Report on The State Department Climate Action: Introduction and Overview
No single country can resolve the problem of global climate change.
Recognizing this, the United States is engaged in many activities to
facilitate closer international cooperation. To this end, the U.S.
government has actively participated in international research and
assessment efforts (e.g., through the IPCC), in efforts to develop and
implement a global climate change strategy (through the FCCC Conference
of the Parties and its varied subsidiary bodies and through the Climate
Technology Initiative), and by providing financial and technical
assistance to developing countries to facilitate development of
mitigation and sequestration strategies (e.g., through the Global
Environment Facility (GEF)). Bilateral and multilateral opportunities
are currently being implemented, with some designed to capitalize on the
technological capabilities of the private sector, and others to work on
a government-to-government basis.
In the existing Convention framework, the United States has seconded
technical experts to the FCCC secretariat to help implement
methodological, technical, and technological activities. U.S. experts
review national communications of other Parties and are helping to
advance the development of methodologies for inventorying national
The United States has been active in promoting next steps under the
Convention. It has encouraged all countries to take appropriate analyses
of their own circumstances before taking action–and then act on these
analyses. It has suggested–and, where possible, has
demonstrated–flexible and robust institutional systems through which
actions can be taken, such as programs to implement emission-reduction
activities jointly between Parties, and emission-trading programs. The
United States has also sought to use its best diplomatic efforts to prod
those in the international community reluctant to act, seeking to
provide assurances that the issue is critical and warrants global
attention. Through these efforts, the ongoing negotiations are expected
to successfully conclude in late 1997. The successful implementation of
the Convention and a new legal instrument will ensure that the potential
hazards of climate change will never be realized.
As a major donor to the GEF, the United States has contributed
approximately $190 million to help developing countries meet the
incremental costs of protecting the global environment. Although the
United States is behind in the voluntary payment schedule agreed upon
during the GEF replenishment adopted in 1994, plans have been made to
pay off these arrears.
The principles of the U.S. development assistance strategy lie at the
heart of U.S. bilateral mitigation projects. These principles include
the concepts of conservation and cultural respect, as well as
empowerment of local citizenry. The U.S. government works primarily
through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In fact,
mitigation of global climate change is one of USAID’s two global
environmental priorities. Other agencies working in the climate change
field, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Departments of
Agriculture and Energy, are also active internationally. Projects fit
into various general categories, such as increasing the efficiency of
power operation and use, adopting renewable-energy technologies,
reducing air pollution, improving agricultural and livestock practices,
and decreasing deforestation and improving land use.
Perhaps none of the U.S. programs is as well known as the U.S. Country
Studies Program. The program is currently assisting fifty-five
developing countries and countries with economies in transition to
market economies with climate change studies intended to build human and
institutional capacity to address climate change. Through its Support
for National Action Plans, the program is supporting the preparation of
national climate action plans for eighteen developing countries, which
will lay the foundation for their national communication, as required by
the FCCC. More than twenty-five additional countries have requested
similar assistance from the Country Studies Program.
The United States is also committed to facilitating the commercial
transfer of energy-efficient and renewable-energy technologies that can
help developing countries achieve sustainable development. Under the
auspices of the Climate Technology Initiative, the U.S. has taken a lead
role in a task force on Energy Technology Networking and Capacity
Building, the efforts of which focus on increasing the availability of
reliable climate change technologies, developing options for improving
access to data in developing countries, and supporting experts in the
field around the world. The United States is also engaged in various
other projects intended to help countries with mitigation and adaptation
issues. The International Activities chapter focuses on the most
important of these U.S. efforts.
Introduction and Overview
Since the historic gathering of representatives from 172 countries at
the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, issues of environmental
protection have remained high on national and international priorities.
Climate change is one of the most visible of these issues–and one in
which some of the most significant progress has been made since the 1992
session. Perhaps the crowning achievement in Rio was the adoption of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). This
Convention represented a shared commitment by nations around the world
to reduce the potential risks of a major global environmental problem.
Its ultimate objective is to:
Achieve 1/4 stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the
atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic human
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 manner.
However, since the 1992 Earth Summit, the global community has found
that actions to mitigate climate change will need to be more aggressive
than anticipated. At the same time, the rationale for action has proven
more compelling. Few “Annex I” countries (the Climate Convention’s term
for developed countries, including Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD) member countries and countries with economies in
transition to market economies) have demonstrated an ability to meet the
laudable, albeit nonbinding, goal of the Convention–“to return
emissions of greenhouse gases to their 1990 levels by the end of the
decade.” While voluntary programs have demonstrated that substantial
reductions are achievable at economic savings or low costs, the success
of these programs has been overshadowed by lower-than-expected energy
prices as well as higher-than-expected economic growth and electricity
demand, among other factors.
Recognizing that even the most draconian measures would likely be
insufficient to reverse the growth in greenhouse gases and return U.S.
emissions to their 1990 levels by the year 2000, new U.S. efforts are
focusing most intensively on the post-2000 period. Thus, while some new
voluntary actions have already been proposed (and are included in this
report), an effort to develop a comprehensive program to address rising
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is being developed in the context of the
ongoing treaty negotiations and will be reported in the next U.S.
In spite of difficulties in meeting a domestic goal to return emissions
to their 1990 levels, the U.S. commitment to addressing the climate
change problem remains a high priority. President Clinton, in remarks
made in November 1996, both underlined U.S. concerns and exhorted the
nations of the world to act:
“We must work to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These gases
released by cars and power plants and burning forests affect our health
and our climate. They are literally warming our planet. If they continue
unabated, the consequences will be nothing short of devastating 1/4. We
must stand together against the threat of global warming. A greenhouse
may be a good place to raise plants; it is no place to nurture our
children. And we can avoid dangerous global warming if we begin today
and if we begin together.”
Difficulties in meeting the “aim” of the Climate Convention prompted the
international community, gathered at the first meeting of the Conference
of the Parties to the FCCC (held in Berlin, Germany, in March 1995), to
agree on a new approach to addressing the climate change problem. At
their first session, the Parties decided to negotiate a new legal
instrument containing appropriate next steps under the Convention. At
the Second Conference of the Parties (COP-2), the United States
expressed its view that the new agreement should include three main
a realistic and achievable binding target (instead of the hortatory
goals and nonbinding aims of the existing Convention),
flexibility in implementation, and
the participation of developing countries.
Each of these elements was included in a Ministerial Declaration agreed
to at COP-2, and the United States expects that a legal instrument
containing these elements will be one of the outcomes from the Third
Conference of the Parties, to be held in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997.
As international negotiations continue on a new legal commitment, the
United States is assessing options for a domestic program. The results
of this analytical effort are being used to inform the U.S. negotiating
positions, and will subsequently be used to develop compliance
strategies to meet any commitments established under the new regime.
While the Parties involved in the negotiations are determining next
steps for collective action, all countries are still actively pursuing
the programs adopted earlier in the decade to control emissions. This
document describes the current U.S. program. It represents the second
formal U.S. communication under the FCCC, as required under Articles 4.2
and 12. As with the Climate Action Report published by the United States
in 1994, it is a “freeze frame”–a look at the current moment in time in
the U.S. program. This report does not predict additional future
activities. Nor is it intended to be a substitute for existing or future
decision-making processes–whether administrative or legislative–or for
additional measures developed by or with the private sector.
This document has been developed using the methodologies and format
agreed to at the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the
FCCC, and modified by the second meeting of the Conference of the
Parties and by sessions of the Convention’s Subsidiary Body on
Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body on
Implementation. The United States assumes that this communication, like
those of other countries–and like the preceding U.S.
communication–will be subject to a thorough review, and discussed in
the evaluation process for the Parties of the Convention. Even though
the measures listed in this report are not expected to reduce U.S.
emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2000, the United States believes
that many of the climate change actions being implemented have been
successful at reducing emissions, send valuable signals to the private
sector, and may be appropriate models for other countries. The U.S.
experience should also ensure that future efforts are more effective in
reversing the rising trend of emissions and returning U.S. emissions to
more environmentally sustainable levels.
The 1992 Convention effort was largely predicated on the scientific and
technical information produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) in its 1990 report. The IPCC consists of more than two
thousand of the world’s best scientists with expertise in the physical,
social, and economic sciences relevant to the climate issue. The United
States stands firmly behind the IPCC’s conclusions. As the actions being
taken by the United States ultimately depend on the nation’s
understanding of the science, it is important to at least briefly review
this information here.
The Earth absorbs energy from the sun in the form of solar radiation.
About one-third is reflected, and the rest is absorbed by different
components of the climate system, including the atmosphere, the oceans,
the land surface, and the biota. The incoming energy is balanced over
the long term by outgoing radiation from the Earth-atmosphere system,
with outgoing radiation taking the form of long-wave, invisible infrared
energy. The magnitude of this outgoing radiation is affected in part by
the temperature of the Earth-atmosphere system.
Several human and natural activities can change the balance between the
energy absorbed by the Earth and that emitted in the form of long-wave
infrared radiation. On the natural side, these include changes in solar
radiation (the sun’s energy varies by small amounts–approximately 0.1
percent over an eleven-year cycle–and variations over longer periods
also occur). They also include volcanic eruptions, injecting huge clouds
of sulfur-containing gases, which tend to cool the Earth’s surface and
atmosphere over a few years. On the human-induced side, the balance can
be changed by emissions from land-use changes and industrial practices
that add or remove “heat-trapping” or “greenhouse” gases, thus changing
atmospheric absorption of radiation.
Greenhouse gases of policy significance include carbon dioxide (CO2);
methane (CH4); nitrous oxide (N2O); the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and
their substitutes, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); the long-lived
fully fluorinated hydrocarbons, such as perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and
ozone (O3). Although most of these gases occur naturally (the exceptions
are the CFCs, their substitutes, and the long-lived PFCs), the
concentrations of all of these gases are changing as a result of human
For example, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has risen
about 30 percent since the 1700s–an increase responsible for more than
half of the enhancement of the trapping of the infrared radiation due to
human activities. In addition to their steady rise, many of these
greenhouse gases have long atmospheric residence times (several decades
to centuries), which means that atmospheric levels of these gases will
return to preindustrial levels only if emissions are sharply reduced,
and even then only after a long time. Internationally accepted science
indicates that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases will raise
atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and could alter associated weather
and circulation patterns.
In a report synthesizing its second assessment and focusing on the
relevance of its scientific analyses to the ultimate objective of the
Convention, the IPCC concluded:
Human activities–including the burning of fossil fuels, land use, and
agriculture–are changing the atmospheric composition. Taken together,
they are projected to lead to changes in global and regional climate and
climate-related parameters, such as temperature, precipitation, and soil
Some human communities–particularly those with limited access to
mitigating technologies–are becoming more vulnerable to natural hazards
and can be expected to suffer significantly from the impacts of
climate-related changes, such as high-temperature events, floods, and
droughts, potentially resulting in fires, pest outbreaks, ecosystem
loss, and an overall reduction in the level of primary productivity.
The IPCC also concluded that, given the current trends in emissions,
global concentrations of greenhouse gases are likely to grow
significantly through the next century and beyond, and the adverse
impacts from these changes will become greater. The remainder of this
report seeks to elucidate the programs, policies, and measures being
taken in the United States to begin moving away from this trend of
increasing emissions, and to help move the world away from the trend of
globally increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.
PRIVATE Principal Conclusions of the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report
While the basic facts about the science of climate have been understood
and broadly accepted for years, new information is steadily
emerging–and influencing the policy process. In 1995, the IPCC released
its Second Assessment Report, which not only validated most of the
IPCC’s earlier findings, but because of the considerable new work that
had been undertaken during the five years since its previous full-scale
assessment, broke new ground. The report is divided into three sections:
physical sciences related to climate impacts; adaptation and mitigation
responses; and cross-cutting issues, including economics and social
The Climate Science
Human activities are changing the atmospheric concentrations and
distributions of greenhouse gases and aerosols.
Global average temperatures have increased about 0.3-0.6°C (about
0.5-1.0°F) over the last century.
The ability of climate models to simulate observed trends has
improved–although there is still considerable regional uncertainty with
regard to changes.
The balance of evidence suggests there is a discernible human influence
on global climate.
Aerosol sulfates (a component of acid rain) offset some of the warming
by greenhouse gases.
The IPCC mid-range scenario projects an increase of 2.0°C (3.7°F) by
2100 (with a range of 1.0-3.5°C (about 1.8-6.3°F).
The average global warming projected in the IPCC mid-range scenario is
greater than any seen in the last ten thousand years.
Sea level is projected to rise (due to thermal expansion of the oceans,
and melting of glaciers and ice sheets) by about 50 centimeters (20
inches) by 2100, with a range of 15-95 centimeters (about 6-38 inches).
Even after a stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations,
temperatures would continue to increase for several decades, and sea
level would continue to rise for centuries.
Vulnerability, Likely Impacts, and Possible Responses
Climate change is likely to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse effects
on human health. Direct and indirect effects can be expected to lead to
Coastal infrastructure is likely to be extremely vulnerable. A
50-centimeter (20-inch) rise in sea level would place approximately 120
million people at risk.
Natural and managed ecosystems are also at risk: forests, agricultural
areas, and aquatic and marine life are all susceptible.
However, adaptation and mitigation options are numerous. Significant
reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions are technically possible and
can be economically feasible, using an extensive array of technologies
and policy measures that accelerate technology development, diffusion,
Early mitigation may increase flexibility in moving toward a
stabilization of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Economic risks of rapid abatement must be balanced against risks of
Significant “no regrets” opportunities are available in most countries.
Next steps must recognize equity considerations.
Costs of stabilization of emissions at 1990 levels in OECD countries
could range considerably (from a gain of $60 billion to a loss of about
$240 billion) over the next several decades.
In responding to the threat of global climate change, U.S. policymakers
must consider the special circumstances created by a unique blend of
challenges and opportunities. The National Circumstances chapter of this
report attempts to explain the particular situation in the United
States–including its climate, natural resources, population trends,
economy, energy mix, and political system–as a backdrop for
understanding the U.S. perspective on global climate change.
The United States is unusual in that it encompasses a wide variety of
climate conditions within its borders, from subtropical to tundra. This
diversity complicates the discussion of impacts of global climate change
within the United States because those impacts would vary widely. This
diversity also adds to U.S. emission levels, as heating and cooling
demands drive up emissions. Recent record levels of precipitation–both
in snowfall and rain–consistent with what could be expected under a
changed climate, have raised the awareness of climate impacts at the
local and regional levels, and may make it somewhat easier to predict
the effects of increased precipitation.
The United States also is uncommonly rich in land resources, both in
extent and diversity. U.S. land area totals about 931 million hectares
(2.3 billion acres), including grassland pasture and range, forest, and
cropland. Forested land has been increasing, while grasslands and
croplands are slowly declining and being converted to other uses. The
decline in wetlands has slowed significantly as a result of the “no net
loss” policy being implemented.
With just over 265 million people, the United States is the third most
populous country in the world, although population density varies widely
throughout the country, and is generally very low. Although population
increase is moderate from a global perspective, it is high relative to
the average for all industrialized countries. Moreover, the number of
households is growing rapidly. These and other factors drive U.S.
emissions to higher per capita rates than those in most other countries
with higher population densities, smaller land areas, or more
concentrated distribution of resources to population centers.
The U.S. market economy is based on property rights and a reliance on
the efficiency of the market as a means of allocating resources. The
government plays a key role in addressing market failures and promoting
social welfare, including through the imposition of regulations on
pollutants and the protection of property rights, but is cautious in its
interventions. Thus, the infrastructure exists to limit emissions of
greenhouse gases–although the strong political and economic preference
is to undertake such controls through flexible and cost-effective
programs, including voluntary programs and market instruments, where
U.S. economic growth averaged 3 percent annually from 1960 to 1993, and
employment nearly tripled as the overall labor force participation rate
rose to 66 percent. The service sector–which includes communications,
utilities, finance, insurance, and real estate–has grown rapidly, and
now accounts for more than 36 percent of the economy. The increasing
role of trade in the U.S. economy heightens concerns about the
competitiveness effects of climate policies.
During the 1980s, the U.S. budget deficit grew rapidly, as did the ratio
of debt to gross domestic product, and a political consensus emerged on
the goal of a balanced budget. The result is a tighter federal budget
with many competing priorities.
The United States is the world’s largest energy producer and consumer.
Abundant resources of all fossil fuels have contributed to low prices
and specialization in relatively energy-intensive activities. Energy
consumption has nearly doubled since 1960, and would have grown far
more, because of growth in the economy, population, and transportation
needs, had it not been for impressive reductions in U.S. energy
intensity. Industrial energy intensity has declined most markedly, due
to structural shifts and efficiency improvements. In the residential and
commercial sectors, efficiency improvements largely offset the growth in
the number and size of both residential and commercial buildings.
Likewise, in the transportation sector, efficiency moderated the rise in
total fuel consumption from 1973 to 1995 to only 26 percent, despite
dramatic increases in both the number of vehicles and the distances they
are driven. Fossil fuel prices below levels assumed in the 1993 Climate
Change Action Plan, however, have contributed to the unexpectedly large
growth in U.S. emissions.
While unique national circumstances point to the reasons for the current
levels (and increases) in U.S. emissions, they also suggest the
potential for emission reductions. Successful government and
private-sector programs are beginning to exploit some of the
inefficiencies in the manufacturing sector. The development of new,
climate-friendly technologies is a rapidly growing industry, with
significant long-term potential for domestic and international emission
Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Inventorying the national emissions of greenhouse gases is a task shared
by several departments within the executive branch of the federal
government, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the
Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture. The Greenhouse
Gas Inventory chapter summarizes the most current information on U.S.
greenhouse gas emission trends–and represents the 1997 submission from
the United States in fulfillment of its annual inventory reporting
obligation. The estimates presented in this chapter were compiled using
methods consistent with those recommended by the IPCC Guidelines for
National Greenhouse Gas Inventories; therefore, the U.S. emissions
inventory should be comparable to those submitted by others under the
Table 1-1 summarizes the recent trends in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions
from 1990 to 1995. The three most important anthropogenic greenhouse
gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O).
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are also inventoried. Consistent with the
requirements in the Climate Convention only to address emissions of
gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete
the Ozone Layer, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions are not inventoried,
nor are mitigation measures for these compounds described.
PRIVATE Table 1-1
Recent Trends in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 1990-1995
(MMTs of Carbon Equivalent)
PRIVATE Gases and Sources Emissions–Direct and Indirect Effects
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 1,228 1,213 1,235 1,268 1,291 1,305
Fossil Fuel Combustion 1,336 1,320 1,340 1,370 1,391 1,403
Industrial Processes and Other 17 16 17 18 19 19
Total 1,353 1,336 1,357 1,388 1,410 1,422
Forests (sink)* (125) (123) (122) (120) (119) (117)
Methane (CH4) 170 172 173 171 176 177
Landfills 56 58 58 60 62 64
Agriculture 50 51 52 52 54 55
Coal Mining 24 23 22 20 21 20
Oil and Natural Gas Systems 33 33 34 33 33 33
Other 6 7 7 6 6 6
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) 36 37 37 38 39 40
Agriculture 17 17 17 18 18 18
Fossil Fuel Consumption 11 11 12 12 12 12
Industrial Processes 8 8 8 8 9 9
HFCs 12 12 13 14 17 21
PFCs 5 5 5 5 7 8
SF6 7 7 8 8 8 8
U.S. Emissions 1,583 1,570 1,592 1,624 1,657 1,676
Net U.S. Emissions 1,458 1,447 1,470 1,504 1,538 1,559
Note: The totals presented in the summary tables in this chapter may
not equal the sum of the individual source categories due to rounding.
* These estimates for the conterminous United States for 1990-91 and
1993-95 are interpolated from forest inventories in 1987 and 1992 and
from projections through 2040. The calculation method reflects long-term
averages, rather than specific events in any given year.
Overall, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased annually by just
over one percent. The trend of U.S. emissions–which decreased from 1990
to 1991, and then increased again in 1992–is a consequence of changes
in total energy consumption resulting from the U.S. economic slowdown in
the beginning of this decade and its subsequent recovery.
Carbon dioxide accounts for the largest share of U.S. greenhouse
gases–approximately 85 percent–although the carbon sinks in forested
lands offset CO2 emissions by about 8 percent. During 1990-95,
greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise in the United States, with
CO2 increasing approximately 6 percent, methane approximately 4 percent,
N2O nearly 10 percent, and HFCs approximately 7 percent. Fossil fuel
combustion accounts for 99 percent of total U.S. CO2 emissions. (Chapter
3 of this report explains the use of MMTCE in converting emissions of
greenhouse gases to carbon equivalents.)
Although methane emissions are lower than CO2 emissions, methane’s
footprint is large: in a 100-year time span it is considered to be
twenty-one times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the
atmosphere and is responsible for about 10 percent of the warming caused
by U.S. emissions. In addition, in the last two centuries alone, methane
concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled. Emissions of
methane are largely generated by landfills, agriculture, oil and natural
gas systems, and coal mining, with landfills comprising the single
largest source of the gas. In 1995, methane emissions from U.S.
landfills were 63.5 MMTCE, equaling approximately 36 percent of total
U.S. methane emissions. Agriculture supplied about 30 percent of U.S.
methane emissions in that same year.
Nitrous oxide is also emitted in much smaller amounts than carbon
dioxide in the United States and is responsible for approximately 2.4
percent of the U.S. share of the greenhouse effect. However, like
methane, it is a more powerful heat trap–310 times more powerful than
carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year
period. The main anthropogenic activities producing nitrous oxide are
agriculture, fossil fuel combustion, and the production of adipic and
nitric acids. Figures from 1995 show the agricultural sector emitting 46
percent of the total (18.4 MMTCE), with fossil fuel combustion
generating 31 percent.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are among the compounds introduced to replace
ozone-depleting substances, which are being phased out as a result of
the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol on Substances That
Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
Because HFCs have significant potential to alter the Earth’s radiative
balance, they are included in this inventory. Many of the compounds of
this nature are extremely stable and remain in the atmosphere for
extended periods of time, which results in a significant atmospheric
accumulation over time. U.S. emissions of these gases have risen nearly
60 percent as they are phased in as substitutes for gases that are no
longer allowed under the Montreal Protocol–a rate of growth that is not
anticipated to continue. Currently, HFCs account for less than 2 percent
of U.S. radiative forcing.
Mitigating Climate Change
In October 1993, in response to the threat of global climate change,
President Clinton and Vice President Gore announced the Climate Change
Action Plan (CCAP). The Plan was designed to reduce U.S. emissions of
greenhouse gases, while guiding the U.S. economy toward environmentally
sound economic growth into the next century. This report updates the
programs in the CCAP (including an appendix providing one-page
descriptions of each program), describes several additional initiatives
developed to further reduce emission growth rates, and estimates future
emissions based on the current set of practices and programs.
CCAP programs represent an effort to stimulate actions that are both
profitable for individual private-sector participants as well as
beneficial to the environment. Currently, more than forty programs are
in effect, combining efforts of the government at the federal, state,
and local levels with those of the private sector. The CCAP has five
goals: preserving the environment, enhancing sustainable growth
environmentally and economically, building partnerships, involving the
public, and encouraging international emission reductions.
Carbon dioxide emissions constitute the bulk of U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions. CCAP recognizes that investing in energy efficiency is the
most cost-effective way to reduce these emissions. The largest
proportion of CCAP programs contains measures that reduce carbon dioxide
emissions while simultaneously enhancing domestic productivity and
competitiveness. Other programs seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
by investing in renewable-energy and other low-carbon, energy-supply
technologies, which will also provide longer-term benefits, such as
increased efficiency and related cost-savings and pollution prevention.
A smaller number of programs are targeted at methane, nitrous oxide, and
other greenhouse gases (Table 1-2).
A review and update of the CCAP was initiated in 1995, involving a
federal government interagency review process and a public hearing and
comment period. Revisions to the CCAP (and to the calculation of the
effects of its measures) were initiated in light of comments received
during this process and are reflected in this document. In addition, as
called for under FCCC reporting guidelines, the projections of the
effects of measures taken are extended to the year 2020, with the
understanding that uncertainties become greater in more distant years.
One of the principal products of the review was an assessment of the
effectiveness of the CCAP programs, which were rated to be successful at
reducing emissions. Currently, more than 5,000 organizations are
participating in programs around the United States. The
pollution-prevention benefits of these innovative programs are beginning
to multiply rapidly in response to the groundwork laid and the
partnerships made. In all, the programs are expected to achieve a large
portion of the reductions projected in the CCAP. In fact, it is
estimated that these programs will result in energy cost savings of $10
billion annually in 2000.
However, the review has also made clear the significantly reduced impact
to be expected from the programs as a result of the nearly 40 percent
reduction of CCAP funding by Congress from the amount requested by the
President, higher-than-expected electricity demand, and
lower-than-expected energy prices. In addition, before the programs’
implementation, CCAP program managers could not always anticipate the
impacts of projected climate change emission reductions. Information
available from the first tranche of activity was considered in
developing the current projections.
A second product of the review was the identification of several
measures that have since been added to the CCAP portfolio. The most
significant of these is the Environmental Stewardship Initiative, which
greatly expands activities already included in the CCAP, and focuses on
reducing the emissions of extremely potent greenhouse gases from three
industrial applications–semiconductor production, electrical
transmission and distribution systems, and magnesium casting. The
expanded initiative is anticipated to reduce emissions by an additional
6.5 MMTCE by 2000, and 10.0 MMTCE by 2010. Other programs include
improving energy efficiency in the construction of and supply of energy
to commercial and industrial buildings, expanding residential markets
for energy-efficient lighting products, and providing information on
renewable energy to reduce barriers to the adoption of clean
The analysis of individual actions is integrated with revised forecasts
of economic growth, energy prices, program funding, and regulatory
developments to provide an updated comprehensive perspective on current
and projected greenhouse gas emission levels. This analysis involved an
updating of the baseline calculation in light of new economic
assumptions regarding energy prices, economic growth, and technology
improvements, among other factors. In 1993, the first U.S. submission
projected year 2000 baseline emissions to be 106 MMTCE above their 1990
levels; with current program funding, emissions are now projected to
exceed 1990 levels by 188 MMTCE. Two principal factors are responsible:
The analysis used to develop CCAP significantly underestimated the
reductions that would be needed by programs to return emissions to 1990
levels by the year 2000. This was due to several factors, including
lower-than-expected fuel prices, strong economic growth, regulatory
limitations within and outside of CCAP, and improved information on
emissions of some potent greenhouse gases.
In addition, diminished levels of funding by Congress have affected both
CCAP programs and other federal programs that reduce emissions, limiting
While neither the measures initiated in 1993 nor the additional actions
developed since then and included in this report will be adequate to
meet the emissions goal enunciated by the President, they have
significantly reduced emissions below growth rates that otherwise would
have occurred. Based on current funding levels, the revised action plan
is expected to reduce emissions by 76 MMTCE in the year 2000–or 70
percent of the reductions projected in the CCAP. Annual energy cost
savings to businesses and consumers from CCAP actions are anticipated to
be $10 billion (1995 dollars) by the year 2000. Even greater reductions
are estimated from these measures in the post-2000 period: reductions of
169 MMTCE are projected for 2010, and 230 MMTCE for 2020. Annual energy
savings are projected to grow to $50 billion (1995 dollars) in the year
A separate component of this chapter addresses the U.S. Initiative on
Joint Implementation. Projects undertaken through this initiative allow
private-sector partners to offset emissions from domestic activities
through reductions achieved in other countries. The Climate Convention
established a pilot program for joint implementation at the first
meeting of the Conference of the Parties. Guidelines for reporting under
the pilot program were established by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific
and Technological Advice at its fifth session in February 1997. This
report uses those guidelines to report on project activity.
PRIVATE Table 1-2
Summary of Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(Million Metric Tons of Carbon Equivalent)
Plan Estimate Revised Estimate*
2000 2000 2005 2010
PRIVATE Residential & Commercial Sector Actions
1 Rebuild America
1 & 2 Expanded Green Lights and Energy Star Buildings
3 State Revolving Fund for Public Buildings
4 Cost-Shared Demonstrations of Emerging Technologies
5 Operation and Maintenance Training for Commercial Building Facility
Managers and Operators
6 Energy Star® Products
7 Residential Appliance Standards
8 and 11 Energy Partnerships for Affordable Housing
9 Cool Communities
10 Update State Building Codes
New Construction of EnergyEfficient Commercial and Industrial Buildings
Not included 0.1
New Superwindow Collaborative
Not included 0.0
New Expand Markets for NextGeneration Lighting Products
Not included 0.2
New Fuel Cells Initiative
Not included 0.0
Industrial Sector Actions
12 Motor Challenge
13 Industrial Golden Carrot Programs
14 Accelerate the Adoption of EnergyEfficient Process Technologies
15 Industrial Assessment Centers
16 Waste Minimization**
17 Improve Efficiency of Fertilizer Nitrogen Use***
18 Reduce the Use of Pesticides
Transportation Sector Actions
19 Cash Value of Parking
20 Innovative Transportation Strategies
21 Telecommuting Program
22 Fuel Economy Labels for Tires
Energy Supply Actions
23 Increase Natural Gas Share of Energy Use Through Federal Regulatory
24 Promote Seasonal Gas Use for Control of Nitrogen Oxides
25 HighEfficiency Gas Technologies
26 RenewableEnergy Commercialization
27 Expand Utility Integrated Resource Planning
28 Profitable Hydroelectric Efficiency Upgrades
29 EnergyEfficient Distribution Transformer Standards
30 Energy Star Distribution Transformers
31 Transmission Pricing Reform
New Green Power Network
Not Included 0.0
Land-Use Change & Forestry Actions+
43 Reduce Depletion of Nonindustrial
44 Accelerate Tree Planting in
Nonindustrial Private Forests
16 Waste Minimization**
9 Expand Cool Communities
0.5 Not quantified
32 Expand Natural Gas STAR
33 Increase Stringency of Landfill Rule
34 Landfill Methane Outreach Program
35 Coalbed Methane Outreach Program
36 RD&D for Coal Mine Methane
37 RD&D for Landfill Methane
38 AgSTAR Program
39 Ruminant Livestock Efficiency Program
Actions to Address Other Greenhouse Gases
17 Improve Efficiency of Fertilizer Nitrogen Use***
40 Significant New Alternatives Program
41 HFC23 Partnerships
42 Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership
New Environmental Stewardship Initiative
Not included 6.5
Not estimated 1.8
Not estimated 7.6
State and Local Outreach Programs
Not estimated 1.9
PRIVATE Total GHG Emission Reductions 108.6 76.0 128.3 169.3 229.5
From CCAP Programs
Notes: Several of the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) programs are
part of larger federal efforts. These programs include Actions 2, 4, 6,
7, 15, 16, 27, 32, and 33. Only the CCAP portions of these programs are
included in this table. Also, numbers may not add precisely due to
interactive effects and rounding.
* There is uncertainty in any attempt to project future emission levels
and program impacts, and this uncertainty becomes greater with longer
forecast periods. The results of this evaluation of CCAP represent a
best estimate. They are also based on the assumption that programs will
continue to be funded at current funding levels.
** Includes Waste Wise, NICE3, and USDA’s Expansion of Recycling
Technology. Energy savings and sequestration are scored separately.
*** Energy savings and N2O savings are scored separately.
+ Additional forestry initiatives by electric utilities are included in
Climate Challenge, a Foundation Program.
++ Foundation action partners provide additional reductions in almost
all sectors and gases. These values only represent incremental savings
not accounted for in other actions or baseline activities.
+++ For the Climate Challenge program, there is considerable uncertainty
at this time in quantifying impacts beyond the year 2000, largely
because partners’ Climate Challenge plans do not currently extend beyond
2000.Given that participation levels are growing and that most utilities
appear to be meeting or expanding upon their commitments to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions, it is reasonable to expect that the Climate
Challenge program will deliver more significant reductions.
Research and Systematic Observation
The U.S. government has dedicated significant resources to research on
global climate change. U.S. research efforts (some of which include the
private sector) are divided into several general categories, including
prediction of climate change, impacts and adaptation, mitigation and new
technologies, and socioeconomic analysis and assessment. In addition,
U.S. scientists actively coordinate with research and capacity-building
efforts in other countries.
The principal vehicle for undertaking climate change research at the
federal level is the United States Global Change Research Program. The
multiagency program was funded in fiscal year 1997 at approximately $1.8
billion. A significant portion of the Research Program’s activities is
targeted at improving capabilities to predict climate change, including
the human-induced contribution to climate change, and its implications
for society and the environment. The United States also is committed to
continuing programs in research and observation, with the aim of
developing the information base required to improve predictions of
climate change and its repercussions, as well as the ability to reduce
emissions while sustaining food production, ecosystems, and economic
Extensive efforts also are being made to understand the consequences of
climate change, regional impacts, and the potential for adaptation.
Another area being explored by researchers is the development of
technologies that would enable the United States to supply energy, food,
water, ecosystem services, and a healthy environment to U.S. citizens,
while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts
have been divided into short- and longer-term projects involving the
private sector, as well as government-sponsored research.
Perhaps most notable in the international component of the research
effort is U.S. participation in IPCC work. U.S. scientists participated
in the preparation and review of nearly all of the more than 100
chapters of the over 2,000-page report. Researchers also participated in
the collection and analysis of the underlying data through programs as
varied as the World Climate Research Program, the Human Dimensions of
Global Environmental Change Program, the International
Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and an impressive array of bilateral
scientific and technical work.
Overall, the conclusions to be drawn from this report can be summarized
in three parts:
Climate change is a clearly defined problem and is well recognized at
the highest levels in the U.S. government. Senior officials (from the
President to heads of cabinet agencies and departments) have taken a
strong stand in favor of seeking to reduce emissions.
The combined effort to address climate change (described in this report,
and including the Research Program, the total costs of U.S. mitigation
actions, and the international effort) are in excess of $2 billion–a
significant step by any standard.
Notwithstanding this effort, emissions continue to grow. More aggressive
actions must be taken to combat the threat of climate change.
The United States is developing a long-term, post-2000 strategy to
address the climate change problem. This effort, which has both a
multilateral, international focus and a domestic focus, is expected to
be made public in the next few months. It will be based on an extensive
analytic effort to assess the effects of an array of additional policy
choices, including setting legally binding, internationally agreed caps
on emissions. It will consider the advantages of market-based
instruments for both domestic and international emissions trading, as
well as joint implementation for credit with developing countries. It
will consider approaches to be taken for gases for which monitoring and
measurement are relatively simple (e.g., for carbon dioxide emissions
from stationary energy sources), as well as those gases for which
emissions are more difficult to measure (such as nitrous oxides from
Currently underway, the effort is intensive and time-consuming. It
involves more than twenty agencies within the federal government, as
well as several offices in the Executive Office of the President.
Congress will be consulted in the development of policies and will most
likely need to enact legislation to implement any agreed program. A
significant stakeholder outreach program will be undertaken over the
next several months to engage the best thinking on alternative
approaches, and following adoption of a program to ensure maximum
compliance with the course of action chosen.
( HYPERLINK “http://www.state.gov/” www.state.gov
( HYPERLINK “http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/climate/index.html”
( Global Warming International Center
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