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Interview: US climate expert seeks solutions beyond the Kyoto Protocol

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  • P. Neuman self only
    ... From: janson2997 To: fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 10:28:57 -0000 Subject: [fuelcell-energy] Interview:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2004
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      From: "janson2997" <janson1997@...>
      To: fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 10:28:57 -0000
      Subject: [fuelcell-energy]

      Interview: US climate expert seeks solutions beyond the Kyoto Protocol

      Date: 01/07/2004

      Interview: US climate expert seeks solutions beyond the Kyoto Protocol

      In short:
      Speaking to EurActiv, former White House spokesman and climate change
      expert Eliot Diringer says future climate policies need to look
      beyond Kyoto if the US and major emerging countries are to be brought

      Elliot Diringer is Director of International Strategies at the Pew
      Centre on Global Climate Change. He was Deputy Assistant to President
      Bill Clinton and Deputy Press Secretary at the White House. In this
      capacity, he served as a principal spokesman for President Clinton.
      Click here to read the interview news

      What is your view on the EU's alleged world leadership on climate
      change? The US is seen as lagging behind because they haven't
      ratified the Kyoto protocol, but is this perception actually true?

      I think that quite clearly the EU is at the forefront of the climate
      effort. It has worked very hard to bring the Kyoto protocol into
      force, including the recent agreement with Russia, and at EU level it
      has now put in place the mechanisms for reducing emissions and
      meeting the EU Kyoto targets.

      Do you think that these mechanisms are efficient enough?

      I can't speak of the details of the EU trading system. I certainly
      think that in broad terms, it's the right approach. I think it
      remains to be seen whether the national allocation plans are adequate
      and how fully this will be implemented.

      There has been quite a lot of criticism about those national
      allocation plans...

      Well I think that any time you establish a trading system that seeks
      genuine reductions, there will be considerable debate over target
      levels and specifically over allocation issues. That's to be

      In terms of US climate change policy, are things being done at state

      One has to look at several dimensions. Clearly at the national level,
      the US is not as far advanced as the EU and this is not simply a
      question of rejecting the Kyoto protocol. We have not begun to
      implement at the national level the kinds of measures that will put
      the US on track to reducing its emissions.

      But to understand the complete picture in the US, you have to look
      beyond Washington and beyond the policies of the present
      administration. Many states are putting into place serious climate
      efforts and there is the prospect of these efforts growing quite
      substantially over the next several years.

      Also, there is activity at the company level, many companies have
      adopted voluntary emissions reduction targets. So we are seeing
      serious efforts beginning both in the states and among companies.

      Coming back to Washington, we are also seeing the emergence of a
      genuine debate over what must be done at the national level. There is
      now before Congress a proposal, the Mc Cain/Lieberman Bill to
      establish emissions caps and a trading system similar to what is now
      in place in the EU.

      I think it will still be some time before legislation of this type
      can be enacted in the US but the debate has begun and this is very

      If you put all those initiatives together, how do they compare with
      what is being done in the EU?

      I don't think that the efforts now underway in the US, taken
      together, represent as ambitious an effort as what has been launched
      in the EU. I think the debate is much further advanced in the EU and
      the actions underway are stronger. I think what's critical for us in
      the US at this point is to carry forward the debate and achieve a
      national consensus on just what we are prepared to do domestically to
      address this issue.

      At a recent press conference, Ms. Wallstr´┐Żm said she felt confident
      that there is a change in the US administration and that at some
      point she even could imagine the country signing up to Kyoto. Is this
      something that you are actually seeing in the US or is it wishful

      I would not anticipate the US ever becoming a party to the Kyoto

      Not even if the democrat candidate got elected as President this

      No. I think that if there ever was a time that the US could ratify
      the Kyoto Protocol, that time has passed. It is too late at this
      point to achieve the level of reduction that is necessary in order to
      meet the US target that was negotiated in Kyoto. Beyond those
      practical considerations, there are political considerations. At this
      stage, Kyoto has been so demonised in the US that anything bearing
      that name would probably be impossible to ratify.

      Taking it one step further, you know that Kyoto is only jsut a drop
      in the ocean. If Kyoto is not enough (as is probably the case), what
      are we supposed to do? I've seen proposals your centre has made for
      the post-Kyoto phase...

      The basic challenge we face at this point is to figure out a path
      beyond Kyoto. Figuring out a way to broaden and strengthen the
      international climate effort so that those countries that have
      ratified Kyoto can get to the next stage and so that we can engage
      the US and the major developing countries.

      I think bringing Kyoto into force is important and helpful but I
      think that, at the same time, we need to recognise Kyoto as the
      proper instrument for some parties at this stage and it would be
      necessary to reach beyond Kyoto if we are to get to the next stage.

      What does that mean: A Kyoto II? Something similar? Or a completely
      different approach?

      I don't think we know the answer to that yet. I think that the basic
      test for the next stage is to devise a strategy or a series of
      strategies to engage all the major emitting counties in a long term
      effort that thoroughly and effectively mobilises the technology and
      resources we need to steadily and substantially reduce global
      greenhouse gas emissions. I think that only through considerable
      thinking and research and dialogue will we know what those strategies
      are. It may be that the future strategy draws very heavily on the
      mechanisms in Kyoto but I think in order to bring in the US and the
      major developing countries, it will require something other than
      Kyoto as it now stands.

      Some people actually think that instead of trying to prevent climate
      change, we should think of adaptation strategies. What is your
      opinion on that?

      I think that whatever actions we undertake now on the mitigation
      side, we are bound to experience a certain level of warming and a
      certain level of impacts and for that reason, it is necessary that we
      think about adaptation as well. I think we need to proceed on both
      tracks: on adaptation and on mitigation.

      You also talk about technological solutions. In your opinion, would
      it be necessary to break the environmentalist taboo on nuclear power
      as it is one of the least GHG emitting technologies?

      There are certainly many people who would counsel that it would be
      difficult, if not impossible, to achieve substantial reductions in
      GHG emissions without greater reliance on nuclear power. Here in the
      US, I would expect us to continue to rely on nuclear power to the
      degree that we have. I don't anticipate any significant increase in
      nuclear power in the foreseeable future here in the US.

      But what about growing economies like China and India? If we want to
      take measures against climate change, we need to take those countries
      into account. Now, to develop their economies, these countries can
      either burn fossil fuels like we did or go for renewables or nuclear
      energy. What is your opinion on that?

      I think that we need to explore all the viable options. I don't think
      that we can absolutely rule out any reliance on nuclear power in the
      future but I think it should only be part of the mix. To engage
      developing countries, we will need strategies that work for them from
      a development perspective.

      We need to pursue strategies that simultaneously produce climate
      benefits and help advance the developing priorities of economic
      growth and poverty reduction. We can see in recent experiences of
      countries like China that steps that are undertaken for economic and
      development reasons - for instance improving energy efficiency - do
      in fact produce significant climate benefits.

      We need to identify all such possibilities and provide the necessary
      incentives to developing countries to pursue them.

      Do you think blockbusters such as "The Day After Tomorrow" can change
      public opinion in the US on the climate change issue?

      It certainly helped draw attention to the issue and I was very
      encouraged by the media coverage. It became an opportunity to teach
      people about the reality of global warming and the media was very
      careful to distinguish between the science-fiction of the movie and
      what we really do know. I think that it certainly helped raise
      awareness and educate the public but I don't expect that it will have
      any profound long-term effect on public attitudes.

      Will climate change be an issue of debate in the US Presidential
      election campaign?

      I don't expect that it will be a major issue. I think that climate
      change, like many other issues, will be overshadowed in the campaign
      by the continuing focus on Iraq, terrorism and the economy.



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