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Global Climate Change: A Concise History of Negotiations and Chronology of Major Activities Preceding the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention
Wayne A. Morrissey
May 5, 1998
It is difficult to ascribe a starting point for U.S. involvement in the issue of global climate change. The scientific theory of an "enhanced greenhouse effect," resulting from industrial air pollution is now a hundred years old. Since the late 1950s, scientists within the ranks of the U.S. federal government have participated in scientific workshops and international conferences on the nature of Earth's climate system and the role of carbon dioxide (C02) and other greenhouse gases that are believed to modify the global climate.
Extensive involvement of the U.S. government from the perspective of formulating U.S. policy and assuming a diplomatic role in international debates, which relate to this issue, probably began in earnest around 1978, with efforts to coordinate federal government activities in research into global climate change. Various activities since helped to achieve the first international agreement aimed at controlling greenhouse gases, the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sought voluntary controls on emissions by industrialized countries.
In the ongoing international policy debate, attention has been turned to the post -2000 period, and what actions may be necessary to protect the climate to prevent possible economic and environmental disruption. The historical context of the current debate is important in understanding the fundamental issues about global climate change.
It is difficult to ascribe a singular event that might have encouraged officials of the U.S. Government to become involved with the issue of global climate change; rather, it might be described as a long succession of events. Indeed, the idea that carbon dioxide from industrial production could trap heat in Earth's atmosphere was proffered some 100 years ago, in 1898, by Swedish Physicist Svante AiThenius. For a number of years, after the key 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year (IGY)1, scientists within the ranks of U.S. federal agencies participated extensively in scientific workshops, international conferences, and international scientific research programs that explored the nature of Earth's climate system and the role of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases believed to modify the global environment.
Around 1977, the prospect of global climate change, and what might be done about it, began to arise in some international policy discussions. Concerns about potential climate change had emerged from lecture halls and scientific conferences and also had begun to be heard in U.S. government scientific fora. International experts involved in research on potential global warming from greenhouse gas emissions continued to lend their findings to an incipient international policy debate.
In the late 1970s, few Members of Congress or others engaged in policy at the executive level of the U.S. government deemed that climate change merited any type of domestic policy response other than calling for more scientific research on the matter. However, internationally, climate change was already beginning to be deliberated in the diplomatic arena by some foreign environmental ministers and parliamentarians alike. Many of these discussions included proposals for an international framework for a "law of the atmosphere," to pursue future climate protection measures if they were needed. In response, concerned scientists and other citizens called upon the U.S. government to send official representatives to be part of these discussions.
From the perspective of formulating a national policy, adopting a diplomatic role in international actions on potential global climate change, and enhancing scientific research that relates to these issues, government involvement probably began in earnest with implementation of the National Climate Program Act (P.L. 95-367, September 17, 1978). In addition to coordinating domestic programs in climate research, applications, and services, NCPA also supported U.S. government participation in climate research coordinated and conducted under international auspices.
The first major international studies on global climate change requested by world decision makers were performed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the International Council of Scientific Unions ('C SU), and were released for public review at the First World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979. After about 10 years of continuing discussions and further study on the science, a foundation was laid for negotiations on a climate change convention/treaty. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in November 1988, and underpinned the first effort in a series of periodic international scientific and policy assessments of global climate change. The United States established its national Global Change Research Program in 1989, pursuant to P.L. 100-606, The Global Change Research Act
Global efforts toward achieving climate change protection reached a significant milestone with the adoption of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) in 1992, under which the United States, along with 152 other nations, agreed to an ultimate objective of stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The United States and certain other industrialized countries also agreed to pursue various voluntary measures to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2000. In October 1993, President Clinton outlined a voluntary Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) designed to limit U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases
Since the U.S. ratification of FCCC in 1992, there have been bipartisan expressions of the sense of Congress that, if the United States is to become party to any future international regulatory agreement, the decision to do so should be well-informed and scientifically-sound, and that all nations partyto the FCCC should have proportional responsibilities for global climate protection. Accordingly, Congress has sought to acquire scientific information about possible climate change as a basis to evaluate potential economic and strategic impacts of a warmer climate and to formulate appropriate policy responses. Also, because of the global implications of this problem, Members of Congress have elevated concern internationally through direct communication with world leaders, participation in international conferences, passage of congressional resolutions and legislation, and have exchanged views and information with international organizations within and outside the United Nations system.
Not long after release of President Clinton's 1993 domestic Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), and the entry into force in 1994 of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), scientists, other experts, and parties to the FCCC became concerned that policy actions to date were only one small step that world decision makers would need to take ultimately to address potential ftiture climate change. Prominent scientists projected that the effects of climate change would be apparent well into the next century, well after the flindamental commitments under the FCCC might be satisfied. Subsequently, attention was focused on the period alter the year 2000. The FCCC established a negotiating body, the Conference of Parties (COP), to consider more stringent measures for climate change protection and proposed to cratt a protocol or some other legal instrument that would be more regulatory in nature than FCCC. Successive negotiations forged the December 1997 U.N. Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change which, if it enters into force, would implement the first legally binding reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of stabilizing (if not reducing) atmospheric concentrations of these pollutants at some point in the future.2
International efforts at climate change protection are continuing. Consequently, many experts have characterized the Kyoto Protocol as a "work in progress" that, in and of itself, will accomplish little, if anything, to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases or effect environmental improvements. Supporters of the Protocol, however, believe that it is a flindamental framework for fliture action that will build upon prior efforts and will advance the intention of those whose concern is to "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the Earth's climate system." For a review of scientific opinion and diplomatic and policy actions since ratification of the Framework Convention and completion of the Kyoto Protocol, see CRS Issue Brief 89005, Global Climate Change, and CRS Report 98-2, Global Climate Change Treaty: Summaiy of Kyoto Protocol
For a number of years, scientists within the ranks of federal agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others, have participated in scientific workshops and international conferences on the nature of Earth's climate system, and the role of C02 and other greenhouse gases that are believed to modily the global climate. Extensive involvement of the United States government from the perspective of formulating U.S. policy and assuming a diplomatic role in international efforts which relate to that issue, however, probably began around 1978, with efforts to coordinate federal government activities and culminating with the ratification of an international treaty on climate change in 1992. The following chronology recounts major milestones along the way.
1978 - P.L. 95-367, The National Climate Program Act, established the National Climate Program Office (NCPO) in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adrninistration @4OAA) of the Department of Commerce for the purposes of planning and coordinating national and U.S. involvement in international research efforts on climate change throughout the federal government.
February 1979- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and International Council of Scientific Unions (1CSU) sponsored the First World Climate Conference (FWCC), which convened in Geneva, Switzerland. Billed as "A conference of experts on climate and mankind," and focusing on the scientific basis of climatic change, the FWCC addressed issues of northern hemisphere cooling; severe winters that were occurring in the mid-latitudes of the United States and Central Europe; widespread drought and desertification in Sub-Sahara Africa, and public concern about famine and death realized through the toll climate had taken on some world agricultural systems. The U.S. government sent representatives to the FWCC, however, those were mostly expert scientists employed at U.S. scientific mission agencies. Government scientists attending such conferences participated in their capacity as scientists, not as representatives of their respective governments.
Late 1979 - Out of the FWCC evolved the WMO World Climate Program and its four components: (1) the World Climate Data Program; (2) the World Climate Applications Program; (3) the World Climate Impact Studies Program; and (4) the World Climate Research Program, each dedicated to examining the state of scientific knowledge about climate change under its charge while deducing the technological capability of various nations to address global climate change. In a series of conferences and workshops sponsored by the WMO, UNEP, and ICSU that followed, the seeds of interest among governments, as far as officially participating in such activities, were sown.
1980 - The first joint UNEP/ICSU/WMO Meeting of Experts on the Assessment of the Role of C02 on Climate Variations and Their Impact was held in Villach, Austria in November. This meeting investigated how increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere could affect various regions of the Earth during the upcoming century. Participants also discussed the technical, financial, and institutional options for limiting or adapting to climatic changes.
1982 - The three representative organizations of the WCP (WMO/UNEP/ICSU) met in October, in Geneva, Switzerland and recommended that continuing assessments of C02, believed to be responsible for global warming, be held every five years, starting from the first meeting in 1980. Following that meeting, an Interim Assessment was prepared.
1985- A second WCP scientific conference was held in Villach, Austria in October to follow up and update an assessment, originally prepared in 1980, of the role of increased carbon dioxide and other radiatively active greenhouse gases in climate variation and their associated impacts.3 Participants at this meeting concluded in a conference statement that, "As a result of the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, it is now believed that in the first half of the next century a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than any in man's history." It was at this session that flull-scale national government interaction with scientists took root because the Woiid Climate Program made recommendations for policy actions to be taken by world leaders to stem potential impacts of climate change from increasing concentrations of C02 and other greenhouse gases.
September 1987 - The United States had completed international negotiations under the auspices of the WMOIUNEP toward an international treaty and regulatory annexes to protect the stratosphere from ozone depletion suspected to result from man-made chiorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These negotiations, and the guidelines for their conduct, however, had been set forth as early as 1985, in accordance with the Vierma Convention on the Prevention on Stratospheric Ozone Loss which the United States had previously ratified. By 1987, the Parties to the Vienna Convention had concluded negotiations on an international regulatory instrument and had opened for signature the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Some public policy experts have credited the generally positive experiences of scientists and policymakers working together within the milieu of ozone protection negotiations as facilitating the organization and the conduct of both the activities of the IPCC working groups, and the subsequent U.N. negotiations undertaken toward a Framework Convention on Climate Change.
October 1987 - Two World Climate Program (WCP) workshops took place in Villach, Austria, and Bellaglo, Italy, which led to the discussion of the development of international policies for responding to climatic change; the justification for which would be built upon the results of both the 1980 and 1985 WCP scientific assessments on C02. The WCP Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) saw this meeting as an important step in the process of policy development in response to possible climate change at the international level and, as such, a realization of a goal that was called for originally by the Villach conference in 1985.4 About six months after the Bellagio meeting the governing bodies of WMO and UNEP requested the U.N. to establish an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to address the issue of climate change, its environmental, economic and social impacts, and possible national and international responses to such changes, and invited nations to have tull ministerial representation in future proceedings.
December 1987 - The White House Committee on Earth Sciences (CES) was established under the White House Ottice of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Federal Coordinating Committee on Science, Technology and Engineering (FCCSET). The committee came to be called the Committee on Earth and Environmental Sciences (CEES), and was charged pursuant to Public Law 10l-606, the National Global Change Research Act of 1990, with the development of a 10-year U.S. Global Change Research Program.
June 1988- The RJ.N.] Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere was held in June. Governments were invited by Canada to participate in formal discussions leading toward a possible "law of the atmosphere," controlling atmospheric pollutants which, among other things, would seek to control emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
November 1988 - The first meeting of a newly created U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) convened in Geneva, November 9-11, 1988. The plenary meeting of the IPCC included representatives of some 35 nations, including the United States, the U.S.S.R, several other foreign governments, and international governmental and non-governmental organizations. The latter served as observers and functioned as advisory bodies in the proceedings. As a result of this meeting, the IPCC was charged by the U.N. General Assembly to prepare an integrated state-of the-art report on the science, impacts, and responses to global climate change by September of 1990.5
February 1989 - Following up on the Toronto Conference in 1988, at a "Meeting of Legal and Policy Experts" held in Ortawa, on February 20-22, 1989, participants discussed the feasibility of a climate change convention and issued a statement that among other things addressed. .."considerations and elements for a specific convention on climate change which would govern emissions of carbon dioxide implicated in global warming, and target a 20% reduction thereof."
Spring 1990 - Three consensus documents on science, impacts, and responses of the working groups of the IPCC were produced by the beginning of summer of 1990 and were viewed throughout most of the international scientific and global diplomatic community as the definitive statement of the state-of-the-knowledge about global climate change. A majority of participants and independently-polled scientists who peer reviewed those reports, considered the results of each working group a relative success and a major accomplishment for multi-disciplinary scientific and social research bodies participating within a potential policy making milieu. The "responses" working group report was criticized in that it offered no concrete recommendation as to what governments should do to either mitigate or adapt to potential climate change. Furthermore, a group of dissenting scientists claimed that their opinions were neither considered nor presented in the final IPCC documents and, consequently, criticized the IPCC review process because no comments or reactions to comments were ever exchanged between independent peer reviewers and the IPCC.
June through August 1990 - The three IPCC working groups submitted their findings to the full IPCC in June 1990, and, following a plenary session in August 1990, the latter presented its First Interim Assessment Report to the 45th session of the U.N. General Assembly and to the United Nations Second World Climate Conference (SWCC) that convened in Geneva, Switzerland between October 29 -November 7, 1990, under the auspices of WMO, UNEP, and ICSU. The so called IPCC integrated report, consequently adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, would form the basis for international negotiations toward a framework convention on climate change. The integrated report - consisting of an Interim Assessment, a fourth working paper prepared by the ad hoc IPCC Working Group on Financial and Technical Assistance, and an IPCC Assessment Overview document prepared by the Secretariat of the IPCC - was subject to a short period of review during adjunct U.N. General Assembly Scientific and Technical sessions.
November 1990 - After presentation of the IPCC integrated Interim Assessment of Global Climate Change at the SWCC, and it adoption by the U.N. General Assembly, some countries had expected that negotiating sessions for a regulatory mechanism to address potential global climate change would begin during Ministerial sessions that immediately followed the Scientific and Technical sessions. The United States and the Soviet Union, among others, however, were firmly opposed to making any commitments at that time, especially one that would require legally-binding reductions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. The United States argued that such matters would be more appropriately considered under the authority of the U.N. General Assembly and not the WMO, and further suggested that interested nations reconvene in negotiations that would address specific regulatory actions relating to global climate change.
December 1990 -The U.N. General Assembly on December 21, 1990, recalling its resolutions 43/53 of December 6, 1988 and 44/207 of December22, 1989 in which it recognized that climate change is a common concern of mankind, established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC). The INC, supported by WMO and UNEP, was charged with preparing an effective framework convention on climate change, containing appropriate commitments and any related legal instruments as might be agreed upon. This resolution, A/RES/45/212, called for the framework convention negotiations to be completed prior to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in June 1992, and opened for signature during that conference.
February 1991 - The United States offered to host the first U.N. International Negotiating Committee ([NC) session in Chantilly, Virginia in February of 1991. The meeting was titled, "Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind." Criticized by some as being unproductive because no protocols, memoranda of understanding, or terms of reference relating to a framework convention on climate change came out of this first session, others such as the United States delegation insisted that INC's focus at its first session was primarily to attend to organizational business and the INC's administrative requirements. By the close of deliberations, two working groups and their leadership had been established.
June 1991 through May 1992 - The second session of the INC met in Geneva, June 19-29, the third session convened in Nairobi, September 9-20, and the fourth session convened in Geneva, December 9-20, 1991. The fifth INC session took place in New York City, February 18-28, 1992. One more negotiating session, described as an extension of the 5th INC session, took place in New York between April 29 and May 8, 1992. This session was the last remaining opportunity for the parties to meet as a whole and agree upon a final text for a so-called framework convention on climate change that would be opened for signature by June at the United Nations Conference on Economic Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, in June of 1992. At the conclusion of this last session on May 8, 1992, it was evident that a flexible, voluntary response by nations to reduce net atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would be the backbone of the climate convention that would be opened for signature at UNCED. This agreement, that by 1998, had been signed by over 170 nations, contained a "non-binding aim," in the nature of voluntary commitments for industrialized countries to begin to return their net emissions of "greenhouse" gases to 1990 levels, and to devise plans for stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by the year 2000, both by controlling sources of emissions and enhancing sinks for greenhouse gases.
January 1992 - Resulting from a meeting in January in Guangzhou, China, the IPCC's WG-l on Science released a "Supplemenf" that is an update to the first interim scientific assessment of climate change. An IPCC plenary document was also released that integrated findings from activities of the other IPCC working groups. New scientific insights into the role of CFCs and climate change, as potentially offsetting some global warming at Earth's surface, challenged the Bush Administration's "basket of options" approsch to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and shifted emphasis in international negotiations back to focusing on C02 reductions. The IPCC also declared a need to reassess the indirect global warming potentials of other greenhouse gases and their concentrations and effects over different time horizons, and for flirther study on the possible climatic cooling effects of sulfate aerosols in Earth's atmosphere.
February 1992 - In its "Statement on Commitments", submitted on February 27, 1992, at the 5th INC session in New York, the United States outlined a new course of measures that it would undertake to mitigate climate change. The United States emphasized that these actions would begin immediately, would be taken unilaterally, and would not be contingent on its final acceptance or rejection of any legally binding timetables or provisions as might be set forth in the text of a future international climate change agreement (the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change). Actions would be pursued in several areas including: (1) improved energy efficiency; (2) transportation sector improvements; (3) supply-side changes to lower-emission technologies; (4) agriculture and natural resources-methane capture and tree planting; (5) federal research and development measures-technological and scientific; (6)joint U.S. government4ndustry programs to reduce emissions; and (7) state and local government actions. Some analysts estimated that such actions taken by the United States could enable it to realize a reduction in C02 of about 14 % below 1990 levels by the year 2000. Some environmentalists criticized these "new" measures as simply a delineation of what the United States had been prepared to do all along and, in some cases, what was required under existing law.
April 1992 - A study by the Bush Administration released in April 1992, U.S. Views on Climate Change, suggested that the United States might not be far from the goal of reducing its net emissions of C02 to 1990 levels by 2000- a goal called for by many INC parties - simply by undertaking energy efficiency and savings programs and other mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change that were already underway in existing federal and state programs.
June 1992 - On June 12, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the United States, along with 142 other nations, signed the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The FCCC contained an action framework that would commit the wod d's industrialized countries to voluntary reduction of greenhouse gases, and other actions such as enhancing greenhouse gas sinks, all aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at 1990 levels. The Convention also contained other binding agreements for all signatory parties, including developing countries, related to its establishment, support, and administration. Furthermore, the Convention suggested the possibility of continuing negotiations by means of a Conference of Parties, subject to ajudgement of the ratifying parties, after FCCC's entry into force, to pursue subsequent actions to counter global warming similar to the 1985 Vienna Convention, that preceded the Montreal Protocol on Protection of the Ozone Layer. The majority view among INC representatives was that the convention opened for signature at UNCED represented a scientifically-sound first step toward a proactive stabilization of industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Critics however, found it deficient because in their view it did not realistically address greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. Furthermore, there was less agreement on how far the convention should have gone, and whether it should have also set future emission reduction targets and timetables.
September through October 1992 - On September. 8, 1992, the Convention was transmitted by the White House to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations "for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification." That Committee endorsed the treaty and reported it (S. Exec. Rept. 102-55) on October 1, 1992. The Senate consented to ratification of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change on October 7, 1992, with a two-thirds majority division vote; President Bush signed the instrument of ratification of the Convention on October 13, 1992.
Late November 1992 - The U.S. National Action Plan for Global Climate Change was released at the end of November by the Bush Administration and was intended to supplement many of the so-called "no-regrets" actions that were already being undertaken to limit future U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions. The National Plan also considered other efforts that might be undertaken to adapt to potential climate change, reiterating many of the strategies outlined in President Bush's February 1991, Action Agenda on Climate Change. However, the 1992 U.S. National Plan went further than the Action Agenda to include: (1) additional federal government measures, both legislative and administrative; (2) actions taken by state governments; (3) private sector measures; and (4) measures undertaken in cooperation with other countries.
December 1992 - The INC convened its sixth meeting December 7-10, 1992, in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the fliture of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), including its organizational structure, and to reevaluate the urgency (timetable of meetings) of moving forward on measures to address potential global climate change. The INC was requested to act as the interim coordinating body on business matters relating to global climate change for the U.N. Secretary General, until the Conference of the Parties to the Convention would be established and meet for the first time. The INC met in March and August and, among other things, debated the feasibility of the World Bank's Global Environmental Fund (GEF) as a mechanism for managing international flinding of developing countries, which would assist the latter in tulfilling their commitments and obligations under the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The following is a selection of reports comprised of what is believed to be the major studies that have significantly influenced U.S. policy on global climate change over time. It includes reports by various federal, academic and private sector experts participating since initial U.S. involvement in international policy debates on the issue, and reflects scientific work considered by the U.S. in formulating positions relating to a framework convention on climate change.
National Research Council. Changing climate: report of die carbon dioxide assessment committee. Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Resources. National Research Council. National Academy of Sciences. Washington, 1983. Prepared in response to the Energy Security Act of 1980, to assess the potential impacts of the buildup of C02 in the atmosphere from the full-scale production of synthetic ftiels. "Our stance is conservative: we believe there is reason for caution, not panic. Since understanding and proof of what is happening to climate as a result of practices that load the atmosphere with C02 may come too late to allow for corrective action, we may not be able to wait to make certain there is a best course." This is, perhaps, one of the first "policy" documents on the issue of global climate change contributed to by scientists, and one that was ordered by Congress, under U.S. law.
Policy implications of greenhouse warming: mitigation, adaptation, sience, and synthesis documents. U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Committee on Science Engineering and PLiblic Policy. 1991, Washington, DC. Undertaken by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a requirement of P.L. 100-404 - which called for a Council on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) study on the potential societal impacts of global climate change. Three reports prepared on Adaptation (August 1991), Mitigation (June 1991) and Science. The Synthesis Panel report was published first (April 1991), and proposed least cost strategies for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions between 10% - 40% of 1990 levels by the year 2000, and suggested that some reductions could be at a net savings if appropriate policies were implemented.
In addition, a selection of early reports prepared by the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and its various committees, on the subject of the science of global climate change and the role of C02 should be mentioned. These earlier repoits focused more on the scientific research aspect of the issue, and were intended to summarize the state-of-the-knowledge about global climate change and the role of C02 at the time they were completed.
Studies and geophysics: energy and climate. National Research Council. Geophysics Research Board. Geophysics Study Committee, Washington, National Academy of Sciences, 1977.
Carbon dioxide and climate: a sientific assessment Report of an Ad Hoc Study Group on Carbon Dioxide and Climate. Woods Hole, Mass., July 23-27, 1979. Washington, National Academy of Sciences, 1979
Carbon dioxide and climate: a second assessment: Report of the CO2/Climate Review Panel. Climate Research Committee of the Climate Board/Committee on Atmospheric Sciences and the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee of the Climate Board. Washington, National Academy of Sciences, 1982.
United Nations World Meteorological Organization. Three important reports were issued as a result of activities stemming from the 1978 World Meteorological Organization First World Climate Conference (FWCC) that resulted in the creation of the World Climate Program endorsed at the FWCC, Many other reports by this body have followed focusing on more specific aspects of global climate change research and its potential role in informing public decision makers.
Procceedings of the world climate conference: a conference of experts on climate and mankind. Geneva, February 12-23, 1979. WMO-No.537, Secretariat of the World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Report of the international conference on the assessment of the role of carbon dioxide and of other greenhouse gases in climate variations and associated impacts. World Climate Program. Villach, Austria, October 9-15, 1985. WMO-No. 661. ICSU(UNEPJWMO, 1986.
World climate program impact studies: developing policies for responding to climatic change; a summary of the recommendations of the workshops held in Villach (28 September - 2 October 1987) and Bellagio (9-1 November 1987), published under the auspices of the Beijer Institute, Stockholm.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Cliniate Change (IPCC). Established by the United Nations in November of 1988, the IPCC was charged with performing the first world government-sponsored assessment of global climate change and its members were requested to consider issues associated with the science, impacts, and possible response strategies to prepare for the possible onset of a greenhouse warming.
lntergovernmental panel on climate change first
assessment report: overview
Intergovernmental panel on climate change supplement, radiative forcing of greenhouse gases, February 1992. Overview of meeting held in Ouangzhou, China, to assess latest scientific data on global climate change and to update or confirm findings originally put forth in three IPCC Working Group Reports completed in the summer of 1990.
U.S. Government Agencies. Carbon dioxide research: state-of-the art report series. U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE). Office of Energy Research Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Carbon Dioxide Research Division. DOE reported that, the enormity and diversity [of the problem of coordination of multi-disciplinary research on carbon dioxide) made it difficult to (1) define the problem; (2) develop strategies for solving the problem; and (3) establish communication and cooperation among the researchers working on different facets of the problem, and recognized that the compilation, integration, interpretation, and dissemination of information were specially important. It was to aid in the effort of improving communication between scientists and public decision makers that four State Of the Art (SOA) reports were completed: (1) Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and the Global Carbon Cycle (February 1986), (2) Direct Effects of Increasing Carbon Dioxide on Vegetation (March 1986), (3) Detecting the Climatic Effects of Increasing Carbon Dioxide (February 1986), and (4) Projecting die Climatic Effects of Increasing Carbon Dioxide (April 1986). Two additional reports, completed earlier, were also adopted as contribution to the series: Characterization of Infonnation Requirements for Studies of C02 Effects: Water Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, Forests, and Human Health (October 1985) and Glaciers, Ice Sheets, and Sea Level: Effects of a C02-Induced Climatic Change (IVASIDOE, 1984).
Earth Systems science: a program for global change; report of the Earth System Sciences Committee, NASA Advisory Council. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, January 1988. Proposes near-term (1987-1995) and long-term recommendations (1995 and beyond) for (1) sustained, long-term measurements of global variables; (2) tundamental description of the Earth and its history; (3) research foci and process studies; (4) development of Earth system models; (5) an information system for Earth system science; (6) coordination of federal agencies; and (7) international cooperation.
Our changing planet: the U.S. global change research program. U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Committee on Environment and Natural Resources., 1989-1998. Originally issued as "A U.S. Strategy for Global Change Research," a report by the Committee on Earth Sciences, to accompany the President's FY 1990 Budget, with expectations that this document would be released annually thereafter. This report was followed up with a formal FY 1990 "research plan," and only one more formal research plan was released for FY 1991. Five-year assessments were called for thereafter. "The purpose of this document is to provide an initial research strategy to guide planning and conduct of the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program (USGCRP)." The comprehensive research plan presented details of the USGCRP, evaluated how well the current activities addressed the key scientific questions and program goals, identified the gaps in knowledge, prioritized among research needs, and defined individual federal agency roles. It was developed in close collaboration with other national and international planning groups and activities, induding the National Academy of Sciences, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program, and the programs outlined in the five-year plan of the National Climate Program. After FY1991, the research plan was included in the "Our Changing Planet" budget document.
A compendium of options for government policy to encourage private sector responses to potential climate change1 October 1989. U.S. Department of Energy. A reference document which consisted of a compendium of generic policy instruments and specific policy options that would be available to the U.S. government in the event that it were to decide to require significant private sector participation in activities to prevent, mitigate, or adapt to climate change... "The selection of any particular (strategy) package .. is a largely political choice of preferred means to achieve the overall policy goal."
The potential effects of climate change on die United States, was mandated by P.L. 99-59, enacted December 1989, and required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation to conduct a study on the greenhouse effect. ThIs report was requested by the U.S. Congress to focus on "the potential health and environmental effects of climate change including, but not limited to, the potential impacts on agriculture, forests, wetlands, human health, rivers, lakes, estuaxies as well as societal impacts." The report was structured to address regional impacts of climate change on the Southeast, the Great Plains, California, and the Great Lakes.
Interim report national energy strategy: a compilation ofpublic comments. U.S. Department of Energy. April 1990. The executive summary of the document stated that, "Consistent with the President's directive to build national consensus, we have begun the task of developing a National Energy Strategy by opening a dialogue with the American people. We [DOE] have held fifteen public hearings in many areas of the country, several co-chai red by Cabinet Secretaries form other Federal agencies. More than 375 witnesses representing 43 States have contributed to several thousand pages of testimony. Further, our efforts to seek input from State and local governments, consumer organizations, business, industry, and recognized representatives of diverse points of view have resulted in more than 1,000 written submissions. The purpose of the Interim document is to convey the results of this public dialogue [on a National energy strategy] ... The comments received are organized on the basis of presented public concerns, publicly identified goals, publicly identified abitacles to achieving those goals, and publicly suggested options for action to remove or overcome the obstacles."
Policy options for stablizing global climate change; report to Congress; executive summary, main report, and technical appendices. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation. Washington, D.C., December 1990. Second of two reports on the greenhouse effect mandated by Congress in P.L. 100-204. "A comprehensive and global approach, covering all sectors and all greenhouse gases, in the analysis of policy options for reducing greenhouse gases ... Based on a wide range of policy options, from energy efficiency to new methods of rice cultivation, it presents possible fiture scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions to the year 2100 depending on the level of response as well as many other independent factors."
The President of die United States, America's climate change strategy: an action agenda, February 1991. Highlighted comprehensive actions to be taken to mitigate or adapt to potential climate change. Featured actions that "make sense," and reviewed actions already being undertaken by the Bush Administration to address global climate change, such as improved energy efficiency, reforestation pursuant to the "America the Beautiflil Program," under the 1990 Farm Bill, and through proposed reductions of CFCs, under Title VI of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1991.
A comprehensive approach to addressing potential climate change: a report of the task force on the comprehensive approach to climate change, chaired by U.S Dept. of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division. Washington, D.C., February 1991. The model for President Bush's Action Agenda. The Task Force was created as a federal interagency effort with representatives from the President's Council of Economic Advisors, Committee on Earth and Environmental Sciences, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, White House Office of Policy, Development, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Department of State, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Treasury, and White House Legal Counsel. The report stated that, "The best design for a climate change convention, and for any policy responses that might ensue, would be a 'comprehensive' approach that addresses all relevant trace gases, their sources and sinks ... in order to deal with the many scientific, environmental and economic aspects of the climate system, which involves multiple trace gases resulting from activities in every sector of human society."
U.S. efforts to address global climate change: report to Congress and appendices.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation. United States Department of State, February 1991. Mandated by P.L. 100-204. Identified U.S. efforts to address potential climate change consisting of "(1) promoting an international consensus on climate change issues, including about the current state-of-the- knowledge of climate change, the potential range of impacts of such ch7a~ge and policy options which include possible elements of a framework climate convention; (2) entering into international negotiations for a framework climate convention on climate change that would provide a more formal mechanism for international cooperation in understanding the issue and developing coordinated strategies to address it; (3) developing, implementing, and promoting policies and practices that might either mitigate or control greenhouse gas emissions, or facilitate adaption to climate change, that are justified for reasons other than climate change, such as promoting increased energy efficiency, reducing CFC emissions and other greenhouse gases, stopping deforestation and promoting reforestation and wise land use; and (4) continuing to support ongoing research and monitoring programs that will reduce remaining uncertainties."
Changing by degrees: steps to reduce greenhouse gase. U.S. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Febmary 1991. This assessment focuses principally on ways to cut carbon dioxide emissions in th~ Unitel States and in other countries, although it does consider controls on other greenh()use gases ... [and] shows that, "Major reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will require significant new initiatives by the Federal Government, the private sector, and individual citizens." Looks at the programmatic requiremelits to reduce U.S. emissions by 15% by the year 2010. "Many of these initiatives will pay for themselves; for others, the economic cost may be considerable ... many of these efforts need to be sustained over decades."
Marshall institute: scientific perspectives on the greenhouse problem (1989); global warming: what does the science tell us (1990); and global warming update (1992).The George C. Marshall Institute provides technical assessments on scientific developments with major public policy impact. This series of reports address the state-of4he-knowledge about science and technology relating to global climate change such as technical issues involved in forecasting the intensity of the greenhouse effect - and challenges popular scientific views and notions about global climate change.
International geosphere-biosphere program (1GBP): a study of global change; global change report series, report no. 4, a plan for action. A report prepared by the Special Committee for the IGBP for discussion at the First Meeting of the Scientific Advisory Council for the IGBP, Stockholm, Sweden, October 24-28, 1988. August 1988. Report stated that, "The themes that will receive special emphasis throughout the development and implementations of the IGBP include: (1) Documenting and predicting global change; (2) Observing and improving our understanding of dominant forcing functions; (3) Improving our understanding of interactive phenomena in the total Earth system; (4) Assessing the effects of global change that will cause large-scale important modifications in the availability of renewable and non-renewable resources." Working groups also evaluated current and projected research capacity in four areas: (1) global geosphere-biosphere modeling; (2) data and information systems; (3) techniques for extracting environmental data of the past; and (4) geosphere-biosphere observatories.
Scientific assessment of stratospheric ozone depletion. World Meteorological Orgnnization (WMO) Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project-Report Series. "An Assessment of our Understanding of the Processes Controlling its Present Distribution and Change." Prepared in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Program, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Commission of the European Communities, and beginning in 1989, the intergovernmental Alternative Fluorocarbon Environmental Acceptability Study (AFEAS).
The Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security, Toronto, Canada, June 27-30, 1988.
Summit of the Arch [G-7 Economic Summit], Paris, France, July 14-16, 1989. Forum on Global Climate Change, Washington, D.C., May 1989.
Ministerial Conference on Atmospheric Pollution and Climate Change, Nordwijk, the Netherlands, November 1989.
The White House Conference on Science and Economics Research Related to Global Change, Washington, D.C., April, 1991.
Interparliamentary Conference on the Global Environment, Washington, D.C., May 1990.
Houston Economic Conference [G-7 Economic Summit), Houston, Texas, July 8-11, 1990.
Second World Climate Conference, Geneva, Switzerland, November 1990.
U.N. Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meetings toward a Framework Convention on Climate Change, February 1991-May 1992 --- Chantilly, Virginia; Nairobi, Kenya; Geneva, Switzerland (August 1991, December 1991); U.N. New York (March 1992, May 1992).
United Nations Council on Economic Development (UNCED), the "Earth Summit", Rio de Janeiro, June 1992.
1 The ICY's focus was for scientists, and the public-at-large, to improve scientific knowledge about the Eaith and its phvsical Systems. Also, it celebrated the l00th anniversary of the first international Geophysical Survey undertaken to validate spatial measurements of the Earth.
2 See CRS Report 98-2: Global Climate Change: Summary of the Kyoto ProtocoL by Sue Fletcher.
3 Worid Climate Program, Report of the International Conference on the Assessment of the Role of Carbon Dioxide and of Other Greenhouse Gases in Climate Variations and Associated Impacts, Villach, Austria, 9-15 October 1985, WMO-No. 661, ICSU/UNEP/WMO, 1986.
4 World Climate Program Impact Studies: Developing policies for responding to climatic change; a summaxy of the recommendations of the workshops held in Villach (28 September - 2 October 1987) and Bellagio (9-13 November 1987), under the auspices of the Beijer Institute, Stockholm. Report written by Jill Jaeger (Beijer Institute), April 1988.
5 Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climate Program Office, U.S. IPCC News, no. 1/March1989. Compiled and edited by the National Climate Program Office in eooperation with the Department of State.
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