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Introduction and Overview

"The Earth:S- well-being is ... an issue important to America - and it:S- an issue that should
be important to every nation and in every part ofthe world. My Administration is committed to a
leadership role on the issue ofclimate change. We recognize our responsibility and we will meet
it, at home, ill our hemisphere. and in the world. "
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With this June 2001 pledge, tire'Presiden~reiterated the seriousness of climate change and
ordered a Cabinet-level review of U.S. climate change policy. He requested working groups to
develop innovative approaches that would: (1) be consistent with the goal of stabilizing
greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere; (2) be sufficiently flexible to allow for new
findings; (3) support continued economic growth and prosperity; (4) provide market-based
incentives; (5) incorporate technological advances; and (6) promote global participation.

The President's decision to take a deeper look at climate change policy arose from the
recognition that the dialogue begun in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro lacked the
requisite participatory breadth for a global response to climate change. At this historic sununit,
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted, with the ultimate
objective ofproviding a higher quality oflife for future generations, Signatories pledged to:

"achieve ...stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that


would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a .
level should be achieved within a tinieframe 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."

In Rio, ambitious plans were set in motion to address climate change. However, participation in
constructing adaptive and mitigative measures for addressing climate change fell short of the
breadth necessary to confront a problem that President Bush recently said has "the potential to
impact every comer of the world." A global problem demands a truly participatory global
response.

President Bush has pledged that the United States will act to address this global problem in a
serious, sensible and science-based manner, even though uncertainties may remain regarding the
precise magnitude, timing, and regional patterns of climate change. But we need partners in this
endeavor.- paRHeP9 'Hho will recognize that tilOugh the regiaRa1 impaQts JR86' \'8:1')', ttltimetely
the effeets OIl any oue couut" ....ill resonate in cotmtfies thrQuSbQut !be waud, All countries
must actively work together to achieve the long-term goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas ~
concentrations at a level that will preventJnterference with the climate system., l\..~ de-..~J v.f'~ ~~
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For our part, the United States intends to continue to be a constructive and activga to the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are G~:h':.:B:g t,,'~ global .,.-e5tMtA to
understanding of the science of climate change. as called for under the Framework Convention. o/~

We lead the world on climate sCiencrince 1990. the United States has provided over $18 ~. ~

billion for climate system research-- ore resources than any other country. In July 2001, l

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As envisioned. by the Framework Convention, are helping to dev op ~chnologies to
address climate change.The President has pledged llt:reBgtBen rese h bUdge~O that funds
will be available to develop the . technologie 0 meas and monitor I • J
greenhous~ gas emissio urat -;;..;. Wl,I-NJ-':- f\Rr~h 3e vJ.JA 1l.t. f\Jo:;hGvJU-
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We plan to increase bilateral support for climate observation systems and to fmance even more ~-n~.,t.
demonstration projects of advanced ~nergy technologies in developing countries. President
Bush's Western Hemisphere Initiative -- created to enhance climate change cooperation with
developing countries in the Americas and elsewhere -- will also strengthen implementation of the
Framework Convention commitments. In line with our commitments under the Convention, we
have provided over $1 billion in climate change-related assistance to developing countries over
the last five years. All of this is just the beginning: we intend to strengthen our cooperation on
climate scienc1with partners around the world whenever and wherever possible.

We are aIso m akin


~~~l'Lo~.. f~~ .. enusslOns 0 gr elUlouse gases m
g progress m Imlting . the Urut'cdS tates b y
becoming more energy efficient. In the last decade, we seen tremendous economic growth in
the United States':tjur level of emissions per unit of economic output has declined
significantly. We t 'ng substantive action to address climate chan~ and we will continue to
do so. $~ ~A \IO~ r~

Climate change is a problem that requires 100% effort -- ours and the rest of the world's. Thj1 /5 104 ~
problem, decades in the making, cannot be solved overnight. A real solution must be durable,
science-based, and economically sustainable. In particular, we seek an environmentally sound
approach that will not hann the U.S. economy, which remains a critically important engine of
global prosperity. We believe that economic development is key to protecting the global
environment. In the real world, no one will forego meeting basic family needs to protect the
global commons. Environmental protection is neither achievable nor sustainable without
opportunities for continued development and greater prosperity. Our objective is to ensure a
long-term solution that is environmentally effective, economically sustainable, and fair.
Protecting the global environment is too important a responsibility for anything less.

In this u.s. Climate Action Report, the United States' third formal communication under the
Framework Convention on Climate Change, we fulfill the commitments required under Articles
4 and 12 ofthe Convention. We meet the fonnal reporting requirements ofthe Climate;
Convention by providing a description of our national circumstances, identifying existing and
planned policies and measures, indicating future trends in greenhouse gas emissions, outlining
expected impacts and adaptation measures, and providing information on finaTlcial resources,
technology transfer, research, and systematic observations. The remainder or wis chapter
provides a brief description of the climate system science that sets the context for U.S. action, as
well as an overview of the u.s. program that is the focus of this report.

The Science

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(the following section is adapted from Climate Change Science: An Analysis ofSome Key
Questions, NRC 2001)
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing
global mean surface air temperature and subsurface ocean temperature to rise. While the changes
observed over the last several decades are most likely primarily due to human activities, we
cannot rule out that some significant part is also a reflection of natural variability.

Reducing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model predictions will require major
advances in understanding and modeling of the factors that determine atmospheric
concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and the feedback processes that determine the
sensitivity of the climate system. Specifically, this will involve reducing uncertainty regarding:

• future use of fossil fuels and future emissions of methane,


• the fraction of the fossil fuel carbon that will provide radiative forcing vs.
exchange with the oceans or net exchange with the land biosphere,
• the feedbacks in the climate system that determine both the magnitude of the
change and the rate of energy uptake by the oceans,
• the details of regional and local climate change,
• the nature and causes of the natural variability of climate and its interactions with
forced changes, and
• the direct and indirect effects of the changing distributions of aerosols. ~ IJ..,~

Knowledge of the climate system and of projections about the future c~~i~v:: ~~ from
fundamental physic~ jchemistry ihreugh m6aels and observations~owever, these model ~
projections are limited by the paucity of data available to evaluate the ability of coupled models
to simulate important aspects of climate. To overcome these limitations, it is essential to ensure
the existence of a long-teon observing system and to make more comprehensive regional
measurements ofgreenhouse gases. These data are critical to understanding local and regional
source strengths.

While current analyses are unable to predict with confidence the timing, magnitude, or regional
distribution of climate change, the best scien~ific information indicates that if gre~nhouse gas
conceJ,ltrations continue to increase, changes are ~ likely to oc~ur. '4 1/ oS. ~J-~

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National Circumstances: Our Context -Ih.J;~~ ~~~ ..J J..nJj
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The perspective of the United States on climate change is infonned by our economic prosperity, t:t;;-~
the rich diversity of our climate conditions and natural resources, and the demographic trends of 'if.
~
over 275 million residents. Because of our country's vast diversity of climatic zones, climate cLZ
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change will not affect the U.S. unifonnly. This diversity will also enhance our economy's ~~
resilience tOlY.limate change. .
~~
Higher greenhouse gas emissions are a consequence of robust economic growth: more wealth
generally promotes increased expenditures of energy. Ho II ever, ae 98HeeHtflltbottt"
YJlemployment and growtb subside with eCORIilFRie gre...rtb, olliel societal e8898fH9, 912Gh ll:! the-
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~148«lt du ng the 1990s, ~mvestments in technology led to i reases in energy efficiency,
whic ectively offset increases in greenhouse gas emissio In addition, much of the
economic growth in the United States has occurred in less energy-intensive sectors (e.g.,
computer technologies). Consequently, in the 1990s the EelaiiQABlUp between economic growth
and greenhouse gas emissions was altered. L ~~ ~UJ:v ...J,..~
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While the United States is the world's largest consumer of energy, it is also the world's largest
producer of energy, with vast reserves of coal, natural gas, and crude oil. The President's new
National Energy Policy (NEPD Group 2001) includes recommendations that wi)) reduce our
reliance on fossil fuel production. For example, tax incentives and other initiatives will be used
to promote the use ofcombined heat and power and the use of renewable resources. The
President has also proposed expanding our nuclear energy capacity, but it is unclear whether
&1~~ will sanction this endeavor. Even if alternative fOnDS of energy generation are slow to
develop, the introduction of wholesale and retail competition in the electric power industry has
produced and will continue to produce significant changes in the energy sector.

The nation's response to climate change -- our vulnerability and our ability to adapt -- is also
influenced by U.S. governmental, economic, and social structures, as well as by the concerns of
U.S. citizens. The political and institutional systems participating in the development and
protection of environmental and natural resources in the United States are as diverse as the
resources themselves. _ II
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President Bush said earlier this year that technology offers great promise to significantlyfteduce
emission Our national circumstances -- our prosperity and our diversity -. may shape our
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response t climate change, but our commitment to invest in innovative technologies and
research 'n ensure the success of our response.

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Greenhouse Gas Inventory

This report presents U.S. anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission trends from 1990 through 1999
and fulfills the US. commitment for 2001 for an annual inventory report to the UNFCCC. To
ensure that the U.S. emissions inventory is comparable to those of other UNFCCC signatory
countries, the emission estimates were calculated using methodologies consistent with those
recommended in the Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories
(IPCCfUNEP/OECDIIEA 1997).

Naturally occurring greenhouse gases -- that is, gases that trap heat -- include water vapor,
carbon dioxide (C02), methane (Cf4), nitrous oxide (N20), and ozone (03). Several classes of
halogenated substances that contain fluorine, chlorine, or bromine are also greenhouse gases, but
they are, for the most part, solely a product of industrial activities. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs),
hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and bromofluorocarbons (balons) are stratospheric ozone-
depleting substances covered under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the
Ozone Layer and, hence, are not included in national greenhouse gas inventories. Some other
halogenated substances-hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur
hexafluoride (SF6)-do not deplete stratospheric ozone but are potent greenhouse gases and are
accOlUlted for in national greenhouse gas inventories.

Although CO2 , Cf4 and N20 occur naturally in the atmosphere, their atmospheric concentrations
have been affected by human activities. Since pre-industrial time (i.e., since about 1750),
concentrations of these greenhouse gases have increased by 31, 151 and 17 percent, respectively
(IPCC 2001). This increase has altered the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere and ~
~eeaSeEtll8Rtly affected the global climate system. ~ I
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In 1999, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were about 12 percent above emissions in 1990. A
somewhat lower (0.9 percent) than average (1.2 percent) annual increase in emissions, especially
given the robust economic growth during this period, was primarily attributable to the following
factors: warmer than average summer and winter conditions, increased output from nuclear
power plants, reduced CH.t emissions from coal mines, and reduced HFC-23 by-product
emissions from the chemical manufacture of HCFC-22.

As the largest source of US. greenhouse gas emissions, C02 accounted for 82 percent oftotal
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 1999. Carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion was the
dominant contributor -- emissions from this source category grew by 13 percent between 1990
and 1999. •

Methane accounted for 9 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 1999. Landfills,
enteric fermentation, and natural gas systems were the source of 75 percent of total C~

emissions. Nitrous oxide accounted for 6percent of total US. greenhouse gas emissions in 1999,
and agricultural soil management represented 69 percent of total N 20 emissions. The main
anthropogenic activities producing N20 in the United States were agricultUral soil management,
fuel combustion in motor vehicles, and adipic and nitric acid production processes. HFCs, PFCs,
and SF6 accounted for 2percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 1999, and substitutes
for ozone-depleting substances comprised 42 percent of aU HFC, PFC, and SF6 emissions.~ .,

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Policies aDd Measures

U.S. climate change programs reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 66 million
metric tons ofcarbon equivalent (MMTCE) in 2000. This reduction helped to significantly lower
(15 percent since 1990) carbon intensity (i.e., greenhouse gases emitted per unit of GDP), and
thus ranks as a tremendous step forward in addressing climate change.

However, the U.S. effort was given a potentially greater boost in June 2001 when President Bush
announced major new initiatives to advance climate change science and technology. These
initiatives came about after government consultation with industry leaders, the scientific
community, and environmental advocacy groups indicated that more could and should be done to
address scientific uncertainties and encourage technological innovation.

At the direction of the President, the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy are developing
National Climate Change Technology and Research Initiatives. These initiatives are designed to
achieve real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to use synergies among groups -- e.g.,
public-private partnerships and interagency cooperation -- to spearhead bold measures for ~~

cQmbatiRg cliHlat~ Gliange. The President's National Energy Policy (NEPD Group 2001), a__ ,I ' ~

comprehensive strategy aimed at advancing environmentally friendly energy technologies and f'
energy efficienc!YWiJl provide a practical complement grounded in market-based approaches to ~~

the Technology d Research Initiatives. . ' 11.j~


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Projections aDd the Total Effects of Policies and Measures ~ 'Y

Impacts and Adaptation

One of the weakest links in our knowledge is the connection between global and regional
projections of climate change. The National Research Council's response to the President's
request for a review of climate change policy specifically noted that fundamental scientific
questions remain regarding the specifics of regional and local projections (NRC 2001). The
potential impacts ofclimate change will not be fully comprehended until these details are clear.
Predicting the potential impacts of climate change is limited ~by the current inability to
accurately predict climate at local and regional scales. It is also limited by a lack of •
understanding ofthe sensitivity of many environmental systems and resources, both managed
and unmanaged, to climate change. .

This chapter provides an overview of potential negative and positive impacts and possible
response options; based primarily on the Climate Change Impacts on the United States: the
Potential Consequences ofClimate Variability and Change completed earlier this year (NAST
2001). This assessment used historical records, model simulations, and sensitivity analyses to
explore our.;rulnerability to climate change and highlighted gaps in our knowledge.
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Because the United States is large :fQ d;recl effects of olimate ohange on our
economy as a whole are likely to be inimal. However, in considering vulnerability, we
recognize that the United States wi! e affected by both the positive and the negative
consequences affecting the rest of the world. Although tensions may exist among global,
national, and regional objectives, and though impacts will vary widely, we are part of a global
economy that shares resources. Therefore, what happens throughout the world has important
direct and indirect consequences, for the United States.

Challenges associated with climate change will most likely increase during the 21 st century. ~
the entBHt that mbH'e eftBH§8& a.t:e Dew aad their QllIl8t al:Jf'l1pt, econuftl1e lttSttiplioil eotrld oeem, I

Gl:lt will be FAsderated by the Hllmy ongoing eff.Qrts te ifterease society's lesitience. Although
changes in the environment will surely occur, our nation's economy should continue to provide
the means for successful adaptation to climate changes.

Financial Resources and Transfer of Technology

To address climate change effectively, developed and developing countries must meet
environmental and developmental challenges together. The United States is committed to helping
developing countries and countries with economies in transition to meet these challenges in ways
that promote economic well-being and protect natural resources. This commitment has involved
many players, ranging from government to the private sector, who contribute significant
resources to developing countries. As amplified in the UNFCCC guidelines, this assistance can
take the form of hard andlor soft technology tnmsfer.

Projects targeting hard technology transfer, such as equipment to control emissions or enhance
removal by sinks, can be particularly effective in reducing emissions. And projects that target
capacity building and institution strengthening through the sharing of technical expertise can
help to reduce both vuhlerability and emissions. But whether hard or soft, technology transfer
programs are most effective when they are approached in a collaborative manner and are
con~ent with the development Objectivet::te~i~ ~vJb
To this end, the United States works closely with beneficiary countries to ensure a good fit
between the resources provided by the donor and the perceived needs ofthe developing country.
But even when the fit fulfills the goals of both coUntries, transparent democratic processes must
.be in place for bilateral cooperation to succeed. Although U.S. bilateral assistance is
implemented primarily through the U.S. Agency for International Development, other agencies
also participate. .

nli,l>"'tii.r.c:l...t. funding ~limate- related

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Through the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, th~nited States, in cooperation with The
Nature Conservancy, sponsored a $6.8 million debt-for- ture swap with Belize. Under this
agreement, Belize's debt obligation to the United States ill be reduced by half - saving Belize
over $10 million in the next 26 years. In return, Belize will transfer 11,000 acres of crown land
into a local nongovernment organization's (NGO's) stewardship and will provide for another
12,000 acres of critical forested land in the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor to be managed by
an NGO steward.

The Maya Mountain Marine Corridor is a stellar wildlife habitat hosting jaguar, ocelot,
marguay, tapir, West Indian manatee, Morelet's crocodile, and 350 species ofbirds, including the
rare scarlet macaw. It is also home to an offshore barrier reef that is second only to the Great
Barrier Reef of Australia. Through this debt-for-nature swap, pine savannas, tropical rainforests,
16 miles of pristine Caribbean coastline, and more than 200 offshore caves will now be available
to delight and educate future generations.

This example highlights ingredients for successful bilateral cooperation on climate


change: a project valued by both donor and host country that protects natural resources and
promotes economic well-being.

Research and Systematic Ohservation

The United States leads the world in research on climate and other global environmental
changes, funding approximately half of the world's'climate change research expenditures. We
intend to continue funding research in order to ensure vigorous, ongoing programs aimed at
narrowing the uncertainties in our knowledge of climate change. These research programs will
be crucial for advancing the understandiiIg of climate change. However, an effective strategy fOf
furthering our understanding will also require an observing system that can support long-term
climate monitoring and prediction. The United States has pledged to make significant
investments to accelerate research and to build the infrastructure required to provide the
necessary information to support decisions on critical climate issues.
~~
The President's major nJ; initiatives directed at addressing climate change are informed by a
wealth of input and ar~exJ3eetedtoresult in significant improvements in climate modeling,
observation and research efforts. The long-tenn vision embraced by the new initiatives is to help
government, the private sector, and communities make informed management decisions
regarding climate change in light of persistent uncertainties. -

Education, Training and Public Awareness

The u.s.
National Assessment provided a vehicle for extending public awareness about climll;~ I
change. Regional and sectoral workshops in association with the Assessme1lt proved to be ,;~ vol.--
~ venues for information gathering and dissemination. Some activities generated during
the Assessment will continue to be supported as a way of strengthening the dialogue with the

CEQ 007968·
public. Nongovernmental organizations, the press, and industry have also played a very active
role in the last few years in making issues regarding climate change visible to the public.

Educational initiatives sponsored by federal agencies have grown dramatically in the last three
years. These initiatives target a range of educational levels .- from K-12 through university
faculty -- providing training and educational resources designed to enhance understanding of
climate change and the quality ofscientiflc and technical training. Some of these programs enlist
students and educators to participate in monitoring environmental parameters associated with
climate change. These programs give double value, as they not only educate and train but also
expand our capacity to monitor changes in the environment. Most programs have web sites that
enable them to reach very large numbers of people with information concerning climate change.

The goal of all of these endeavors -- education, training, and public awareness -- is to create an
informed populace. The United States is committed to providing citizens with access to the
infonnation necessary to critically evaluate the consequences.efbotft eettoD: 8ftti maetion .
eOfleeming climate change; . 1- I~ ~ +0 ~
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CEQ007969