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Chapter 2

Climate Change


“Advise the President on domestic implementation of policy options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Council should not debate the science of global warming, but should instead focus on the implementation of national and local greenhouse gas reduction policies and activities, and adaptations in the U.S. economy and society that maximize societal benefits, minimize economic impacts, and are consistent with U.S. international agreements.” -- PCSD Charter, April 1997

The risk of accelerated climate change in the next century cannot be ignored as the United States seeks to achieve its aspirations for economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice. Although the challenges of taking action are not inconsequential, failure to respond could mean that we miss opportunities to improve our quality of life. We can reap the benefits of acting to protect the climate as we strive to achieve economic, environmental, and social improvement for ourselves without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In the course of its work on climate change, the Council benefitted from the wealth of scientific research, technical and economic studies, and policy analysis that is available on the subject. Rather than focus on the entire range of issues that emerge when considering climate change, the PCSD members, including leaders from businesses, environmental and civic organizations, and local and federal government reached agreement on a set of principles for climate policy and focused on developing consensus climate policy recommendations in three key areas:

  • principles for an incentive-based program to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • policies to spur the rapid development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies in the next 10-15 years;
  • stimulating opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities of climate change mitigation strategies.

Key Findings

  • Climate protection policy is fundamentally linked to any national agenda for economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice. If we are to achieve all of these goals together, climate change must be drawn onto the roadmap for the achievement of our other national aspirations.

  • We urge timely action to reduce the risks of climate change. Incentives for early action, international agreements, accountability, flexibility, broad-based measures to encourage technology, and fairness are essential in any climate mitigation strategy.

  • Many actions that protect the climate have multiple benefits. Action to protect the climate can help solve other social, economic, and environmental problems, benefit society, create global opportunities, and meet the needs of current and future generations.

  • An incentive-based program is essential to catalyze voluntary early action to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. The program should include broadly-based participation; encourage learning, innovation, flexibility, and experimentation; grant formal credit for legitimate and verifiable measures to protect the climate; ensure accountability; be compatible with other climate protection strategies and environmental goals; and be inspired by government leadership.

  • Climate-friendly technology will play a critical role as we strive to achieve reduced greenhouse gas emissions as well as our other sustainable development goals. Rapid deployment of existing technologies and continued investment in research and development are essential elements of any strategy that aims to help the United States and the rest of the world secure a future of reduced greenhouse gas emissions to protect the climate. Because greenhouse gases are released from small, large, stationary, and mobile sources throughout our economy, a broad and diverse policy portfolio to rapidly develop and disseminate climate-friendly technologies is essential. The Council reached agreement on a solid course of action that could accelerate the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology in the agriculture, buildings, electric power, industry, and transportation sectors and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10-15 years.

  • Consensus building, outreach, and inclusive approaches are essential components of sustainable climate action.

Principles for Climate Protection Strategies

The risk of accelerated climate change in the next century has emerged as one of the most important issues we will face as we seek to achieve our sustainable development goals

In seeking to understand how climate change might affect us in the next century, the PCSD started with an examination of what is known and what is still uncertain about the nature and consequences of change in the global climate. The Council also sought to understand the economics of the climate issue, the technological challenges and opportunities, and the links between the global, national, and local actions needed to begin to address the problem.

The Council integrated these lessons into a set of Climate Principles that served as the basis for its deliberations on an incentive-based program to stimulate early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, policies to spur the rapid development and deployment of climate-friendly technologies in the next 10-15 years, and policies to stimulate opportunities to realize the broader benefits and global opportunities of climate change mitigation strategies. In this effort, the PCSD did not weigh the merits of individual scientific studies about the climate or estimate the overall costs and benefits of climate protection policies. Rather, the Council acknowledged the risks of climate change and focused on developing recommendations that, if properly implemented, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that are consistent with national aspirations for economic growth, social justice, and environmental protection.

Growing Concerns that Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Impede Progress Towards a Sustainable Future

Climate includes averages and extremes of rainfall, snowfall, temperature, winds and storms, and ocean currents. Climate is not just the magnitude or number of events we experience, but when they happen, as well. The productivity of farms, fisheries, and forests; the livability of our cities in summer and winter; the distributions and abundance of species; and the geography of disease all depend on climate.

The possibility of change in the climate system is a concern because many aspects of human society rely on a stable climate. Most human infrastructure and institutions -- where to build, where to live, what to leave untouched -- assume that past patterns of temperature, precipitation, storm frequency and severity, and sea level are a reasonable surrogate for the future. After decades of research, an increasing amount of evidence suggests that human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases -- water vapor and other trace gases in the


atmosphere including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide -- may be altering the natural rhythm of climate change1 . Atmospheric concentrations of these gases have increased over the last century in near lock-step with industrialization and rapid population growth (Figure 1). Every year, more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels, land-use changes, deforestation, and other activities than can be absorbed or destroyed by natural processes.

Computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict an average global warming of 1 degree C to 3.5 degrees C (1.8° - 6.5° F) by the year 2100 if emissions of greenhouse gases go unabated2 . The IPCC predicts that higher average temperatures, coupled with changes in precipitation patterns that result directly from this warming, may have significant consequences. Because of limitations in the models, the local effects of this global phenomenon remain uncertain. Based on the body of emerging science on regional impacts of climate change, it is possible that both good and bad changes could occur, and that there will be regional winners and losers3 . In addition, the possibility of “surprises” -- unanticipated and non-linear changes in the climate system that could have significant impacts -- cannot be ruled out given our current scientific understanding4 .

The potential for rapid changes in climate in the next century as a result of human activity poses particular challenges to our ability to achieve sustainable development. To address growing concerns about climate change, nations of the world have set in motion ambitious plans to protect the climate. Led by President George Bush, the United States joined over 160 other countries in signing the Framework Convention on Climate Change at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The objective of the Convention is:

“...achieve ... stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner5 .”

As a first step towards the ultimate objective of the Convention, all nations pledged to take steps to protect the climate. Industrialized nations voluntarily aimed to return their level of greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2000 to the level released in 19906 . The United States was one of the first nations to ratify the Convention.

Recent international agreements seek to build on existing commitments to achieve the objective of the Convention. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol commits all nations to continue efforts to protect the climate. Developing countries do not have a legally binding obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Protocol. Industrialized nations would take on a legally binding requirement to reduce overall aggregate emissions of six greenhouse gases7 by at least five percent below 1990 levels in the 2008 - 2012 time period; the U.S. obligation would be to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by seven percent8 . Programs such as emissions trading, joint implementation, and the Clean Development Mechanism9 are intended to provide flexibility to make these reductions both at home and abroad. The U.S. has signed, but has not ratified the Protocol.

Leadership By Industrialized Nations is Necessary

The United States contributes about 25% of the global annual greenhouse gas emissions; the per capita emissions rate is higher than that of any other major industrialized country10 . In the future, emissions from the developing world will increase rapidly as their economies grow, and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will rise as a result. Without change, emissions from developing nations will surpass those from industrial nations (Figure 2)11 .


Although the U.S. is currently the world's largest emitter, the U.S. cannot solve the potential problems associated with climate change alone. Even if all industrialized nations took steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, atmospheric concentrations of these gases would continue to rise as a result of increasing emissions from the developing world. But it is also clear that leadership from industrialized nations is necessary to demonstrate the benefits of a different development path.

The importance of leadership by industrialized nations is underscored by the fact that once emitted, many greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for decades to centuries12 . Because of the long atmospheric life time of these gases, both their concentration and the rate at which their concentrations increase are important factors in determining the risk of climate change: the effects of today's emissions on climate literally could be felt for generations to come.

A Constructive Framework for Climate Policy

While the impacts of climate change predicted by some scientists might not appear for decades, reducing greenhouse gas emissions means we would have to change many of the ways we produce electricity, get to work, build our homes, and manufacture products. This change poses challenges and opportunities. Some argue that we should wait for more scientific certainty before acting because the costs of retooling the world economy are significant. Others argue we may already have waited too long to avoid some costly impacts of a warming world.

Sustainable development provides a constructive framework for considering climate change. Both the potential impacts of a changing climate and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will unfold over many decades. Consequently, policy choices made over the next 10-15 years will have a lasting impact on future generations. In addition, the amount of energy used to create a good or provide a service, and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result are fundamental measures of our progress towards sustainable development. Cost-effective approaches that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions could help reduce energy costs to consumers, could result in fewer environmental impacts from pollution and waste, and could increase international competitiveness and create new economic opportunities in many industrial sectors.

To guide its deliberations on climate policy, the Council developed a set of Climate Principles that recognize that policies to protect the climate could contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals. These Principles served as a framework for the Council's policy recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that are consistent with national aspirations for economic growth, social justice, and environmental protection.

Principles for Climate Policy

    1. The Need for Action
    The risk of climate change caused by human actions and the potential for serious impacts to nature and human well-being is of sufficient concern that timely and effective actions should be taken to reduce those risks.

    2. Incentives for Early Action
    Greenhouse gases have atmospheric lifetimes ranging from decades to over a century, and both the concentration and the rate of increase of these gases in the atmosphere are important factors in determining the risk of climate change. Therefore, policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other measures to protect the climate should include incentives for early action.

    3. Clear Commitments, Predictable Results & Flexible Implementation Global climate change policies should be based on national commitments and accountability to produce predictable results and should allow emissions sources to select their own strategies. United States policies to address climate change should be based on the integration of environmental, economic and social goals.

    4. Development and Dissemination of Improved Technologies
    To protect the climate cost-effectively, technology breakthroughs, technology incentives, and the elimination of barriers for the deployment of existing technologies are needed. Broad-based cooperative programs to stimulate markets and develop and disseminate new and existing technology to industrialized and developing countries must be a high priority.

    5. Fairness
    Climate change is a global issue and requires a global response. The United States response should include policies that maintain and foster the competitiveness of U.S. business, stimulate opportunities for all, and avoid approaches that place an unreasonable burden on lower-income individuals, particular sectors, or future generations.

Sooner is Better: Incentives for Early Action

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased rapidly over the last century because human emissions of these gases overwhelmed the ability of natural systems to absorb or destroy them. In 1993, the U.S. pledged to return its level of greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2000 to the level released in 199013 . Despite an ambitious program of voluntary action,14 the U.S. will not meet this goal. If patterns of energy consumption are not changed, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions could be more than 30 percent above 1990 levels by 2010, and more than 45 percent above the benchmark by 2020 (Figure 3).15 Without additional action, the nation might have to make abrupt changes in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sometime in the future. Opportunities to save money, create jobs, and improve our quality of life could be missed by failing to act early.


Benefits of Early Action

The greater the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the faster the rate of climate change, the less time ecological and socio-economic systems will have to adapt. Early action could help avoid some of these problems by slowing the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a result of reducing these emissions, early action could provide opportunities to improve homes, businesses, government activities, and communities.

Leveraging existing networks and partnerships at the community level could encourage everyone to learn about and participate in innovative and flexible ways to protect the climate. For example, expanded home weatherization and energy-efficiency programs could help people use less energy to light, heat, and cool their homes. In some cases, upgrading the lighting in residential buildings can reduce energy consumption by 53 percent compared to older illumination systems.16 Not only would residents of energy-efficient homes save money on their energy bills and reduce air pollution that affects their communities, but they would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Increased demand for climate-friendly technologies would boost job creation and help the United States as the global leader in environmental technology. But transforming ideas and plans into reality does take time. For example, lead times are quickly evaporating if renewable energy systems are to be deployed on a large scale in the next 10 - 15 years. By getting started now, businesses can begin to integrate climate concerns into their long-term business plans, and may gain competitive advantage.

Incentives Can Catalyze Early Action

Without incentives, some businesses and communities are concerned that if they take voluntary steps to protect the climate today, they could be penalized by having to achieve the same level of emissions reductions in the future as those that did not act. As a result, opportunities to make cost-effective emissions reductions may be passed up, and meeting any emissions reductions goal could become an even greater challenge.

Some businesses and communities are concerned that if they take voluntary steps to protect the climate today, they could be penalized by having to achieve the same level of emissions reductions in the future as those that did not act. As a result of this uncertainty, opportunities to make cost-effective emissions reductions may be passed up, and meeting any emissions reductions goal could become an even greater challenge.

Incentives to reduce emissions could help resolve this concern. One option would be to award credits to those that produce legitimate and verifiable emissions reductions below a certain level. Credits for early action would be allocated from any future limit on U.S. emissions, so that the United States would never exceed what it would be allowed to emit.

Other incentives could spur early action more broadly. These incentives could include policies such as tax credits for technology research, development, and deployment; matching grants for technology RD&D; tax deferral or deductions for early action initiatives; changes in government funding, procurement policies, and regulations; and public recognition of those that undertake early action.

Slowing the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is an essential first step in restraining some of the potential impacts of rapid climate change. Starting on that path now can help the U.S. meet any future limit on greenhouse emissions cost-effectively. Incentives for early action could encourage the development of new and innovative ways to reduce emissions at the same time the benefits of using energy in smarter ways are realized.

Principles for Early Action

Greenhouse gases have atmospheric lifetimes ranging from decades to over a century, and both the concentration and the rate of increase of these gases in the atmosphere are important factors in determining the risk of climate change. Therefore, policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other measures to protect the climate should include incentives for early action.

The Council recommends an incentive-based early action program that includes broad participation; encourages learning, innovation, flexibility, and experimentation; grants formal credit for legitimate and verifiable measures to protect the climate; ensures accountability; is compatible with other climate protection strategies and environmental goals; and is inspired by government leadership. Voluntary efforts by businesses, governments, and consumers to protect the climate that are taken before any domestic or international binding requirements are in place could be facilitated by a systematic approach to broadly stimulate early action. Although the award of formal credit has taken center stage in recent policy discussions,17 the Council acknowledges that other incentives can also help catalyze broad participation.

An early action strategy must evolve over time in response to advances in scientific knowledge and technology. Improved understanding of the climate system and the sources and sinks of the various greenhouse gases can help inform how to target appropriate incentives to protect the climate. As existing technologies are deployed more rapidly and new technologies are developed, new cost-effective early action strategies may emerge.

The benefits of early action justify the program on its own merits because it will improve economic performance and will reduce local environmental pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Council recognizes that discussion of the value of an early action program has also become tied to the debate over the Kyoto Protocol. These principles do not presume a decision as to whether the United States should become a party to the Protocol. But they do allow for the possibility that the United States could agree to limit its greenhouse gas emissions in the future. An early action program that grants credits against potential future obligations would facilitate achievement of any binding agreement because it would create a powerful incentive for many emitters to get on a gradual “glide path” for emissions reductions.

An Incentive-Based Early Action Program

    1. Appropriate incentives for early action to protect the climate
    An early action strategy should aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Any program should ensure that those that take or have taken voluntary steps to protect the climate are rewarded and not inadvertently penalized for their efforts. Market-based incentives, fiscal policies, federal funding, procurement policies, regulations, and public recognition should be combined into a coherent effort that effectively stimulates early action.

    2. Broadly-based participation
    Incentives for early action should encourage activities that protect the climate with the broadest possible level of participation by business, communities, government agencies, academia, non-governmental organizations, and individuals. These incentives should facilitate the formation of partnerships and the leveraging of resources among participants.

    3. Learning, innovation, flexibility, and experimentation
    The program should accommodate economic growth while contributing to the achievement of significant emissions reductions by encouraging flexibility, innovation, and experimentation to facilitate learning about cost-effective ways to protect the climate. Policy should allow a broad menu of options that can also result in environmental and societal benefits for all segments of the population.

    4. Formal credit for greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts
    As part of the overall early action strategy, formal credit should be granted to early actors for legitimate and verifiable measures that reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions relative to defined benchmarks. Those undertaking these efforts should receive assurances that earned credits can be applied towards future reduction obligations. The program ultimately needs to be codified to provide certainty to these actors. Formal credit for domestic actions should be issued with the understanding that these credits are allocated from any future limit on U.S. emissions.

    5. Accountability for emissions
    Dependable measurement techniques and credible reporting methods should be used to account for claimed emissions reductions. Policies to grant formal credit should aim to keep transaction costs and risks low while ensuring the integrity of awarded credits.

    6. Compatibility with other climate protection strategies and environmental goals
    The design of an early action program should be compatible with other domestic or international strategies to protect the climate and with other environmental goals.

    7. Government leadership
    Governments should demonstrate leadership in an early action program by achieving significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions from their activities, relative to their defined benchmarks.

Technology Matters

Climate-friendly technologies -- those technologies that reduce, avoid, or sequester emissions of greenhouse gases -- will play a critical role as we strive to protect the climate while the United States economy and the global marketplace grow. Rapid deployment of existing technologies and continued investment in research, development, and commercialization of new climate-friendly technologies are essential if the United States and the rest of the world are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Challenges Must be Overcome for Rapid Deployment of Technology

The extent to which greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by climate-friendly technologies will depend on how quickly and thoroughly they penetrate the economy. By overcoming legal, fiscal, and policy barriers and impediments,the use of cost-effective technical advances can be accelerated. The Council believes the most significant impediments include:18

1. High up-front cost of new technologies compared to the low cost of fossil energy.
2. Lack of awareness of the availability of climate-friendly technologies and their value for solving other quality-of-life concerns.
3. Long time frame for natural turnover of capital stock.
4. Fiscal or regulatory policy disincentives that impede early retirement of carbon-intensive technologies or fail to encourage continuous improvement in technology and environmental performance.
5. Political uncertainty about future carbon control policy.

Flexible and performance-based approaches can help remove these roadblocks and allow the rapid deployment of technologies that are now available into the marketplace. However, realigning the regulatory structure, market forces, and fiscal policies to overcome the impediments has been a difficult task. Since few obvious or easily implementable solutions have been proposed to fix the multiple impediments, approaches remain piecemeal, and the clearly identified problems remain. Unless existing impediments to technological innovation are overcome, significant differences will persist between the amount of emissions reductions that can be achieved cost effectively and actual performance.

A Broad and Diverse Policy Portfolio to Realize the Multiple Benefits of Climate-Friendly Technologies

In addition to the benefit of greenhouse gas reduction, adoption and development of energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy sources, low-carbon technologies, and other technological advances can stimulate economic growth, reduce environmental pollution, and improve U.S. energy security. Reduced reliance on fossil fuels can improve the U.S. balance of trade and make the nation less vulnerable to political instability in major oil-producing regions such as the Middle East. By using energy more efficiently, businesses and consumers can save money on energy costs and use those savings for other purposes. Technologies that emit less air pollution as well as fewer greenhouse gases can help achieve air-quality goals as well as reduce the risk of climate change. Just as the effort to put a man on the Moon made America a leader in space, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as the economy grows could make the U.S. the world leader in environmental and energy technologies.

Even if their primary purpose is not to influence patterns of energy use, many policies may coincidentally have the effect of raising or lowering net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by advancing or hindering the development and deployment of new technologies. Systematic approaches to leverage the use of climate-friendly technologies can encourage greenhouse gas emissions reduction as a “co-benefit” of other environmental, economic, and energy policy goals. Because greenhouse gases are released from a myriad of sources -- small, large, stationary, and mobile -- that are dispersed throughout the economy, a broad and diverse policy portfolio that addresses the human activities that emit or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere must be used to encourage the adoption of these technologies. The Council recommends a systematic approach that uses a variety of policy levers to spur the rapid diffusion of climate-friendly technology throughout the economy.

A Systematic Approach to Accelerate Development and Deployment of Technology

    1. Fiscal Policy should encourage the replacement of greenhouse gas-intensive technologies with those that are climate-friendly, and increase investment in innovation through performance-based incentives and other mechanisms.

    2. Statutory and Regulatory authority should facilitate flexible and performance-based approaches that make it easier to install and employ climate-friendly technologies.

    3. Voluntary Commitments should be used to learn how to reduce emissions, and put these lessons into practice.

    4. Information dissemination should be accelerated to inform everyone about the availability and benefits of climate-friendly technologies.

    5. RD&D efforts should help ensure that future emissions reductions can be met at low cost and in ways that contribute to sustainable development.

Technology is Critical for Reducing the Risks of Climate Change
The impacts of human activity on the environment, including the climate, can be described as the combined influence of population, affluence, and technology.19 Technologies that allow the production of goods and services using fewer natural resources, less toxic materials, and less energy can help mitigate some of the environmental impacts -- including greenhouse gas emissions -- of a global population that grows in numbers and consumes more goods and services per capita each year. From the perspective of sustainable development, technologies that help restore the environment while accommodating economic growth and improving our quality of life epitomize the goal for technological innovation.

Technology clearly will play an important role in reducing the risks of climate change. However, our past success in developing new and efficient ways of making goods and providing services does not mean we need only wait for the right technologies to arrive to protect the climate. Such complacency may be misplaced. Moving new concepts to the marketplace is a time-consuming process. Accelerating efforts to commercialize new and deploy existing technology will be an important part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although a number of challenges must be overcome, the potential benefits for the economy, the environment and society of accelerating the diffusion of climate-friendly technology are significant. A broad and diverse policy portfolio can help the U.S. realize the multiple benefits of protecting the climate.

Sources of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Understanding the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. (Figure 4) can help inform the design of a successful climate-friendly technology policy-portfolio. In 1996, the U.S. emitted the equivalent of 1788 million metric tons of carbon (MMTCE).20 Over 81% of total greenhouse gas emissions came from four sectors of the economy, primarily through combustion of fossil fuels.21 The electric power, transportation, industry, and buildings sectors accounted for almost 99 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and just under one-third of the nation's methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions that year.22 Although not a major emitter of CO2, the agriculture and forestry sectors are important because agricultural activities accounted for 66 percent of the CH4 and 66 percent of the N2O emissions, and because U.S. forests and soils removed some greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Developing and deploying technologies that reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gas emissions from these sectors are critical elements of U.S. climate policy.

Electric Power

The type of fuel used to generate electricity has a significant effect on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the electric power sector. Coal, the cheapest source of fossil fuel, also emits the most air pollution and greenhouse gases per unit of energy. Natural gas combustion emits the least amount of greenhouse gas per unit of fossil energy. Currently, over 85 percent of electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions comes from coal-fired power plants.23

Most U.S. electricity (52%) is generated by coal-fired power plants, followed by nuclear (22%), natural gas (14%), and renewable energy sources (12%; predominantly conventional hydropower).24 The industry is undergoing a shift in the sources of generation as a result of electric power sector restructuring, environmental regulations, and as existing nuclear power plants reach the end of their planned lifetime. Fossil-fuel powered plants are expected to generate about 80 percent of the U.S. electricity supply over the next 20 years as the existing stock of nuclear plants is phased out.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector could be reduced by converting or replacing existing coal-based power plants with combined-cycle natural gas facilities, employing combined heat and power technology in appropriate sites, using more renewable energy technology, and increasing the efficiency of existing plants as well as transmission and distribution systems.


Passenger cars and light-duty trucks contribute the majority of emissions (58%) from the transportation sector; however, airplanes (13%) and freight trucks (15%), and rail and marine (7%) are also responsible for a significant amount of emissions. Other sources make up the remaining 7 percent of emissions.25 The transportation sector is the second largest and the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., due in large part to the continuing growth in vehicle travel. The major factors underlying the rapid increase in emissions are an increase in vehicle-miles traveled, new-fleet fuel economy levels that are not increasing, and growth in the relative proportion of light trucks. Significant growth in air travel also will contribute to increasing emissions from this sector.

A number of technologies could help lower greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. Some of the more promising technologies include: high-efficiency gasoline-powered or hybrid fuel-electric cars and light trucks, heavy trucks, buses, and off-road equipment; fuel cell-powered vehicles; improving the efficiency of the rail system; using alternative fuels; improving aircraft engines and modernizing air traffic-control technologies; traffic management technology; land-use planning technologies; and other technologies that help people travel less distance or less frequently between home and work or school.


The most diverse of the end-use sectors is that of industry, which consists of activities including mining, manufacturing, pulp and paper processing, and construction. Even within individual subsectors, a range of activities exist that have vastly different energy-use patterns and greenhouse gas emissions. Most energy-related greenhouse gas emissions from this sector result from producing steam and process heat. In addition to emissions resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels, several primary industrial processes generate greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions of greenhouse gases from this sector could be lowered using a number of types of technology including those that increase energy efficiency, switch fuels, utilize combined heat and power, and improve industrial processes.


The number, size, and geographic distribution of residential and commercial buildings, as well as the market penetration of heating and cooling technologies and major appliances, all combine to influence the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with residential and commercial buildings. Within the sector, residential buildings account for about 56 percent of emissions.26 Commercial buildings house the rapidly growing financial and service sectors. Among the more promising options for reducing emissions from the building sector are: increased deployment of energy-efficiency technologies, and greater use of combined heat-and-power generation in commercial facilities.

Agriculture and Forestry

The primary greenhouse gases emitted by agricultural activities27 are CH4 and N2O. Ruminant animals (65%) and manure management (30%) are the major sources of CH4 in this sector, followed by rice cultivation (5%) and crop waste burning (0.4%). Application of fertilizers and other cropping practices account for almost 96% of the N2O emissions from this sector.28 Within the U.S., the direct effects of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions are minor to none.29

Technologies that improve land and resource management practices, improve energy efficiency on farms, forests, and ranchlands, abate methane emissions from ruminant animals, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions from soils can help these sectors reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agriculture and forestry sectors can help the U.S. reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other ways, as well. Biofuel crops could provide an alternative energy source. Carbon that is removed from the atmosphere during crop growth is returned when the crop is burned for energy. Although energy is required to produce and process the crop, biofuels may reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.

The agriculture and forestry sectors also can help the U.S. meet its climate objectives if the management of forests and soils includes consideration of their potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Deforestation and land-use changes in industrialized nations are historically important sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and clearing of tropical forests for agricultural use is currently a globally significant source of emissions. However, U.S. forests today are thought to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere each year than they release. In 1996, U.S. forests sequestered approximately 171.3 MMTCE.30 Removal of carbon by agricultural croplands could complement carbon sequestration by forests. By one estimate, farmlands potentially could sequester as much as 20 - 57 MMTCE per year if conservation programs were enhanced, degraded soils restored, tillage practices and crop residue management improved, and new cropping systems adopted.31

Cross-Cutting Actions

Some climate technology issues go beyond sectoral boundaries. For example, exports of certain climate-friendly technologies can help lower their costs in the U.S. because businesses attain economies of scale for their production. Other cross-cutting issues focus on actions that could catalyze early adoption of climate-friendly technologies by all sectors, and encourage systematic and sustainable approaches to land-use planning and use of natural resources.

A Solid Course of Action to Spur Climate-Friendly Technology

To protect the climate cost-effectively, technology breakthroughs, technology incentives, and the elimination of barriers for the deployment of existing technologies are needed. Broad-based cooperative programs to stimulate markets and develop and disseminate new and existing technology to industrialized and developing countries must be a high priority.

Technology breakthroughs, new incentives, and removal of impediments are needed to move climate-friendly technology into the U.S. agriculture, buildings, electric power, industry, and transportation sectors. For each of these sectors, the Council reached agreement on a set of actions that could accelerate the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology.

The PCSD did not estimate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that could be achieved by taking these steps, or assess the overall costs and benefits of doing so. Rather, the Council focused on actions that were consistent with efforts to achieve national aspirations for
economic growth, environmental protection and increased equity, and could:
    1. Overcome the roadblocks to technological innovation.

    2. Spur the development and diffusion of the promising classes of climate-friendly technologies in each of the sectors in the United States.

    3. Help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10-15 years.

The recommendations in this report reflect consensus among the diverse membership of the PCSD and as such, demonstrate that many steps could be taken to spur climate-friendly technology that have a broad base of support. Taken together, these recommendations would represent a solid course of action to spur climate-friendly technology and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10-15 years.

Electric Power

Objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    A. Replace or convert carbon-intensive generating facilities with low-carbon, carbon-free, or high-efficiency technologies such as combined cycle natural gas, renewable sources, more advanced clean coal, and clean distributed generation in ways that ensure reliability of the electricity supply.

    B. Enhance development, commercialization and introduction of, and capital flow towards, new climate-friendly technologies.

    C. Enable and enhance markets for retail energy services that encourage energy efficiency and the use of low-carbon and carbon-free energy technologies.

    D.Recognize the environmental characteristics of existing carbon-free power generation.

Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    1.Owners and operators of publicly- and privately-owned power projects should establish voluntary goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their facilities and implement a plan to meet them.

    2.Move toward improved environmental performance of power generation facilities, recognizing the efforts being made to attain health-based air quality standards and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively while maintaining economic growth and reliable electric service, and avoiding unreasonable burdens on particular sectors or geographic regions.

    3.As part of electric restructuring legislation, permit demand-side management services provided by electric power utilities to be sold separately from other services such as electricity, so that value-added services such as energy efficiency and conservation can be offered for profit.

    4.States should establish a wire charge to encourage development and installation of cleaner energy systems as the electric power sector is restructured, recognizing that as many large industrial facilities subject to global competition already make significant investments in energy efficiency as a business mainstay, incentive programs involving surcharges may not be warranted in all cases.

    5.Improve the information provided to consumers and sellers of power about the cost savings of energy efficiency and conservation, particularly in industrial settings and commercial buildings.

    6.Establish uniform requirements for disclosure of the environmental characteristics of power sources, and the amounts and types of air and other pollutants generated by these sources.

    7.Eliminate or lower grid exit-fees for cleaner power sources used on site for small commercial or residential applications that fall below a de minimis standard of power generation.

    8.Develop a certification program for “green power” that takes into account the varying availability of renewable and other clean power sources in different regions of the country. Electricity consumers should stimulate demand for clean energy products by purchasing certified green power.


Objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    A. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

    B. Accelerate development and utilization of cleaner fuels and engines.

    C. Reduce vehicle miles traveled.

Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    1.Government and businesses should accelerate procurement of clean fuel/engine fleet vehicles and fuel them in ways that result in real reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

    2.Establish consumer tax incentives for purchase of efficient, advanced-technology vehicles.

    3.Encourage the establishment of programs and strengthen the use of existing policies that foster alternative transportation choices and provide an incentive to drive fewer miles including:
      a.Policies that encourage mass transit such as tax benefits for employer-subsidized transit pass and parking cash-out programs.
      b.Policies that promote car-sharing programs such as those already established in Europe and the U.S., which offer the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the total number of vehicle trips and vehicle miles traveled within major cities
      c.Public education and outreach efforts to identify and promote the benefits of efficient vehicles and other transportation choices to stimulate demand for these technologies.
      d.Research on the impact of telecommuting, information technologies, and Internet commerce on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    4.Improve infrastructure for intermodal transportation (i.e.; bike racks, bus shelters, train stations).

    5.States and localities should establish appropriate road pricing policies that reduce congestion, mitigate greenhouse gases, and mitigate any impact on low-income commuters.

    6.In cases where greenhouse gas reductions can be quantified and verified against credible benchmarks, give communities the opportunity to receive credit when they use community design to lower traffic by adopting zoning codes and other changes that encourage more efficient land-use patterns to reduce pollution from motor vehicles.

    7.Increase and redirect existing support for RD&D and production of advanced vehicle components towards technologies that enable greater efficiency including hybrid-electric systems, lightweight materials, clean engines, energy storage systems, and fuels.

    8.Support research to determine the potential of intelligent transportation systems (a group of technologies that could improve the flow of traffic through urban areas) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    9.Accelerate efforts to develop infrastructure for alternative-fueled vehicles that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    10.Perform additional research on how to reflect the number of vehicle miles traveled as a variable cost of insurance so that drivers better understand the price associated with the number of miles they drive.


Objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    A. Replace or convert carbon-intensive industrial boilers, power-generating facilities, steam-generating systems, and industrial process equipment such as motors, pumps, and compressed air systems with low-carbon, carbon-free, or high efficiency technologies that increase energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes.

    B. Encourage design and manufacture of climate-friendly products and processes.

    C. Encourage energy-efficient recycling of feedstocks, products, and waste streams.

Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    1. Establish a rebate program of limited duration for commercial, residential, and small manufacturing users of electric power to reduce the up-front costs of renewable energy technologies.

    2. Assist communities that want to create eco-industrial parks by making available relevant information, allowing flexibility in permitting and other regulatory areas while ensuring that environmental goals are met or exceeded, and enacting mixed-use zoning that allows for eco-industrial parks that have low or zero emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

    3. Offer incentives to encourage climate-friendly business development.

    4. Develop accounting systems that value the energy savings of buying efficient equipment.

Actions for the Electric Power and Industry Sectors
    1. Streamline the permitting process for new low-carbon or carbon-free generating facilities and related infrastructure in ways that preserve public comment and provide accountability for performance. Relevant statutes: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules, State laws.

    2. Offer targeted temporary tax credits or incentives, low-interest revolving loan funds, matching grants, or other appropriate incentives or rewards to reduce the cost of installing climate-friendly power-generating technologies and related infrastructure.

    3. Improve the energy efficiency of equipment that uses electricity.

    4. Facilitate expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure and capacity and to expansion natural gas markets by streamlining duplicative and conflicting regulations, removing economic disincentives, and simplifying the permitting process in ways that preserve public comment and provide accountability for performance.

    5. Harmonize tax schedules for depreciation of new electric-power generating equipment and related infrastructure with the schedule for depreciation of other types of capital equipment to create an economic incentive to install climate-friendly electric power generating equipment more frequently.

    6. In partnership with the private sector, government research should focus on improving scientific understanding and practical applications for the use of renewable energy and distributed energy technologies such as fuel cells and micro turbines.

    7. Develop methods to account for the greenhouse gas emissions avoided if new facilities employ climate-friendly technologies.


Objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    A. Encourage retrofits of existing buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through more efficient electricity and fuel use.

    B. Encourage design and construction of new buildings that would reduce emissions in the construction phase and during the operation of the building in its lifetime.

    C. Improve the efficiency of appliances and other products within the building.

    D. Optimize building efficiency by integrating systems for their design, operation, and maintenance.

Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    1. Provide tax incentives or credits for installation of climate-friendly technology.

    2. Adopt fiscal or regulatory policy incentives that encourage continuous improvement of codes and standards for buildings and appliances.

    3. Governments should consider offering temporary and targeted tax credits or incentives for new residential construction that exceeds building code energy efficiency standards by at least 50%, and for retrofits of existing residential buildings that improves building code energy efficiency standards by at least 30%. Eligibility for these incentives or credits should include appropriate verification of these improvements against recognized benchmarks.

    4. Amplify government procurement practices to achieve greater use of energy efficient materials and technologies in buildings.

    5. Build on existing efforts in local, state, and federal governments to promote energy efficiency by establishing goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions from government-owned buildings and implement a plan to meet them.

    6. Build on existing awards programs such as EnergyStar and Rebuild America to recognize leadership in achieving energy efficiency in buildings.

    7. Develop methods that allow industry and entrepreneurial consumers to aggregate greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the manufacture or use of more efficient appliances, and assure that appropriate protocols to verify and quantify those reductions are available.

    8. Develop methods to account for greenhouse gas emissions reductions if builders choose to construct homes that are more efficient than local standards. The methods should include appropriate protocols to verify and quantify those reductions against a credible benchmark.

    9. Provide information to consumers, builders, architects, developers, materials producers, and others on the cost-savings and climate benefits of energy efficiency and conservation.

    10. In partnership with the private sector, government research should improve scientific understanding and practical applications for the use of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in buildings.

    11. Recognize and document increases in worker productivity due to energy efficiency improvements in buildings.

Agriculture and Forestry

Objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    A. Encourage opportunities to produce climate-friendly products on farm, grazing, and forest lands.

    B. Promote carbon sequestration on farm, grazing, and forest lands.

    C. Reduce fossil energy requirements for farming, grazing, and forestry.

    D. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural by-products.

Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    1. Focus agriculture research on renewable energy crop production, carbon sequestration, recycling of organic wastes, fertilizer use, and nutrient management.

    2. Local, state, and Federal governments, businesses, and individuals should identify among their own lands appropriate land restoration projects that could increase carbon sequestration.

    3. Focus forestry research on carbon sequestration, specifically measurement of carbon storage in forest ecosystems, certification and verification of carbon sequestration in forests, monitoring of forest sequestration projects, and “leakage” issues related to carbon storage in forests.

    4. Develop environmentally sound and eco-efficient32 ways to capture energy from agricultural by-products (i.e.; crop waste and manure), including methane.

    5. Support efforts to develop accurate and precise methods to quantify and verify the amount of carbon sequestered in soils and forests as a result of changes in land-use practices. If the potential for carbon sequestration is adequately demonstrated and reliable methods are developed, promote a more comprehensive treatment of land-use practices in international agreements that includes appropriate credit for those practices that sequester carbon.

Cross-Cutting Actions

Cross-cutting objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

    A. Expand trade in cleaner technologies to stimulate domestic markets and to transfer technologies to developing countries.

    B. Encourage early action to adopt climate-friendly technologies.

    C. Encourage systematic approaches to land-use planning that promote reuse of materials and brownfields, reduce sprawl, and preserve greenspace.

Actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors

    1. Support the development and deployment of systems and institutions that assemble information about available incentives and options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to enable easier and more effective choices of climate-friendly technology.

    2. Pursue export policies that foster cleaner infrastructure in less-developed countries and stimulate opportunities for domestic manufacturers of climate-friendly technologies to lower the cost of their products through economy of scale. These policies should be crafted with special attention to the sustainable development and climate protection needs of developing nations.

    3. Begin to move towards tax policies that -- without increasing overall tax burdens -- encourage employment and economic opportunity while discouraging environmentally damaging decisions.

    4. As an extension of previous studies on environmentally and economically damaging subsidies, and building on previous recommendations of the PCSD, establish a national commission to review the effect of federal tax and subsidy policies on the goal of climate protection. In Sustainable America,33 the PCSD recommended that this commission “should review all existing tax and spending subsides to determine if a national need remains to continue individual subsidies” and “should recommend to the President a list of subsidies that fail to meet this test and should be phased out or rapidly eliminated. Any remaining subsidies should be made subject to a sunset or review clause that would require the appropriate government agency to ensure on a regular basis that these subsides are not inconsistent with national sustainable development goals.” These goals should include climate protection. The PCSD also recommended that the commission “should conduct an explicit assessment of alternative tax policies and ... assess opportunities for increased use of pollution taxes while reducing reliance on more traditional income taxes.” Pollution taxes could include those on greenhouse gas emissions. The commission should make recommendations to the President and the Congress on tax reform initiatives that are consistent with the goals of climate protection and sustainable development.

    5. Encourage aggregation of small customers and sources to increase market penetration of low-carbon power and facilitate participation in emissions trading.

    6. Offer an incentive-based early action program that encourages broad-based participation, learning, innovation, flexibility, and experimentation; grants formal credit for legitimate and verifiable measures to protect the climate; ensures accountability; is compatible with other climate protection strategies and environmental goals; and is inspired by government leadership.

    7. Encourage voluntary emissions trading to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide opportunities for businesses and communities to learn about emissions trading.

    8. Government should work individually and in partnership with businesses to improve scientific understanding of and practical applications for the use of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies. Governments should complement their efforts to fund the development of new technologies with a serious commitment to help businesses that wish to commercialize the technology.

    9. Develop methods that allow small businesses, residential customers, and entrepreneurial consumers to measure and track their greenhouse gas emissions reductions efforts, and assure that appropriate protocols and mechanisms to verify, quantify, and aggregate those reductions are available.

    10. The federal government should work with lenders and municipal bond underwriters to expand research on the costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with urban sprawl and determine if objective measures could be established to assess them.

    11. Support government-industry partnerships to strengthen pre-commercial research and development efforts for new climate-friendly technologies.

Seeking Broader Benefits in Climate Protection Strategies

The predicted impacts of climate change could affect many segments of society, regions and individuals, and could reduce their capacities to pursue a sustainable future. In meetings held around the country, the Council heard from many citizens and community organizations about the importance of climate protection. A consistent thread in these presentations was that local areas can realize multiple benefits by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The PCSD also learned that the converse is true: climate protection is an important benefit of many strategies and actions that contribute to sustainable community development.

Small sources of emissions are an integral part of any solution

Greenhouse gas emissions for each of the major sectors (Figure 4) reflect the aggregation of many small sources of greenhouse gases. For example, in the buildings sector, over half of the emissions come from residential buildings (Figure 5).34 When uses of energy in these buildings is examined in detail, it becomes clear that the overall emissions from this part of the sector result from millions of daily decisions, actions, and activities that consume energy and result in greenhouse gas emissions.


As population and economic centers, cities and metropolitan areas are major consumers of energy and emitters of greenhouse gases. Decisions made at the local level have a significant influence on energy use, particularly in the building and transportation sectors. Policies made at the local level also American cities and towns account for over 80 percent of national energy use. Land use planning and urban design affect about 70 percent of that, or 56 percent of the Nation's total energy use.35 influence overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Local geography and climate partially determine the amount of energy used to heat and cool buildings. Together, land-use planning and urban design affect about 56 percent of the nation's total energy use. Local infrastructure, tax codes, and availability and access to information can also indirectly influence greenhouse gas emissions.

Understanding the Benefits of Climate Protection: PCSD Forum on Communities and Climate Change in Atlanta, Georgia

Together with local business, government, and non-governmental organizations, PCSD convened a forum on Communities and Climate Change at its November 1997 public meeting. The objectives were to:

    A. make climate change “real” to the people of Atlanta;
    B. connect current quality-of-life concerns in the region to the climate issue; and
    C. explore relationships between solutions to quality-of-life concerns and climate mitigation.

After hearing briefings on climate change science, the potential impacts of climate change, the opportunity for technology to reduce emissions, and the estimated costs of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the 150 forum participants broke into four groups focusing on Work and Economy, Home and Family, Outdoors and Recreation, and Learning and Education. Each group answered the following questions:

    1. What are the most important quality-of-life issues affecting the region?

    2. Are any related to climate change? If so, which ones and how are they related?

    3. Can you come up with solutions that solve multiple quality-of-life problems and address climate change at the same time?

    4. What do we need to do to make solutions happen?

Many common issues emerged from breakout groups:
    ˇ Traffic
    ˇ Lack of alternative transportation
    ˇ Air quality
    ˇ Need for urban revitalization
    ˇ Land use and urban sprawl
    ˇ Availability and access to jobs
    ˇ Preservation of open space
The groups found many connections to their quality-of-life issues and climate change as well as linkages among their quality-of-life concerns. For example, many groups noted that urban sprawl results in the loss of carbon sequestration potential as well as increased vehicle travel. In addition, sprawl can destroy wildlife habitat and reduce availability of green space for recreation, increase travel distances that make communities less accessible, contribute to increased flash-flooding and erosion, and incur significant costs for municipalities that must provide infrastructure and utilities to support new development.

Forum participants identified many solutions that could address their quality-of-life concerns and protect the climate.

    ˇ Preserving greenspace and trees could enhance carbon sequestration as well as provide more opportunities for recreation.

    ˇ Reducing government fragmentation would improve local land-use planning as well as strengthen local democracy.

    ˇ Increasing funding for alternative transportation would help reduce vehicle travel and improve local air quality.

    ˇ Improving the quality and safety of urban school would create an incentive for families to stay in the city rather than move to the suburbs. This could avoid increasing emissions from vehicles, as city dwellers tend to drive less than their suburban counterparts.

Reducing the Risks of Climate Change while Increasing the Prosperity and Vitality of Communities

If the climate changes as scientists predict, communities will have choose how to adapt to the adverse impacts of a new climate, and position themselves to take advantage of any benefits. Accelerated sea level rise, changing patterns of rainfall, more intense and more frequent storms, and changes in our natural resource base could have a detrimental impact on communities. Smaller communities that lack resources to fully recover or find new sources of economic sustenance may be particularly affected. Unless communities plan ahead, they may be ill-prepared to respond to these challenges.

Although an important issue, the PCSD did not consider in detail how communities could prepare for a changing climate. In general, the Council recognizes that some climate adaptation measures could help communities achieve other sustainable development goals. Coastal and riverside communities could reduce their vulnerability to more intense and frequent storms by re-establishing upstream wetlands and forests, and improving the ability of soils to retain water. Such action could have both economic and environmental benefits. Urban communities could reduce peak summer-time temperatures by pursuing more intensive urban reforestation, painting buildings and roofs lighter colors, and using lighter-colored paving materials. Lower summertime temperatures could reduce the formation of air pollutants such as ground-level ozone. Early-warning heat notification systems could help city-dwellers plan appropriate activities for very hot days, and thereby avoid some of the adverse health effects of high temperatures. Inoculation programs and public education could reduce the rates of contraction and severity of illnesses, while simultaneously improving public health. Because the efficacy and efficiency of these adaptation steps likely will vary by region, actions taken to prepare for a changing climate should complement efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.36

Protecting the climate can be made an integral part of sustainable community development. Because both the potential impacts of a changing climate and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will unfold over many decades, policy choices made by communities today will have a lasting impact on future generations. Pro-active efforts to reduce greenhouse gases could help communities avoid some of the risks of a changing climate. However, given the evidence that climate has changed in the past and is likely to change in the future even without human-induced change, it may also be appropriate for communities to consider adaptive responses by adjusting planning, engineering, and regulatory strategies to take into account the vulnerability of different areas.

Communities can start to meet these challenges by addressing community-level problems such as traffic congestion, air pollution, urban sprawl, and energy costs. By incorporating climate change into the fabric of these daily decisions, steps can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time that the prosperity, resilience, and vitality of communities is increased. In other words, communities can combine steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with their plans to achieve sustainable development.

Because greenhouse gases are emitted by a diverse range of sources, local-level climate mitigation strategies can be designed to take local circumstances into account. A range of activities have been selected by communities that help them solve other quality-of-life concerns. Each project selected by different communities (see examples in text box on page 53) can take advantage of the unique opportunities in individual communities to integrate climate protection into efforts to improve the existing economic, social, and environmental infrastructure that sustains them.

Innovative measures that reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions and solve other quality-of-life concerns are an essential part of a national climate protection strategy. Just as the character of communities changes from place to place, each community will present unique, local-level solutions to the problem of global climate change that help them pursue a sustainable future.

Putting Concept into Practice: Cities for Climate Protection Campaign

Cities and municipalities worldwide are participating in the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign. Participating cites agree to inventory their sources of greenhouse gas emissions, set a target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and develop and implement a plan to meet it.

Participants in the program choose an approach that works for their community. Actions taken by participating U.S. cities and municipalities include:

    ˇ  Mitigating road and traffic congestion
    ˇ Switching to renewable energy
    ˇ Using better urban planning techniques
    ˇ Retrofitting buildings with more energy efficient technologies
    ˇ Planting trees to cool urban areas and sequester carbon
    ˇ Using alternative-fueled vehicles in municipal fleets
    ˇ Recovering methane from landfills
    ˇ Community recycling programs
    ˇ Parking cash-out programs
As a result of these policies, CCP participants have noted a number of tangible "co-benefits" to their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
    ˇ   Increased energy efficiency lowers costs and keeps money in the community for more productive investments.
    ˇ   Demand for energy-efficient products and services and for new technologies can create local jobs and boost the local economy.
    ˇ   Less fossil fuel consumption reduces air pollution that can cause adverse public-health impacts.
    ˇ   Communities are more livable because they have reduced traffic congestion, cleaner air, more efficient and comfortable homes and offices, better schools, and land-use patterns that help build a sense of place.
    ˇ   Manufacturing processes are more efficient and workplaces are more productive because of better lighting and airflows.

Cumulative actions of the CCP local governments can have a significant impact on the nation's ability to meet its climate protection goals. ICLEI has calculated that if all 55 U.S. cities and municipalities participating in the CCP program voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 145 million tons -- 6.5 percent of the U.S. obligation under the Kyoto Protocol. Source: ICLEI, U.S. Communities Acting to Protect the Climate: 1998 Achievements of ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection - U.S. (Berkeley, Ca.: ICLEI, 1998).

Fostering Broad-Based Community Participation to Realize the Benefits of Climate Protection

Voluntary emissions reductions from small sources of emissions can be made in ways that help communities achieve other sustainable development objectives. Broad-based community participation in any national strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help ensure that the net economic and other environmental benefits of actions to protect the climate are available for everyone.

A number of systems changes could help leverage existing infrastructure, networks, and systems to catalyze efforts to protect the climate. The Council identified a number of efforts currently underway to encourage economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice that could be easily replicated or adapted to include climate protection.37 These examples illustrate some important lessons for encouraging other innovative measures to protect the climate on a larger scale.

1. Encourage and promote rapid learning that leads to action. The “211" Atlanta project was established by the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta and the Georgia Public Service Commission to provide a single point of contact using standard telephone systems to connect individuals with common interests. For example, the project could connect a person with an interest in improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings with a person who wants to learn about those techniques and technologies.

Goldman Sachs and the U.S. Department of Energy worked together to help schools and hospitals recognize the benefits of energy efficiency. Together they developed a new underwriting method that recognizes the cost savings of energy efficiency improvement. As a result, schools and hospitals that agree to follow a specific protocol to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings can qualify for lower interest rates.

2. Make full use of economic and social capabilities that are currently available to reduce emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Smart Growth Partnership program helps developers choose options that helps reduce sprawl and attendant traffic and air quality problems. The partnership program helps developers identify and reuse land that is already served by water, sewer, gas, telephone, and electric utility services. Reusing the infrastructure in these places only costs $5,000 to $10,000 per unit compared to $50,000 to $60,000 per dwelling unit for building new infrastructure in greenfield locations.

3. Encourage entrepreneurial interests to identify and develop new markets for measures and products that support climate protection objectives. “Location-efficient mortgages” are a promising home mortgage product that can help prospective homeowners realize the reduced transportation expenses associated with living near the places they work or living near public transportation. A partnership has been built with banks and the Federal National Mortgage Association to offer these mortgages in six U.S. cities: Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Milwaukee.

4. Reward achievements and innovations that further the achievement of climate protection goals. Providing opportunities for large numbers of small sources to participate in market-based programs to reduce emissions could provide a new set of options to achieve those reductions cost-effectively. For example, the Chicago and Pittsburgh Public School Districts are committed to forming a Great Lakes Energy Network. By learning how to measure the emissions from their facilities and incorporate energy efficiency metrics into their existing accounting systems, the Districts hope to participate in emissions trading opportunities for air pollutants, as well as greenhouse gases.

Towards Sustainable Climate Action

Consensus building, outreach, and inclusive approaches are essential components of sustainable climate action. The significance of these strategies is illustrated by the experience of the Council members, as well as the Council's efforts to reach out to other stakeholders on the climate issue.

An important benefit of the PCSD's work on climate change was increased trust among the Council members and a better understanding of the diverse views they brought to the Council's discussions. Continued dialogue helped them reach consensus on difficult issues, and in cases where they could not agree, gave them a better appreciation of each other's concerns.

Outreach and participation by diverse stakeholders at Council-sponsored events helped all meeting participants better comprehend the complexities of the various issues that emerge when considering climate change. For example, the PCSD convened a forum to increase understanding about in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As defined in the Kyoto Protocol, the CDM is intended to provide a means to facilitate investment in projects that help developing nations achieve a cleaner growth path, and in turn, help investor countries earn credits for subsequent greenhouse gas emission reductions. By reaching out to diverse stakeholders -- including businesses that might invest in CDM projects, developing countries that might want to attract these investments, as well as environmental groups and non-governmental organizations interested in the Kyoto Protocol -- participants were able to discuss the opportunities and challenges in establishing a viable CDM. In this respect, outreach by the Council helped further a broad understanding of the various stakeholder perspectives.

The pursuit of climate protection is fundamentally linked to any national agenda for sustainable development. The Council is convinced that collaborative approaches focused on defining and reconciling the needs and aspirations of individuals with community values and the requirements of future generations can help promote direct and meaningful action to protect the climate. By working together, we can reap the benefits of acting to protect the climate as we strive to achieve economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice for ourselves and posterity.


This report would not have been possible but for the contributions of time, effort, and resources by a number of individuals. The Council members wish to acknowledge the invaluable contributions made by their staff liaisons, particularly those liaisons who served as Co-Chairs of the Climate Task Force's Working Groups. All members are grateful for their hard work. The liaisons' excellent efforts are reflected in this report.

The Council derived much of its information about the climate issue from presentations made by participants at Council and Task Force meetings. Daniel Albritton, S. William Becker, Rosina Bierbaum, Cory Berish, Peter Ciborowski, Kenneth Colburn, Dennis Creech, Neal Elliott, Kent Fickett, Robert Friedman, Joe Goffman, Tom Karl, Amory Lovins, Gail Marshall, Susan Maxman, Richard Morgenstern, Bob Purcell, Robert Repetto, Joseph Romm, Nancy Skinner, Dan Sperling, Shirley Scott, Helen Tapp, Mark Trexler, Jackie Ward, Harry West, and Arthur Williams all offered excellent insights and knowledge that guided the Council in its pursuit of consensus policy recommendations.

Coordinating the Task Force's work at the PCSD's offices was a significant substantive and logistical challenge. The Climate Task Force was fortunate to be shepherded through its work by Christine Ervin, Catherine McKalip-Thompson, and Tamara Nameroff. Their hard work and energy were indispensable to the Task Force's efforts. In addition, the Council extends its thanks to PCSD Executive Director Martin Spitzer and the rest of the staff for their support and guidance.


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PCSD - Final Report - Table of Contents - Draft

Appendix - Draft

Expanded Table of Contents - Draft

Executive Summary - Draft

Chapter 2 Climate Change - Draft

Chapter 3 Environmental Management - Draft

Chapter 4 Metropolitan and Rural Strategies - Draft

Chapter 5 International - Draft