The Honorable John H. Gibbons, Director
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
March 30, 1993
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I welcome this opportunity to discussglobal change with you. Within a month of assuming office, the ClintonAdministration laid out in concrete terms its conv iction that we can -- we must-- protect the environment while nourishing the economy. We have stated in nouncertain terms our intention to apply science and technology directly to thecritical issues of the day, even as we continue to search for better, morecomplete answers to remaining scientific questions.
Scientists are confident that human activity is dramatically changing thechemical makeup of the Earth's atmosphere. Atmospheric concentrations ofseveral "greenhouse gases," which trap he at in the atmosphere, have risenrapidly over the last 100 years. Some of these gases (carbon dioxide, methane,and nitrous oxide) occur naturally, but their rapid increase during the lastcentury is generally a consequence of human activity. For exampl e, theatmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is currently increasing about 30 to100 times faster than the rate of natural fluctuations indicated in thepaleoclimatic record; concentrations are already 25 percent above averageinterglacial levels an d 75 percent above the level during the last glacialmaximum Likewise, the atmospheric concentration of methane is now more thandouble its pre-industrial value. Other greenhouse gases -- chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) and halons -- are synthetic chemicals that have been introduced into theatmosphere only during the last 50 years.
The United States currently accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of allgreenhouse gas emissions associated with human activity. Although there aremany uncertainties abo ut climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange (IPCC), comprising leading scientists from around the globe, found thatif present emission trends continue, global average temperatures could rise byroughly an additional 2.2 degrees Fahre nheit (1 degree Centigrade) by the year2030. The global change issue clearly involves more than just a change inaverage temperatures, but the latter is a convenient measure to use whenaddressing this subject.
Unfortunately, scientists have muc h less confidence in predictions about theimplications of global climate change for specific regions than for globalaverages, in that regional climate change is heavily affected by shifting anddifficult-to-predict atmospheric and oceanic circulation pa tterns. Greaterwarming is likely to occur in some geographic areas compared to others;negligible change or even cooling is expected in some places. Some regions mayexperience more drought, others more precipitation and perhaps changes in thefrequenc y and intensity of storms. At this stage, it is impossible toconfidently project the magnitude of the impacts of global warming, the speedwith which they will develop, or where they will manifest themselves mostseverely. But it is also clear that the planet's climate is already committedto future change due to human activities and that each year the commitmentgrows.
We appear to be pushing the climate system beyond the limits of natural ratesof change experienced by the Earth for hundreds of thousands and probablymillions of years. The projected rate of climate change during the nextcentury may outpace the ability of natural and human systems to adapt in someareas. While it may be many years before climate monitoring discloses hardev idence of global warming, each year that passes increases the severity of thepolicy actions that would be needed to slow or reverse these climate trends.
That is why the Clinton Administration has already begun to take steps thatsimultaneously c ontribute to the strength and resilience of the economy anddecrease our emissions of greenhouse gases. For instance, we have committed tomaking cost effective investments in energy efficiency in buildings owned oroperated by the Federal Government. T he Federal Government is the Nation'slargest single energy consumer, and much of the energy is used inefficiently.Commercially available, cost-effective technologies could conserve at least 25percent of the energy used in Federal buildings with no sacr ifice of comfort orproductivity. Inefficient use of energy needlessly exacerbates local andglobal environmental concerns, including greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly,use of Federal procurement policies to reflect environmental externalitiescould e xpand market opportunities for producers of efficient technologies,demonstrate measures useful in the private sector, and encourage more R&Dby manufacturers.
The Clinton Administration will assign top priority to making cost-effective,energ y-efficiency investments in buildings where the energy bills are paid bythe taxpayers. To manage the investment program, we will:
1. Create an advisory group including key officials from States withsuccessful State building retrofit programs, f acilities managers from Federalbuildings, and utility managers of successful "demand-side management" programsto ensure the Federal program incorporates others' successes.
2. Based on the successes of the LoanSTAR program in Texas, the Federalm anagers will fund preliminary "walk-through" audits, to be followed by moreextensive audits. Proposals based on the audits will be funded according tothe following criteria: a) technical merit of the proposal; b) extent to whichall cost-effective sav ings (e.g., justified on a 10 percent real discount rate)have been captured; c) cost-sharing by the agency, utility, or other source offinancing (including States or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program inthe case of federally-subsidized housi ng); and d) the extent to whichcontractors invest in hiring and training new workers.
This initiative makes it clear that the Federal Government intends to holditself to high environmental standards with regard to energy use and willexpect no l ess from U.S. businesses and homeowners. Through the economicstimulus package, we will also be accelerating implementation of Green Lights,Energy Star Buildings, and methane reduction programs such as Natural Gas Star.These programs could account for up to 70 percent of the U.S. commitment in theAction Plan to the Rio Treaty in a profitable, cost-effective manner.
We have also committed to identifying and organizing the vast resourcesresident in our national laboratories and other research f acilities to helpingsolve the energy use problems that lead to global change. In particular, thePresident has announced his intention to work with the automobile industry todevelop, over time, a vehicle that can run on domestic and renewable fuels and produces few, in any, greenhouse gases or air pollutants. This ability shouldhelp American companies capture markets around the world while getting theautomobile off the list of environmental problems. The future quality of theU.S. environment depend s in many ways on the future of the automobile. Forover a decade, the U.S. auto industry has lost technological leadership andmarket share while greenhouse gas emissions increased. At this date, even themost ambitious proposals to reduce the environm ental insults associated withautomobile use -- e.g., fuel economy standards of 40 miles per gallon or more-- would result in no or only modest overall emissions reductions, givenanticipated increases in driving.
The technological options for re solving the environmental challenges posed byautomobiles include: shifting to mass transit; improving the fuel economy ofthe gasoline-powered, internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV); the use ofalternative fuels such as reformulated gasoline, alcohol fuels (ethanol andmethanol), a on greenhouse gas-inducedglobal warming as well as the effects of aerosols on clouds and their radiativeproperties, and understanding other elements of the atmospheric water budget,including the processes that control upper-level water vapor;
< b>Oceans: Oceans, through their thermal inertia and possible changes incirculation substantially control the timing and pattern of climate change;
Polar ice sheets: Massive ice sheets in polar regions respond toclimate change and aff ect sea level rise; and
Land surface processes and feedbacks: These processes are critical andinclude both hydrological and ecological processes which couple regional andglobal climates.
The other major global change issues, i.e., ozone depletion, changes inprocesses that govern biodiversity and forests, have similar priorities thatgovern the implementation of the USGCRP. These research priorities are furtherrefined, by assessing the policy needs of the nation, which provides a set ofstrategic priorities for the Program.
The key strategic priorities of the USGCRP are to address uncertaintiescentral to the policy development process. These have been developed andexplicitly identif ied to be:
-- Determining if human-induced global changes have been observed (hasglobal warming, because of human activities, been detected ?);
-- Predicting future regional and global changes with improved levels ofconfidence< /b>;
-- Determining the impacts associated with predicted changes; and
-- Assessing likely responses of economic, social, and other human systemsto changing environmental conditions.
Further, the USGCRP, in establish ing its program of work, responds toguidance provided by the Congress; the Executive Offices of the President (OMB,OSTP and others); and to the requirements for interagency planning,implementation, and accountability set forth in the Global Change Re search Actof 1990 [P.L. 101-606].
Structure of the U.S. Global Change Research Program:
The USGCRP is designed, structured, and implemented to produce a predictiveunderstanding of the Earth system to support national and internatio nalpolicymaking activities across a broad spectrum of global and regionalenvironmental issues. To fulfill this goal, the USGCRP addresses four parallelinterconnected streams of activity:
Observe, Monitor, and Document Global Change: Obs ervations and DataManagement through the establishment of an integrated, comprehensive, long-termprogram of Earth system observations (both in space and on the surface of theEarth) and data management on a global scale;
Understanding Key Glo bal Change Processes: The process researchcomponents of the program focus on improving our knowledge of the physical,geological, chemical, biological, and social processes that influence andgovern Earth environmental system behavior and our knowled ge of the impact ofglobal change on human health and activities;
Modeling on Regional and Global Scales for Prediction: IntegratedModeling and Prediction through the development and application of integratedconceptual and predictive Eart h system models;
Assessments of the Science and Implications of Global Change:Assessments that document the state of scientific knowledge and uncertaintiesand the implications of global change for the natural and human environment tosupp ort national and international policymaking activities over a broadspectrum of global and regional environmental issues.
The functional architecture for organizing the USGCRP illuminates theinterconnections among these streams of activity. This architecture leads tocoordination across agencies of observations and data management, processresearch, integrated modeling and prediction, and assessment activities amongall agencies and scientists from a variety of different scientificdisciplines.
The Policy Objectives of the U.S. Global Change Research Program:
Most recently, President Clinton stated in his initiative on, "Technology ForAmerica's Economic Growth, A New Direction To Build Economic Strength", setforth a stra tegy that identifies the importance of investments in research tobetter understand global warming, ozone depletions and other phenomenaimportant to local, regional and global environments. The President notesthat "This research is essential if we are to fully assess the damage mankindis doing to our planet and take effective action to address it". It is in sucha context that it is proposed to add new dimensions and additional context tothe U.S. Global Change Research Program as both a source of s ound scientificinformation to enable the program to support national and internationaldecisionmaking and as a focus for multinational collaboration in thedevelopment and application of new scientific insights and technologicaladvancements to practical problems of economic development and environmentalstewardship.
II. ENHANCED UNDERSTANDING AND RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Recent Advances in Scientific Understanding:
Significant advances in scientific understandin g have been made in the USGCRPduring the last year towards documenting, understanding, predicting, andassessing global environmental change. A short list of important examplesincludes:
-- Detection of ozone decreases throughout the year in both Southern andNorthern hemispheres in mid- to high-latitudes through satellite observationsof total column ozone and ground-based remote sensing measurements;
-- Detection and global mapping of a large plume of sulfur dioxideassocia ted with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo;
-- Development of an improved understanding of the quantitative importanceof aerosols in the Earth's radiation budget and the impacts they have onclimate;
-- Improvement of th e observations, understanding, and modeling of the ElNiño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle;
-- Improvement in the estimates of rates of global deforestation; and
-- Improvement in modeling, which enables better est imates of potentialecosystem functions on the scale of entire continents.
Recent Program Accomplishments:
Important and recent program accomplishments have been made during the pastyear. Examples include:
-- During th e past year two new satellites have been added to the suite ofspace-based global environmental observing systems contributing to ourunderstanding of global change. The Upper Atmosphere Research satellite andthe joint French-U.S. TOPEX/POSEIDON satelli te altimeter, which provides uniquedata on oceanic circulation, are already providing valuable information vitalto the success of the USGCRP.
-- A new National Space Policy Directive was established within severalagencies, as a comprehensive go vernment-wide Space-Based Global ChangeObserving System. This government-wide coordinated effort will provide a moreintegrated program of space-based observations to (i) help understand the Earthsystem, (ii) improve our ability to detect and document changes in the globalclimate system, (iii) provide a data system to manage information collected bythe space-capable agencies, and (iv) continue development and demonstration ofnew space-based technologies for global change observations. A coordinated interagency plan has been developed to ensure that the USGCRP has themeasurements required to provide input for U.S. policy decisions on globalchange.
-- During the past year the Earth Observing System (EOS) was restructured inlight of FY 199 3 USGCRP budget constraints. Driven by scientific prioritiesoutlined earlier in this testimony the data available to the wide reaching community ofthose interested in global change. The FY 1994 program also includes a majoradvance in research and development for the improvement of data archiving andaccessing systems and interagency implementat ion of the Global Change Data andInformation System. Related international development and planning will also becontinuing in many nations and international organizations on a comprehensiveglobal climate observing system and the associated Global Ocean ObservingSystem as part of the overall integrated database needed for broad predictivecapabilities by the 21st century.
Process Research: Funding is planned for process research toenhance understanding of key processes that control climate and other aspectsof global environmental change. Of central importance is continued supportfor national and international programs aimed at improved understanding of: (i)processes that control the global carbon cycle; (ii) understanding th e Earth'swater and energy balance, including the role of water vapor, clouds andaerosols in atmospheric radiation budgets; (iii) the role of the ocean inclimate change; (iv) the relationships between global change andterrestrial/marine ecosystems; and (v) the impact of human activities onnatural systems and human responses to changing environmental conditions. Toimprove program balance, the USGCRP is considering other important areas ofprocess research, including how terrestrial and marine ecosyst ems affect andare affected by climatic and atmospheric changes. These activities will beincorporated as resources permit.
Integrated Earth System Modeling: Funding is planned for predictiveEarth system modeling with emphasis on acce lerating the pace of coupled modeldevelopment, increasing coordination among federal agencies and researchersin model development, application and experimentation, improving regionalresolution for modeling and prediction of climate change, and deve loping andusing new computational tools for future applications.
Assessment: In FY 1994, the USGCRP will add an explicit focus onassessment, seeking to improve substantially understanding of the state ofscientific knowledge and the implications of that knowledge for national andinternational policymaking activities. This new focus on assessment covers abroad spectrum of global, national, and regional environmental issues.
IV. BROADENING THE USGCRP TO ADDRESS ADDED POLICY ISSUES
Broadening the Scope of the Research Areas of the USGCRP:
Options are currently being developed to significantly broaden the scope ofresearch addressed within the USGCRP. During the initial phases of the USGCRP,t he central focus of the Program was to conduct research on the scientificaspects of the Earth's environmental system. In 1992 when the USGCRP wasdesignated a National Research Program, the Program scope was broadened toinclude the vital function of as sessments. The goal of the assessmentcomponent of the USGCRP is to conduct research that will eventually enable theU.S. Government to conduct comprehensive end-to-end (integrated) assessments ofglobal change upon which sound policies can be identified , adopted,implemented, and maintained at both national and international levels.Research to support end-to-end assessments seeks to integrate the full spectrumfrom basic scientific research through socio-economic impacts/effects researchstudies to res earch on implementable mitigation/adaptation strategies andtechnologies. The expanded USGCRP will build on the core concept of improvingunderstanding of the processes that underlie global change and of reducing theuncertainties in present knowledge of these processes.
We will establish a mechanism to provide oversight and coordination among thevarious components of global change research and response. We need to maintainclose consultation within the Federal government and with other sectors of U.S.society and economy, including potential user groups, industry and business,public interest groups, and the academic community. It is increasingly obviousthat all these groups have a stake in the potential outcomes of global changeand hence, should be more formally integrated into the planning, development,and implementation of the U.S. global change program. Detailed planning forthis more inclusive U.S. Global Change Research Program is well underway and itis planned that the President w ill present to the Congress and announce thedetails of the new program in conjunction with his FY 1995 Budget Request tothe Congress in early 1994.
The more inclusive and broader scoped research program will be more fullyintegrated with the pol icy process within the U.S. government. Historicallythe linkages have been primarily through the President's Assistant for Scienceand Technology and through a consultative process conducted by the StateDepartment. To broaden and make more formal the linkages with the policyprocess, plans are now underway to more fully integrate global change researchwith the policy process within the executive branch of the Federal governmentand to enable the USGCRP to be more fully responsive to congressional gui danceand interests. This will lead to a comprehensive global change effort ratherthan a program focused only on the research aspects of global change issues.OSTP will be working closely with entire Executive Office of the President andthe rest of the Executive Branch and Congress to develop the mechanism tointegrate global change research and policy.
U.S. Global Change Interests are International
The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and ourinternat ional environmental policy experience over the past few years haveamply demonstrated that U.S. global change interests are inexorably linked toour economic welfare and national security, and domestic and foreign policyconsiderations and in many cases t hrough formal international treaties andagreements. The Montreal Protocol on Ozone, the Framework Convention onClimate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and several othersplanned or being negotiated provide substantial evidence of the in ternationalcharacter of global environment change.
Developing effective international cooperation in the context of our researchprogram is absolutely essential. To fully understand global change phenomenarequires access to scientific experti se, data, observational capabilities, andthe contributing financial and other national resources of many countries,developed and developing alike. Therefore, the U.S. will take a moreaggressive and proactive leadership role in establishing appropriate frameworksfor cooperation in both research and international global change policydevelopment and implementation.
The United States remains strongly committed to the work of theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It employs a uni que processto reach international consensus on the state of the science, impacts, andresponse strategies regarding climate change.
The USGCRP coordinates and leads U.S. participation in IPCC Working Group #1,Scientific Assessment of Climate Cha nge. It was recently established that aUSGCRP representative will also serve as the U.S. co-chair of the IPCC WorkingGroup #2, Impacts and Response Strategies. These arrangements ensure that thebest U.S. scientists and technical experts lead our IPCC efforts. Anotherscientist will lead the U.S. delegation to the IPCC Working Group #3,Cross-Cutting Issues, and we are still in the process of identifying theappropriate individual.