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Item #d98dec24

Positive Measures for Technology Transfer Under the Climate Change Convention, Tim Forsyth (Ed.), 116 pp., 1998, $14.95, pbk (Brookings Inst.).

As the negotiations of the UNFCCC progress, divisions among the parties to the Convention, particularly between the developed and the developing countries, keep them from making progress on several key issues, particularly technology transfer and flexible mechanisms. The polarization is typified by the positions taken by the developing countries, which demand access to technology transfer on preferential terms, and the developed countries, which believe technology is best transferred through trade by the private sector and has to be linked to investment. This book identifies steps that can be taken to bridge those divisions. It is the result of a September 1997 workshop held by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) in London and attended by representatives of governments in both developed and developing countries, international business, and nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations. It is edited by a research fellow of the Energy and Environmental Programme at the RIIA and focuses on foreign direct investment as a major mechanism for bringing the two camps together and achieving the goals of the Framework Convention.

Item #d98dec25

Turning Off the Heat: Why America Must Double Energy Efficiency to Save Money and Reduce Global Warming, Thomas R. Casten (Preface by Federico Peña), 269 pp., 1998, $26.95, hbk (Prometheus Books).

The reasons why electric utility companies were granted monopoly protection at the beginning of the 20th century are described and then criticized as unneeded in the current energy economy. The argument is made that these government-approved monopolies have led to energy inefficiency and needless pollution and that competition in a deregulated electricity industry will not only decrease electricity prices but also lower emissions of both greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Along the way, the book examines consumer attitudes toward energy, identifies barriers to the adoption of energy-efficient products and practices, suggests ways to regulate air quality that encourage energy efficiency, and proscribes how to change the laws and regulations governing the energy industries. Central to the book is the conviction that old laws still on the books make it illegal or impractical for electricity generators to install modern, efficient generation. Rather, it is argued, public utility commissions commonly require the utilities to pass on to the consumers the benefits of any efficiency gain. As a result, the utilities have not improved their efficiency in four decades because they lack any incentive to invest in such gains. The book is written for the intelligent reader who is concerned about the well being of the planet. Reviewed in The Electricity Daily (Nov. 2, 1998), The Earth Times (November 1998), and Library Journal (October 1998).

Item #d98dec26

The Role of the Sun in Climate Change, Douglas V. Hoyt and Kenneth H. Schatten, 288 pp., 1997, $29.95 pbk/$65.00 hbk (Oxford University Press).

Written by a former senior scientist at the Hughes/STX Corporation and the current program director for solar terrestrial research at the National Science Foundation, this book reviews the physics of the Sun’s role in determining the Earth’s climate and the history of the idea of solar influence on climate. It is clearly focused on solar variation as a driver for climate change and is based on the predication that the luminosity of the sun governs the temperatures of the planets (the concept of solar forcing). It points out that recent satellite measurements have shown that solar radiation varies as a function of time and wavelength, an observation that has led to a resurgence in interest in solar forcing after its near demise in the 1950s. because the book’s emphasis is on the solar forcing of climate change, with only a brief discussion of other mechanisms, it will be of most interest to students in climate studies. Edgar A. Bering III, reviewing the book in Physics Today (June 1998), says it “summarizes both the history and our present understanding of this field, so as to provide a solid foundation for graduate students, current researchers, and interested scientists in related fields. The book is easy to read, well written, and hard to put down.”

Item #d98dec27

The Implementation and Effectiveness of International Environmental Commitments: Theory and Practice, David G. Victor, Kal Raustiala, and Eugene B. Skolnikoff (Eds.), 686 pp., 1998, $30.00, pbk (MIT Press and IIASA).

Solutions to environmental problems, such as climate change, often require international cooperation and agreements. This book examines how international environmental agreements are put into practice. The main concern here is effectiveness, the degree to which such agreements lead to changes in behavior that actually help to solve the environmental problems addressed by the agreements. Consequently, the contributed papers focus on implementation (the process that turns commitments into action) at domestic and international levels. Implementation is the key to effectiveness because these agreements aim to constrain not just governments but individuals, firms, and agencies whose behavior does not necessarily change simply because governments have made international commitments. Part I of the book looks at international systems for implementation review, through which parties share information, review performance, handle noncompliance, and adjust commitments. Part II looks at implementation at the national level, with particular attention to participation by governmental and non-governmental actors and to problems in states with economies in transition. Fourteen case studies cover eight areas of international environmental regulation.

Item #d98dec28

Global Change Scenarios of the 21st Century: Results from the IMAGE 2.1 Model, J. Alcamo, R. Leemans, and E. Kreileman (Eds.), 312 pp., 1998, $115.00, hbk (Pergamon).

The computer model IMAGE 2.1 was used to perform an integrated analysis of environmental changes in the next hundred years. This analysis used large amounts of information about different aspects of the global environment together with society’s role within this system. The results reflect linkages between environmental and social aspects of global change. Intended for scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders of climate policy, the book describes the model used to produce the scenarios; explains its current features; and projects the scenarios of climate, energy and food use, land cover, acidification, sea level, and other indicators of global change. It then explores some of the long-term consequences of proposed mitigation actions. The final sections comment on the complicated issue of communicating complex global-scenario information to policymakers and examine how that task might be accomplished successfully.

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