views of the nongovernment sector. During the current Congress, many congressional committees received testimony on the global greenhouse effect from speakers representing various U.S. policy analyses and advisory NGOS.Administration officials have also encouraged NGOinvolvement in the policy-making process, stressing the important role that NGOScan play in developing climate change response strategies and promoting their involvement in domestic and interna- tional meetings, and in technical studies. The views of some of these organizations are summarized in appendix II. The Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Objectives, Scope,and Committee on Energy and Commerce, asked us to examine the adequacy Mkthodology of coordination and extent of participation of federal agencies in encour- aging an international response to actual and potential global climate change. In addition, we were asked to solicit views on the administra- tion’s approach from various interest groups, such as industry associa- tions and environmentalists, Our objectives were to determine w l who is responsible for providing overall policy direction and leadership; l whether appropriate roles for federal agencies have been determined; l how agency efforts are being coordinated; Page 14 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 1 Introduction l the status of efforts to implement the Global Climate Protection Act of 1987; and . what U.S. actions have been taken to increase international understand- ing, participation, and responsiveness. To determine the federal government’s strategy and effectiveness in responding to the perceived threat of global climate change, we reviewed agency position papers and reports, studied enacted and pend- ing legislation, examined testimony and policy statements of nongovern- mental organizations (see app. II). We also interviewed officials at the following locations: . the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Departments of Commerce, Energy (DOE), Interior, and State; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Agency for Interna- tional Development (AID), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Science and Technology (OSTP),National Science Foundation (NSF), and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); l 17,s. overseas missions and offices of the World Meteorological Organiza- tion (WMO), located in Geneva, Switzerland; the United Nations Environ- ment Program (UNEP), located in Nairobi, Kenya; the International Council of Scientific Unions (rcsu), the Organization for Economic Coop- eration and Development, and the United Nations Educational, Scien- tific, and Cultural Organization, all located in Paris, France; l the first meeting of the IPCC(held in Geneva, Switzerland) and the plan- ning session of the panel’s response strategies working group (Washing- ton, DC.); and . the offices of various independent policy analysis and advisory organi- zations, science academies, and professional/technical groups. We conducted our review between October 1988 and July 1989 and per- formed the overseas fieldwork between November 1988 and January 1989. Our work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We discussed the matters contained in the report with agency officials responsible for climate change activi- ties, and their comments have been incorporated where appropriate. As requested by the Chairman, we did not obtain official agency comments. Y Page 15 GAO/NSIALLOO-63 Global Warming Chabter 2 I$velopment of U.S. Policy on Global Cbate Change Global climate change has a potential impact on social, economic, and political issues at all levels- local, state, national, and international. Because the nation’s industry, agriculture, commerce, transportation, natural resources, health, and security will be affected by climate change and programs addressing this issue, federal agencies are con- ducting expanded research into the causes and effects of global warm- ing. This research will help in studying the scope and timing of the global warming threat in order that appropriate policy and strategy responses may be developed to mitigate or adapt to its effect. However, the administration has not established a clear national policy, defined federal agency roles and relationships, or provided agencies with ade- quate guidance to effectively address the global warming issue. The Congress has enacted legislation which addresses various broad National Policy VT and national environmental and scientific policy concerns, including climate Strategy Not Yet processes. However, it was not until p&sage of the Global Climate Pro- Established tection Act of 1987, contained in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (P.L. lOO-204), that Congress specifi- cally addressed the issue of global warming. Among its provisions, the act requires the President, through EPA,to develop and propose a coordi- nated national policy to facilitate an effective response to the threat posed by global climate change. We found that the administration has not yet established such a national policy or communicated a clear statement of national goals or set of objectives governing global climate change. In addition, the administra- tion has not developed an overall strategy that provides direction for federal agencies’ global climate change activities. EPA Efforts to Develop EPAhas traditionally examined the effects of pollution on human health National Policy Delayed and the environment, and options, including technology, for reducing pollutants. Further, EPAofficials told us that the agency’s experience in dealing with global environmental issues justifies its tasking to develop a coordinated national policy for global climate change. However, they said that the agency’s efforts to develop such a national policy have been delayed pending designation of federal agency roles and responsi- bilities, improved understanding of the science of global warming, and identification of possible response strategies through international discussions. Page 16 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Development of U.S. Policy on GlobaJ CUrnate Change Ag&cy Roles Not The President has not designated any individual or agency to assume Designated overall leadership or management responsibility for global climate change. Without such a designated leadership position or focal point, no identifiable hierarchical structure for policy and decision-making on global climate change issues has emerged. A 1979 presidential executive order (E.O. 12114) on environmental effects of major federal actions abroad states that a lead agency shall be determined by the participants whenever an environmental action or program involves more than one federal agency. During current efforts, a lead agency was not designated. Federal departments and agencies developed their activities without a specific overall multiagency global climate change program. IJntil an explicit national policy and program for global climate change is developed, some agency officials see a dilemma in making research relevant for policymakers without also having them improperly direct or influence the course and results of the research. The officials said that responsibilities between scientific agencies and policymakers, and between scientific assessment and policy assessment functions, should be clearly separated. They believe that such separations are needed because policy-directed programs generally focus on immediate and visi- ble concerns rather than on long-term and less certain impacts. Executive Guidance to The President announced in February 1989 that he would issue an exec- Agencies I nadequate utive order on global climate change that would clearly define responsi- bilities of federal departments and agencies, as well as establishing cffcctive coordination mechanisms. However, as of November 1989, the order had not been issued and its status was uncertain. Agency officials told us that they had not received clear guidance to direct the course of climate change activity. Those involved in such research activity have been guided by general principles set forth by the administration; by policies articulated in national environmental, science and technology, and climate program legislation; and by their organizational mission. Figure 2.1 shows the principal executive branch offices, departments, and agencies involved in global climate change. * Page 17 GAO/NSIALMO43 Global Warming - I _. ___ ._ ..___. ._”--_..- --.--.-------- Chapter 2 Ikvdopment of U.S. Policy on Global Climate Change Figure 2.1: Executive Branch Organizations Principally Involved in Global Climate Change I , Exec$tive Offices of then President Office of Science and Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Departments I Department of Commerce \ I Bureau of Oceans National Oceanic and International and Atmospheric Envrronmental and Administration Scientific Affairs ,------- ------- National Climate Program Policy Board lndedendent Agencies I ; - -1 Denotes advisory boards --- Page 18 GAO/NSlAD90-63 Global Warming Chapter 2 Development of U.S. Policy on Global Climate Change Adkinistration Focus on The previous administration opposed the Global Climate Protection Act of 1987 and further global climate change legislation on the grounds Res$arch Pending that it would conflict with existing legislation and would seriously dis- Valiidation of Threat rupt the organized effort underway. It held that OSTI’was legislatively given responsibility to coordinate science activities affecting more than one agency, and that it was inappropriate to name a single lead agency. The administration noted that appropriate roles for federal agencies were being determined. Subsequently, the current administration signaled its intention to give high priority to the global warming issue. In his February 1989 budget message to the Congress, the President pledged support for international cooperation and called for increased research to reduce the scientific uncertainties. Pending further research on the scientific causes of global warming and economic consequences of reducing it, the IJnited States would focus on short-term actions that may affect climate change and can be justified for other reasons, such as to (1) increase energy effi- ciency, (2) promote renewable energy sources and technologies, (3) reduce harmful gas emissions (including phasing out WC’S), and (4) reduce deforestation and support tree planting. In his budget message, the President stated that ITS leadership was essential for international cooperation and global action; outlays for federal global change (encompassing climate change) research efforts would be increased in fiscal year 1990 (by 43 percent over 1989 to $191 million) to reduce scientific uncertainties surrounding future predictions of potential greenhouse effects; and . hc would issue an executive order on global climate change to clearly define the responsibilities of federal departments and agencies, as well as establish effective coordination mechanisms. Pending establishment of a national policy and issuance of specific guid- National Policy ance regarding federal agency roles and responsibilities for global cli- Advisory and Climate mate change, certain executive branch policy advisory and program Program Functions management functions established by law already exist. Through prior legislation, the Congress provided the Office of Science and Technology Not Fully Discharged Policy (0s~~) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) with broad * authority to advise the President on national environmental and scien- tific policy, and it established a National Climate Program Office (NCI'O) Page 19 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 2 Development of U.S. Policy on Global Climate Change “.__.... ., _... - __..... --.-._ ---__-. within the Department of Commerce to manage the federal national cli- mate program. We found indications that these offices had not fully discharged their broad statutory advisory functions, owing in part to a lack of funding and staff resources. As a result, federal agencies have not been able to look to them for effective guidance on how their programs or other activities may contribute to, and could be affected by, global climatic change. _ -.-....-.. --- OdP The National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priori- tics Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-282) established a national science and technol- ogy policy, providing for an advisory mechanism (OSTP)within the Executive Office of the President to advise on aspects of issues of national concern (including the environment) that require attention at the highest levels of government. The director of OSTPserves as the Pres- ident’s science adviser and, as executive branch central policy planner, os1’1)assists federal agencies in identifying public problems and objcc- tives, mobilizing scientific and technological resources, and reviewing federal science policy and programs. Agencies look to OSTPfor national guidance, but it appears that OSTPhas not been provided with the ncces- sary staff and funds to effectively carry out its policy, coordination, and other functions. Adequate staff and funding to perform the OSTPfunctions have been concerns of its officials. OSTPstaffing levels have declined over the last 6 years and key positions were not filled. Officials said that, on the aver- age, OSTI’staff left after about 2 years in their positions. They said some 0~1’1’staffing needs are filled through staff loaned from other depart- ments and agencies, and some key positions remain vacant. OSTP'Sfiscal year 1989 appropriation of $1.6 million was at its lowest point in 10 years-at 35 percent of the amount appropriated in 1978-and further spending limitations have been imposed. (As discussed further in app. II, a recent report on Science & Technology and the President, by the Car- negie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government observed that, even after 12 years, OSTPwas a long way from fulfilling its man- date to help define and implement national science and technology policy.) OSTPappears to be taking on a more influential national policy role under the Bush administration. The President has recently elevated the status of its directorship, naming the science adviser to chair a Domestic Page 20 GAO/NSlAD-9063 Global Warming (Xlaptrr 2 tkwt~topment of U.S. Policy on Gtohat <Ximatr Change I’olicy Council working group on global change. In addition, several key staff positions formerly left vacant under the Reagan administration have been filled. NC;I/O The National Climate Program Act of 1978 (P.1,. 95-367) gave NCPO broad authority to establish and coordinate a national climate program, including planning, research, data collection and assessment, global fore- casting, international cooperation, and reporting. In establishing NW0 as lead entity for this program within the Commerce Department, authors of the legislation stated that the Congress meant to create a prototype research organization that would coordinate climate research across / agency and disciplinary boundaries and respond to natural and human- induced climate change rather than passively adapt to it. However, agency officials told us that NCI'O'Slow placement in the department’s executive echelon and a comparatively modest budget have hindered its effectiveness. NW0 was administratively placed under the Chief Scientist in NOAA,a Commerce Department agency which is the lead agency for climate mon- itoring and prediction. From there, NCPOoversees and provides guidance for a multiagency national climate program plan, and analyzes for 0~13a budget of about $200 million, with a staff of 12. Agency officials com- mented that NCI'O'Splacement within NOAAmade it difficult for the office to adequately administer the interagency climate program. Despite the office’s perceived lack of support and visibility, cognizant agency offi- cials said that they believe NCPOis the proper activity to provide an informed long-range climate change and forecasting capability. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (P.1,. 91-190) estab- lished a national policy for the environment (encompassing climate change) and a three-member Council on Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the President to, among other things, develop and recommend to the President national policies to foster and promote improvement of environmental quality to meet social,,economic, health, and other national goals. CEQ’S chairman told us that the agency’s fund- ing and personnel resources were insufficient to carry out its tasks. For example, CEQ regulations require that federal agencies’ environmen- tal assessments and statements address reasonably foreseeable impacts of proposed programs, projec;ts, and regulations, as well as the impact that environmental change would have on programs or projects. CEQ has Page 2 1 GAO/NSIAD90-63 Gtobal Warming , Chapter 2 Development of U.S. Policy on Global Ctlmate Change ---..--.- determined that whereas global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions is “reasonably foreseeable,” no more than six assessments prepared by federal agencies since 1982 included global climate change factors. Further, we were told that CEQhad drafted but not yet issued additional guidance to federal agencies on this subject. In calling attention to cli- mate change in environmental impact statements, CEQproposed issuing policy guidance requiring that statements include specific assessments of global climate change impacts. However, the chairman said that the administration delayed issuing the initially proposed guidance because it left open the issue of whether both completed programs and those approved for completion required an assessment. Three interagency mechanisms are used to coordinate the federal gov- Interagency ernment’s climate change activities. A 1986 amendment to the National Coordination for Climate Program Act of 1978 established the National Climate Program Climate Change Policy Board (NCPPH) to coordinate NW0 activities in the Department of Commerce. An administrative order created a Committee on Earth Sci- Activity ences (CILS)under OSTPand the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET)to coordinate federal global change research activities. In addition, a State Department group coordinates 1J.S.participation in the IPCC.EPAalso initially established an inter- agency committee to ensure full coordination of scientific information and development of national policy options for global climate change, but has since discontinued it and agreed to carry out its task through existing interagency coordination mechanisms. The administration did not designate any of these mechanisms to lead interagency coordination activity for global climate change. Their objec- tives differ in some respects and they have some overlapping responsi- bility and constituency. Agency officials have considered merging or restructuring NCPPRand cxs activities to streamline operations, but said that their efforts to effect such change were hampered by legal and pol- icy management considerations. Although global climate change is not specifically addressed in federal research program plans, a research agenda for such activities is referred to and incorporated into the National Climate Program (administered by Y NCPO) and in the initial 1J.S.Global Change Research Program (coordi- nated by CES). Page 22 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 2 Development of U.S. Policy on Global Climate Change FCdSET/CES Responsi.ble FCCSETwas established concurrent with OSTP by the National Science and for (Global Change Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of 1976, and was given the responsibility to consider problems and developments affect- Res+arch ing more than one federal agency, and to recommend national and sci- ence technology policy. FCCSET'Sdesignated chairman is the director of OSTI', and its membership includes a representative from most depart- ments and major scientific agencies. The FCCSETchairman established CES in 1987 to increase overall effec- tiveness and productivity of federal global change research and develop- ment efforts, and to address significant national policy matters that cut across agency boundaries. CES seeks to establish the scientific basis (but not the authority or responsibility) for policy-making relative to natural and human-induced changes in the global earth system. Unless its char- ter is renewed, CES will terminate by December 31, 1990. Its functions are to (1) review national and international programs, (2) improve plan- ning, coordination, and communication, (3) identify and define research needs, (4) develop and update long-range plans, and (6) assist the FCCSET chairperson and the administration. CFs also evaluates how well current research activities address key scientific questions and program goals, and identifies gaps in knowledge and priorities among research needs. (:I% is made up of senior-level agency representatives who review fed- eral research programs in earth science, with global climate change as a major component. CES has representation from each of the following agencies: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Interior, State, Transportation; EPA; NASA; NSF; OSTP; OMH; and CEQ. The chairman may request other federal agency representatives to partici- pate in cxs programs and activities. Staff work is conducted by the mem- ber agencies. Administration officials view CES as the principal forum for setting the broad IJ.S. priorities in the earth sciences, and for integrating and coor- dinating 1J.S.research programs. Accordingly, CES prepared the special research strategy report entitled Our Changing Planet: A U.S. Strategy for Global Change Research, and submitted it to the Congress as a part of the President’s fiscal year 1990 budget. The document, prepared in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences, outlines the goals, implementation strategy, and research budget of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report shows fiscal years 1989 and 1990 budget J levels among major science elements and funding by participating agency for each element. CES officials proposed to expand the strategy report into a detailed, comprehensive research plan during 1989. Page 23 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming - ~_...._ _... _--._.- -..-, r (:hspi.er 2 Ikveh~pment of U.S. Policy on Global Climate <%ange The (:ES“cross-cut” global change budget marked the first time that OMD and affected federal agencies had met to develop a framework of research that provided for standardized program reporting and idcntifi- cation of program priorities, potential areas of overlap, and program gaps in need of attention. Decisions were reached through agency-orvln consensus, and the resulting budget represents a mixture of what the participants perceived was the appropriate investment in global change research, with climate change being a major component. __.. NC1 PI3 Coordinates Overall coordination of NW0 activities was legislated under a 1986 Nat r)nal Climate Program amendment to the National Climate Program Act of 1978 which created the NCIW3. The board’s responsibilities include coordinating plans and reviewing progress on the National Climate Program plan, reviewing agency and department climate-related budget requests, and establish- ing and maintaining interagency groups necessary to carry out NCPP~~ activities. The board serves as a forum for interagency staff coordina- tion on climate change research programs. NCIW is headed by the NCPO director and NCI'O serves as its staff. Its participating agencies and activities include climate activities of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, State, and Transportation; WA; NASA; CEQ; NSF; 0s~~; and others as determined by the Secretary of Commerce. NCWB officials envisioned that the board’s membership would consist of senior-level representatives from the agencies and activities participat- ing in the program. However, they told us that it evolved into a staff- level group of researchers and policy analysts. In part, it appears to have been NCPO'S inability to effectively address global change, a more recent and broader concept than climate change, that led to the estab- lishment of CM Its function to develop a coordinated interagency cli- mate change research plan is also embodied within development of the CM global change program. ...-_ -_-- ..--.I-_-..-.. Department of State Development of interagency planning for IJ.S. participation in the IJ.N.- Cocjrdi nates U.S. sponsored II'CC effort and 17,s. leadership of IPCC’Sresponse strategies working group are coordinated by the State Department’s Bureau of Participation in the IPCC Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, under v the direction of the Domestic Policy Council’s Working Group on Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment. The group meets as required, often weekly, to develop position papers and coordinate preparation of Pa@24 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 2 Development of U.S. Policy on Global Climate Change IPCC work products. It has a broad membership, composed of representa- tives from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Interior, and Treasury; NCPO, OMB, CIQ the Council of Economic Advis- ers, WA, OSTP, AID, and the U.S. Trade Representative. The members who participate in the group are often the same individuals who serve on the NCPO/NCPPB and FCCSET/CEIScoordinating bodies. Many executive branch agencies are engaged in climate-related activities Conclusions and have responsibility for analyzing the economic, social, health, and other impacts of climate change. Several organizational mechanisms have been established to provide policy leadership, to guide and direct agency research activities, to recommend funding levels, and to deter- mine research priorities for environmental, scientific, and climate- related activities. However, national policy goals and decision-making responsibility for managing a federal program on global climate change have not been established. Development of a coordinated national policy and implementing global climate change research and program strategies have been impeded by lack of designated leadership and guidance on agency roles and respon- sibilities, and limited effectiveness of offices responsible for national environmental and climate program policy. Interagency coordination was carried out through formal and ad hoc mechanisms that had over- lapping responsibility and constituency. In the absence of executive direction clarifying responsibilities of federal agencies, climate change research activities and policy formulation were being conducted in an atmosphere that lacked effective central and strategic planning and that had operated without full use of existing policy structures and resources. . Page 25 GAO/NSIALMO63 Global Warming Chapjt.cr 3_-..-..-.-.~_ U@.Participation in International Climate Cl@mgeActivities ..I”X__^/^.. _. .I_..___. ..- --.-_ The IJnited States and the world community recognize that global warm- ing cannot be attributed to one country or source and, because the potential impact would affect everyone, any overall solution requires I the cooperation of all nations. A principal objective of U.S. international environmental policy is to provide leadership, through international organizations and cooperative efforts, to advance the scientific understanding necessary to responsibly address the implications of predicted global climate change. To meet this objective, federal agencies participate in various global climate change effect studies through a number of multilateral activities and interna- tional organizations, and conduct cooperative research activities under international and bilateral agreements with a number of countries. International organizations, principally WMOand IJNISP, coordinate cli- mate change studies. These bodies recently established the Intergovern- mental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),which has become the leading international forum for addressing global warming. The IJnited States has assumed a major role in the panel, chairing a working group that is examining response strategies. However, despite giving rise to expecta- tions among other nations that it was giving high priority and was ready to act on the global warming issue, the United States so far has empha- sized the need for continued further study rather than commit too early to specific targets or timetables that could result in unwarranted actions to protect the environment. The Department of State manages US. international science and tech- Agency Roles and nology activities as a fundamental element of foreign relations and Responsibilities global environmental policy. It seeks to assure that U.S. international science and technology activities, including such environmental con- corns as protecting the ozone layer, control of WC emissions, and global climate change, are carried out in accord with the nation’s foreign policy agenda. State’s 13ureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES)coordinates with other bureaus in the depart- ment to develop overall 1J.S.policy positions and strategies, represents tho I Jnited States in bilateral and multilateral discussions, and negoti- ates and prcparcs texts for international agreements in consultation with a number of executive, scientific and technical agencies and pri- vatc sector organizations. State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs provides funding support for, and coordinates 1J.S.participation in, international organizations. Page 26 GAO/NSIAD90-63 Global Warming Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities Other federal departments and agencies participate in international activities according to their functional areas of responsibility and exper- tise. They conduct these efforts in direct collaboration with other gov- crnments and international organizations and through various domestic interagency mechanisms. In certain circumstances, such as conferences on technical issues, representatives from EPAor other federal agencies may be designated to lead IJ.S. diplomatic missions abroad. Cooperative research projects on climate change are carried out through multilateral conventions and environmental agreements with various countries. In addition, direct liaisons are maintained with several organizations. For example, the Chief of the National Weather Service, under NOAA,is the I J.S. I’ermanent Representative to WMOfor technical and scientific coor- dination. Similar coordination with other IJ.N. agencies are handled by State. International environmental research and policy development are coor- Multilateral Activities dinated principally through two specialized United Nations agencies- WMoand rJNEP--and the International Council of Scientific Unions (lcsrr), a nongovernmental body of scientific unions, academies, research coun- cils, and associations. WMOcoordinates worldwide collection and exchange of weather data and seeks to improve forecasting services. 1JNW studies environmental changes throughout the world, promotes and coordinates 1J.N. programs, and provides policy direction for inter- national environmental projects. Multilateral activities concerning climate change arc principally con- ducted-and until recently, coordinated-under the World Climate I’ro- gram, a collaborative effort since 1979. As part of the program, WMO collects and exchanges data on the earth’s atmosphere and climate, IJNEP monitors and addresses possible policy responses to the impact of signif- icant climate variations, and WMOand ICSIJconduct joint research efforts. In addition, ICSIJis developing (through nongovernmental orga- nizations) a long-term international geosphere-biosphere program that is focusing on the interactive physical, chemical, and biological processes that regulate the total earth system. International discussions to protect the earth’s ozone layer began in 1981 under IJNEPauspices, culminating in a broad international agree- ment (the 1985 Vienna Convention) addressing this issue. The agree- ment has formed the basis for current global efforts to phase out CI;Y: usage. In 1987, recognizing the need for a more focused and broad-based Page 27 GAO/NSL&D4O-63 Global Warming Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in InternationaJ Climate Change Activities approach to understanding and responding to effects of increased green- house gas concentrations on the earth’s climate, the governing bodies of WMO and UNEPestablished the IPCCto l assess available scientific knowledge of global climate changes to deter- mine if a warming trend has begun and examine its causes; l review the environmental, economic, and social impact of climate change; and l formulate response strategies for national and global action. 1 The 1Jnited States actively promoted the IPCC’Sestablishment and the U.Y. Participation in administration firmly supports its work. NW0 and its policy board origi- the IPCC nally proposed an intergovernmental panel to coordinate and oversee the international assessment of climate change and its impact on society. While NCPO continued to have an active role in IPCCactivities, U.S. lead- ership on the panel has been assumed by the OES Assistant Secretary of State, under the direction of the Domestic Policy Council’s Working Group on Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment. The leader- ship arrangement was arrived at through interagency consensus. First Panel Meeting in II’CCheld its first meeting at WMOheadquarters in Geneva in November CrHNYa 1988 at which time it established an organizational framework and study program which generally met 1J.S.objectives for autonomy, rea- sonableness, and attainability. The panel established three working groups and a small independent secretariat to coordinate activities of the working groups. It also proposed a trust fund arrangement among participants to finance its work, and set a timetable of about 18 months for completion of its study. The working groups established by the panel to coordinate its work com- prised broad regional and developmental membership, with each group consisting of 2 to 5 vice-chairs and a total of 12 to 17 members and responsibilities as follows: l Working Group 1, chaired by the United Kingdom, is to consider factors affecting climate change, including greenhouse gases, responses of the atmosphere-ocean-land-ice system to these factors, assessment of cur- rent capabilities of modeling global and regional climate change and the predictability and timing of such change, past climate record and pres- ently observed climate anomalies, and projections of future climate and Page 28 GAO/NSIAD-W-63 Global Wardng Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities sea level. The range of projections and their regional variations, gaps and uncertainties should be identified. . Working Group 2, chaired by the Soviet Union, is to make an integrated review of environmental and socioeconomic impacts of climate change, emphasizing national/regional climate warming and sea-level rise (espc- cially in coastal and island areas), agriculture, forestry, health, water resources and floods, droughts and decertification, energy, and other sectors. l Working Group 3, chaired by the IJnited States, is to address forecasting and assessment of future emissions of greenhouse gases, impacts of changing technology, sources and sinks, adaptation to climate change, strategies to control and reduce emissions (through fossil fuel conserva- tion), and other human activities that may have an impact on climate (e.g., changing land-use, deforestation), the social and economic implica- tions, and legal matters. The 17,s. delegation comprised the largest and most diversified of over 35 nations and international organizations that attended the Geneva meeting. The delegation included a number of congressional observers and advisers from the Departments of Commerce, Energy, and Interior; FrjA* L,‘, NSF.and osrp. 4, NASA’ WMOand IJNEP officials hosting the conference told us that they were generally pleased by the level of support, commitment to action, and overall unity of purpose shown by the U.S. delegation. However, they also pointed out some areas that could be improved. The officials stated that, although it was clear to them that the State Department represen- tative coordinated 1J.S.efforts at this conference, they were uncertain that this representative would continue to be the designated official IJ.S. spokesperson for future IPCCand other global climate change activities. They also observed that it was essential for the United States to (1) establish clear lines of authority and responsibility for carrying out 1J.S. global warming policy, (2) identify “lead” contact points for carrying out the study elements of IPCC’Swork, (3) designate focal points to obtain funding support for rrcc-sponsored research and conferences, and (4) improve coordination mechanisms to bring in broader governmental and private sector representation as the debate shifts from scientific analysis to policy formulation. Page 29 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming ,, - Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities Wo$king Group Planning Planning meetings of the working groups and with the coordinating sec- Meqtings retariat in Geneva were held during 1989. Each working group estab- lished a steering committee and several subgroups to organize preparation of each report. The first session of the U.S.-led response strategies working group (Working Group 3), attended by 33 nations and a broad range of inter- national and nongovernmental organizations, convened in Washington, D.C., in late January 1989. The Secretary of State chose the occasion to signal the administration’s readiness to act and give high priority to efforts aimed at controlling global warming. The Secretary remarked that action on this transnational issue probably should not wait until the scientific uncertainties have been resolved, but that immediate focus should be on steps that are specific, cost-effective, as fair as possible to everyone, and justifiable on other grounds. The initial US. proposal submitted for organizing the group’s work implied a need for additional data-gathering. It was regarded by partici- pants as too time-consuming and revised by the United States in favor of a plan that emphasizes development of short- and long-term limitation and adaptation strategies. The new report plan was to describe existing scientific knowledge and likely impacts of ongoing and future climate change, to be provided by the other two IPCCworking groups. Four sub- groups were established to address limitation and adaptation strategies by major topic (i.e., energy and industry, agriculture and forestry, coastal zone management, and resource use/management) to conduct its work, with the goals to l define policy options for national, regional, and international actions, including short-term (18 months) proposals; l provide estimates of consequences, costs, and benefits; l set priorities; and . define implementation mechanisms, analyzing carefully the implications for nations in different stages of development. The second meeting of the response strategies working group was held in Geneva in October 1989, attended by 43 national delegations repre- senting broadening participation by less developed and eastern bloc countries, and continued heavy involvement of NGO’Sand international organizations. The broader participation disclosed a wide range of view- points and, despite reaching consensus on certain basic issues, it also had the effect of illuminating fundamental differences requiring further dialogue and negotiation, Concerning the major issue discussed at the Page 30 GAO/NSLAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities :----‘---- meeting, delegates agreed on the need for a framework convention on climate change that would lay down general principles and obligations, provide for continuing assessments, and permit separate protocols to be negotiated on the different greenhouse gases. However, distinct differ- ences existed regarding the specificity of emissions control measures that were to be addressed in the convention. The IJnited States proposed further study of economic consequences and submitted a list of legal measures which were noted without action or consensus. For working groups chaired by other countries, overall coordination of IJ.S. participation in the U.K.-led “science” working group is provided by c~i;s,and NCPO was designated lead coordinator for the U.S.S.R.-led “impacts” working group. A Geneva secretariat meeting in May 1989 focused on developing a reporting framework and on seeking increased understanding of deeply felt concerns of developing countries that response strategies adopted to reduce emissions do not impair economic growth and social needs. Second Panel Meeting in In .June 1989, the full IPCCpanel convened in Nairobi, Kenya, to review Nairobi the progress of its three working groups and to explore ways to increase the participation of developing countries in the WC. Each working group is scheduled to complete its work and prepare a report by May 1990. The completed work will become IPCC’Sfirst interim report, and is scheduled for consideration by the I7.N. General Assembly in 1990. It should provide guidelines for global policy formulation and serve as a starting point for formal negotiations on a framework convention. The panel expects to present its reports at the Second World Conference, organized by WMOand IJNISP and last held in 1979, in Geneva during November 1990. Representatives from over 40 countries attended the Nairobi meeting, more than attended the first IPCCmeeting in Geneva in November 1988. OISSattributes the increased participation to greater attendance by third world countries. To maintain and improve third world participation, the IPU: approved increased funding for travel of third world experts to nr:c:-related activities, agreed to sponsor conferences and seminars for third world experts, and to assist in the formation of national commit- tees on climate change in developing countries. The United States and other countries pledged additional travel assistance for less developed countries. Page 3 1 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities Coo$dination by U.S. The IJnited States’ early involvement in IPCCwas coordinated by State/ OW, but international environmental officials asserted that the Bureau Age+cies has not provided the strong leadership sought or expected by some of these officials in the wake of the Secretary of State’s welcoming speech in *January 1989 to the IPCCresponse strategies working group. In part, as discussed previously, the officials pointed to a lack of clarity in designating leadership, agency responsibilities, and focal points for coor- dinating the global warming issue. The State/o&! Assistant Secretary led U.S. delegations at IPCCconfer- ences and Working Group 3 meetings but the principal I7.S. delegates to Working Group 1 and 2 meetings were representatives from other agen- cies. According to State officials, the President was expected to name a permanent chief delegate to the IPCC,but had not yet done so (nor was the OESAssistant Secretary appointed or confirmed in his position in the new administration). An ad hoc working group, meeting under State/oks auspices, guided 17,s. participation in the INC. Also, at State/oEs request, NW0 reported on IPCCand global climate change activities by federal agencies, nongovernment organizations, industry, and other groups. Sep- arately, the WA administrator was named to lead a ministerial-level con- ference on global warming hosted by the Netherlands in November 1989. The administration considers IPCC’Sformation to be an important first step in providing a central international forum, along with other compo- tent bodies, for addressing the climate change issue. IPCCserves as an interim measure for member governments to critically review informa- tion needed to form an international consensus on climate change. Administration policy has been to avoid making specific commitments to regulate greenhouse gas emissions until IPCCsubmits its final report in November 1990. It is not clear what permanent institutional arrange- ment may be made to continue to develop internationally recognized cli- mate change assessments and responses beyond 1990. However, during the recent II’CCmeeting in Nairobi, the OESAssistant Secretary stated that the conclusions of IITX’S interim report would serve as a starting point for formal negotiations and could be used by countries to form short- and long-term strategies. Paye 32 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities Federal departments and agencies also conduct joint research programs U.S.;Participation in in their areas of responsibility with foreign governments through inter- Bilakeral Climate national and bilateral environmental agreements that directly and indi- Ch ’ ge Programs rectly relate to the global climate change issue. The following are some T examples. IJnder the National Climate Program Act of 1978, as amended, NOAAis responsible for coordinating interagency participation in international climate-related activities and, to this end, is the focal point for U.S. par- ticipation in the World Climate Program research. It has working agree- ments with Canada, China, and the Soviet Union, and has conducted a series of seminars designed to identify emerging policy and technical LL L. i$sucs EM has had a bilateral agreement with the Soviet IJnion since 1972 on protection of the environment, under which various agencies have par- ticipated in global climate change research, including ozone depletion in the polar areas, and formulation of potential policy responses. EPAalso has an agreement with its counterpart agency in the People’s Republic of China to study environmental pollution and climate change. DOEhas approximately 150 agreements with about 24 countries, mostly involving fossil and nuclear energy, including a number of them on energy conservation and emission control. One agreement (with China), exploring the relationship of climatic changes and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, directly relates to the global climate change issue. Representatives of IJ.S. scientific agencies, including NASA,NOAA,and NSF,conduct various assessments in co-sponsorship with other govern- ments and international organizations. Although AID does not assist in specific climate change research activi- ties, it exerts some policy influence through projects that it finances in developing countries. Projects include energy conservation and effi- ciency, forestry assistance, and crop production. The Global Climate Protection Act of 1987 requires the Secretary of Reporting on and State and EI’AAdministrator to submit a report to the Congress by Promoting Global December 1989, which is to address many of the same matters that are Climate Protection to be addressed in the II’CCreport. In addition, the act requires the Secre- tary to promote, within the IJnited Nations, the early designation of an Y International Year of Global Climate Protection. Accordingly, the 1J.S. rcprcsontative suggested to IKX members at their June 1989 meeting in Nairobi that they consider the concept of an international year of cli- mate change within the U.N. system and that 1990 would be a logical Page 33 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Chapter 3 U.S. Participation in International Climate Change Activities choice for such designation because of a number of important interna- tional conferences already scheduled during that year. The WCCnoted the suggestion but made no formal decision on the matter. The United States has participated in collaborative climate research Co/nclusions activity through various international organizations and bilateral agree- ments for many years. Further, it placed itself in strong leadership posi- tion to attain international cooperation in formulating policy to limit or adapt to global climate change by gaining chairmanship of the WCC response strategies working group in November 1988. However, despite giving early indications that it was ready to act and give high priority to this issue, the administration has continued to emphasize the need to conduct further research rather than commit prematurely to possibly unwarranted actions. It has not yet designated a permanent chief dele- gate to direct U.S. efforts in the IPCC nor agreed to specific targets and timetables for reducing or controlling greenhouse gas emissions pending further study. International environmental officials that we contacted were generally pleased with the initial pledges of U.S. commitments and resources applied in the EC. However, they also expressed some concern regard- ing the authority of designated U.S. spokespersons at international meetings and the adequacy of how US, efforts were being coordinated and would be sustained in future II’CC activity. Page 34 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Page 36 GAO/NSIAD-00-63 Global Warming ~~~ ~ Bkief Chronology of Key Events Affecting Global Climate Change i 880. i 987 Average- global - temperature increased about 1 deqree Fahrenheit 1980 1988 1980, 1981, 1983, 1987, and 1988 were the 5 warmest years in the past century, OctotJcr 1985 State of scientific knowledge and consensus on greenhouse gases and climate change summarized at a joint UNEP/WMO/ICSU conference in Villach, Austria. June 1986 Need to consider pokey optrons of greenhouse warming asserted during Senate hearings before a subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee. National Academy of Sciences asked to review policy Issues of greenhouse gases. September 1986 Group of senators requested EPA to prepare two reports for the Congress-one report on the health and environmental effects of climate change and one on policy options for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at current levels Juno fi987 WMO and UNEP agreed to establish rntergovernmental mechanism to assess available scientific data and formulate resoonse strateaies for climate chanae. Sept~mbcr 1987 Protocol to reduce CFC productron and emrssions IS sianed bv aroub of nations in Montreal. Canada. December 1987 Global Clrmate Protection Act of 1987 (P,L. 100-204) enacted. January 1988 President ISSLES report to the Congress on current government research activitres related to the greenhouse effect. Apnl i988 WMO/UNEP released World Climate Program impact studies report entitled Developing Policies For Responding To Climate Change, based on the results of international workshops held in 1987. June 1988 Director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies told Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that there was a high probabrlity that global warming due to the greenhouse effect “is here.” July 1988 Comprehensive bills addressing global warming introduced in the Congress. November 1988 Initial meeting of the WMO/UNEP lntergovernmental~banel on Climate Change held in Geneva to establrsh reporting plans ~.~ .~~ January 1989 Montreal Protocol to reduce CFC production and emissions entered into force. President submits to the Congress a “cross-cut”budget and strategy for global change research. Jan Fcb 1989 The IPCC Response Strategies Working Group convenes first meeting in Washington, D.C. March 1989 EPA’s draft “stabrlization” report presented to the Congress, President announced U.S. decision to join other nations in supporting elimination of CFCs by the year 2000. May 1989 IPCC Response Strategies Working Group Steering Committee and subgroup meetings held in Geneva, Switzerland June 1989 Second meeting of full IPCC panel held in Nairobi. October 1989 Second meeting of IPCC Response Strategies Working Group held in Geneva. Novomber 1989 First internatronal conference to specificallv address alobal warmina held in the Netherlands. Page 36 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming A,rptMlix I. *“y--m-II 1,111 Views of NongovernmentalPolicy Analysis and A&&or-y Organizations Representatives of various domestic policy analysis and advisory orga- nizations have testified before congressional committees, or have issued policy statements on global warming and related environmental issues. We contacted a number of organizations to obtain their views on the matters discussed in this report. The following comments are among some frequently voiced concerns. Allis’ nce f’or Responsible The Alliance, a coalition of CFCproducers and users desiring effective WC Policy government policy on CFCuse, contends that vigorous action by the I IJnited States is needed to obtain broad participation in the Montreal Protocol. The Alliance believes that additional unilateral regulation of CFCSby the IJnitcd States beyond the Protocol’s measures is unwar- I ranted without global cooperation and would l provide little, if any, added environmental protection benefit; . injure I Jnited States industry, thus benefiting international competitors; and l undermine efforts to obtain an international resolution. Further, public policy development needs more scientific investigation and international cooperation to determine whether WCS pose a threat to the environment. Computer model calculations on the theoretical effects of uxs on ozone have been inconclusive and ever-changing, and do not, constitute a sound basis for regulation. There is ample time to conduct needed research and detect any threat before significant envi- ronmental harm occurs. Finally, the Alliance urged that policymakers should remain sensitive to the need for a responsible transition process to potential substitute chemicals, processes, and products, and to avoid disruptions that could t,hrcatcn the health, safety, and well-being of consumers and workers who rely on the CPCcompounds. It said CFCend-users should be encouraged to voluntarily conserve where economically and technologi- cally practical. Also, further CFCrestrictions were seen as severely impacting many industries and curtailing the supply of products. More- over, additional restrictions would force manufacturers to use substi- tutes that are less efficient, more costly, and potentially hazardous. In many cases, no CFCsubstitute exists. Page 37 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Appendix II Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis and Advisory Organizations Catinegie Commission on The Commission, established in April 1988, assesses the process by Science, Technology, and which the government encourages and incorporates scientific and tech- nical knowledge into policy-making and decision-making. It is composed Government of individuals with broad experience in government and in science and technology. Through its work, the Commission has become concerned that the existing levels of coordination in the administration may be inadequate for the multidisciplinary nature of emerging issues, such as global warming-effecting the atmosphere, climate, and energy. In an October 1988 report (Science & Technology and the President), the Commission partly addressed this problem. It recommended that the President take early action to upgrade science and technology functions that support him by . elevating the existing position of Science Adviser to Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, with full participation on White House Councils in policy direction, budgetary choices, and key staff appointments; strengthening the Office of Science and Technology Policy, under the direction of the Assistant, by filling vacant positions, increasing staff, and expanding policy functions; and providing a medium for drawing on and incorporating the advice of experts from the scientific and technical community outside of the fed- eral government on matters of national concern. Chamber of Commerce of The Chamber, a national federation of business organizations and the United States regional chambers of commerce, advocates recommendations of the bus- iness community on national economic and social issues. The Chamber believes that the United States should take a leadership role in the inter- national community to vigorously investigate causes and effects of global climate change, mitigation strategies and potential options. How- ever, unilateral action by the United States is insufficient, wasteful, and an unfair burden on its society. Much of the future increase in “greenhouse gases” will come from devel- oping countries. The United States cannot criticize or prevent third world populations from emulating its own practices as they struggle to raise their standards of living. The United States must promote global cooperation in addressing this issue. Page 38 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming 4 Appendix II Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis and Advisory Organizations The Chamber stated that valid and effective policies based on merit, not speculation, must follow a better scientific understanding of the magni- tude and potential of these changes, along with an international dia- logue on the issue. It maintained that inappropriate action would ask the world to accept unneeded social, environmental and economic costs. Similarly, inappropriate action would ask the world to suffer changes in their habitats and economies, Any technological or regulatory steps affecting climate are as serious as the changes they seek to rectify. The Chamber believes it would be wrong not to take the global climate change forecasts seriously. It would be an equally large mistake not to understand the limitations of the forecasts and hence act imprudently. The science of climate change theories are far from perfect and not at all certain. Models must be revised as new data are developed, which will shift predictions by an amount as yet unknown. The proposed actions should . educate people internationally about global climate change and the choices that may be necessary to avoid it; . support international cooperative research to advance everyone’s ability to predict and act; l implement changes that make economic, social and environmental sense on their own merits; . assist developing nations in joining the global efforts while maintaining their economic growth; and . encourage alternative energy technologies and conservation, and not force uneconomical choices under the guise of climate change. IZconomically, only the wealthier nations and societies can afford strict environmental controls. All nations must have sustainable economic development in order to afford controls. It would be unwise to establish energy and environmental policies that are driven solely by concerns over climate change, without a balance of social, strategic, and economic issues. Electric Power Research The Institute, which provides research and technology development for Institute the electric utility industry, maintains that the United States must rely Y on multilateral action involving all nations. Third world countries, con- cerned with their own development, present the greatest challenge as the most significant contributors to future greenhouse gases. Increasing populations and the corresponding energy demands in these developing Page 39 GAO/NSlAD-90-63 Global Warming Appendix II Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis and Advisory Organizations countries require that all nations cooperate. Consequently, unilateral action by the IJnited States will achieve little in the overall global realm. As a leading industrial power, the United States may well take the lead- ership position, but little will be accomplished if other nations do not follow. Hecause of present scientific uncertainties, policymakers should not act prematurely on the current information, without more discussion and research. For example, general circulation models project mean global temperatures moderately well when run against a 30-year temperature record. However, these temperature estimates are of little use in evalu- ating environmental impact in such areas as agriculture, forest ecosys- tems, and hydrology, where regional estimates are needed. The models perform less favorably when run against a 30-year temperature record on a subregional basis, for example, for the continental and central 1Jnited States, Th:e National Association The Association, representing the industry and public policy interests of of Manufacturers about 13,500 1J.S.manufacturers, supports the multilateral approach of the IIW, since the United States cannot solve this problem alone. If soci- ety is asked to change energy use and lifestyles, it follows that any poli- cies adopted will have to be sustained across national boundaries. Global warming policy decisions should be made only after considera- tion of the scientific understanding and potential socioeconomic impacts of this phenomenon. Scientific evidence is still inconclusive, making fur- ther research essential. As the first priority, scientific research should confirm or refute the theory of unnatural global warming and provide a better understanding of the contributing factors. Then the United States should help educate the global society on the options available to miti- gate potential effects, and the costs and relative effectiveness of each measure. Given the uncertainty in science, policies must be favored that make sense in their own right. Care must be taken that actions do not create economic shocks to the global economy. Precipitous changes in energy supply and demand could jolt the industrialized countries’ economies and severely hurt third world development. Scientists, governments, public policymakers, and Y businesses must assure that international actions encourage economic growth, along with sound environmental policies for all nations. Page 40 GAO/NSlAD-90-63 Global Warming - Appendix II Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis and Advisory Organizations ThenNational Resources The National Resources Defense Council, an environmental law organi- I~kfpw Council zation, uses the judicial system to protect the environment. The Council believes that the IJnited States must lead the effort to minimize global warming and that additional research is not necessary prior to action. The IPCCand the IJ.S.-led response strategies working group will play a key role in energizing and coordinating the international system. The IPCCshould identify and promote short-range actions for the Western industrialized nations and encourage the groundwork for rapid partici- pation by the Eastern Bloc and major developing nations. It is crucial that developing nations see that the actions needed to prevent global warming are in their self-interest. A global treaty is probably the long-term solution to the global warming problem. The IJnited States should work through the IPCCand other forums to promote a global treaty convention. Because of the success with the Montreal Protocol, IJNEPwould be a logical forum for ncgotia- tion. Such a treaty would l require net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions sufficient to stabilize the earth’s climate, while providing enforcement mechanisms; l distribute the responsibility for making reductions equitably among nations; and l establish a mechanism for planning and coordinating research on a global basis. The treaty should commit wealthier countries to increased research, and to providing development assistance to enable poorer countries to meet the requirements of the agreement. Restricting assistance to countries accepting the treaty obligations could create incentives for broad participation. Third world debt must be addressed in a way that enhances the environ- ment, and promotes economic development. A direct link exists among sound environmental practices, economic development, and third world debt. Environmental policies, perceived as having high up-front costs, appear expensive to people living on the economic edge. However, the costs of failing to adequately manage crucial natural resources can be far greater. The IJnited States should step up bilateral efforts through AH), and use its influence with the multilateral development banks to enable dcvcloping nations to sustain development and help prevent global warming through improved energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Page 4 1 GAO/NSIAD-SO-63 Global Warming Appendix II Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis and Advisory Organizations _- i ..^-. Public policy must be directed from the highest levels, OSTPis primarily concerned with science and should not lead policy development coordi- / nation among the agencies. The greenhouse problem involves economics and political issues, as well as science. In a letter to then President-elect Bush-IHueprint for the Environment, Advice to the President-Elect from America’s Environmental Community-the Council and other environmental organizations provided policy development recommenda- tions The Blueprint recommended that the President l reorganize the Council on Environmental Quality into a Presidential staff on the environment, headed by a highly qualified director; l establish high-level interagency groups to ensure action on broad issues, such as global warming, sustainable development in developing coun- tries, and population stabilization, that cut across agency lines; and l assign members of the Presidential staff to ensure that the work of these groups does not, become mired in interagency disputes, The Blueprint further recommended the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Environmental Protection to replace the Environmental I’rotection Agency. Organizations with principal responsibility for deal- ing with environmental problems critical to this nation and the world should be placed in the highest councils of government. Additionally, the National Security Council, the domestic policy staff in the White IIousc, and OMH,must include people highly qualified to deal with envi- ronmcntal issues. _ - ..__ ~- __-.-_. ^.~ Would Resources Institute The Institute is a research and policy center that presents information about global resources and environmental conditions, analyzes emerging issues, and develops plausible policy responses to governments and international organizations in more than 50 countries. The Institute believes that the United States, as a contributor of onc- fifth of all greenhouse gases, has a special responsibility to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to find a solution. International leadership should unify environmental protection, resource use, and development. The key to an effective program is “sustainable development”-defined as development that maintains and enhances human and physical pro- ductive capacity without damaging the underlying resource base. The approach would require refocusing bilateral aid and influencing multi- lateral agencies. In addition, the United States should respond to the problem of climate change by implementing those options that are the most cost cffcct,ivc and that provide multiple benefits to society. Page 42 GAO/NSIAD-90-63 Global Warming Appendix II Views of Nongovernmental Policy Analysis and Advisory Organizations The Institute maintains that the challenge facing policymakers and man- agers today is to identify policy options that will limit greenhouse gas emissions without substantially slowing economic growth over the long- term. Their task is complicated by the significant and persistent uncer- tainty in regional analyses of the impacts of climate change. They will need to surmount substantial methodological difficulties to develop new analytic approaches and tools. These tools will need to have long time horizons if scientists are to adequately evaluate policies that must be implemented over the next 50 or 100 years. Problem resolution involves decision-making, coordination, and the means to carry out appropriate action. To ensure priority attention, the President should appoint a White House counselor of Cabinet rank to develop and coordinate this overall effort. Alternatively, the President could elevate the head of the EPAto Cabinet rank. The President should provide the agency with a clear mandate to work with the executive agencies and the Congress to develop concrete proposals for approval by the President, and to monitor their implementation. Also, some organiza- tional changes are needed. The Council on Environmental Quality and OSTPmust be reconstituted, strengthened, and given a mandate. The Institute contends that the task for policymakers will not be simple or quick, and the choice is not between preventing or adapting to climate change. Policymakers will need to establish policies that, in the circum- stances peculiar to each region and nation, will slow the rate of change and allow societies to adapt to the climatic changes that cannot be avoided. Their task is politically difficult because the costs of prevent- ing or adapting to climate change are in the present and the potential benefits are both uncertain and far off. The Institute concludes that the risk of ignoring the challenge, however seductive, is enormous. * Page 43 GAO/NSIAD-DO-63 Global Warming I Apdendix III l!&jor Contributors to This Report N&ional Security and Issues (202) 275-b790 InGernational Affairs Iiolf A. Nilsson, Eviluator-In-Charge D$ision Wyley P. Neal, Evaluator John M. Miller, Evaluator William I’. Leavens, Evaluator European Office *JamesIZ. .Jones, Evaluator w (47217R) Page 44 GAO/NSLALh90-63 Global Warming 1ttqrlt~si.s for twpiw of t;Ao rt~lm-1 s sI10tilt1 tw st’111 to: ‘I’t~lt~l~horle 202-275-6241 ‘I’Irth first. fivtb copies of tbach rt~pori art* frw. AtltIitiori;~I cwpit*s RW !#z.oo t’ik<‘h. First-Class Mail Postage & Fees Paid GAO 1 Permit No. GlOO
Global Warming: Administration Approach Cautious Pending Validation of Threat
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-01-08.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)