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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



In the following, an asterisk indicates a corresponding entry in Reports/Emissions Analyses section of this Digest issue--June 1996.

Item #d96jun90

The International Energy Outlook 1996*, released last month by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy, projects global CO2 emissions to increase 54% over 1990 levels by the year 2015. Most of the increase will come from developing countries.

If current trends continue, only Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark are likely to meet the stabilization target of the climate convention by the year 2000. This point was underscored at a press conference by the heads of the World Bank, two U.N. agencies, and the World Resources Institute, upon the release of World Resources 1996-97. (See Books/Gen. Interest, this Digest issue--June 1996, and Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 353-354, May 1, 1996.)

For the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency's Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-1994* concludes that CO2 emissions increased four percent from 1990 to 1994. And the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 1996* projects a 23% rise in CO2 emissions over 1990 levels by 2010 and a 29% rise by 2015. This trend means the U.S. is unlikely to achieve the goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century.

The situation is analyzed in Chem. Eng. News (Jan. 15, 1996, pp. 14-15). Two factors pushing up U.S. emissions are strong economic growth and reduced energy prices. In addition, energy efficiency measures in the nation's Climate Change Action Plan have been fettered somewhat by congressional budget cuts.

A major portion of the Action Plan (known informally as the "Car Talks") hit a dead end last December when the Personal Motor Vehicles Greenhouse Gas Reductions Advisory Committee set up by President Clinton failed to agree on policy recommendations. Instead, a majority that included environmentalists, state officials and proponents of alternative approaches recommended raising the corporate average fuel economy standard (CAFE). Participating auto industry officials had favored a gasoline tax of $1.50 per gallon, but oil industry officials objected to that, and neither signed on to the majority report.* (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 22, Jan. 10, 1996.) The Winter 1996 issue of Resources (pp. 10, 18-20) includes "Car Talk: An Autopsy," by G.C. Eads, which discusses lessons that can be drawn from the process for dealing with future public policy controversies. (Resources for the Future, 1616 P St. NW, Washington DC 20036; 202 328 5000.) For another view on CAFE, see the paper by Lave et al. in Prof. Pubs./Mitigation, this issue--June 1996.

In Europe, environment ministers discussed a proposed fuel efficiency standard of twenty km per liter of gasoline (47 miles per gallon) at a March meeting. According to Global Environ. Change Rep. (p. 4, Mar. 22, 1996), they generally backed the proposal but were reluctant to commit to achieving it by 2005. The latest European Commission assessment* of national programs for CO2 reduction estimates that European Community emissions could be 5% higher than 1990 levels by the year 2000.

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