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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 #d98oct29

Taking Our Breath Away: The Health Effects of Air Pollution and Climate Change, John Last, David Pengelly, and Konia Trouton, 51 pp., $10 Can, 1998 (David Suzuki Foundation).

After reviewing the theory of global warming, this report examines the links between climate change and human health, such as drought-induced food shortages affecting nutrition, thermal stress leading to premature deaths, and warmer temperatures extending the ranges of disease-bearing insects. A major focus is the exacerbation of the health effects of pollutants by warmer, moister weather. All of these concerns are expressed in a Canadian perspective with Canadian health statistics: In 1998, a Toronto woman contracted malaria from a local mosquito, the first such case in modern times. Hospitalization of young children in Canada for asthma increased 28% among boys and 18% among girls from 1980 to 1990. Across Canada, approximately 16,000 nontraumatic deaths per year are attributable to air pollution. The issue is also expressed in statistical economic terms: “A 1996 Ontario government report calculated that reducing key pollutants by 45% would dramatically decrease hospital admissions and other health costs, resulting in a savings of about $1 billion annually.” Itconcludes that “The medical and scientific evidence shows that our society is facing serious, tangible threats.”

Item #d98oct30

Climate, Drought and Desertification, WMO No. 869, 12 pp., $20, 1997 (WMO).

This publication reviews the associations among climate, drought, and desertification and what the World Meteorological Organization is doing to address those issues.

Item #d98oct31

Early Action and Global Climate Change: An Analysis of Early Action Crediting Proposals, R. R. Nordhaus and S. C. Fotis, 56 pp., free, Oct. 1, 1998 (Pew Center on Global Climate Change); available on the WWW at

This report addresses the issues that policymakers will face in designing a domestic early action program, analyzes current proposals, and suggests a set of principles to guide an effective program. The suggested principles are: (1) Provide a predictable credit mechanism and clear legal framework for the program. (2) Keep the program simple and flexible. (3) Reward real reductions. (4) Provide some form of recognition of past voluntary greenhouse-gas reductions. (5) Do not predetermine the eventual domestic regulatory program. (6) Do not make the early action crediting program contingent upon ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Focus principally on domestic early action. (8) Do not over- mortgage the U.S. greenhouse-gas allocation. The report suggests that, regardless of any eventual international framework, the U.S. can take steps to credit reductions in gases now, encouraging and rewarding companies that act to minimize their emissions. The longer it takes to address climate change, the more it is likely to cost, both environmentally and economically.

Item #d98oct32

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading: Defining the Principles, Modalities, Rules and Guidelines for Verification, Reporting & Accountability, Michael Grubb (mgrubb@ et al., 86 pp., free, August 1998 (UNCTAD); available at

The Kyoto Protocol authorizes four mechanisms for cooperative implementation: bubbles, emission trades, joint implementation, and the Clean Development Mechanism. Emissions trading among nations offers the possibility of lowering the cost of reaching environmental goals, facilitating transboundary cost sharing, developing private capital for controlling global warming, and facilitating the development and implementation of novel approaches to climate- change control.

This report traces historical precedents for such trading, including the U.S. acid-rain program, the Los Angeles- area Regional Clean Air Incentives Market, and New Zealand Fisheries License Trading. It then reviews the lessons learned from these previous trading programs (e.g., significant program-wide cost reductions, lowered success with emissions credit trading, the need for simplicity, the importance of trading between private entities, the gain in flexibility in compliance investing and decision making with banking of allowance, the political practicality of free allocation of allowances, the benefit of allowing uncovered sources access to the marketplace, the needs for low transaction costs and the provision of price information, and the absence of market-power issues). Other attributes seen as essential and discussed at length are high-quality monitoring and verification of trades and subsequent performance, certification of eligible carbon-emission resources, reporting as a key compliance mechanism, penalties that will ensure compliance, an accountability system between buyers and sellers, and regulations that would ensure that trading would adhere to basic World Trade Organization principles.

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