The 10-50 Solution: A Decade-by-Decade Approach to Climate Change
- --- Forwarded message from: fuelcell-energy@y...
The 10-50 Solution: A Decade-by-Decade Approach to Climate Change
Remarks by Eileen Claussen
President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
April 22, 2004
Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be in Minneapolis.
I know this may date me, but as I was on my way here to
the home of the old Mary Tyler Moore show, I was reminded
of an exchange between Mary and her boss, Lou Grant.
Lou Grant says, "You know, Mary, you've got spunk."
"Well, thank you, Mr. Grant," says Mary.
"And you know what?" says Lou. "I HATE spunk."
In all seriousness, I honestly believe that everyone at this
conference has spunk. And, unlike Lou Grant, I am a big fan of it.
The reason you have spunk is that you are the leaders of the
sustainability movement in America. And I am honored to be with such
a distinguished group of environmental problem-solvers to celebrate
Earth Day�or, as the Bush administration calls it, Thursday, April
On the occasion of the 34th anniversary of Earth Day, I believe it is
important to acknowledge how far we've come in that time. In 1970,
after all, we had a lot of people driving around in monster vehicles
powered by gas-guzzling V-8 engines. Today, by contrast, we have,
well, a lot of people driving around in monster vehicles powered by
gas-guzzling V-8 engines. The more things change, the more they
stay the same.
Seriously, we have made significant progress on these issues since
the 1970s�but, obviously, not nearly enough. And today we have a
We can fall over ourselves seeking short-term gains for our
businesses and society�potentially at great expense to our future.
Or, we can think ahead�there's a novel idea�and invest in strategies,
processes and ideas that will help to ensure that our businesses�and,
indeed, our life as we know it�are still around 10, 20, or 50 years
down the line.
In attending this conference, I know that all of you have made the
second choice. And I congratulate you for your commitment to
environmental problem-solving�which I hope will be the number-one
growth industry of the 21st century.
Today, I would like to talk with you about the issue of climate
change. No surprise there. And, understanding that this group is
looking at a wide range of environmental and sustainability topics, I
want to start with a brief overview of what we know about climate
change and what we are (and are not) doing in response. I will
conclude my remarks by suggesting to you a new approach for
addressing this enormous problem�an approach that couples a long-term
vision of progress with a solid understanding of the interim steps
that will help us achieve that vision.
But first a description of the problem itself. Global temperatures
increased approximately 1�F over the twentieth century, and
additional warming of 2.5� to 10� F is projected over the century to
come. What is causing this warming? The driving force, although not
the only force, is human emissions of greenhouse gases, which grew
globally by approximately 10 percent during the 1990s.
In the same vein as the standard line, "It's not just the heat, it's
the humidity," climate change is about much more than rising
temperatures. It is also about increases in sea level, changes in
precipitation, including more frequent floods and droughts, an
increase in extreme weather events, as well as other effects. As if
that's not enough, substantial increases in global mean temperature
could set off large-scale changes to the earth's systems such as a
shutdown of the Gulf Stream or a melting of the West Antarctic ice
sheet. The thresholds are uncertain and it may take centuries for
these things to happen, but it is possible that warming in the 21st
century could trigger these types of events�events that, once
started, will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
What are we doing to address this problem? At the global level, 121
countries have now ratified an agreement that would for the first
time establish binding limits on worldwide emissions of greenhouse
gases. I am talking, of course, about the Kyoto Protocol.
Over the last several years, there has been a lot of discussion of
this treaty in political circles�much of it of a harshly critical
nature�and I think it is important to remember what Kyoto is and what
it is not. Most importantly, we must remember that Kyoto was never
intended as the be-all and end-all solution to the problem of climate
change. Rather, it was intended as a first step, a way to commit the
nations of the world to real action to reduce their emissions of
greenhouse gases. Right now, Kyoto's targets take us only to 2012�
just eight years away�when, in fact, we are going to have to work at
this issue for decades to come.
The other thing to remember about Kyoto is that it is not only
Russia's fault that the treaty is right now in diplomatic limbo. As
you may know, Kyoto cannot enter into force until it is ratified by
countries responsible for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas
emissions. And, right now, Russia's signature is needed to reach the
In all the talk about whether or not Russia will ratify and all the
outrage that will surely surface should they decide not to, it is
useful to remember that, among other big emitters, the United States
and Australia have already opted out. So there is plenty of blame
to go around.
Even though it remains in limbo, and even though it may never enter
into force as it currently stands, the Kyoto Protocol was and remains
an historic achievement�as well as a powerful instrument for bringing
the countries of the world together around a common understanding of
the problem and of our shared role in addressing it. It is because
of Kyoto, after all, that we are finally seeing some nations get
serious about reducing their emissions. The European Union, for
example, has adopted a carbon dioxide emission trading program. And
Prime Minister Tony Blair has committed Great Britain to a 60-percent
cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050--the first instance of a
world leader taking a long-term view on how to address this problem.
So that's the global story. Here in the United States, we have a
different story. At the federal level, we have seen no real action
on this issue from either the Bush or the Clinton administrations
(although Congress did engage in a serious debate about the climate
issue last year). At the same time, state governments and large
corporations in this country are, in many instances, taking it upon
themselves to shape solutions.
Let's start in Washington. A lot has been made of the Bush
administration's ill-mannered rejection of the Kyoto Protocol way
back in 2001. But the rejection itself wasn't really all that
shocking. This was a new administration with its own ideas about how
to tackle the problems of the world. Rather, what was truly shocking
was that the White House offered nothing in the way of an alternative
global solution�and, equally important, no real plan for reducing the
United States' contribution to the problem.
Indeed, the White House and its congressional allies were none too
friendly toward a plan put forward last year by Senators John McCain
and Joe Lieberman that would for the first time establish modest but
binding targets for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. However,
despite the opposition of the Bush administration and congressional
leaders, the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act attracted a
very respectable 43 votes in the Senate, showing strong and growing
bipartisan support for mandatory action against climate change in the
United States. (A companion measure was introduced in the House of
Representatives just last month.)
Still, for real action on this issue in the United States, we need to
look to the state capitals and corporate boardrooms.
First the states. In 2002, the Pew Center released a report entitled
Greenhouse and Statehouse: The Evolving State Government Role in
Climate Change. In it, we surveyed state activity on this topic and
found that a variety of measures that have proven controversial at
the federal level--such as renewable portfolio standards, emission
targets, and mandatory reporting of emissions--have indeed been
implemented at the state level, often with little dissent.
The state initiatives are an important development not only because
they can help pave the way for federal action but also because of the
simple fact that U.S. states are large emitters of greenhouse gases.
Texas, for example, emits more greenhouse gases than France, the
United Kingdom, or Canada. Ohio's emissions exceed those of Turkey
and Taiwan, and emissions in Illinois exceed those from The
Netherlands. Clearly, if we are intent on scrutinizing�and,
hopefully, celebrating�what is happening in these and other nations
to address the problem of climate change, we also must take account
of the actions of individual U.S. states with comparable levels of
The Pew Center's report makes clear that states across America have
initiated programs that are achieving real reductions in their
� For example, 13 states, including Texas, now require utilities to
generate a specified share of their power from renewable sources.
� Two states, Wisconsin and New Jersey, have created mandatory
reporting programs for large emitters of greenhouse gases.
� Massachusetts has established a multi-pollutant cap that requires
six older power plants to reduce their CO2 emissions.
� And, in California, state lawmakers have gone beyond target-setting
and reporting and are working to establish direct controls on carbon
emissions from cars and SUVs.
What's more, we now are seeing groups of states begin to discuss
climate solutions on a regional basis. Thus you have the agreement
among New York and nine other mid-Atlantic and northeastern states to
discuss a regional "cap-and-trade" initiative aimed at reducing
carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. And, last September, the
governors of three Pacific states�California, Oregon, and Washington�
announced that they will be working together to develop policies to
reduce emissions from all sources.
The second place in America, in addition to the state capitals, where
real action is happening on the climate issue is in corporate
boardrooms. At the Pew Center, we work with a group of leading
companies that are committed to economically viable climate
solutions. The 38 members of our Business Environmental Leadership
Council together employ nearly 2.5 million people and have combined
revenues of $855 billion. And here's just a sampling of some of the
things they are doing to reduce their emissions:
� Alcoa, for example, is developing a new technology for smelting
aluminum that, if successful, will allow the company to reduce its
greenhouse gas emissions to half their 1990 levels over the next nine
� United Technologies, or UTC, has reduced overall greenhouse gas
emissions by 15 percent since 1997. In addition, the company has
exceeded its goal of reducing energy consumption as a percentage of
sales by 25 percent from 1997 levels.
� And, of course, I want to mention DuPont, which made a voluntary
pledge to reduce its global emissions of greenhouse gases by 65
percent by the year 2010. In 2002, DuPont announced that it had
achieved this target eight years ahead of schedule.
� Another company that has met its target ahead of schedule is BP,
which in 2002 announced that it had reduced its global greenhouse
emissions by 9 million metric tons in just four years.
All of these are important developments, and they show how increasing
numbers of leading companies see a clear business interest both in
reducing their emissions and in helping to shape a climate-friendly
But the truth of the matter is that these companies are basically
freelancing�as are the states that I have mentioned. In the absence
of a broader national strategy to address this problem, corporate
executives and state officials are taking it upon themselves to act.
We should all applaud that and encourage them to do even more.
However, the global nature of the climate issue demands much broader
action and a much broader strategy to bring about revolutionary
change in the way we power our economy.
Consider this: in order to stabilize the global climate, global
emissions must eventually fall to well below their 1990 levels.
Depending upon whom you talk to, the figure ranges from 50 to 95
percent! And this would have to be achieved by the end of the
century. And as I mentioned earlier, the UK already has a plan in
place to reduce its emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels by
2050. Where is the U.S.? As of 2000, we were 13.6 percent above
1990 levels, and we have no plan to reduce our emissions at all.
Clearly, individual states and a handful of companies cannot do this
So how do we move forward? How do we create the impetus for broad,
across-the-board reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases? At the
Pew Center, we recently developed something we are calling the "10-50
Solution." And, in case you were wondering, it is not a miracle
household cleaner. Rather, it is a new way of thinking about the
problem of climate change�and how to solve it.
By 10-50, we mean that we should be thinking ahead about where we
want to be on this issue in 50 years (that's the "50" part), and then
identify the policies and strategies we can start pursuing in the
next ten years and the decades to come so we can achieve our long-
range goal. (That's the "10" part.). In this, I am reminded of
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's advice that, "As for the future, your task
is not to foresee, but to enable it."
Here is what we know. First, we know that we need a low-carbon
economy by mid-century. Second, we know that it will take a new
industrial revolution to get there, and that low-carbon energy
technologies will play a critical role in that revolution. And,
third, we know that all signs indicate that we cannot and will not
achieve a low-carbon economy if we continue on a "business-as-usual"
I am not here to say exactly what the alternative, low-carbon path
will look like or exactly where it will take us. No one can say
that. Rather, I want to point out some of the issues or guidelines
we need to be thinking about as we begin to chart that path and get
I believe we need to be thinking about four major issues as we map
our path to a low-carbon future. The first of these is technology
development�in other words, how to spark an energy technology
The 1990s saw the peak of an unprecedented technology boom in
computer, information, and telecommunication technologies. But we
did not see this unprecedented technological change spread into the
energy sector. Despite more than a few optimistic predictions to the
contrary, the energy sector continues on a conventional-technology
trajectory � without many signs of substantial change.
One reason for this is that there are fundamental market and policy
forces that keep an energy technology revolution from happening.
Developing the technology to replace the existing and entrenched
energy system will require massive investment. But businesses
continue to receive mixed signals from policy-makers about whether or
not we are serious about getting on with the challenge. So there is
not sufficient incentive to place big bets on the development and
diffusion of low-carbon energy technologies.
What's more, the federal government spends even less than the private
sector on energy-related RD&D, which is particularly disappointing
when you consider the importance of energy to our economy and our
national security�not to mention the implications of our energy use
for the environment. While there is some support for some
breakthrough technology, most of the investment remains attached to
carbon-intensive energy technologies.
The second issue we need to be thinking about as we look ahead to a
low-carbon future has to do with what happens after we develop the
technologies we need. In other words, how do we ensure that new,
climate-friendly technologies can enter the marketplace and compete?
Many people who concede that government has a role in fostering
energy R&D simply stop there. Once the technology is developed, they
say, consumers will simply go out and buy it. In fact, experience
tells us differently.
The fact that R&D alone will not get technologies into the market
became clear to us through some of our work over the last few years.
This past year, we finished a report that looked at historical U.S.
technology and innovation policies to see what lessons could be
learned for addressing climate change. One of the key insights from
this report is that past government policies that go beyond R&D -- to
promote downstream adoption of technologies and learning by doing --
have greatly influenced technological change. This was true in the
past, and is likely to be true in the future. The bottom line is
that we must have specific policies both to push and to pull these
technologies into the market.
You'll notice that I said these technologies, which brings me to the
third issue we need to pay attention to: There is no technological
silver bullet solution to climate change.
This problem is just too big for any single solution. At a workshop
we sponsored with the National Commission on Energy Policy last month
on the 10-50 solution, we convened a group of experts and business
leaders to look specifically at five technologies that are sure to
play a prominent role in reducing the carbon intensity of our
economy. These are: energy efficiency technologies; hydrogen; carbon
sequestration/coal gasification; advanced nuclear technologies; and
renewables. These five technologies are obviously very important,
but I want to be clear today, as I was during our March workshop,
that any future portfolio of low-carbon fuels and energy technologies
will surely be broader than them. For example, important fuels and
groups of technologies�from coalbed methane to biofuels, ocean wave
power, geothermal energy, nanotechnology, and biotechnology�may all
have important roles to play in a future low-carbon energy mix.
So we have all of these technologies, and the fact remains that not
one of them is likely to be deployed in the marketplace on the scale
and in the time frame needed to address climate change without an
explicit and unprecedented set of policies from government. Our
shared challenge will be to develop policies that are broad enough
and neutral enough to provide incentives for a high level of
innovation across the relevant energy, materials, and information
technology industries. At the same time, we need these policies to
be targeted and specific enough to give promising technologies a
start down the road toward significant deployment--and to do so
without dampening the competitive ingenuity that is a driver of the
most innovative economy in the world: ours.
This brings me to the fourth and final issue we need to be thinking
about as we try to respond in a decisive and effective way to the
challenge of climate change. Just as there is no technology silver
bullet, there is no policy silver bullet for transitioning to a low-
carbon future. According to some people, all we need is a strong
technology R&D policy; in other words, forget about adopting a
mitigation policy. Still others say a mitigation policy is all we
need � and that even a small price signal will do the trick now and
At the Pew Center, we think we need both a strong R&D and a strong
mitigation policy, as well as some policies that we may not even know
The Pew Center has always been a strong advocate of an economy-wide
cap-and-trade policy�in other words, a policy that sets targets for
greenhouse gas emissions and allows companies the flexibility to
trade emission credits in order to achieve their targets. We still
believe that a cap-and-trade system is an essential step in the "10-
But we also believe that cap-and-trade by itself will not bring about
the technological revolution that is necessary. An aggressive RD&D
program, government standards and codes, public infrastructure
investments, public/private partnerships and government procurement
all probably have some role to play. What we need to do is refine
what this portfolio of options should look like, and what the timing
of each of the components should be.
So those are the four things we need to be thinking about: how to
develop climate-friendly technologies; how to market them; how to
ensure that we are looking broadly at the many technologies that can
help while paying close attention to the most promising technologies;
and how to arrive at a broad set of policies that will put this
country on a track to real reductions in emissions.
In closing, let me say that it is clear from all of the work that the
Pew Center is doing on this issue that we need vision. We need
spunk. We need people like those of you at this conference to help
us move the discussion of climate change away from the divisive
debate over environmental vs. economic tradeoffs. Instead, we need
to focus on the concrete steps we can take�both in this decade and in
the decades to come�to get a handle on this enormous problem. Each
of us has a role we can play:
� If you are a manufacturer, do you have a goal and a plan for
reducing your emissions and energy use and, ultimately, adopting low-
carbon sources of energy?
� If you are a real estate developer or architect, what are you doing
to develop the prototype homes and office buildings of 2015 or 2025�
structures that achieve new levels of energy efficiency and embrace
� If you are an engineer, to what extent are you engineering new
processes and products that will deliver significant energy savings
in the decades to come? Are you engineering the systems that will
help us deliver on the promise of new low-carbon energy technologies?
� And, last but not least, if you are a government official, what
policies can you put forward that will help your community or your
state couple a long-term vision with short-term action to address
And don't let me forget one other important category of people:
citizens. In this year of presidential and congressional elections,
as well as elections at the state and local levels, all of us, as
citizens, need to be engaged on this issue.
Recent history shows us that our government, whether it is in
Democratic or Republican hands, has a very hard time dealing with the
issue of climate change in an effective way. There are a lot of
interests lined up on the side of doing nothing. But the number of
people at this conference, and all the great work that you are doing
to solve environmental problems, suggests to me that our side can be
just as strong�and stronger.
Thank you very much.
The best thing to hit the Internet in years - Juno SpeedBand!
Surf the Web up to FIVE TIMES FASTER!
Only $14.95/ month - visit www.juno.com to sign up today!
- My comments follow, on the "Remarks" by Eileen Claussen, President, Pew
Center on Global Climate Change, EnvironDesign8 Conference, April 22,
2004 in Minneapolis.
I was disappointed in the absence of discussion on the urgency to begin
CONSERVATION of fuel NOW. People need to be encouraged to make choices
now to start reducing fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions NOW.
Decisions to cut travel (business and personal vacations) should be made
NOW. Government travel should be cut NOW.
Decision on where people choose to live are being made now. Choices on
where to live should be made NOW with an understanding about fuel
emissions adding to rapid global warming, pollution and health effects,
and sharp increases in prices due to limited fuel availability in the
Government agencies are being irresponsible in NOT informing the public
NOW on the severe damages from the excessive use of fuel, and on the
declining global fuel supplies.
Government agencies are being irresponsible in NOT alerting the public
NOW to make preparations for heat-humidity episodes (like Europe -
August, 2003 or worse) that may include energy blackouts and no air
conditioning during peak heat-humidity period.
The complete remarks by Eileen Claussen were posted earlier today on
fuelcell-energy, and forwarded to ClimateArchive.
THE WORLD IS IN CRISIS DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING!
The best thing to hit the Internet in years - Juno SpeedBand!
Surf the Web up to FIVE TIMES FASTER!
Only $14.95/ month - visit www.juno.com to sign up today!