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Global Climate Change Digest

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



Item #d98feb7

"Setting Priorities for Adapting to Climate Change," J.B. Smith (Hagler Bailly Services, PO Drawer O, Boulder CO 80306),Global Environ. Change, 7(3), 251-264, Oct. 1997.

Policymakers will eventually have to address adaptation to the effects of climate change, in some cases in anticipation of those changes. Anticipatory measures need to be flexible and economically efficient. The most urgent ones meet at least one of the following criteria: (1) address irreversible or costly impacts; (2) reverse trends that make adoption of the measure more difficult over time; (3) address long-term decisions, such as building infrastructure. Proposes a method by which natural resource policymakers can evaluate the urgency of anticipatory policies.

Item #d98feb8

Two letters taking opposing positions on the need for a climate treaty, Eos, Trans. Amer. Geophys Union, 78, p. 584, Dec. 16, 1997:

"Unknowns About Climate Variability Render Treaty Targets Premature," S.F. Singer (Sci. & Environ. Policy Project, Fairfax, Va.).

"Time To Act Is Now," R.E. Dickinson (Dept. Atmos. Sci., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson).

Item #d98feb9

"Procedural Leadership in Climate Policy: A European Task," C.C. Jaeger (Darmstadt Univ. of Technol., Darmstadt, Ger.), T. Barker et al.,Global Environ. Change, 7(3), 195-203, Oct. 1997.

It is unlikely that a substantial carbon tax will be implemented in the U.S. or even the European Union soon. This paper presents a fresh approach to climate policy based on sequential decision making that is flexible, innovative and participatory, is set in the broad context of sustainable development, and goes beyond existing alternatives of taxation and regulation. The European Union is in an excellent position to take a leading role in establishing such a process.

Item #d98feb10

"Joint Implementation and the Ultimate Objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," E.J. Bush (Dept. Geog., Univ. Toronto, 100 St. George St., Toronto ON M5S 3G3, Can.), L.D.D. Harvey,Global Environ. Change, 7(3), 265-285, Oct. 1997.

This critical assessment of joint implementation (JI) finds that, with regard to assisting development aimed at meeting the basic human needs necessary for population stabilization, JI has little to offer and may even be counterproductive. To be a vehicle for technology transfer, JI must be accompanied by fundamental reform in the nature of current technology transfer and official development assistance. Finally, for JI to be effective in limiting the growth of developing country emissions through technology transfer, accelerated development of advanced and renewably-based technologies by the developed world is required, which is unlikely unless those countries commit to making strong emissions reductions of their own.

Item #d98feb11

Special Theme: Economic Discounting and Climate Policy. Clim. Change, 37(2), Oct. 1997. An integrated assessment study is accompanied by three comments on determining the distant future value of current expenditures, such as those taken to guard against climate impacts.

"Sensitivity Study of Optimal CO2 Emission Paths Using a Simplified Structural Integrated Assessment Model (SIAM)," K. Hasselmann (Max Planck Inst. Meteor., Bundesstr. 55, D-20146 Hamburg, Ger.), S. Hasselmann et al., 345-386. Uses a highly simplified, coupled climate-economic cost model to study the sensitivity of computed optimal emission paths to various critical input assumptions, that are believed to cause differences between results based on more sophisticated models. These assumptions include the discount rates for mitigation and damage costs, the inertia of the socio-economic system, and the temperature trend. Advocates different discount rates for different sectors of the economy.

"Discounting in Economics and Climate Change," W.D. Nordhaus (Dept. Econ., Yale Univ. Box 208268, Yale Sta., New Haven CT 06511), 315-328. A didactic discussion of the discounting concept in an environmental context.

"Stewardship of Climate," P.G. Brown (Sch. Public Affairs, Univ. Maryland, College Pk. MD 20742), 329-334. Argues for accepting trusteeship (of climate for future generations) as a framework for thinking about climate change.

"Discounting and Climate Change," G. Heal (Columbia Business School, Columbia Univ., New York NY 10027), 335-343. Discusses the controversy among economists over discounting, and how it relates to the first two papers.

Item #d98feb12

"Restructuring OECD Energy Taxes According to Carbon Content,"OECD Bull., 28(8), 21-25, Aug. 1997.

Challenges policy makers by showing how an equitable restructuring of existing OECD taxes on fuels to reflect their carbon content could reduce CO2 emissions far more cost-effectively than adding a "green tax," while maintaining government revenues.

Item #d98feb13

"Optimal Reductions in CO2 Emissions," P.A. Schultz (Earth Systems Sci. Ctr., Dept. Geosci., Pennsylvania State Univ., Univ. Pk. PA 16802), J.F. Kasting, Energy Policy, 25(5), 491-500, Apr. 1997.

Current optimizing climate-economy models use CO2 uptake functions that greatly underestimate both peak atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the time horizon of elevated CO2. This study uses a more realistic carbon cycle parameterization in combination with the DICE model of Nordhaus. Results are extremely sensitive to the pure rate of time preference, and suggest that large fractional reductions in CO2 emissions should be undertaken.

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