The Honorable William J. Clinton
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
Your strong voice has called attention to the risks of
human-induced climate change and the need to take timely and effective steps to
address it. We are pleased to report further progress in our efforts to advise
you on climate policy options that could help encourage these steps. In the
statement on climate that we sent to you last November, we recognized -- as you
have -- the need for early action to protect the climate and the importance of
incentives to catalyze that action. Members of the Climate Task Force of the
President's Council on Sustainable Development have reached agreement on a set
of principles for the design of a program that we believe would broadly
encourage voluntary action.
This consensus statement from a diverse group of Climate Task
Force members -- including leaders from business, environmental and civic
organizations, as well as local and federal government -- is based on the Task
Force's examination of the key policy issues that must be considered in
designing an early action program. In the course of our work, we listened to a
wide range of experts and sought the views and ideas of citizens. As a result
of our studies, we recommend an incentive-based 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
protections strategies and environmental goals; and includes local, state, and
federal government leadership.
An early action program is justified entirely on its own merits
because it will improve economic performance and will reduce local
environmental pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions. However, we
recognize that discussion of the value of an early action program has also, and
we believe erroneously, 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.
We hope you will find these principles helpful, and that they
will provide a useful foundation for policy discussions on early action
strategies in your Administration. We welcome your response and guidance as we
continue carrying out your request to recommend climate policy options.
D. James Baker
Co-chair, Climate Task Force
Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere
Co-Chair, PCSD and Co-Chair, Climate Task
President, World Resources Institute
Co-Chair, Climate Task Force
CEO, British Petroleum America, Inc.