Fw: [fuelcell-energy] The Years After Tomorrow
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From: "janson2997" <janson1997@...>
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 2004 05:25:11 -0000
Subject: [fuelcell-energy] The Years After Tomorrow
July 5, 2004
The Years After Tomorrow
By STUART E. EIZENSTAT and DAVID B. SANDALOW
ASHINGTON � President Vladimir Putin's recent announcement that
Russia will move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol received little
attention, but may signal that the agreement will finally become
That would be welcome, not because Kyoto is a perfect agreement, but
because, even with its imperfections, the protocol has several
elements that will contribute to a sensible long-term solution to
global warming. Foremost among these is Kyoto's recognition that
emissions trading � an American invention now embraced by Europe �
can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at low cost.
Still, the six and a half years that have passed since the Kyoto
Protocol remind us that we have more to do. Progress in the
international climate negotiations has been painfully slow.
Waiting to address global warming would be a reckless gamble. If
present trends continue, greenhouse gas concentrations � during the
lifetimes of children born today � will reach levels higher than in
the last 50 million years. The Kyoto Protocol, alone, is not the
answer. Its limits � requiring industrialized countries to cut
greenhouse gas emissions roughly 5 percent from 1990 levels � will
apply to less than half of the world's global emissions, because the
United States is not participating and major developing countries are
not covered. And these limits expire in 2012.
In the next few years it is essential that we shape a new strategy,
one that should be based on, or informed by, the lessons we have
learned so far about the difficulty of putting a climate change
agreement in place.
One lesson is that finding a consensus among 180 nations is asking
too much. The obvious fact that we all share one atmosphere led
nations to try a single global accord, but the differences between
nations are vast and their leadership shifts over time.
A second lesson is that, in the United States, domestic consensus
comes first. International agreements require broad political
support, which Kyoto has never had. The Bush administration has
opposed ratification of the treaty, saying that it could hurt the
nation's economy and noting that countries like China are not covered
by it. Treaties rarely produce consensus on controversial topics.
And in the absence of federal limits on emissions, a third lesson has
surfaced: nature abhors a vacuum, even in the regulatory arena.
Dozens of states and localities have filled the void, starting their
own programs to fight global warming, like the regional compact under
development in the Northeast. In addition, the Republican governors
of two of the nation's largest states � New York and California �
support tough measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The corporate sector is increasingly stepping forward as well. Under
the Chicago Climate Exchange, for example, major companies are
building a market for trading emissions allowances.
So what next for global warming policy in the United States without
Federal legislation must be enacted to require mandatory limits on
heat-trapping gases, to ensure that businesses combat global warming
in their capital investments and research spending.
Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman have sponsored an important
bill on this issue. If history is a guide, many businesses may come
to prefer uniform federal legislation of this type to an uneasy
patchwork of state regulatory regimes.
The United States should also negotiate a trans-Atlantic climate
trade agreement under which it and the European Union would accept
binding limits on heat-trapping gases and establish an emissions
trading program between the two continents. Other countries could
then opt in to the agreement.
As part of the accord, the United States and the European Union could
agree to redirect agricultural subsidies likely to be reduced in
World Trade Organization negotiations toward environmentally friendly
The United States should also seek opportunities for bilateral
climate change agreements with major developing countries, including
China, India and South Africa, to promote clean energy exports and
transfer of environmentally friendly technologies. The agreements
could provide a framework for these countries to participate in
emissions trading, even at the local level.
None of these bilateral or regional agreements would replace the
Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by the first President
Bush and ratified unanimously by the Senate in 1992, which provides
an important forum for work on global warming. Instead, these
agreements would supplement the pact, much as bilateral and regional
trade agreements supplement the World Trade Organization today.
Churchill is widely credited with writing: "However beautiful the
strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." There will be
many opportunities to evaluate and adjust course in the fight against
global warming during the decades ahead. Our success will depend on
Stuart E. Eizenstat was the chief American negotiator for the Clinton
administration at the Kyoto conference. David B. Sandalow is an
environment scholar at the Brookings Institution.
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