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Global Climate Change Digest

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



Prices and page numbers may be approximate. Obtain reports or further information from sources named in parentheses at the end of each citation; addresses are listed at the end of this section.

Item #d98nov11

Scenarios of U.S. Carbon Reductions: Potential Impacts of Energy-Efficiency and Low-Carbon Technologies by 2010 and Beyond, LBNL-40533 and ORNL/CON-444, Interlaboratory Working Group on Energy-Efficient and Low-Carbon Technologies, 240 pp., $75, 1998 (U.S. Department of Energy/NTIS).

Commonly called the Five-Lab Report, this study uses a technology-by-technology assessment as well as an engineering-economic modeling approach to assess potential impacts of end-use energy-efficiency improvements on carbon emissions. It documents a wide array of advanced-technology options that could be cost-competitive by the year 2020, assuming a vigorous and sustained program of energy R&D beginning now and extending beyond 2010. Three conclusions are reached. First, a vigorous national commitment to develop and deploy energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies has the potential to restrain the growth in U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions such that levels in 2010 would be close to those in 1997 (for energy) and 1990 (for carbon). Second, if feasible ways are found to implement the carbon reductions, all the cases studied could produce energy savings that would be roughly equal to or exceed costs. Third, a next generation of energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies promises to enable the continuation of an aggressive pace of carbon reductions over the next quarter century.

Item #d98nov12

Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–1996, USEPA #236-R-98-006, free, 1998 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency); available on the WWW at

EPA has released its official inventory of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions from 1990 to 1996, required under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, established by the Rio Treaty. Under the Framework, the United States and other developed countries agreed to submit greenhouse gas emissions reports annually to the Secretariat of the Convention. Overall, from 1990 to 1996, total emissions of CO2, CH4, and N2O increased by 122.8 (9%), 8.6 (5%), and 11.4 MMTCE (12%), respectively. During the same period, weighted emissions of HFCs, PFCs, and SF6 rose by 12.5 MMTCE (56%). Despite being emitted in smaller quantities, emissions of HFCs, PFCs, and SF6 are significant because of their extremely high global warming potentials and, in the cases of PFCs and SF6, long atmospheric lifetimes. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were partly offset by carbon sequestration in forests.

Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose in 1996 to 1,788.0 MMTCE (9.5% above 1990 baseline levels). The largest single-year increase in emissions over this time period was registered in 1996 (57.0 MMTCE or 3.3%). The largest source of U.S. GHG emissions was CO2 from fossil-fuel combustion, which accounted for 81% in 1996. Emissions of CO2 from fossil-fuel combustion grew by 9% (118.9 MMTCE) over the 7-year period and were responsible for more than two-thirds of the increase in national emissions. The largest annual increase in emissions from this source was also registered in 1996, when increased fuel consumption drove CO2 emissions up by 3.7 percent. The primary factors for this later single-year increase were (1) fuel switching by electric utilities from natural gas to more carbon intensive coal as gas prices rose sharply, (2) higher petroleum consumption in the transportation end-use sector as travel increased and fuel efficiency stagnated, (3) greater natural gas consumption for heating in the residential end-use sector due to colder weather, and (4) overall robust domestic economic growth.

Other significant trends: Combined N2O and CH4 emissions from mobile-source fossil-fuel combustion rose 3.2 MMTCE (22%), primarily from highway vehicles. Aggregate HFC and PFC emissions resulting from the substitution of ozone-depleting substances (e.g., CFCs) increased dramatically (by 11.6 MMTCE); however, PFC emissions from aluminum production decreased significantly (41%) as a result of voluntary industry emission-reduction efforts and falling domestic aluminum production. Methane emissions from the decomposition of waste in municipal and industrial landfills rose by 8.9 MMTCE (16%). Emissions from coal mining dropped by 5.1 MMTCE (21%) as the use of methane from degasification systems increased significantly. Nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soil management increased by 6.2 MMTCE (10%) as fertilizer consumption and cultivation of nitrogen-fixing crops rose.

Item #d98nov13

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Management of Selected Materials in Municipal Solid Waste, EPA530-R-98- 013, 122 pp., free, September 1998 (USEPA); available at

This report integrates information on greenhouse-gas implications of municipal-solid-waste management options (source reduction, recycling, composting, combustion, and landfilling). It provides GHG emission factors for some of the most common materials in municipal solid waste (newspaper, office paper, corrugated cardboard, etc.) and for mixed municipal solid waste. It states that because of energy and methane reductions and carbon sequestration in forests, source reduction and recycling can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but other waste management options (such as landfilling and combustion) can also reduce emissions, depending on the commodity type.

Item #d98nov14

Impacts on Canadian Competitiveness of International Climate Change Mitigation: Phase II, sections folioed separately, free, 1997, (Environment Canada); available at

This economic study by Standard & Poor’s DRI was commissioned by five agencies of the Government of Canada. The major findings are that reducing CO2 emissions would impose transition costs on the Canadian economy. After 10 to 15 years, the Canadian economy would be expected to produce about the same level of output, albeit at a reduced level of CO2 emissions as it would have under business-as-usual conditions. The transition costs would vary by region and sector. For example, producers of oil, gas, and coal would suffer significantly. Alberta and Saskatchewan would be the most adversely affected. British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec also experience significant costs until 2013, when the national output would rise above business-as-usual levels. The private service sector, however, would be little affected. The level and distribution of costs would also vary greatly with the choice of implementation strategy (e.g., a national permit-trading scheme, a carbon tax, or permit auction). Regardless of the implementation strategy and despite the transition costs, the economy would eventually recover.

Item #d98nov15

Profiles in Carbon: Population, Consumption and Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 42 pp., free, 1998 (Population Action International).

The Profiles document the annual per capita CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement production for 179 countries from 1950 to 1995. It includes individual thumbnail charts for each country. A centerpiece chart ranks and maps 145 of these countries by their 1995 per capita emissions. A pie chart illustrates the fact that 20% of the world’s population is responsible for 63% of CO2 emissions, while another 20% is responsible for only 2% of these emissions. The “high emitters” include some surprises (e.g., South Africa and Libya), and many European countries are among the 60% of the “middle emitters,” whose CO2 emissions account for 35% of the global totals. The report uses this data to support a proposal for an equity-based approach to addressing climate change that spotlights the critical role of world population growth to the future of climate change.

Item #d98nov16

The Least Developed Countries 1998 Annual Report, UNCTAD/LDC/1998, 210 pp., $40, 1998 (U.N. Conference on Trade and Development).

This annual publication provides socioeconomic analysis and data on the 48 nations identified by the United Nations as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), with a total population of over 600 million and an average per capita GDP of about US$230, according to the latest figures available. These data reflect the effects of the El Niño weather system, which resulted in widespread crop failures and consequent food shortages in many of these countries. Governments were pressed to divert expenditure from investment in infrastructure and manufacturing to disaster relief and food procurement. The data indicate that the LDCs are especially vulnerable to the ravages of weather because of their lack of export diversification.

Item #d98nov17

Global Climate Change, CRS Issue Brief for Congress 89005, W. A. Morrissey and J. R. Justus, 13 pp., free (Congressional Research Service/NIE); available at

After reviewing the premises and predictions of the greenhouse-warming theory, it asks the question, “Given scientific uncertainties about the magnitude, timing, rate, and regional consequences of potential climatic change, what are the appropriate responses for world decision makers?” It notes that fossil-fuel combustion is the primary source of CO2 emissions and that removing these gases after combustion is a technical challenge with economic penalties. It notes that these concerns must be addressed internationally and that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol would commit world governments to additional measures to “prevent dangerous [human] interference with Earth’s climate system,” and include legally binding emissions reductions.

Item #d98nov18

Equity and Global Climate Change: The Complex Elements of Global Fairness, Eileen Claussen and Lisa McNeilly, 35 pp., free, October 1998 (Pew Center on Global Climate Change); available at

Rather than focusing debate on pragmatic issues, this paper argues for narrowing in on the relevant principles as early as possible and for using a transparent process. It recommends three criteria for equity: responsibility (the “polluter pays”), standard of living (who is in the best position to take action), and opportunity (who can make an effect most efficiently), and it offers a set of principles that could guide negotiations: Maintain or improve standards of living. Focus climate-change mitigation efforts on alternative low-carbon development paths that do not reduce economic growth. Do not undermine or hinder progress toward the goal of sustainable development. Countries most responsible for greenhouse gases should lead reduction efforts. All nations should reduce emissions. Take advantage of emission- reduction opportunities where they exist.

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