[Senate Hearing 107-189]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 107-189
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BALANCED
ENERGY POLICY ACT
ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STUDIES ON CLIMATE CHANGE
TO PROVIDE FOR A COMPREHENSIVE AND BALANCED NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
JUNE 28, 2001
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
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COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
JEFF BINGAMAN, New Mexico, Chairman
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, Alaska
BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota PETE V. DOMENICI, New Mexico
BOB GRAHAM, Florida DON NICKLES, Oklahoma
RON WYDEN, Oregon LARRY E. CRAIG, Idaho
TIM JOHNSON, South Dakota BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, Colorado
MARY L. LANDRIEU, Louisiana CRAIG THOMAS, Wyoming
EVAN BAYH, Indiana GORDON SMITH, Oregon
BLANCHE L. LINCOLN, Arkansas JIM BUNNING, Kentucky
PETER G. FITZGERALD, Illinois
CONRAD BURNS, Montana
Robert M. Simon, Staff Director
Sam E. Fowler, Chief Counsel
Brian P. Malnak, Republican Staff Director
James P. Beirne, Republican Chief Counsel
Shirley Neff, Staff Economist
Note: Senator Bingaman assumed the Chairmanship on June 6, 2001.
C O N T E N T S
Barron, Eric J., Ph.D., Professor and Director, Earth and Mineral
Sciences Environment Institute, The Pennsylvania State
University, College Park, PA................................... 14
Bingaman, Hon. Jeff, U.S. Senator from New Mexico................ 1
Chandler, William, Senior Staff Scientist and Director, Advanced
International Studies Unit, Pacific Northwest National
Craig, Hon. Larry E., U.S. Senator from Idaho.................... 2
Edmonds, Dr. James, Senior Staff Scientist, Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute............... 26
Friedman, Dr. Robert M., Vice President for Research, the H. John
Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.... 40
Hagel, Hon. Chuck, U.S. Senator from Nebraska.................... 3
Levine, Dr. Mark D., Director, Environmental Energy Technologies
Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA.. 45
Murkowski, Hon. Frank H., U.S. Senator from Alaska............... 3
Rowland, F. Sherwood, Ph.D., Donald Bren Research Professor of
Chemistry and Earth System Science, University of California at
Ervine, Irvine, CA............................................. 6
Wallace, John M., Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Washington, Seattle, WA.......................... 10
Responses to additional questions................................ 55
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BALANCED
ENERGY POLICY ACT
THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2001
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:37 a.m., in
room SD-366, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Jeff
Bingaman, chairman, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JEFF BINGAMAN,
U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO
The Chairman. Let me call the hearing to order and thank
everybody for attending.
Today, we will take testimony from two panels of experts,
first, on the recently released National Research Council
report on the science of climate change, followed by a second
panel on energy technology options for managing the risks posed
by climate change.
I am sorry that the hearing this morning conflicts with a
markup in the Appropriations Committee on the Interior bill.
There are several members of our committee who have expressed
regret at not being able to participate this morning and hear
Clearly, there is a widespread consensus that warming of
the earth's surface is occurring and that human activity is a
significant contributor. We also know that any sustained effort
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would have a substantial
effect on energy policy since roughly 98 percent of U.S. carbon
emissions result from fossil fuel combustion. That is a
combination of coal and oil and natural gas.
A well-crafted technology policy is critical to
accelerating the development and adoption of new technologies
for lowering the emissions of greenhouse gases. Energy
technologies that have already been developed and those under
development, which will be deployed over the next few decades,
will largely determine the world energy system for most of the
next century. Yet, as the Heinz Center study points out, the
Nation's present science and technology system is highly
decentralized with no compelling mission to reduce greenhouse
In my view, it is our responsibility as policymakers to
provide the necessary focus to the various technology programs
to ensure that we are moving toward sustainable outcomes. Smart
policies can significantly reduce not only carbon dioxide
emissions but other air pollutants. Petroleum dependence as
well can be reduced, and we can increase the efficiency of both
energy production and use.
In addition, there are many opportunities for the United
States to cooperate with other countries--industrial,
transition, and developing countries alike--in developing and
deploying energy efficient technologies. In order to take
advantage of those opportunities, we need to change our own
policies. Existing Federal programs for energy cooperation are
not adequate neither from the standpoint of addressing the need
nor ensuring that competitive opportunities are available to
Many developing and transition economies are building homes
and factories with out-of-date technologies which will be used
for many decades. In doing so, developing nations are building
in excessive costs, locking out environmental protection, and
diminishing their own development potential.
However, progress can be both rapid and significant. China,
through the energy sector reform and pursuit of energy
efficiency opportunities, has made unprecedented progress in
reducing energy intensity and carbon dioxide emissions. With
technology and the right energy policies, developing countries
can meet their energy needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
while freeing up funds for investment in other critical
Section 111 of S. 597, which is a bill I introduced earlier
this Congress with a number of cosponsors, establishes an
interagency working group on clean energy technology transfer.
This provision builds on Senator Byrd's initiative in the
Energy and Water appropriations bill in the last Congress. I
hope the witnesses on the second panel will offer their views
as to whether this is the correct approach or how we should
structure such an effort to be more effective.
I hope that we can hear suggestions from today's witnesses
to help us move forward in our design of energy and technology
policies consistent with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas
emissions, both domestically and internationally.
Let me defer to Senator Murkowski for any opening statement
he has before we begin with the witnesses.
Let me alert everyone that we have been advised by the
Majority Leader that there are votes starting at about 9:45,
two votes in a row, which will probably require us to interrupt
But let us go ahead with Senator Murkowski's opening
[The prepared statements of Senators Craig and Hagel
Prepared Statement of Hon. Larry E. Craig, U.S. Senator From Idaho
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting these eminent climate
scientists to testify before the Committee. I always welcome the
opportunity to hear scientists, such as those before us today,
communicate their understanding of this fascinating and often
Mr. Chairman, let me also publicly state what a pleasure and a
privilege it was for me to participate with you, Senator Jeff Sessions,
Secretary Paul O'Neill, and Dr. Glenn Hubbard, the President's Chairman
of the Council of Economic Advisors, in the four-hour Climate Science
Forum sponsored by National Academies at its headquarters here in
Washington, D.C. earlier this month.
My only disappointment is that we didn't have more of our Senate
colleagues in attendance, particularly those who have many times
publicly expressed serious concern about this issue. Congress cannot
continue to learn about this issue from media reports contained in
newspapers and popular magazines. The issue is too economically and
environmentally important for Congress to continue to have only a
casual interest in its scientific complexity.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, the National Academies made
extraordinary efforts to get members of the Senate to attend its
intensive Climate Science Forum, including sending a letter one month
in advance of the forum to each member of the Senate, followed by a
personal phone call to each Senate office. Perhaps, in the future,
efforts to get the Senate's attention will be more fruitful.
Those facts notwithstanding, Mr. Chairman, your presence at that
forum was a clear statement of your genuine interest in objectively
tackling this very important and complex scientific issue. I commend
you for your willingness to search for ways to strengthen our
scientific understanding of this issue and commit to joining you in
that important effort.
Your thoughtful and probing questions at the Forum stimulated a
worthwhile dialogue that helped further advance my understanding of the
issue. Clearly, many key uncertainties continue to plague our
scientific community's progress toward a more confident understanding
of what is happening to our global climate system.
However, with proper direction from the National Academies, I am
confident that we can make meaningful and appropriate investments in
scientific research and technology development that will yield
breakthroughs in our ability to better predict and adapt to any future
As you know, Mr. Chairman, I have invested much time and effort to
understanding this issue. I have sought the counsel of many eminent
scientists, three of whom are here today. Our national policy on this
issue must evolve commensurately with the increasing confidence we
achieve in our scientific understanding. Consensus on appropriate
government action should be the cornerstone of that policy.
It is my hope that under your leadership, the Committee will
continue to actively pursue the productive dialogue we have begun with
our scientific community. It is my belief that our increased
understanding of the science will lead to a consensus on what
bipartisan legislative action is appropriate to address one of the most
important economic and environmental issues of our time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Prepared Statement of Hon. Chuck Hagel, U.S. Senator From Nebraska
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report is a serious document
on an important issue. As the report states, we do not know all of the
factors contributing to climate change and the extent to which human
activities or natural variables are playing a role. The report points
out the vast uncertainties that remain and the need for major advances
in our understanding and modeling of climate change. I agree with the
need for greater research to enhance our knowledge of climate change.
Reducing the uncertainties will help us make better decisions about the
appropriate way to address this important issue.
This report is certainly not a prescription for the drastic
measures required under the Kyoto Protocol. Far from it.
However, this report does provide us with enough evidence to move
forward in a responsible, reasonable and achievable way to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. It provides us with a basis to move forward
with an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol. That should be the goal of
It is also important to note that the NAS report concludes that the
Summaries for Policy Makers of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) tend to understate the uncertainties and
overstate the conclusiveness of scientific reports. This has been a
criticism of the IPCC process and must be considered when evaluating
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK H. MURKOWSKI, U.S. SENATOR
Senator Murkowski. Thanks very much, Senator Bingaman. Good
morning. We look forward to the testimony from our very
I think it is important to hold this hearing. It is
certainly a topical subject. Having witnesses of the caliber of
those from the National Academy review climatic science I think
is very timely.
I want to emphasize science because so much of our
activities associated with this issue are based, to some
extent, on emotion. I would remind our scientists that we are
novices, obviously, and we depend on your recommendations. We
kind of expect you to, if you will, put behind your
recommendations your own personal experience, your scholarly
commitments over the years, in other words, to some extent your
reputation, because those of us on this panel have one of two
alternatives. That is to vote yes or no. Now, that may be an
oversimplification, but if we cannot depend on you folks for
accurate evaluation based on your expertise and knowledge, as
opposed to what we might get out of a public hearing, why, I do
not know who we can depend on.
In any event, I want to welcome you. I have often said the
risk of climate change is a risk that we must recognize,
address, manage, if you will, but to manage risks, I think you
must first understand the risks that you face. That is where
you gentlemen and others come in. Certainly the science
suggests that we do face a risk of climate change from human
All scientists seem to agree that some climate change will
result from the direct effect of adding greenhouse gases to the
atmosphere. I am told that the mid-range estimate from the IPCC
is a global average warming of about 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit by
the end of the 21st century.
But climate models used for those projections seem to
differ on the role of the so-called feedbacks, particularly
clouds, aerosols, and so forth. In fact, the NAS notes that the
lack of understanding of these ``feedbacks'' appears to be a
severe handicap to our ability to assess future climate
The report also suggests that ``without an understanding of
the sources and degree of uncertainty, decision makers could
fail to define the best ways to deal with serious issues of
global warming.'' Obviously, we want to err, if we are going to
err, on the side of safety and caution.
I have always been somewhat intrigued with the ice core
record from Greenland which shows historically the temperature
variations, volcanic activity, a great deal of history of
climate change. I have often wondered why there was not more
scientific research in that area of a continuing nature. It
seemed to be a bit inconsistent. Perhaps I do not know all the
facts. In any event, there is some historical data that
supports dramatic change.
Now, some of my colleagues have suggested that this
National Academy report on climate science is a call to action.
I agree but I am wondering if the call is for improved climate
monitoring and climate modeling, not necessarily a
justification for caps on emissions. So, again, the decision
should be made on science, not emotion.
In my opinion, caps are no different from the flawed Kyoto
Protocol that would place unfair, expansive and expensive
limits on the U.S. production. When you consider rationing the
amount of energy the United States could use, even though
energy is key to the prosperity of the American way of life,
adequate, low cost energy is a part of our standard of living
in this country.
The concern is over causing significantly higher energy
costs: 53 percent higher it is estimated for gasoline under
Kyoto; 86 percent increase in the cost of electricity. That is
going to change the standard of living in this country.
Reducing the rate of economic growth by as much as 4
percent per year is going to affect a lot of jobs, hundreds of
thousands of jobs. It could eliminate the surplus.
But in any event, it could threaten American global
competitiveness. Our biggest economic rivals would be exempt
from emissions limits, and that is one of the major problems
with the Kyoto accord. It does not allow, if you will, for us
to use our technology to reduce their emissions. It simply
seems to allow them to catch up.
The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the
United States has ratified, calls for stabilization of
greenhouse gas concentrations. But Kyoto will not stabilize
concentrations. In fact, it will not make a measurable
difference in the climate. Emissions from 130 developing
nations will overwhelm any reductions made by the United States
and 38 other countries.
So, a new approach to managing the risk of climate change
is really needed. I think our President has provided that
starting point. I applaud the President for his leadership in
the face of so much criticism from our European allies and
radical environmental groups. Sometimes the right thing to do
is not the most popular thing to do.
The President's plan focuses on managing the risk of
climate change using American technology and ingenuity and
innovation, and America's can-do spirit; quantifying and
understanding the risks of climate change through improved
climate observations and models; developing tools we will need
to reduce the future risk of climate change, advanced energy
We will discuss with our second panel of witnesses a
variety of these short- and long-term energy technology options
that will help us reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas
emissions. And I look forward from hearing from them as well.
Personally I support cost effective actions to meet the
long-term stabilization goal of the U.N. Framework Convention
on Climate Change. It will require a fundamental change in the
way that we produce the use energy--more energy with fewer
emissions. It is not going to be as simple as regulating
emissions. Certainly the question of reducing them out of
existence is a major consideration. It is my hope that we can
sit down at the table not long after this hearing and put forth
a sensible bipartisan alternative to Kyoto.
I just want to make one more observation. It is my
understanding that the White House will be sending up its
recommendations in outlined legislative form relative to the
President's Energy Task Force report. I would hope that we can
take this up promptly in the Senate. As many of you know,
Senator Lott had proposed to take up energy immediately after
taxes and education, and the Democratic leadership has not
addressed it, to my knowledge, on the calendar.
I feel that any delay in taking that up affects, to some
extent, the security of this Nation. We are dependent on a
plentiful supply of low cost energy, and anything to delay the
development of an increased supply of energy and technology to
reduce emissions, as well as increase efficiency, is going to
affect the security of this Nation, the prosperity of this
Nation, and certainly our standard of living.
And I would appeal, again as I will every day that we hold
a hearing, that the majority move the Griles nomination. It has
been pending 35 days now and clearly Griles was not a part of
the agreement that was made and dictated by the Democratic side
that they would hold back on all nominees until after there was
an agreement on the makeup of the committees. In Griles' case,
he was brought up prior to the change and should have been
moved, and there is simply no excuse for that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
As I think we all know, the administration asked the NRC to
assist in identifying areas in the science of climate change
where there are certainties and uncertainties, and that report
was prepared. We have three of the leaders who worked on that
report here to testify. Why do we not try to go ahead with
testimony right now and see if we can go for about 10 minutes
before we have to leave for this vote. We will start with Dr.
Sherwood Rowland, who is head of this panel. If you will go
right ahead with your testimony.
Let me say from the outset, we will include the complete
testimony of all witnesses, as if read, in the record, but any
comments you have or any summary you want to make, we would be
anxious to hear.
STATEMENT OF F. SHERWOOD ROWLAND, Ph.D., DONALD BREN RESEARCH
PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY AND EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF
CALIFORNIA AT IRVINE, IRVINE, CA
Dr. Rowland. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the
committee. My name is F. Sherwood Rowland. I am the Donald Bren
Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth System Science at the
University of California at Irvine and served as a member of
the Committee on the Science of Climate Change of the National
Research Council. The chairman of that committee was Ralph
Cicerone, the chancellor at the University of California at
Irvine. In addition, I am a member of the National Academy of
Sciences and have served as its Foreign Secretary since 1994.
This study originated from a White House request to help
inform the administration's ongoing review of U.S. climate
change policy. In particular, the written request asked for the
National Academy's assistance in identifying the areas in the
science of climate change where there are the greatest
certainties and uncertainties and views on whether there are
any substantive differences between the IPCC--that is, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change--reports and the IPCC
summaries. In addition, based on discussions with the
administration, specific questions were incorporated into the
statement of task for the study. The White House asked for a
response as soon as possible but no later than early June, less
1 month after submitting its formal request.
The National Academies is a private organization formed in
1863 under a charter from the U.S. Government with a mandate
arising from that charter to respond to government requests
when asked. The National Academies draw no direct institutional
funding from the U.S. Government, although the actual costs of
the majority of its studies are reimbursed by the Government.
In view of the critical nature of this issue, we agreed to
undertake this study and to use our own funds to support it.
The report does not make policy recommendations regarding
what to do in response to the potential of global warming.
Thus, it does not estimate the potential economic and
environmental costs, benefits, and uncertainties regarding
various policy responses and future human behaviors.
Looking ahead for the next 100 years not only involves
uncertainties in our understanding of the earth's climate
system, but also estimates of changes which will result later
in the century from choices not yet made. Inevitably such looks
into the future have some near certainties. For instance, the
global population will almost certainly grow from its present 6
billion to 8 billion or 9 billion by mid-century. But there are
other areas with much greater uncertainty. Nevertheless,
science does provide us with the best available guide to the
future, and it is critical that our Nation and the world base
important policies on the best judgments that science can
provide concerning the future consequences of present actions.
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as
a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures
and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are in
fact rising. The changes observed over the last several decades
are likely mostly the consequence of human activities, but we
cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is
also a reflection of natural variability.
The most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide which
is not only formed by the natural processes of the decay of
biological matter, but is also released by the burning of wood,
coal, oil, and natural gas.
Another greenhouse gas is methane, which from its natural
emanation from waterlogged areas gained the name swamp gas, but
is also released during agricultural activities such as rice
growing and cattle raising.
The gas which contributes the most to the greenhouse effect
is water vapor for which the concentration is controlled almost
entirely by the global temperature and therefore subject to an
indirect effect from mankind through other activities which
affect global temperature.
Other greenhouse gases include nitrous oxide formed by
bacterial reaction in soils, including attack on nitrogenous
fertilizers; chlorofluorocarbons, synthetic chemicals now under
global production bans because of their capability for
depletion of stratospheric ozone; and tropospheric ozone, an
important pollutant created in photochemical smog.
The total contribution of these greenhouse gases,
especially of carbon dioxide, will continue to accumulate
during the 21st century and consequently human-induced warming
and associated sea level rises are expected to continue as
Secondary effects are suggested by computer model
simulations and basic physical reasoning. These include
increases in rainfall rates and increased susceptibility of
semi-arid regions to drought. The impacts of these changes will
be critically dependent on the magnitude of the warming and the
rate with which it occurs.
Surface temperature measurements, with near global
coverage, have only been available since the latter half of the
19th century. During that period, the average global
temperature has increased by about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit or .6
degree Centigrade, with about half of that increase occurring
during the last 2 decades. The warmest decade of that entire
record occurred during the 1990's and the next warmest was that
of the 1980's.
My colleagues, Dr. Wallace and Dr. Barron, will present
other aspects of our report from the National Academy. Thank
[The prepared statement of Dr. Rowland follows:]
Prepared Statement of F. Sherwood Rowland, Ph.D., Donald Bren Research
Professor of Chemistry and Earth System Science, University of
California at Irvine, Irvine, CA
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is
F. Sherwood Rowland. I am the Donald Bren Research Professor of
Chemistry and Earth System Science at the University of California at
Irvine and served as a member of the Committee on the Science of
Climate Change of the National Research Council. In addition, I serve
as the Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences.
This study originated from a White House request to help inform the
Administration's ongoing review of U.S. climate change policy. In
particular, the written request asked for the National Academies'
``assistance in identifying the areas in the science of climate change
where there are the greatest certainties and uncertainties,'' and
``views on whether there are any substantive differences between the
IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports and the IPCC
summaries.'' In addition, based on discussions with the Administration,
the following specific questions were incorporated into the statement
of task for the study:
What is the range of natural variability in climate?
Are concentrations of greenhouse gases and other emissions
that contribute to climate change increasing at an accelerating
rate, and are different greenhouse gases and other emissions
increasing at different rates?
How long does it take to reduce the buildup of greenhouse
gases and other emissions that contribute to climate change?
What other emissions are contributing factors to climate
change (e.g., aerosols, CO, black carbon soot), and what is
their relative contribution to climate change?
Do different greenhouse gases and other emissions have
different draw down periods?
Are greenhouse gases causing climate change?
Is climate change occurring? If so, how?
Is human activity the cause of increased concentrations of
greenhouse gases and other emissions that contribute to climate
How much of the expected climate change is the consequence
of climate feedback processes (e.g., water vapor, clouds, snow
By how much will temperatures change over the next 100 years
What will be the consequences (e.g., extreme weather, health
effects) of increases of various magnitudes?
Has science determined whether there is a ``safe'' level of
concentration of greenhouse gases?
What are the substantive differences between the IPCC
Reports and the Summaries?
What are the specific areas of science that need to be
studied further, in order of priority, to advance our
understanding of climate change?
The White House asked for a response ``as soon as possible'' but no
later than early June--less than one month after submitting its formal
The National Academies has a mandate arising from its 1863 charter
to respond to government requests when asked. In view of the critical
nature of this issue, we agreed to undertake this study and to use our
own funds to support it.
A committee with broad expertise and diverse perspectives on the
scientific issues of climate change was therefore appointed through the
National Academies' National Research Council. In early May, the
committee held a conference call to discuss the specific questions and
to prepare for its 2-day meeting (May 21-22, 2001) in Irvine,
California. The committee reviewed the 14 questions and determined that
they represent important issues in climate change science and could
serve as a useful framework for addressing the two general questions
from the White House.
For the task of comparing IPCC Reports and Summaries, the committee
focused its review on the work of IPCC Working Group I, which dealt
with many of the same detailed questions being asked above. The
committee decided to address the questions in the context of a brief
document that also could serve as a primer for policy makers on climate
While traditional procedures for an independent NRC study,
including review of the report by independent experts, were followed,
it is important to note that tradeoffs were made in order to
accommodate the rapid schedule. For example, the report does not
provide extensive references to the scientific literature or marshal
detailed evidence to support its ``answers'' to the questions. Rather,
the report largely presents the consensus scientific views and
judgments of committee members, based on the accumulated knowledge that
these individuals have gained both through their own scholarly efforts
and through formal and informal interactions with the world's climate
change science community.
The result is a report that provides policy makers with a succinct
and balanced overview of what science can currently say about the
potential for future climate change, while outlining the uncertainties
that remain in our scientific knowledge.
The report does not make policy recommendations regarding what to
do about the potential of global warming. Thus, it does not estimate
the potential economic and environmental costs, benefits, and
uncertainties regarding various policy responses and future human
behaviors. While beyond the charge presented to this committee,
scientists and social scientists have the ability to provide
assessments of this type as well. Both types of assessments can be
helpful to policy makers, who frequently have to weigh tradeoffs and
make decisions on important issues, despite the inevitable
uncertainties in our scientific understanding concerning particular
aspects. Science never has all the answers. But science does provide us
with the best available guide to the future, and it is critical that
our nation and the world base important policies on the best judgments
that science can provide concerning the future consequences of present
The rest of my comments provide a general summary of the material
in the report. My colleagues, Dr. Wallace and Dr. Barron, will provide
detailed responses to the questions in their testimony.
Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result
of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface
ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The
changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to
human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of
these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-
induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue
through the 21st century. Secondary effects are suggested by computer
model simulations and basic physical reasoning. These include increases
in rainfall rates and increased susceptibility of semi-arid regions to
drought. The impacts of these changes will be critically dependent on
the magnitude of the warming and the rate with which it occurs.
The mid-range model estimate of human induced global warming by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is based on the
premise that the growth rate of climate forcing agents such as carbon
dioxide will accelerate. The predicted warming of 3 deg.C (5.4 deg.F)
by the end of the 21st century is consistent with the assumptions about
how clouds and atmospheric relative humidity will react to global
warming. This estimate is also consistent with inferences about the
sensitivity of climate drawn from comparing the sizes of past
temperature swings between ice ages and intervening warmer periods with
the corresponding changes in the climate forcing. This predicted
temperature increase is sensitive to assumptions concerning future
concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Hence, national policy
decisions made now and in the longer-term future will influence the
extent of any damage suffered by vulnerable human populations and
ecosystems later in this century. Because there is considerable
uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies
naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols,
current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded
as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or
Reducing the wide range of uncertainty inherent in current model
predictions of global climate change will require major advances in
understanding and modeling of both (1) the factors that determine
atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and (2)
the so-called ``feedbacks'' that determine the sensitivity of the
climate system to a prescribed increase in greenhouse gases. There also
is a pressing need for a global observing system designed for
The committee generally agrees with the assessment of human-caused
climate change presented in the IPCC Working Group I (WGI) scientific
report, but seeks here to articulate more clearly the level of
confidence that can be ascribed to those assessments and the caveats
that need to be attached to them. This articulation may be helpful to
policy makers as they consider a variety of options for mitigation and/
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
They have started the last part of this vote. So, rather
than to interrupt either of the next witnesses, I think I will
just recess the hearing right now, and then as soon as we have
made these two votes, we will be back here and we will continue
with the testimony of the next two witnesses. We will stand in
The Chairman. Why do we not go ahead? I am sure some of the
other members will be returning here as soon as the vote is
over, but let me go ahead now with the other two witnesses on
this panel. Dr. Wallace, why do you not go ahead with your
statement, and then Dr. Barron.
STATEMENT OF JOHN M. WALLACE, Ph.D., PROFESSOR OF
ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, SEATTLE, WA
Dr. Wallace. Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and
members of the committee. My name is John Wallace and I am a
professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of
Washington. I served as a member of the Committee on the
Science of Climate Change of the National Research Council and
I am member of the National Academy of Sciences.
I am going to address just three of the dozen or so
questions that the administration posed to us, and in the
interest of providing plenty of time for discussion, I am going
to make my answers quite brief here.
The first of the three questions is: What is the range of
natural variability of climate? This is a question that needs
to be addressed looking at paleoclimate evidence, evidence from
things such as the Greenland ice cores, which Senator Murkowski
mentioned, for evidence of how climate has behaved over longer
periods of time than we have observations. I should say that
the ice cores are one of the most important pieces of the
evidence. We believe that climate has varied by as much as 20
degrees Fahrenheit locally in connection with the transitions
between the ice age and the warmer interglacial cycles in
between the glacial periods. So, 20 degrees locally and perhaps
as much as 10 degree Fahrenheit in global average temperature.
We believe that during the great thaw from the most recent
ice age, that temperatures warmed quite rapidly for a few
thousand year period and that we might have seen temperature
increases of as much as 3 or 4 degrees per millennium during
that time. It is notable that the 3 or 4 degrees per millennium
would be just .3 or .4 of a degree per century, and that is
smaller than the change that we have seen during the 20th
The ice core records provided some surprising evidence of
some abrupt changes of up to a few degrees, perhaps as much as
5 degrees, locally during the recovery from the ice age period,
though there has not been anything as striking as that in the
last 5,000 to 8,000 years.
The proxy evidence also shows wide variations in rainfall
from century to century over areas like the United States. The
Dust Bowl of the 20th century showed us what conditions were
like much more typically back during the period from the 10th
to the 14th centuries. Very severe droughts like that were much
more common at that time than they have been recently. So, we
have been living a charmed life, so to speak.
Well, with that as a background, then to proceed to the two
other questions. The first of them is, is the climate changing
now, and if so, how? As Dr. Rowland mentioned, we do have
measurements over the 20th century both at a wide array of
surface stations on land and ship records also, millions and
millions of observations of sea surface temperature and air
temperature from ships, which indicated that over the earth's
surface, temperatures warmed by about a degree Fahrenheit
during the 20th century.
We also have recent evidence of a warming within the ocean,
down to depths of 10,000 feet or so, during the second half of
the 20th century. We have seen a retreat of mountain glaciers
over many areas of the world during this time and a good deal
of other evidence of a gradual warming. That is detailed in the
report, and I will not take the time to go into it here.
It is worth noting, though, that the observed warming has
not proceeded at a uniform rate. In fact, it was very rapid
during the early part of the century, particularly the 1920's
decade, and then temperatures leveled off for a while from the
mid-1940's until the mid-1970's. I remember when I was in
graduate school not hearing that there had been warming but
that, if anything, there was a bit of cooling in the northern
hemisphere at that time. That was back in the 1960's. But we
have seen very rapid warming in the last 25 years or so.
Another thing which is puzzling is that the temperature
changes aloft, the temperature of the troposphere, the lowest
5-mile thick layer of the atmosphere, have not kept pace with
the changes at the earth's surface. During the 1970's, the
balloon data that we have from that time indicated that the
upper air temperatures were warming faster than the surface
temperatures, and since 1980, the situation has been the other
way around. So, a number of us in the community, as part of our
research, are trying reconcile those differences.
So, that brings me to the final question, are greenhouse
gases causing climate change? This is one where we were careful
with our wording because it is a delicate balance to just
express this in the right way. I am going to read you a couple
of sentences from our report.
The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of
the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in
greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current
thinking of the scientific community on this issue. The stated
degree of confidence in the IPCC assessment is higher today
than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. I would certainly count
myself among those who have swung in that direction. I would
say 10 years ago I was kind of at the 80 percent level in
agreement with it, and now I would count myself at the 90
But we go on to say, uncertainty remains because the level
of natural variability inherent in the climate system, on time
scales of decades to centuries, is still uncertain. We do not
know how much of the variability during the past century was
due to natural causes, and we acknowledge that the ability of
the models to simulate that variability is limited at this
point. And there are also uncertainties in our knowledge of
past climate, for which we have to rely on proxy evidence.
But despite the certainties, we say that there is general
agreement that the observed warming during the 20th century is
real and particularly strong within the past 20 years.
So, I would leave off at that point.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Wallace follows:]
Prepared Statement of John M. Wallace, Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric
Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is
John Wallace. I am a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the
University of Washington. I served as a member of the Committee on the
Science of Climate Change of the National Research Council, and am a
member of the National Academy of Sciences.
My remarks summarize the committee's responses to eight of the
What is the range of natural variability in climate?
The range of natural climate variability is known to be quite large
(in excess of several degrees Celsius) on local and regional spatial
scales over periods as short as a decade. Precipitation also can vary
widely. For example, there is evidence to suggest that droughts as
severe as the ``dust bowl'' of the 1930s were much more common in the
central United States during the 10th to 14th centuries than they have
been in the more recent record. Mean temperature variations at local
sites have exceeded 10 deg.C (18 deg.F) in association with the
repeated glacial advances and retreats that occurred over the course of
the past million years. It is more difficult to estimate the natural
variability of global mean temperature because of the sparse spatial
coverage of existing data and difficulties in inferring temperatures
from various proxy data. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that global
warming rates as large as 2 deg.C (3.6 deg.F) per millennium may have
occurred during retreat of the glaciers following the most recent ice
Are concentrations of greenhouse gases and other emissions that
contribute to climate change increasing at an accelerating
rate, and are different greenhouse gases and other emissions
increasing at different rates? Is human activity the cause of
increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and other
emissions that contribute to climate change?
The emissions of some greenhouse gases are increasing, but others
are decreasing. In some cases the decreases are a result of policy
decisions, while in other cases the reasons for the decreases are not
Of the greenhouse gases that are directly influenced by human
activity, the most important are carbon dioxide, methane, ozone,
nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Aerosols released by
human activities are also capable of influencing climate. (Table 1
lists the estimated climate forcing due to the presence of each of
these ``climate forcing agents'' in the atmosphere.)
Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted from
ice cores drilled in Greenland and Antarctica have typically ranged
from near 190 parts per million by volume (ppmv) during the ice ages to
near 280 ppmv during the warmer ``interglacial'' periods like the
present one that began around 10,000 years ago. Concentrations did not
rise much above 280 ppmv until the Industrial Revolution. By 1958, when
systematic atmospheric measurements began, they had reached 315 ppmv,
and they are currently ~370 ppmv and rising at a rate of 1.5 ppmv per
year (slightly higher than the rate during the early years of the 43-
year record). Human activities are responsible for the increase. The
primary source, fossil fuel burning, has released roughly twice as much
carbon dioxide as would be required to account for the observed
increase. Tropical deforestation also has contributed to carbon dioxide
releases during the past few decades. The excess carbon dioxide has
been taken up by the oceans and land biosphere.
Like carbon dioxide, methane (CH4) is more abundant in
Earth's atmosphere now than at any time during the 400,000 year long
ice core record, which dates back over a number of glacial/interglacial
cycles. Concentrations increased rather smoothly by about 1% per year
from 1978, until about 1990. The rate of increase slowed and became
more erratic during the 1990s. About two-thirds of the current
emissions of methane are released by human activities such as rice
growing, the raising of cattle, coal mining, use of land-fills, and
natural gas handling, all of which have increased over the past 50
A small fraction of the ozone (O3) produced by natural
processes in the stratosphere mixes into the lower atmosphere. This
``tropospheric ozone'' has been supplemented during the 20th century by
additional ozone, created locally by the action of sunlight upon air
polluted by exhausts from motor vehicles, emissions from fossil fuel
burning power plants, and biomass burning.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is formed by many microbial
reactions in soils and waters, including those acting on the increasing
amounts of nitrogen-containing fertilizers. Some synthetic chemical
processes that release nitrous oxide have also been identified. Its
concentration has increased approximately 13% in the past 200 years.
Atmospheric concentrations of CFCs rose steadily following their
first synthesis in 1928 and peaked in the early 1990s. Many other
industrially useful fluorinated compounds (e.g., carbon tetrafluoride,
CF4, and sulfur hexafluoride, SF6), have very
long atmospheric lifetimes, which is of concern, even though their
atmospheric concentrations have not yet produced large radiative
forcings. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are replacing CFCs, have a
greenhouse effect, but it is much less pronounced because of their
shorter atmospheric lifetimes. The sensitivity and generality of modern
analytical systems make it quite unlikely that any currently
significant greenhouse gases remain to be discovered.
What other emissions are contributing factors to climate change (e.g.,
aerosols, CO, black carbon soot), and what is their relative
contribution to climate change?
Besides greenhouse gases, human activity also contributes to the
atmospheric burden of aerosols, which include both sulfate particles
and black carbon (soot). Both are unevenly distributed, owing to their
short lifetimes in the atmosphere. Sulfate particles scatter solar
radiation back to space, thereby offsetting the greenhouse effect to
some degree. Recent ``clean coal technologies'' and use of low sulfur
fuels have resulted in decreasing sulfate concentrations, especially in
North America, reducing this offset. Black carbon aerosols are end-
products of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass
burning (forest fires and land clearing). They impact radiation budgets
both directly and indirectly; they are believed to contribute to global
warming, although their relative importance is difficult to quantify at
How long does it take to reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases and
other emissions that contribute to climate change? Do different
greenhouse gases and other emissions have different draw down
Table 1.--REMOVAL TIMES AND CLIMATE FORCING VALUES FOR SPECIFIED
ATMOSPHERIC GASES AND AEROSOLS
Climate forcing (W/
Forcing agent Approximate m\2\) up to the
removal times a year 2000
Carbon Dioxide............. >100 years 1.3 to 1.5
Methane.................... 10 years 0.5 to 0.7
Tropospheric Ozone......... 10-100days 0.25 to 0.75
Nitrous Oxide.............. 100 years 0.1 to 0.2
Perflourocarbon............ >1000 years 0.01
Sulfate.................... 10 days -0.3 to -1.0
Black Carbon............... 10 days 0.1 to 0.8
a A removal time of 100 years means that much, but not all, of the
substance would be gone in 100 years. Typically, the amount remaining
at the end of 100 years is 37%; after 200 years 14%; after 300 years
5%; after 400 years 2%.
Is climate change occurring? If so, how?
Weather station records and ship-based observations indicate that
global mean surface air temperature warmed between about 0.4 and
0.8 deg.C (0.7 and 1.5 deg.F) during the 20th century. Although the
magnitude of warming varies locally, the warming trend is spatially
widespread and is consistent with an array of other evidence detailed
in this report. The ocean, which represents the largest reservoir of
heat in the climate system, has warmed by about 0.05 deg.C (0.09 deg.F)
averaged over the layer extending from the surface down to 10,000 feet,
since the 1950s.
The observed warming has not proceeded at a uniform rate. Virtually
all the 20th century warming in global surface air temperature occurred
between the early 1900s and the 1940s and during the past few decades.
The troposphere warmed much more during the 1970s than during the two
subsequent decades, whereas Earth's surface warmed more during the past
two decades than during the 1970s. The causes of these irregularities
and the disparities in the timing are not completely understood. One
striking change of the past 35 years is the cooling of the stratosphere
at altitudes of ~13 miles, which has tended to be concentrated in the
wintertime polar cap region.
Are greenhouse gases causing climate change?
The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last
50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas
concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the
scientific community on this issue. The stated degree of confidence in
the IPCC assessment is higher today than it was 10, or even 5 years
ago, but uncertainty remains because of (1) the level of natural
variability inherent in the climate system on time scales of decades to
centuries, (2) the questionable ability of models to accurately
simulate natural variability on those long time scales, and (3) the
degree of confidence that can be placed on reconstructions of global
mean temperature over the past millennium based on proxy evidence.
Despite the uncertainties, there is general agreement that the observed
warming is real and particularly strong within the past 20 years.
Whether it is consistent with the change that would be expected in
response to human activities is dependent upon what assumptions one
makes about the time history of atmospheric concentrations of the
various forcing agents, particularly aerosols.
The Chairman. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Dr. Barron, why do you not go right ahead?
STATEMENT OF ERIC J. BARRON, Ph.D., PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR,
EARTH AND MINERAL SCIENCES ENVIRONMENT INSTITUTE, THE
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, COLLEGE PARK, PA
Dr. Barron. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the
committee. My name is Eric Barron. I direct the Earth and
Mineral Sciences Environment Institute and am distinguished
professor of Geosciences at Penn State University. I served as
a member of the Committee on the Science of Climate Change of
the National Research Council, and I also am currently the
chair of the NRC's Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.
I am going to address the high points of the remaining
questions of the report. The first one is, how much will
temperatures change over the next 100 years and where?
Based on IPCC emissions scenarios, by the end of this
century, we expect something on the order of a 2.5 to 10.4
degree Fahrenheit increase in temperatures relative to 1990.
Now, that range, with a midpoint near 5 degrees Fahrenheit,
reflects uncertainties in our ability to model and predict the
future, and it also reflects differences and uncertainties in
That is a globally averaged temperature, so you can expect
the fabric of that change to be somewhat different. So, for
example, we expect higher latitude temperatures to warm more
than lower latitude and continental temperatures to warm more
than oceanic temperatures. We also have an expectation that
with warming you will have increased evaporation, and some
regions will experience higher precipitation, and in
experiencing higher precipitation, there is likely to be more
event or heavy rainfall precipitation events. We will also have
regions-most likely in the current semi-arid regions-like the
Great Plains in which that increased evaporation is likely to
result in an increased tendency for drying.
One other issue is how much of the expected climate change
is associated with feedbacks and how much of it is a direct
influence of carbon dioxide. This question focuses directly on
the climate sensitivity of the models. Basically when we come
down to an analysis of this, looking at the biggest feedbacks,
the factor is about a 2.5 enhancement of the direct effects of
CO2. The two biggest feedbacks are associated with
the fact that warming puts more water vapor into the atmosphere
and water vapor serves as a greenhouse gas. And the second
major feedback is called ice-albedo feedback. You are reducing
the snow and ice cover, and therefore the earth is absorbing
more solar energy. Those two factors give us this amplification
of about 2.5.
There are, of course, still some levels of uncertainties
associated with cloud cover and the distribution of moisture
within the atmosphere.
A third question is, what will be the consequences of
climate change of various magnitudes? Here we have both the
U.S. national assessment of climate impacts and other recent
NRC reports such as the one on climate and infectious disease.
Basically what you can see is that there are several elements
of the United States in particular which are fairly robust
climate change. There are other elements of our society which
are at greater risk.
Just to give you few examples, if we look at agriculture in
aggregate for the Nation, because of CO2
fertilization, and water efficiency, you expect that
agriculture in aggregate for the Nation looks to be in pretty
good shape. Now, this also takes into account the distributions
in the locations of crops and differences between small farmers
and larger farmers and their ability to adapt.
Looking at water and water resources, probably the two most
significant issues that are important consequences, returns us
again to the Great Plains and areas that are semi-arid today
for which increased evaporation is likely to result in a
greater tendency towards drying. We also see that in Western
States that are particularly associated with snowpack for which
their water supplies through the summer depend on melting of
the snow that has accumulated in the winter, because the snow
line is going up the sides of the mountains and you are melting
that snow and ice more quickly during the spring, those regions
may be more vulnerable.
Increased rainfall events. If event rainfall is occurring,
it would also have an impact on pollution runoff and control.
With higher sea levels, even if severe storms like
hurricanes do not change substantially, you would expect a
higher sea level to create greater vulnerability for the same
magnitude storm because it puts more coastal property at risk.
Health is an important issue. It is one for which there is
substantial debate associated with it. For example, we know
that the distribution of vectors like a mosquito that cause
disease such as malaria and dengue fever, will change in their
distribution with climate change. But yet, we see substantial
evidence that at least for the United States, because of our
economic capability and because of a strong public health
infrastructure, that we are capable of addressing these
particular issues. The same thing is not necessarily true for
the rest of the world.
In terms of ecosystems, there are perhaps more substantial
impacts because of an inability of many ecosystems to adapt to
several of these particular changes.
The next question was whether or not science has determined
a safe level for the concentration of greenhouse gases. This is
not an issue that is easy to address. It depends far too much
on a value judgment for how significant the impacts and changes
are over the surface of the earth, and it also requires that we
have a very careful assessment of all of the different risks,
advantages, and disadvantages. So, it is not something that is
easy to determine.
We were asked what were substantive differences between
IPCC reports and the summaries. In large measure, we see the
technical summary and the full report to be a very fine
assessment of the state of the science. It is also true that
when you condense all of that material into a summary for
policymakers, you expect to see some differences in that
process of condensation and in trying to call out what you
think are the most significant issues.
The last element of this set of questions is the further
needs for science, in terms of addressing the uncertainties.
You see about seven specific topics that range from greater
efforts to understand the usage of fossil fuels to look at
sources in sink terms for the greenhouse gases, to understand
how these greenhouse gases and aerosols will evolve through
time, what major changes in particular regions will occur,
improving our ability to address the sensitivity of the system.
We also see that there is a need for an enhanced ability to
cross and combine the disciplines and to focus science at an
intersection with decision makers. Each of these things
requires that we have a robust observing system, a strong
effort dedicated to modeling and predicting climate change, and
to ensure that climate research is supported and managed in a
way that ensures innovation, effectiveness, and efficiency.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Barron follows:]
Prepared Statement of Eric J. Barron, Ph.D., Professor and Director,
EMS Environment Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, College
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is
Eric Barron. I am the Director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences
Environment Institute and Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at
Pennsylvania State University. I served as a member of the Committee on
the Science of Climate Change of the National Research Council, and am
currently the chair of the NRC's Board on Atmospheric Sciences and
My remarks will focus on the committee's responses to the remaining
By how much will temperatures change over the next 100 years and where?
Climate change simulations for the period of 1990 to 2100 based on
the IPCC emissions scenarios yield a globally-averaged surface
temperature increase by the end of the century of 1.4 to 5.8 deg.C (2.5
to 10.4 deg.F) relative to 1990. The wide range of uncertainty in these
estimates reflects both the different assumptions about future
concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols in the various
scenarios considered by the IPCC and the differing climate
sensitivities of the various climate models used in the simulations.
The range of climate sensitivities implied by these predictions is
generally consistent with previously reported values.
The predicted warming is larger over higher latitudes than over low
latitudes, especially during winter and spring, and larger over land
than over sea. Rainfall rates and the frequency of heavy precipitation
events are predicted to increase, particularly over the higher
latitudes. Higher evaporation rates would accelerate the drying of
soils following rain events, resulting in lower relative humidities and
higher daytime temperatures, especially during the warm season. The
likelihood that this effect could prove important is greatest in semi-
arid regions, such as the U.S. Great Plains. These predictions in the
IPCC report are consistent with current understanding of the processes
that control local climate.
In addition to the IPCC scenarios for future increases in
greenhouse gas concentrations, the committee considered a scenario
based on an energy policy designed to keep climate change moderate in
the next 50 years. This scenario takes into account not only the growth
of carbon emissions, but also the changing concentrations of other
greenhouse gases and aerosols.
Sufficient time has elapsed now to enable comparisons between
observed trends in the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases with the trends predicted in previous IPCC reports.
The increase of global fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions in the past
decade has averaged 0.6% per year, which is somewhat below the range of
IPCC scenarios, and the same is true for atmospheric methane
concentrations. It is not known whether these slowdowns in growth rate
How much of the expected climate change is the consequence of climate
feedback processes (e.g., water vapor, clouds, snow packs)?
The contribution of feedbacks to the climate change depends upon
``climate sensitivity,'' as described in the report. If a central
estimate of climate sensitivity is used, about 40% of the predicted
warming is due to the direct effects of greenhouse gases and aerosols.
The other 60% is caused by feedbacks. Water vapor feedback (the
additional greenhouse effect accruing from increasing concentrations of
atmospheric water vapor as the atmosphere warms) is the most important
feedback in the models. Unless the relative humidity in the tropical
middle and upper troposphere drops, this effect is expected to increase
the temperature response to increases in human induced greenhouse gas
concentrations by a factor of 1.6. The ice-albedo feedback (the
reduction in the fraction of incoming solar radiation reflected back to
space as snow and ice cover recede) also is believed to be important.
Together, these two feedbacks amplify the simulated climate response to
the greenhouse gas forcing by a factor of 2.5. In addition, changes in
cloud cover, in the relative amounts of high versus low clouds, and in
the mean and vertical distribution of relative humidity could either
enhance or reduce the amplitude of the warming. Much of the difference
in predictions of global warming by various climate models is
attributable to the fact that each model represents these processes in
its own particular way. These uncertainties will remain until a more
fundamental understanding of the processes that control atmospheric
relative humidity and clouds is achieved.
What will be the consequences (e.g., extreme weather, health effects)
of increases of various magnitude?
In the near term, agriculture and forestry are likely to benefit
from carbon dioxide fertilization and an increased water efficiency of
some plants at higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The
optimal climate for crops may change, requiring significant regional
adaptations. Some models project an increased tendency toward drought
over semi-arid regions, such as the U.S. Great Plains. Hydrologic
impacts could be significant over the western United States, where much
of the water supply is dependent on the amount of snow pack and the
timing of the spring runoff. Increased rainfall rates could impact
pollution run-off and flood control. With higher sea level, coastal
regions could be subject to increased wind and flood damage even if
tropical storms do not change in intensity. A significant warming also
could have far reaching implications for ecosystems. The costs and
risks involved are difficult to quantify at this point and are, in any
case, beyond the scope of this brief report.
Health outcomes in response to climate change are the subject of
intense debate. Climate is one of a number of factors influencing the
incidence of infectious disease. Cold-related stress would decline in a
warmer climate, while heat stress and smog induced respiratory
illnesses in major urban areas would increase, if no adaptation
occurred. Over much of the United States, adverse health outcomes would
likely be mitigated by a strong public health system, relatively high
levels of public awareness, and a high standard of living.
Global warming could well have serious adverse societal and
ecological impacts by the end of this century, especially if globally-
averaged temperature increases approach the upper end of the IPCC
projections. Even in the more conservative scenarios, the models
project temperatures and sea levels that continue to increase well
beyond the end of this century, suggesting that assessments that
examine only the next 100 years may well underestimate the magnitude of
the eventual impacts.
Has science determined whether there is a ``safe'' level of
concentration of greenhouse gases?
The question of whether there exists a ``safe'' level of
concentration of greenhouse gases cannot be answered directly because
it would require a value judgment of what constitutes an acceptable
risk to human welfare and ecosystems in various parts of the world, as
well as a more quantitative assessment of the risks and costs
associated with the various impacts of global warming. In general,
however, risk increases with increases in both the rate and the
magnitude of climate change.
What are the substantive differences between the IPCC Reports and the
The committee finds that the full IPCC Working Group I (WGI) report
is an admirable summary of research activities in climate science, and
the full report is adequately summarized in the Technical Summary. The
full WGI report and its Technical Summary are not specifically directed
at policy. The Summary for Policymakers reflects less emphasis on
communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on
areas of major concern associated with human-induced climate change.
This change in emphasis appears to be the result of a summary process
in which scientists work with policy makers on the document. Written
responses from U.S. coordinating and lead scientific authors to the
committee indicate, however, that (a) no changes were made without the
consent of the convening lead authors (this group represents a fraction
of the lead and contributing authors) and (b) most changes that did
occur lacked significant impact.
It is critical that the IPCC process remain truly representative of
the scientific community. The committee's concerns focus primarily on
whether the process is likely to become less representative in the
future because of the growing voluntary time commitment required to
participate as a lead or coordinating author and the potential that the
scientific process will be viewed as being too heavily influenced by
governments which have specific postures with regard to treaties,
emission controls, and other policy instruments. The United States
should promote actions that improve the IPCC process while also
ensuring that its strengths are maintained.
What are the specific areas of science that need to be studied further,
in order of priority, to advance our understanding of climate
Making progress in reducing the large uncertainties in projections
of future climate will require addressing a number of fundamental
scientific questions relating to the buildup of greenhouses gases in
the atmosphere and the behavior of the climate system. Issues that need
to be addressed include (a) the future usage of fossil fuels, (b) the
future emissions of methane, (c) the fraction of the future fossil-fuel
carbon that will remain in the atmosphere and provide radiative forcing
versus exchange with the oceans or net exchange with the land
biosphere, (d) the feedbacks in the climate system that determine both
the magnitude of the change and the rate of energy uptake by the
oceans, which together determine the magnitude and time history of the
temperature increases for a given radiative forcing, (e) details of the
regional and local climate change consequent to an overall level of
global climate change, (f) the nature and causes of the natural
variability of climate and its interactions with forced changes, and
(g) the direct and indirect effects of the changing distributions of
aerosols. Maintaining a vigorous, ongoing program of basic research,
funded and managed independently of the climate assessment activity,
will be crucial for narrowing these uncertainties.
In addition, the research enterprise dealing with environmental
change and the interactions of human society with the environment must
be enhanced. This includes support of (a) interdisciplinary research
that couples physical, chemical, biological, and human systems, (b) an
improved capability of integrating scientific knowledge, including its
uncertainty, into effective decision support systems, and (c) an
ability to conduct research at the regional or sectoral level that
promotes analysis of the response of human and natural systems to
An effective strategy for advancing the understanding of climate
change also will require (1) a global observing system in support of
long-term climate monitoring and prediction, (2) concentration on
large-scale modeling through increased, dedicated supercomputing and
human resources, and (3) efforts to ensure that climate research is
supported and managed to ensure innovation, effectiveness, and
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Let me just ask a few questions, and Senator Hagel I am
sure will have questions.
Let me sort of paraphrase the conclusions that I am drawing
from what I hear from each of you here, and then just ask any
of you, who want to, to comment on whether I have drawn the
The consensus in the scientific community is that surface
temperatures are rising; that most of the increased temperature
is traced to the accumulation of these greenhouse gases, which
human activity plays a major part in creating; that the
temperature increase that you anticipate in the balance of this
century is somewhere between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees
Fahrenheit. And I do not think there was direct testimony on
this, but I think it is in your written testimony that the
period for reducing these buildups of greenhouse gases is
fairly extensive; that you can build them up in a decade or 2
or a few decades, but getting them out of the atmosphere and
reversing the process takes substantially longer.
Any of you who would want to comment on any of those
conclusions to tell me that I have misstated it or put the
emphasis in the wrong place, I would be anxious to hear. Dr.
Dr. Rowland. I think that basically your summary is
correct. The only place that I would modify is that the
greenhouse gases are not all alike, and they have different
capabilities of staying in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide equilibrates with the surface waters of the
ocean rapidly, and the removal of excess carbon dioxide depends
upon surface waters mixing down into the deep ocean. That is
the first major removal process, and that is of the order of a
century. So, it is not going to be removed quickly.
The chlorofluorocarbons, which are now covered by the
Montreal Protocol, and which are not going into the atmosphere
in any appreciable quantity now, have lifetimes of the order of
100 years. I think I should say here that when we say 100
years, that means that 1 century from now, 37 percent of what
was there will still be there; 63 percent will have gone away.
In 200 years, 15 percent will still be there, and in 300 years,
5 percent. So, when we say a 100-year lifetime, there will
still be quite a bit of holdover for another 2 or 3 centuries
The molecule methane has a lifetime in the atmosphere of
the order of 10 years. So, if the origins of methane were
brought under control--and I am not suggesting anything about
those are or how they might be brought under control--then the
atmosphere could be expected to react on a decadal time scale.
And tropospheric ozone is part of smog, and it is produced
every day in major cities all over the world and spreads from
there. That excess ozone has a lifetime that is really in the
category of weeks. So, tropospheric ozone is something where
the response is very quick. But what response means is you have
to solve the smog problem in each of those cities.
So, it is a complex mixture, but typically things like
carbon dioxide are there on the century time scale.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Do either of the other witnesses have an amendment to that?
Dr. Wallace. A brief comment. I agree with everything you
said. I think just a footnote to add to your third observation
that the factor of almost 4 range in the predicted temperature
rise over the next century, 2.5 to 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit--
just to note that range is wide not only because of our
uncertainty about the way the atmosphere is going to respond to
the greenhouse gases, but the uncertainties in how much
greenhouse gases there are going to be a century from now.
Actually if we were to agree on a single scenario to use as a
basis for comparing what the models tell us, say, a doubling of
carbon dioxide, then we would come out with a narrower range,
something more like a factor of 2 rather than a factor of 4. I
say that because this factor of 4 range makes it look like we
almost do not know anything.
The Chairman. So, let me try to understand. If we take that
entire range, a 2.5 degree increase in temperature assumes how
much in the way of increased carbon dioxide emissions?
Dr. Wallace. See, that 2.5 is a rather optimistic
prediction of the future greenhouse gas concentrations, the
lowest end scenario, which implies very strong efforts on the
part of nations to control concentrations.
The Chairman. And does it imply that we have actually
reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that we are
contributing to the atmosphere each year or that we are just
slowing the growth?
Dr. Wallace. A substantial slowing the growth in those low
end scenarios. Then, on the other hand, the 10.5 degree
estimate, the high one, Dr. Hansen has described it as a no
The Chairman. It is just business as usual without any
change in our policy or the policies of other countries on this
Dr. Wallace. And that would be compounded by the scientific
uncertainty. That would be an estimate from a model that is the
most sensitive to whatever level of greenhouse gas increase
occurred. So, there are two kinds of uncertainties being
compounded here in these estimates: one in how much greenhouse
gases there are going to be, and second, how sensitive the
climate system will be to whatever the increase is.
The Chairman. Let me defer to Senator Hagel for any
questions he has.
Senator Hagel. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
Gentlemen, welcome. We are grateful that you would share
with us your expertise. As you have all stated, the National
Academy of Sciences report states a vast world of uncertainty.
So, thank you.
The first question I would like to ask each of you, how
much confidence would you as scientists put in our current
computer model process to range out over 100 years and give
some precision to what we can expect our great-great
grandchildren to live with? A high degree of confidence, some
degree? Do we need better modeling?
Dr. Barron. You have to go variable by variable. So, if you
took a global number, gave it within a range with a central
number as being capturing the vast body of information, then I
think you have to ascribe a fairly high level of confidence
that you are going to be within that range, given that range of
If you look sort of down scale and shorter phenomenon, then
the level of uncertainty changes. So, you could take the
hydrologic cycle, water and water resources, an important
issue. What we see is, for some of these models, parts of the
country like the Northeastern United States, the models are
quite different. That suggests how the winter storms track and
how thunderstorms develop in a scenario for global warming is
But then you can look at other aspects and realize that as
long as the main structure of the circulation remains the same,
the Great Plain States are not going to be altered
dramatically, and you are not going to be able to get high
rainfall in the Great Plains in the lee of the Rocky Mountains
with a different climate. Yet, you are going to have higher
evaporation rates because it is going to be warmer, and that is
going to increase the tendency towards aridity. The same thing,
if you have increased warming, you are very likely to move the
snow line to a higher elevation and have less storage of snow
for all those Western States.
So, what you see is that on a level of a global aggregate
cited within a range, the community gives you a high level of
confidence. Then you start to look at particular variables, and
you discover that in some cases we cannot be so certain. In
other cases, it is hard to imagine the changes to be very
Well, then we can come down and look at natural variability
and the structure of particular storms, and because we are not
actually simulating them, you end up with a higher level of
Or you look at the response to vegetation, and all of a
sudden, you have to realize that you have human habitations
that are there, pests that you have to incorporate, whether the
weeds are going to be more fertilized by CO2 than
are plants that people would consider not to be weeds, and the
level of uncertainty increases.
So, there is not a simple answer to the question. Some
things we have a very good understanding of. Some of the
specifics for specific regions and specific times, we do not
have a high level of confidence in.
Senator Hagel. Dr. Wallace, thank you.
Dr. Wallace. Senator Hagel, I guess the best way I could
try to respond to your question would be to focus on what is
the second paragraph of the summary, which talks about an
estimate of something on the order of 5 degrees Fahrenheit
temperature rise for a doubling of carbon dioxide. That is an
effort to try to be concrete, to focus on one scenario.
I think that that 5 degree estimate has a lot of backing
for it. It is not based simply on just throwing it into the
models and seeing what the models do, but one can do simple,
``back of the envelope'' calculations with the basic physics in
those models that says that if you assume that water in the
atmosphere is going to behave in that warmer world the way it
does today, that we are going to have relative humidities and
cloud amounts like we have today, then that is the number you
are going to get, something like 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can make that number different if you want. You can
assume that the atmosphere is going to get dryer, that clouds
are going to shrink. You can make it bigger by assuming the
opposite kinds of changes.
To be frank, we do not know whether they might go one way
or the other, but in the absence of a real clear understanding
of how they are going to change, it would seem like the most
conservative assumption would be that they are going to behave
much like they do now. So, that is where that 5 degrees comes
It is also backed by the kind of sensitivity that we would
need to explain the temperature changes that the ice core
records tell us happened in connection with the ice ages and
the ratio of those temperature changes to the changes in solar
So, I guess I would attach that same 90 percent kind of
confidence to that number but with full admission that it could
turn out to be too high or too low. But it is the best we can
give you right now.
Senator Hagel. Thank you.
Dr. Rowland. I would like to emphasize, underlying all of
these calculations--and I am going to make this as an
hypothesis not as a statement--that we think we understand how
climate works. What one has not included and does not know how
to include is suppose there is a part of it that we really do
not understand. That is, what is the surprise that might be
involved in it?
We went through this in connection with the discussion of
chlorofluorocarbons and stratospheric ozone depletion because
the best understanding of the atmospheric science had not
predicted that there would be a specialized loss of ozone over
Antarctica. So, we went from a situation of saying we think
that there will be some future loss--and, incidentally, now we
are seeing some of that future loss--from the original
mechanism. But there was, in addition to that, another process
going on that changed the whole viewpoint of the scientific
community, and eventually the regulatory community, because it
was that which we did not understand which was suddenly showing
up in a very strange place, but with very heavy ozone loss.
So, all of the questions about what we expect for the
future are done on slow changes in our current understanding,
but back in the back of your mind is the concern maybe there is
some unexpected change, the kind of thing that when one hears
the climate community talking about the difference between
considering climate as a switch or a dial, that is a dial that
slowly turns up the temperature or a switch that goes from one
system to another. In that other one, if there were such a
change, then maybe there would be major changes in a very short
time period. And we do not know anything about how to predict
Senator Hagel. Thank you.
Let me ask the three of you just a very quick question, a
follow-up to this. I think you have all three made the point
pretty well that there is a vast amount of uncertainty in this
business for no other reason than all the different variables.
My questions is, picking up on your point, Dr. Rowland, if you
have one or two of these variables, which all of them are
important--and I go back to what Dr. Lindzen, your colleague,
has said recently about 25 years ago we were writing in Science
magazine and other respected digests about the future of global
cooling, and there was a pretty significant amount of
projection based on models and other things that maybe we were
going into a cooling period 25 years ago. Now, of course, we
are not talking about that.
But here is the question. If you see one or two or three of
these variables change in some dramatic fashion, would that not
affect the calculations?
Dr. Rowland. It certainly would.
The calculations of 25 years ago, before I even got into
this business, had to do with the long-term expectation based
on orbital geometry of the earth with respect to the sun. Those
calculations are still there that say that the long-term future
in the next few thousand years is that the climate ought to get
colder, but it is sometime in the next few thousand years and
does not envisage any rapid change such as that which we have
seen over the last 2 decades.
Senator Hagel. Dr. Wallace.
Dr. Wallace. Just thinking back to 25 years ago, I was
certainly with Dr. Lindzen at that time in being a real skeptic
about the global cooling. In fact, I think most of the
community had a rather amused view of that.
Senator Hagel. But, nonetheless, it caught a lot of
attention in very respected publications among respected
scientists and meteorologists, of course, you and Dr. Lindzen
Dr. Wallace. The number of really solid refereed
publications on that was pretty small. What I remember was more
a lot of newspaper articles. In fact, I still have----
Senator Hagel. We live by newspaper articles, Doctor.
Senator Hagel. Dr. Barron.
Dr. Barron. I think we actually benefit enormously by
having a community that is very skeptical and is constantly
attacking all of our results. Individuals like Dr. Lindzen have
focused a lot of attention on things that we do not know. One
of the consequences of that and 30 years of study is that we
have looked at this from a viewpoint of a long time scale past
climates, the record of the last 1,000 years. We have been
challenged to replicate the last century by including both the
sun and the aerosols and CO2. And we have had an
enormous national and international effort to look at the
I think the combination of that sort of intensity of this
scrutiny--the fact of the matter is that the questions are
beginning to change. It is much rarer for people to look at a
document like this and attempt to challenge the science in
there, which is careful about citing ranges and areas of
substantial agreement. Instead, the issues are changing to how
significant is this level of change. I think that level of
scrutiny, because we are truly a community of skeptics, has
taken us a long way from 25 years ago.
Senator Hagel. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you
for holding this historic hearing to cover these issues and for
the excellent testimony that we have gotten today. I commend
you on your report and analysis and the fact that we can add to
the growing body of evidence that this is a very serious issue
that we must deal with and take action to mitigate.
I recently received a letter signed by almost 100
Washington State scientists asking that we continue our efforts
and immediately take action on this. I strongly support the
views that were articulated in the letter.
Dr. Wallace, great to have you here particularly as well.
I know that one of the key findings of the NRC study was
that there was a lack of resources for climate modeling, and
that has greatly hampered our ability to assess future climate
changes and the potential impact. There has been some
dependence on international models--I think basically the
Canadian and British models.
Are there U.S. models that we can use? What do we need to
do to make further progress on that?
Dr. Wallace. I should start by saying that the National
Academy has undertaken a study of precisely that issue, and I
have for you a copy of that report that goes into your question
in considerable detail.
I think there are really two kinds of impediments that we
have been facing in the scientific community in trying to keep
up with the Joneses, so to speak, with the computing. One has
been the fact that for an extended period of time, on the order
of 10 years--I do not know the timing exactly--there has been
protectionist legislation that, in effect, has prevented the
atmospheric sciences community from being able to buy what has
been the state-of-the-art, sort of vector supercomputers that
have, by and large, been Japanese made during this period. We
have not had a U.S. industry of our own that has even tried to
A second problem that has contributed to this is that there
has been strong leadership in our computing community pushing
in the direction of what we call massively parallel computer
architecture, in which we have a lot of small processors linked
together doing a job by very sophisticated teamwork. This
approach has been argued to be very promising for advanced
scientific applications, but in fact it has not lived up to
anything like its hoped-for potential in the climate modeling.
The climate modeling does not seem to be amenable to that kind
of computer architecture to the degree that people had hoped.
So, as a result, the present status of the United States,
in terms of computer capability, is very, very low. In fact, it
is my understanding that there are countries like Brazil that
have much more throughput for the kinds of computer modeling
simulations that scientists are doing today.
It is also my understanding that this ban on the
importation of Japanese supercomputers has recently been
lifted. But now it is a question of trying to take advantage of
this new freedom and to get geared up with state-of-the- art
computing and to get the community together as to how much of
it will be massively parallel and how much of it will be the
more traditional vector approach, which is like today's state-
Senator Cantwell. So, you are saying that they have an
advantage or that we have not put the resources behind it.
Dr. Wallace. Yes.
Senator Cantwell. There are obviously people in our back
yard--yours and mine--who are in the supercomputing business
and are quite renown. But you are saying that we have not, as a
government, put the resources there to incentivize that?
Dr. Wallace. The funds that we have been spending on
computing--we have been disadvantaged because we have not been
able to get the best computers for the money. And we have made
a big investment in the massive parallel computing and trying
to reprogram a lot of the computer models to be used on those
machines. It has not panned out very well.
Dr. Barron. It is worth pointing out what we are good at
and what we are limited by the resources for. We have an
extremely potent climate modeling community within the United
States, and within that very strong research community, we have
a tremendous effort at addressing areas of uncertainty in
understanding how the atmosphere works and incorporating that.
We have a tremendous focus on building new and better models.
But when you cross over to the side where you are
attempting to look at issues like impacts or being able to
couple large segments of the system in order to do a good job
of long-term simulations, what you want is a higher resolution,
a couple of models that you are running repeatedly from 1895
out to the end of the century. That requires enormous computer
So, the U.S. community is focused on improving the models.
We have been less focused on doing what are called these
ensemble, high resolution, long-term simulations, and it is
largely because we do not have these computational resources
that allow it to be an easy task to complete. But we do have a
very strong research community.
Senator Cantwell. If I could, I do have another question.
Mr. Rowland, did you want to comment on that?
Dr. Rowland. No. I will pass on that.
Senator Cantwell. One of the questions, Dr. Wallace, that I
did want to ask--or for any of the other panelists, but
obviously being from the University of Washington, I direct it
to you. And I will work with the chairman on this issue of
modeling and on computer capacity. I am happy to look into it
further and want to make sure that we get the best resources
behind modeling, as it plays an effective role.
But a more local question, if you will. The global warming
impacts or climate impacts on the Pacific Northwest. It is a
very relevant question, given our reliance on hydro power and
the significant amount of hydropower resources in our State. I
literally was at a meeting this morning in which somebody
brought up this point: do people understand what the impacts
might be? We are talking about this as a global problem, but is
anybody talking about the impacts that might happen on various
regions of the country? So, I wondered if you might comment on
Dr. Wallace. Well, we have a very active group at the
University of Washington, a so-called climate impacts group
chaired by Professor Ed Miles. At this point, it is one of
about a half a dozen--half a dozen to a dozen, depending on how
you count them--really excellent regional groups around the
country. It was groups like this which worked together to
produce a national synthesis report that Dr. Barron was one of
the people to put together.
I think this is very useful research and it is research
where there is a big bang for the buck, for the relatively
little expenditures. Right now it is my understanding that it
is just a few million dollars total that are really available
for grants from Federal agencies to support work like this. I
think that this work really helps to build a constituency for
climate forecasting, not only global warming, but the
forecasting of El Nino and the year-to-year forecasting that
would be very beneficial economically. It is building the ties
between the scientists and the users that these groups really
excel at doing.
Senator Cantwell. Well, I see my time is expired, Mr.
Chairman. So, I think I will get a copy of that report and look
at the specific impacts that the Pacific Northwest may be
subject to, given the research and analysis. Thank you.
The Chairman. Well, thank you very much.
Let me thank all three of you for your testimony and also
for this report that the NRC prepared at the administration's
request. I think it has been very helpful in highlighting the
importance of dealing with this issue for the administration
and for the Congress. I hope that we will follow your
admonitions and move ahead this Congress to do some
constructive things to deal with it. So, thank you all very
We have a second panel of witnesses, and I would ask them
if they would come forward please. The second panel will talk
about some of the technologies that hold out solutions to the
climate change issue and give their perspective on the climate
change issue and what technology solutions there are to this.
Dr. James Edmonds, who is the senior staff scientist with
the Global Change Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory;
Mr. Bill Chandler, who is director of the advanced
international studies unit of the Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory; Dr. Robert Friedman, who is vice president for
research at the John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and
the Environment; and Dr. Mark Levine, who is the director of
environmental energies technology division at Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory in Berkeley.
Why don't we just start on the left here and go right
across and hear testimony from each of you? If you could
summarize your major points and then we will be undoubtedly
having some questions.
STATEMENT OF DR. JAMES EDMONDS, SENIOR STAFF SCIENTIST, PACIFIC
NORTHWEST NATIONAL LABORATORY, BATTELLE MEMORIAL INSTITUTE
Dr. Edmonds. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the
committee for the opportunity to testify here this morning on
energy and climate change. My presence here today is possible
because the U.S. Department of Energy, EPRI, and numerous other
organizations in both the public and private sectors have
provided me and my research team at the Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory with long-term research support. That
having been said, I come here today to speak as a researcher
and the views I express are mine alone.
I have got three simple points to make.
First, it is concentrations of greenhouse gases that
matter. For CO2, cumulative emissions by all
countries over all time determine the concentration.
The second point is technology is the key to controlling
the cost of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases.
And the third point is that managing the cost of
stabilization at any level requires a portfolio of energy R&D
investments across a wide spectrum of technology classes.
Now, let me just elaborate on those points.
My first point is that it is concentrations, not emissions.
The United States is a party to the Framework Convention on
Climate Change, which has as its objective the stabilization of
greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that
would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the
climate system. This is not the same as stabilizing emissions
because emissions accumulate in the atmosphere. The
concentration of carbon dioxide will, therefore, continue to
rise indefinitely if the emissions are held at current levels
or even at some reduced level. Stabilization of CO2
concentrations means that the global energy system, not just
the U.S. energy system, must undergo a fundamental
transformation from one in which emissions continue to grow
throughout the century into one in which global emissions peak
and then begin a long-term decline.
Coupled with significant global population and economic
growth, this transition represents a daunting task even if a
concentration as high as 750 parts per million is eventually
determined to meet the goal of the Framework Convention, though
at this time the concentration that will prevent dangerous
interference with the climate system is not yet known.
A credible commitment to limit cumulative emissions is also
needed to move new energy technologies off the shelf and into
widespread adoption in the marketplace.
My second point is that technology controls cost. The cost
of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases will
depend on many factors, including the desired concentration,
economic and population growth, and available portfolio of
energy technologies. But not surprisingly, research shows that
if the costs of stabilization are lower, the better and more
cost effective the portfolio of available energy technologies
While technology is pivotal when it comes to controlling
the cost of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases,
it is only one of four major elements that are needed in a
comprehensive program to address climate change. The other
three elements are resolution of scientific uncertainties,
adaptation to climate change, and third, a credible global
commitment that greenhouse gas concentrations will be limited.
My third point is that there is no silver bullet. The
Global Energy Technology Strategy Program to address climate
change is an international public/private sector collaboration
advised by an eminent steering group, and its analysis,
conducted during the first phase of the program, supports the
need for a diverse technology portfolio. It showed that no
single technology controls the cost of stabilizing
CO2 concentration under all circumstances. The
portfolio of energy technologies that is employed varies across
regions and nations and over time.
And the technologies that contribute to controlling the
cost of stabilizing the concentration of CO2 include
energy efficiency and renewable energy forms, non-carbon energy
sources, such as nuclear power and fusion, improved
applications of fossil fuels, and technologies such as
terrestrial carbon capture by plants and soils, engineered
carbon capture in geologic sequestration, fuel cells,
commercial biomass and biotechnology, which holds the promise
of enhancing a wide range of energy forms just mentioned.
Many of these technologies are undeveloped or play only a
minor role in their present state of development. Research and
development by both the public and the private sectors will be
needed to provide the scientific foundations required to
achieve improved economic and technical performance, establish
reliable mechanisms for monitoring and verifying the
disposition of carbon, and to develop and market competitive
carbon management technologies.
Recent trends in public and private spending on energy
research and development suggest that the role of technology in
addressing climate change may not be fully understood or
appreciated. Although public investment in energy R&D has
increased very slightly in Japan, it has declined significantly
in the United States and even more dramatically in Europe where
reductions of 70 percent of more, since the 1980's, are the
norm. Moreover, less than 3 percent of this investment is
directed at technologies that, although not currently available
commercially at an appreciable level, have the potential to
lower the costs of stabilization significantly.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to testify. I
will be happy to answer yours and the committee's questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Edmonds follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. James Edmonds, Senior Staff Scientist,
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee for the
opportunity to testify here this morning on energy and climate change.
My presence here today is possible because the US Department of Energy,
EPRI and numerous other organizations in both the public and private
sectors have provided me and my team at the Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory (PNNL) long-term research support. Without that support much
of the knowledge base upon which I draw today would not exist. That
having been said, I come here today to speak as a researcher and the
views I express are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect those
of any organization. I have three simple points to make:
1. It's concentrations of greenhouse gases that matter. For
CO2, it is cumulative, emissions by all countries, over all
time that determines the concentration not emission by any individual
country, no matter how great, or any individual year;
2. Technology is the key to controlling the cost of stabilizing the
concentration of greenhouse gases; and
3. No single technology controls the cost of stabilizing
CO2 concentrations under all circumstances. Managing the
cost of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases, at any
level, requires a portfolio of energy R&D investments across a wide
spectrum of technology classes from conservation to renewables to
nuclear to fossil fuels, to biotechnology, to natural and engineered
carbon capture and sequestration, and undertaken by both the public and
It's Concentrations Not Emissions: My remarks are grounded in a
small number of important observations. First, the United States is a
party to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The FCCC
has as its objective the ``stabilization of greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent
dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.''
(Article 2) This is not the same as stabilizing emissions. Because
emissions accumulate in the atmosphere, the concentration of carbon
dioxide will continue to rise indefinitely even if emissions are held
at current levels or even at some reduced level. Limiting the
concentration of CO2, the most important greenhouse gas,
means that the global energy system must be fundamentally transformed
by the end of the 21st century. Given the long life of energy
infrastructure, preparations for that transformation must start today.
Second, research that I have conducted with Tom Wigley at the
National Center for Atmospheric Research and Richard Richels at EPRI
indicates that, to attain global CO2 concentrations ranging
from 350 parts per million volume (ppmv) to 750 ppmv, global emissions
of CO2 must peak in this century and then begin a long-term
decline. The average concentration in 1999 was 368 ppmv and pre-
industrial values were in the neighborhood of 275 ppmv. The timing and
magnitude of the peak depends on the desired CO2
concentration--though the concentration that will ``prevent dangerous
anthropogenic interference with the climate system'' is not yet known--
as well as on a variety of factors shaping future US and global
technology and economy.
In 1997 global fossil fuel carbon emissions were approximately 6.6
billion tonnes of carbon per year with an additional approximately 1.5
billion tonnes of carbon per year from land-use change such as
deforestation. (The values for land-use change emissions are known with
much less accuracy than those of fossil fuel emissions.) Values taken
from the paper Drs. Wigley, Richels and I published in Nature in 1996
for alternative CO2 concentrations, peak emissions and
associated timing are given in the table below:
CO2 Concentration (ppmv) 350 450 550 650 750
Maximum Global CO2 Emissions 8.5 9.5 11.2 12.9 14.0
(billions of tonnes carbon per
Year in which Global Emissions *COM00 2007 2013 2018 2023
Must Break from Present Trends. 1*Toda
Year of Maximum Global Emission. 2005 2011 2033 2049 2062
Year 2100 Global Fossil Fuel 0 3.7 6.8 10.0 12.5
Emissions (billions of tonnes
carbon per year)...............
The time path of emissions will have a profound effect on the cost
of achieving atmospheric stabilization. The emissions paths we
developed were constructed to lower costs by avoiding the premature
retirement of capital stocks, taking advantage of the potential for
improvements in technology, reflecting the time-value of capital
resources, and taking advantage of the workings of the natural carbon
cycle regardless of which concentration was eventually determined to
``prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate.'' It
is also important to note that the transition must begin in the very
near future. For example, for a global concentration of 550 ppmv,
global CO2 emissions must begin to break from present trends
(i.e. deviations of more than 100 million tonnes of carbon from present
trends) within the next 10 to 15 years. Given that it takes decades to
go from ``energy research'' to the practical application of the
research within some commercial ``energy technology'' and then perhaps
another three to four decades before that technology is widely deployed
throughout the global energy market, we will likely have to make this
deflection from present trends with technologies that are already
developed. To reduce global emissions even further will require a
fundamental transformation in the way we use energy and that will only
be possible if we have an energy technology revolution and that will
only come about if we increase our investments in energy R&D.
The table above shows that the global energy system, not just the
United States energy system, must undergo a transition from one in
which emissions continue to grow throughout this century into one in
which emissions peak and then decline. Coupled with significant global
population and economic growth, this transition represents a daunting
task even if a concentration as high as 750 ppmv is eventually
determined to meet the goal of the Framework Convention. A credible
commitment to limit cumulative emissions is also needed to move new
energy technologies ``off the shelf'' and into wide spread adoption in
Stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
will require a credible commitment to limit cumulative global emissions
of CO2. Such a limit is unlikely to be achieved without
cost. The cost of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases
will depend on many factors including the desired concentration,
economic and population growth, and the portfolio of energy
technologies that might be made available. Not surprisingly costs are
higher the lower the desired concentration of greenhouse gases. They
are also higher for higher rates of economic and population growth.
And, they are lower the better and more cost effective the portfolio of
energy technologies that can be developed. This last point about the
role of technology is very important, but not well appreciated.
It is not well recognized that most long-term future projections of
global energy and greenhouse gas emissions and hence, most estimates of
the cost of emission reductions, assume dramatic successes in the
development and deployment of advanced energy technologies occur for
free. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
developed a set of scenarios based on the assumption that no actions
were implemented to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The central
reference case that assumes ``technological change as usual'' is called
IS92a. This central reference scenario assumes that by the year 2100
three-quarters of all electric power would be generated by non-carbon
emitting energy technologies such as nuclear, solar, wind, and hydro,
and that the growth of crops for energy (commercial biomass) would
account for more energy than the entire world's oil and gas production
in 1985. Yet with all these assumptions of technological success, the
need to provide for the growth in population and living standards
around the world drive fossil fuel emissions well beyond 1997 levels of
6.6 billion tonnes of carbon per year to approximately 20 billion
tonnes of carbon per year. Subsequent analysis by the IPCC as well as
independent researchers serves to buttress the conclusion that even
with optimistic assumptions about the development of technologies that
the concentration of in the atmosphere can be expected to continue rise
throughout the century.
Technology Controls Cost: My second point follows directly from the
preceding observations. Technology development is critical to
controlling the cost of stabilizing CO2 concentrations.
Improved technology can both reduce the amount of energy needed to
produce a unit of economic output and lower the carbon emissions per
unit of energy used.
The Global Energy Technology Strategy Program to Address Climate
Change is an international, public/private sector collaboration \1\
advised by an eminent Steering Group.\2\ Analysis conducted at the
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as well as in collaborating
institutions during Phase I supports the need for a diversified
\1\ Sponsors of the program were: Battelle Memorial Institute, BP,
EPRI, ExxonMobil, Kansai Electric Power, National Institute for
Environmental Studies (Japan), New Economic and Development
Organization (Japan), North American Free Trade Agreement Commission
for Environmental Cooperation, PEMEX (Mexico), Tokyo Electric Power,
Toyota Motor Company, and the US Department of Energy. Collaborating
research institutions were: The Autonomous National University of
Mexico, Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnment et le
Developpement (France), China Energy Research Institute, Council on
Agricultural Science and Technology, Council on Energy and Environment
(Korea), Council on Foreign Relations, Indian Institute of Management,
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria), Japan
Science and Technology Corporation, National Renewable Energy
Laboratory, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany),
Stanford China Project, Stanford Energy Modeling Forum, and Tata Energy
Research Institute (India).
\2\ Richard Balzhiser, President Emeritus, EPRI; Richard Benedick,
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Montreal Protocol; Ralph Cavanagh, Co-
director, Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council; Charles
Curtis, Executive Vice President, United Nations Foundation; Zhou Dadi,
Director, China Energy Research Institute; E. Linn Draper, Chairman,
President and CEO, American Electric Power; Daniel Dudek, Senior
Economist, Environmental Defense Fund; John H. Gibbons, Former
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of
the President; Jose Goldemberg, Former Environment Minister, Brazil;
Jim Katzer, Strategic Planning and Programs Manager, ExxonMobil; Yoichi
Kaya, Director, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the
Earth, Government of Japan; Hoesung Lee, President, Korean Council on
Energy and Environment; Robert McNamara, Former President, World Bank;
John Mogford, Group Vice President, Health, Safety and Environment BP;
Granger Morgan, Professor, Carnegie-Mellon University; Hazel O'Leary,
Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy; Rajendra K. Pachauri,
Director, Tata Energy Research Institute; Thomas Schelling,
Distinguished University Professor of Economics, University of
Maryland; Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, Director, Potsdam Institute for
Climate Impact Research; Pryadarshi R. Shukla, Professor, Indian
Institute of Management; Gerald Stokes, Assistant Laboratory Director,
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; John Weyant, Director, Stanford
Energy Modeling Forum; and Robert White, Former Director, National
Academy of Engineering.
While technology is pivotal when it comes to controlling the cost
of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases, it is only one of
four major elements that are needed in a comprehensive program to
address climate change. The other three elements are:
1. Resolution of scientific uncertainties,
2. Adaptation to climate change, and
3. A credible, global commitment that greenhouse gas concentrations
will be limited.
There's No ``Silver Bullet'': No single technology controls the
cost of stabilizing CO2 concentrations under all
circumstances. The portfolio of energy technologies that is employed
varies across space and time. Regional differences in such factors as
resource endowments, institutions, demographics and economics,
inevitably lead to different technology mixes in different nations,
while changes in technology options inevitably lead to different
technology mixes across time.
Technologies that are potentially important in stabilizing the
concentration of CO2 include energy efficiency and renewable
energy forms, non-carbon energy sources such as nuclear power and
fusion, improved applications of fossil fuels, and technologies such as
terrestrial carbon capture by plants and soils, carbon capture and
geologic sequestration, fuel cells and batteries, and commercial
biomass and biotechnology which holds the promise of enhancing a wide
range of the above energy forms. Many of these technologies are
undeveloped or play only a minor role in their present state of
development. Research and development by both the public and private
sectors will be needed to provide the scientific foundations needed to
achieve improved economic and technical performance, establish reliable
mechanisms for monitoring and verifying the disposition of carbon, and
to develop and market competitive carbon management technologies. For
example, advances in the biological sciences hold the promise of
dramatically improving the competitiveness of commercial biomass as an
Recent trends in public and private spending on energy research and
development in the world and in the United States suggest that the role
of technology in addressing climate change may not be fully understood
nor appreciated. Although public investment in energy R&D has increased
very slightly in Japan, it has declined significantly in the United
States and even more dramatically in Europe, where reductions of 70
percent or more since the 1980s are the norm. Moreover, less than 3
percent of this investment is directed at technologies that, although
not currently available commercially at an appreciable level, have the
potential to lower the costs of stabilization significantly.
In summary, stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases at
levels ranging up to 750 ppmv represents a necessary but daunting
challenge to the world community. Energy related emissions of
CO2 must peak and begin a permanent decline during this
century. The lower the desired concentration, the more urgent the need
to begin the transition. Both a credible global commitment to limit
cumulative emissions and a portfolio of technologies will be needed to
minimize the cost of achieving that end including technologies that are
not presently a significant part of the global energy system. Their
development and deployment will require enhanced energy R&D by both the
public and private sectors. Unfortunately, current trends in energy R&D
are cause for concern.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to testify. I will be
happy to answer your and the committee's questions.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chandler, why don't you go right ahead, please.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM CHANDLER, SENIOR STAFF SCIENTIST AND
DIRECTOR, ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES UNIT, PACIFIC
NORTHWEST NATIONAL LABORATORY
Mr. Chandler. Thank you. I am Bill Chandler, Senior Staff
Scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and
Director of the Advanced International Studies Unit. I very
much appreciate the opportunity, at the invitation of you and
the members of the committee, to be here today, though I
confess whenever I am asked to speak about international energy
issues, in the midst of our efforts to grapple with domestic
energy problems, I think of something Mark Twain said over a
century ago, which was that ``nothing needs reforming quite so
much as other people's bad habits.''
We in the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and
Technology looked not so much at the habits of international
energy use but the technologies of energy use and how they
affect strategic objectives for the United States, including
the strong linkage with climate change.
We found very strong linkages with global economic growth
and our ability to fuel our own economy because the consumption
of gasoline, for example, in China affects the price of
It affects our ability to compete for markets to export
advanced technologies and also U.S. values ranging from human
rights to economic reforms in countries in which we develop
PCAST assigned a sense of urgency to what we viewed as a
closing window of opportunity to influence the deployment of
advanced technologies around the world, a closing window of
opportunity for three reasons.
First, rapid development in the developing countries and in
the transition economies means that those countries are quickly
locking in technologies which will be with us for decades to
come or, as you put it, locking out mitigation opportunities.
Also, the timing for introducing new technologies is such
that it takes perhaps a decade from the laboratory to the
marketplace, and then you have the problem of market
Also, in the transition economies in the former Soviet
Union and Eastern Europe, we have probably the largest and
cheapest emissions reduction opportunities and yet the future
remains up for grab in those countries because we still do not
know whether Russia and Ukraine, for example, will make the
full transition to market democracy. We have, we believe, an
opportunity to influence the outcome of each of those
opportunities. And we made four sets of recommendations, four
initiatives we proposed, to influence the deployment of
These include, first, foundations of energy innovation. By
that we mean taking measures to build capacity in developing
and transition economies, to promote energy sector reform, to
get the prices right, to ensure that prices matter, to
demonstrate technologies in order to help reduce the cost of
those technologies, and to organize financing so that
developing countries can afford more expensive technologies.
Second, we recommended a portfolio of energy efficiency
measures, with emphasis on setting goals for reducing the
energy use in the building sector. Perhaps developing countries
could cut the energy intensity of their buildings in half
compared to current practice over the next 2 decades.
In the transport sector, paying attention to two- and
three-wheeled vehicles, which is the mode of transportation
that many people in Asia, for example, utilize primarily for
private transport and for buses.
In industry, helping to create road maps to factories of
the 21st century so that the energy intensity of making steel,
chemicals, paper, and other energy intensive materials can be
cut in half. And in promoting cogeneration or combined heat and
power so that up to a fifth of power in developing countries
can be built using this more efficient approach.
We recommended a supply technology portfolio which
emphasized things like biomass within the renewable sector,
fossil energy decarbonization and carbon storage, and solving
the problems of nuclear waste disposal and proliferation with
Finally, to respond to something you suggested earlier, we
did propose a management initiative which would elevate to the
highest levels of government the coordination of U.S. efforts
to innovate energy technologies around the world. Our approach
was to recommend the creation of a working group within the
National Science and Technology Council. While we feel that
process matters, we do feel that leadership matters, and that
is why a working group at that level is important and that is
why setting goals at that level is important.
As a last point, I would like to say that we have found a
number of success stories in this type of assistance, success
stories that indicate just how cheap some of these measures can
be. In my own program, I can tell you from experience that we
have organized a billion dollars worth of investment in energy
efficiency in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe over
the last 5 years, and we have done so by taking, for each
dollar of Federal investment, measures that leverage $25 to $50
of investment from multilateral development banks, private
firms, and from the customers with which we are working
ourselves. So, to respond to Senator Murkowski's concern, there
are very high leverage, very cost effective measures that we
can do. In order to resolve our own problems domestically,
addressing them in the international marketplace we felt would
[The prepared statement of Mr. Chandler follows:]
Prepared Statement of William Chandler, Senior Staff Scientist and
Director, Advanced International Studies Unit, Pacific Northwest
the u.s. stake in international cooperation on energy innovation
This testimony summarizes the conclusions of Powerful Partnerships:
The Federal Role in International Cooperation on Energy Innovation, a
1999 report to the President by the President's Committee of Advisors
on Science and Technology (PCAST). The authors of this report, the
PCAST International Energy Panel, concluded that U.S. self interest
would be served by increasing international energy cooperation,
particularly with the transition and developing economies where most
energy demand growth will occur this century. Our panel found that
global energy use is tightly linked to U.S. economic, environmental,
and national-security interests (see box, below). We concluded that
energy technology innovation improves our security, helps the United
States avoid inflation and recession, and expands our market share of
multi-hundred-billion dollar per year global energy-technology market.
Significantly, energy innovation can help mitigate greenhouse gas
emissions in the fastest-growing energy demand markets.
International Energy Challenges
Growth and development
Energy technology exports
Local air quality
Regional acid rain
Supply- and demand-side
Insecure supplies of
Political stability in developing
U.S. President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology,
Powerful Partnerships: The Federal Role in International Cooperation on
Energy Innovation (Washington, D.C.: The White House Office of Science
and Technology Policy, June 1999). Available at http://www.ostp.gov/
The United States and the world face a historic window of
opportunity. The largest investments in energy supply and conversion
systems will occur in developing and reforming countries, and these
will soon ``lock in'' technologies for decades to come (see figure).
The long lead-time required to move new technologies through the
innovation pipeline--let alone penetrate markets--means that efforts to
deploy technology in the second quarter of this century need to be
started today. PCAST proposed early but modest funding for
international cooperation, with specific suggestions for budget
increases amounting to $500 million per year by FY2005.
PCAST found that great leverage for greenhouse gas emissions
reductions comes with supporting market-based policy reform and in
organizing financing to implement energy technology transfer in
developing and transition economies. Economic reform--getting prices
right and making prices matter--can help reduce emissions in countries
as diverse as Brazil, India, China, India, Russia, and Ukraine by
reducing distortions and subsidies that encourage energy waste. Efforts
to organize investment financing for energy innovation can multiply the
effectiveness of government funds.
The PCAST International Energy Panel reviewed both successes and
failures in international energy development and agreed to recommend
four categories of initiatives for top priority, including capacity
building for reform and innovation, deployment of energy-efficiency
technologies, deployment of selected supply-side technologies, and
management reform (see below).\1\
\1\ U.S. President's Committee of Advisors on Science and
Technology, Powerful Partnerships: The Federal Role in International
Cooperation on Energy Innovation (Washington, D.C.: The White House
Office of Science and Technology Policy, June 1999). Available at
http://www.ostp.gov/html/P2E.pdf. The author of this testimony
participated as a panelist and author in this PCAST study.
PCAST Initiatives for International Energy Cooperation
Foundations of Energy Innovation
Energy Sector Reform
Energy Efficiency Portfolio
Combined Heat and Power
Energy Supply Portfolio
National Science and Technology
Council working group
External Advisory Board
Source: Powerful Partnerships, President's Committee of Advisors on
Science and Technology, 1999. Available on-line at http://www.ostp.gov/
PCAST members were struck by the degree to which ``reform
matters,'' and by successful interventions by the U.S. government which
have helped to support energy sector reform. The experience of Central
Europe is instructive in this regard. Energy intensity serves as an
index of reform, as an indicator of successful and unsuccessful
policies. Central Europe has cut energy intensity by one third over the
last decade, with major benefits for both the economy and environment
of that region, and demonstrating that genuine reform works (see
figure). Essentially, this means that the region has eliminated much of
the energy waste that stemmed from the legacy of central planning.
Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary achieved this success by
implementing hard budget constraints, meaningful energy prices,
institutional reform, and economic restructuring. Latin American
nations, including Argentina, have also benefitted by embracing
privatization and competition.\2\ Nations failing to implement those
measures elsewhere robbed citizens of economic and social well-being.
\2\ William Chandler, Energy and Environment in the Transition
Economies (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000).
Foundations of Energy Innovation
Efforts to build the foundations of energy-sector innovation
include measures to enhance management and technical capacity, reform
of the energy-sector, and organizing financing for innovative
investment. U.S. funds helped organize over $1 billion of energy-
efficiency investment U.S. funds helped organize over $1 billion of
energy-efficiency investment projects in this region over the past five
years and has built non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations in
Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. These
organizations have developed world-class expertise each with staffs of
15-50 people. Each center is now self-sustaining and fully independent.
U.S. partners associated with the program have been honored with the
``Global Climate Leadership Award'' (International Energy Agency) and
with the ``International Energy Project of the Year Award''
(Association of Energy Engineers) for this work. U.S. expenditures on
these assistance programs through resulted in investment 25-50 times
the initial grant. PCAST have reported on these and similar successes
in Latin America, especially in Brazil.
China offers a remarkable success story in managing energy demand
growth. China suffers severe environmental problems due to distorted
markets, outdated technologies, and inefficient management. The World
Bank estimates that approximately eight percent of the country's gross
domestic product is lost each year due to pollution that damages human
health, natural ecosystems, and physical infrastructure. Fortunately,
China has made progress with energy efficiency having probably reduced
current levels of greenhouse gas emissions by one-third or more.\3\
China's post-reform economy has grown faster than energy use for more
than two decades. China continues to rank energy efficiency as vital to
the nation's energy interests. Domestic reforms within China have the
potential further to cut carbon dioxide emissions significantly, as
does cooperation with international partners.
\3\ Over the past twenty years, China's energy consumption per unit
of growth in gross domestic product measured in constant local currency
has declined by over 4 percent annually, while energy consumption per
unit of growth in the U.S. has fallen by slightly over 1 percent.
Typical developing countries, on the other hand, exhibit an increase in
energy consumption related to economic growth. See Climate Action in
China and the United States, Battelle Memorial Institute and the
Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC, 1999.
Official Chinese statistics on economic growth are viewed from abroad
with increasing skepticism, however, and real growth may be
significantly less than reported. A forthcoming report from Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory provides a more realistic estimate of
China's success in conserving energy based on revised economic growth
estimates. See Sinton, J., and D. Fridley, ``What Goes Up: Recent
Trends in China's Energy Consumption,'' Forthcoming in Energy Policy.
The U.S. government has successfully collaborated with Chinese
researchers for over a decade on China's energy and environmental
problems working with some of China's leading energy and environmental
specialists. In 1993, the Department of Energy and the Environmental
Protection Agency (in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) helped establish
the Beijing Energy Efficiency Center (BECon) with support from the
American and Chinese governments and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Chinese researchers have collaborated with U.S. experts to demonstrate
that China could meet its future electric power needs at a lower
overall cost if environmental factors where included in the planning
process.\4\ Ongoing Sino-U.S. collaboration on energy efficiency helps
to catalyze additional measures to improve energy efficiency, reduce
pollution, and boost exports of U.S. technology.\5\
\4\ See, ``Electric Power in Five Developing Countries: The Futures
of China, Korea, India, Argentina, and Brazil,'' William Chandler,
Battelle Memorial Institute, for the Pew Center on Climate, forthcoming
\5\ A website on energy efficiency news in China reaches 5,000
readers each month from all over the world.
Capacity-building efforts prepare the ground for rapid and
sustainable energy-technology innovation. As indicated in the PCAST
report executive summary, high-priority elements include:
Increased support for existing regional centers of analysis
and information dissemination on sustainable energy options
(such as the PROCEL national electricity-conservation program
in Brazil, energy efficiency centers in Eastern Europe and
Russia,\6\ and other centers in Africa, Asia, and Latin
America) and establishment of new sustainable energy centers in
regions with significant need that cannot be met by other
\6\ The author led the creation of six institutions of local
expertise, including energy-efficiency centers in Bulgaria, China, the
Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. See William U. Chandler,
John W. Parker, Igor Bashmakov, Zdravko Genchev; Jaroslav Marousek,
Slawomir Pasierb, Mykola Raptsun, and Zhou Dadi, ``Energy Efficiency
Centers in Six Countries: A Review,'' November 1999, PNNL-13073. See
Development of in-country training for energy analysts and
managers, to include workshops and internet-based courses and
expert assistance, as well as a requirement that in-country
technical and managerial training be a component of technology
demonstration and deployment projects supported by the U.S.
Supporting and shaping energy-sector reform accelerates financial
performance and helps retain incentives for energy-technology
innovation. The U.S. government can mobilize private and public sector
experts to provide technical and policy advice, particularly for price
reform and imposition of ``hard budget constraints''. For example, one
way the United States can help promote the use of low-carbon natural
gas in China is by analyzing current obstacles and then promoting the
needed legal framework for building and regulating natural gas supply
pipelines and distribution systems (see below).\7\
\7\ Jeff Logan et al., ``Expanding Natural Gas Utilization in
China,'' Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and University of
Petroleum, Beijing, (Washington and Beijing: U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and China's State Development Planning Commission),
forthcoming July 2001; Logan, J. and D. Luo, 1999. ``Natural Gas and
China's Environment.'' Paper presented at the International Energy
Agency-China Natural Gas Industry Conference, Beijing (available at
What U.S. Companies Say They Need to Do Natural Gas Business in China
1. Boost gas prices to international market levels.
2. Expand use of gas to industry and power sectors.
3. Allow access to choice areas for exploration.
4. Develop greater market transparency.
5. Improve data accessibility
Source: Logan, J. and W. Chandler, ``Incentives Needed for Foreign
Participation in China's Natural Gas Sector.'' Oil and Gas Journal, 10
August 1998. Volume 96, Number, 32. p. 50-56.
A large payoff comes especially by helping provide the conditions
sufficient to attract international investors. Lack of credit,
collateral, or funds to prepare business plans are the biggest barriers
to energy efficiency and fuel switching in many economies. Financial
programs can help overcome barriers to deployment of small-scale clean
and efficient energy technologies in transition and developing
economies. High-priority elements include increasing support for clean
and efficient energy technologies from the multilateral banks or
through U.S. mechanisms such as the Trade Development Agency and the
Development Credit Authority. European nations are often much more pro-
active in supporting multilateral banks in project planning work that
would overcome barriers to obtaining financing and, as a result, often
increase their market share of these developing markets.
``Financial engineering'' is the best lever for emissions reduction
because it transfers energy-efficient modern technologies through the
marketplace. Specifically, the U.S. government can provide funding to
identify customers for energy-saving equipment, develop business plans
to move projects through the inception stage, and identify private and
multi-lateral sources of finance to implement projects. An appropriate
goal is to leverage at least $25 of investment for each dollar spent by
the U.S. government in project development.
Portfolio of Energy End-Use Technologies
PCAST's second category of initiatives addresses specific
opportunities for international cooperation to promote innovation in
energy-end-use technologies. These include efforts to reduce the energy
intensity of heavy industry in key developing and transition countries.
The PCAST panel estimated that energy use per unit of industrial output
could be reduced by 40 percent over the next two decades. A successful
example of this type of approach includes a dozen factories in
Ukraine--a very difficult financial environment--which recently
arranged millions of dollars of private investment in energy efficiency
measures thanks largely to U.S. government support. Actual energy
savings averaged 20 percent of total energy use per plant.\8\
\8\ Pacific Northwest National Laboratory senior research scientist
Meredydd Evans won the ``International Energy Project of the Year''
award from the Association of Energy Engineers for work organizing
energy-efficiency investment for the Gostomel Glass Plant in Ukraine.
The United States could encourage developing countries to cut
energy use in major energy-intensive industrial processes by one-third
or more compared to current performance. The largest energy-consuming
sectors include iron and steel, cement, chemicals, pulp and paper, and
non-ferrous metals. The Chinese steel industry, for example, uses 90
percent more energy to make a ton of steel than the Japanese steel
sector. Similarly, India uses twice as much energy to make a ton of
pulp and paper than the OECD average. Russian cement makers use 30
percent more energy to manufacture a ton of cement than French
manufacturers. American technologies could be applied to cut energy use
in each of these cases. However, these technologies have not penetrated
these markets due to price distortions, lack of trained personnel to
develop and implement projects, and lack of business skills and credit
to arrange financing to make projects reality.
High-priority efforts toward that goal could include cooperation
with the private sector and foreign counterparts to develop
``technology roadmaps'' and pre-competitive research and development
for energy-intensive basic-materials industries such as iron and steel,
chemicals, pulp and paper, and cement. Pilot demonstration programs and
joint project development can sometimes facilitate technology transfer
between U.S. firms and their partners.
PCAST's set of end-use recommendations included cooperation on
vehicles research, development, and demonstration of cleaner, more
energy-efficient buses and two- and three-wheeled vehicles (the main
source of individual transport in many Asian nations) and accelerating
deployment of advanced vehicles in developing and transition countries.
High-priority efforts might include integration and expansion of
cooperative research and development, especially for hybrid, fuel-cell,
and alternative-fuel propulsion systems. U.S. encouragement of the
multilateral development banks to help finance energy-efficient
vehicle-manufacturing capacity, infrastructure, and consumer-credit
systems could speed large-scale deployment of these advanced vehicles.
International Role of Energy-efficiency Technology
Efficiency aids development and cuts emissions.
Transition (and some developing) economies rank least-
efficient in the world.
Investment and reforms promote efficiency and fuel
PCAST recommended buildings sector demand-side energy cooperation.
The U.S. government could help transition and developing countries cut
energy use in new appliances, homes, and commercial buildings in
developing countries by 25 percent compared to current practice.
Developing countries continue to build homes with energy-intensive
materials that have low thermal-insulation values. Buildings-energy use
can be cut by one-third or more with advanced design techniques
available in the United States.
High-priority efforts could include technical and policy assistance
for efficiency standards and ratings and labeling of building equipment
and appliances. PCAST supported the idea of U.S. sponsorship of
labeling and promotion programs similar to the ``Energy Star''; design
competitions to push the envelope of building energy performance; and
technical assistance for development, analysis, and implementation of
building energy codes and standards, including use of monitoring,
compliance, enforcement programs, and software.
PCAST end-use experts recommended efforts to promote combined-heat-
and-power, or cogeneration, technologies for new power supply.
Countries with rapidly growing power demand such as China, India, and
much of Latin America could obtain one-fifth of their new power supply
from cogeneration or distributed power systems using microturbines,
renewable energy, and other new power generation systems.
Enron Corporation's frustrating experience in building and
operating a power plant in Dabhol, India, is well known. That
experience, and others like it around the world, have shown that
regulatory reform in developing nations is badly needed.\9\ Assistance
by U.S. experts to ``level the playing field'' for modern generating
technologies, especially cogeneration, can help create functioning
markets and facilitate penetration of advanced technologies in
countries like India. PCAST determined that successful deployment of
cogeneration will required five things: information and education
programs; collaborative assessments of power and heat loads at
potential cogeneration sites; addressing potential regulatory and
market barriers; funding for demonstrations; and help in securing
\9\ Khozem Merchant in Bombay and David Gardner, ``Enron Threatens
to Withdraw from Indian Power Project,'' Financial Times, 9 April 2001.
Funding for market surveys of potential cogeneration sites would
help to determine power and heat loads and output ratios in order to
identify favorable conditions. Such an effort would also need to
identify and suggest solutions to regulatory barriers such as
difficulties selling power to the grid. Technical and policy assistance
could help develop and implement policies that are equitable for
cogeneration. This activity, like the industrial initiative above,
could also leverage funding for innovative demonstrations of combined
heat and power and to help secure financing from international private
and public sources.
Portfolio of Supply-Side Projects
PCAST noted that specific opportunities exist for international
cooperation for innovation on energy-supply technologies to help spread
use of technologies for renewable energy, fossil-fuel decarbonization,
carbon dioxide sequestration, and nuclear fission and fusion. Priority
was placed on accelerating the development and deployment of biomass,
wind, photovoltaic, solar thermal, and other renewable energy
technologies. Also needed are collaborative research on restoring
degraded lands, and developing fossil-energy hybrids to provide
complete energy services for agricultural, residential, and village-
scale commercial and industrial applications in rural areas.
Among the supply-side options considered, PCAST emphasized the need
for collaboration to develop industrial-scale biomass energy conversion
technologies, as well as collaborative research on the restoration of
degraded lands and their use for growing crops optimized to yield
multiple products. PCAST found that collaboration is needed to
accelerate the deployment of grid-connected intermittent renewable
electric technologies with fossil energy. The panel further suggested
then need for collaboration on assessments of renewable energy
resources on a region-by-region basis.
PCAST found need to add an explicit international activity to
promote research focused on advanced technologies for improving the
cost, safety, waste management, and proliferation resistance of nuclear
fission energy systems, and to expand and strengthen exchanges on
geologic disposal of spent fuel and high-level wastes. Our panel
recommended pursuit of a new international agreement on fusion research
and development that commits parties to a broad range of collaborations
on all aspects of fusion energy development to enhance U.S.
participation in existing fusion experiments abroad and inviting
increased foreign participation in new and continuing smaller fusion
experiments in the United States.
PCAST recommended that the President should establish an
interagency working group on strategic energy cooperation in the
National Science and Technology Council to develop and promote a
strategic vision of the role of the government's contributions to
international energy. This working group would be responsible for
continuing assessment of the government's full portfolio and would
assist the agencies to strengthen their internal and external
mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing projects, for terminating
unsuccessful ones, and for handing off successful ones to the private
sector at the appropriate time.
PCAST stressed the role of the private sector. Government programs
should be structured to catalyze and complement the private sector, not
replace it. International programs should help lower barriers and
supplement private incentives and capacity to address U.S. interests in
energy innovation. But assistance should be limited in the rate and
duration of the government's investment, with specific criteria for
terminating projects that fall short and for transferring successful
ones to the private sector.
PCAST concluded that government involvement is needed because the
public interest in energy outcomes goes beyond the sum of perceived
private interests. Privatization, deregulation, and restructuring of
energy industries help bring private capital into the energy sector.
International carbon dioxide emissions trading offers a potentially
important tool for deploying technology to mitigate greenhouse gases,
but that tool may be slipping from our grasp. Large-scale, inexpensive
emissions mitigation opportunities exist in the transition economies--
Russia and Ukraine, for example--and a trading regime could provide the
incentive for market adoption of technologies that will substantially
reduce future emissions levels. But transition economies have
encountered difficulty in organizing a transparent and effective
trading system, a condition that may be worsened if U.S. policy suggest
that we have abandoned our commitment to ``flexible mechanisms'',\10\
as agreed in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Much more
serious cooperation with transition economies will be needed to
encourage establishment of serious mechanism to deploy emissions-
\10\ Aleksandr Avdiushin, Martin Dasek, Henryk Gaj, Inna
Gritsevich, Susan Legro (editor), Jaroslav Marousek, Bedrich Moldan,
Natalia Parasiuk, Nikolai Raptsoun, Andrei Sadowski, Vasyl Vasylchenko,
Marie Havlickova, Aleksandr Kolesov, Bedrich Schwarzkopf, and Svetlana
Sorokina, ``No-Regrets Options in Climate Change Mitigation Policy:
Lessons from Transition Economies,'' Battelle, Pacific Northwest
National Laboratories, May 1997; Meredydd Evans, ``Demand-side energy
efficiency and the Kyoto mechanisms'', European Council for an Energy-
Efficient Economy, 2001 Summer Study, Paper 6.126.
The needs and opportunities for international energy cooperation
are thus large and urgent. The costs and risks are modest in relation
to the potential gains. Our best opportunities include helping build
local leadership capacity, supporting energy-sector reform, and helping
finance the market penetration of energy-efficient and environmentally
benign energy technologies. Shifting to this brand of international
energy cooperation, the panel found, would provide more benefit to
American security, trade, and its environment than the general approach
to technical assistance.
Policy-makers might find encouragement and challenge in these
ideas. Concerns that climate and environmental protection policy would
lead to greater, not less, command and control appear exaggerated. The
literature suggests that transition to markets and competition will
actually help cut emissions growth, at least up to a point. Concern
that cutting emissions growth in developing countries would cost
impossible sums and retard economic development also appears misplaced.
But confidence that markets will readily work and that technology will
eventually solve the carbon emissions problem seem naive. Markets
remain distorted, fuel and capital are wasted on a large scale, and
opportunities for efficiency and environmental protection are
squandered. Most developing and transition economies lack the tax,
regulatory, and incentive programs to address the energy and climate
challenge. Markets will not alone create the advanced technology
necessary to even approach the goal of the United Nations Framework on
Climate Change stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases. The
magnitude of change required is such that only some significant shift
in markets such as an agreement to limit emissions per unit of energy
produced, or a functioning emissions trading system would make
meaningful change achievable.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
Dr. Friedman, why don't you go right ahead.
STATEMENT OF DR. ROBERT M. FRIEDMAN, VICE PRESIDENT FOR
RESEARCH, THE H. JOHN HEINZ III CENTER FOR SCIENCE, ECONOMICS
AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Dr. Friedman. Thank you. Good morning. I am Bob Friedman
with the Heinz Center. We are a nonprofit, non-partisan
environmental policy research organization here in Washington.
I am delighted to be here.
I would like to briefly present some conclusions from
research we performed about 2 years ago, funded by EPA, on
technology policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We
were focusing not so much on the specific technologies but
really on the suite of primarily voluntary policies available
to encourage their development and adoption. And if I can leave
you with just one message today, it is this, that R&D is vital,
but R&D alone is not enough. Let me expand.
We looked at over a dozen policy tools. We, of course,
looked at direct government funding of R&D in many stripes and
flavors, but we also considered a series of approaches to
induce private R&D or even modestly support production or
commercialization, things like tax credits or Government
procurement. And finally, we looked at a set of policies that
really foster technology diffusion and deployment primarily
through the use of information.
In context, most of the policy discussions and actions to
date have centered on funding levels for research and
development and primarily for the Department of Energy. Again,
clearly R&D is vital. The question we were asking was, is it
enough? And if not, what else is needed?
Our conclusion: if we diversify our approach, not just
diversify the portfolio of technologies, but policies as well,
we will more effectively accelerate the development and
adoption of new technologies.
We looked at several areas where technology development has
really played a large role, not just energy and the
environment. We also looked at defense and electronics.
Interestingly, we held a workshop for R&D managers from
industry where we basically asked them which of these policies
might be most productive for their firms and sectors, and that
was very instructive for us.
Let me tell you briefly about three conclusions from our
First, our Nation's portfolio of technology policies really
could be better balanced in two ways. On one side, we need more
support for radical innovation, support for those really new
ideas, and on the other side, better structured policies for
promoting diffusion and deployment of these new technologies.
Second, almost any portfolio of technology policies aimed
at greenhouse gas reduction would gain added force if we had
complementary price signals or regulatory initiatives. The
point here is that pulling innovations into the marketplace
through incentives often leads to better solutions than just
technology push alone.
My final point is to ask you to seriously consider having
the Federal Government prepare what we began calling technology
policy road maps. This last notion is a somewhat odd idea, new
idea, and it is one that I particularly want to highlight. I
think this idea came primarily from industry that we worked
with who felt very strongly about the need for a diverse
portfolio of policy approaches. They emphasized to us that each
industry differs not only in the technologies they use, but in
factors such as the significance of intellectual property
protection, the willingness of firms to work together, and a
whole host of other factors. Our collaborators really suggested
that if the Government were truly serious about tailoring these
technology policies to the needs of specific sectors and to
specific technology challenges, it should undertake joint
planning with industry and other interested parties to produce
these technology policy road maps.
These are really expansions of the more traditional
technology R&D road maps pioneered by the semiconductor
industry and currently used by lots of others, including DOE.
However, these policy road maps would not only foster knowledge
creation but also address commercialization and eventual
diffusion on a sector-by-sector basis. Of course, this is vital
to the success of this mission.
I would like to just thank you for the opportunity to speak
with you this morning, and with your permission, I would like
to submit a summary * of our work for the record along with
* The summary has been retained in committee files.
The Chairman. We will be glad to include that in the
[The prepared statement of Dr. Friedman follow:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. Robert M. Friedman, Vice President for
Research, the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the
Good Morning. I am Robert Friedman, Vice President for Research at
The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the
Environment. The Heinz Center is a non-profit, non-partisan,
environmental policy research organization that brings together people
from industry, environmental groups, government, and academia to work
together on environmental and natural resource problems.
I will briefly present the conclusions from some research we
performed about two years ago on ``Technology Policies for Reducing
Greenhouse Gas Emissions,'' funded by the Environmental Protection
Agency. We were focusing not so much on the specific technologies, but
the policy tools available to encourage their development and adoption.
If I leave you with but one message, it is this: R&D alone is not
In all, we considered over a dozen policy tools. We of course
looked at direct government funding of R&D--money to firms,
universities, or government labs. We also considered approaches to
induce private R&D, or even modestly support production or
commercialization, for example, tax credits, production subsidies, or
government procurement. And finally, we looked at policies that foster
technology diffusion and deployment through information transmittal and
learning. (See Table 1 for pros and cons of these approaches.) We
considered only voluntary measures, that is, we did not (in this study)
look at such environmental policy tools as regulation or emissions
Most of the policy discussions and actions to date have centered on
funding levels for research and development, primarily by the
Department of Energy. Clearly R&D is vital. Our question was, is it
enough? If not, what else is needed?
Our conclusion: if we diversify our approach, we will more
effectively accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies
for lowering emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). But the design task
is not simple. GHG sources are widely dispersed throughout the economy.
Thousands of technologies are involved.
Our research looked at several areas where technology development
played a large role, in particular, defense and electronics, in
addition to energy and the environment. We also held a workshop for R&D
managers from industry, in essence asking them which of these policies
might be most productive for their firms and sectors.
I want to tell you about three key conclusions from our work:
First, our Nations's portfolio of technology policies for
addressing GHG emissions could be better balanced in two ways:
1) more support for radical innovation and 2) better structured
policies for promoting diffusion and deployment of new
technologies. The scale and scope of worldwide GHG emissions
imply that radical innovation will be needed for substantial
reductions. But innovations, whether incremental or radical,
have little impact until widely diffused. ``Breakthroughs''
sometimes originate in research, but not always: the
microprocessor began as a pure exercise in engineering design.
Second, almost any portfolio of technology policies aimed at
GHG reduction would gain added force from complementary price
signals or regulatory initiatives. ``Pulling'' innovations into
the marketplace through incentives often leads to better
solutions than does ``technology push.''
Third, the Federal Government--working with industry,
universities, and environmental groups should expand the effort
to construct technology R&D ``roadmaps'' into broader
technology policy roadmaps for addressing GHG release.
This last notion is one that is new, and one that I particularly
want to highlight. This idea came from our industry participants, who
felt strongly about the need for a diverse portfolio of policy
approaches. They emphasized that each industry differs, not only in
technologies, but in factors such as the significance of intellectual
property protection and the willingness of firms to work together. The
participants suggested that if government were truly serious about
matching a portfolio of technology policies to specific sectors and
technology challenges, it should undertake joint planning with industry
and other interested parties to produce what we came to call technology
These policy roadmaps are expansions of the technology roadmaps
pioneered by the semiconductor industry and currently others, including
DOE. However, such policy roadmaps would not only foster knowledge
creation, but also address commercialization and eventual diffusion on
a sector-by-sector basis.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this morning. With
your permission, I will submit a summary of our work for the record
along with these remarks. More extensive documentation is also
available on the web.\1\
\1\ ``Technology Policies for Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
Project Summary,'' ``Technology Policies for Controlling Greenhouse Gas
Emissions: A Taxonomy,'' by John A. Alic, and ``Meeting Summary:
Workshop on Technology Policies for Controlling Greenhouse Gas
Emissions,'' are available at www.heinzctr.org or by request from The
Table 1.--TECHNOLOGY POLICIES
Group/Policy a Advantages Disadvantages
Direct Funding of R&D/DD&D
1. R&D contracts with private firms.. Proven effectiveness in mission agencies, In the absence of a clearly
especially defense. defined and widely accepted
mission can be hard to
defend politically and to
2. R&D contracts and grants with Well established procedures in agencies, Not obvious how much
universities. ample experience. university research has to
contribute to GHG reduction,
where the greatest needs may
be for applied technologies.
3. Intramural R&D conducted in Excellent capabilities in some Laboratories less integrated
government laboratories. laboratories. into technological
4. R&D contracts with consortia that Collaboration helps define appropriate Limited experience base
include two or more of the actors technical objectives. compared to policies 1-3.
Indirect Support for R&D/DD&D; Direct or Indirect Support for Commercialization and Production
5. R&D tax credits................... Generalized research and experimentation Difficult to link with GHG
tax credit, in place in various forms reduction. Some analyses
since early 1980s, has been popular, indicate existing credits
uncontroversial. tend to subsidize work that
would be conducted anyway,
provide only a modest
incentive for new R&D. The
credit has never been made
permanent, which has
probably reduced its impact.
6. Tax credits or production Well-suited in theory to fostering Little experience with such
subsidies for firms bringing new technologies with evident potential for policies, which are likely
technologies to market. GHG reduction. to be labeled as ``corporate
welfare'' by opponents.
Susceptible to political
manipulation that could lead
to support for second-best
7. Tax credits or rebates for Same as above, but tend to ``pull'' Same as above, though less
purchasers of new technologies. technologies into the marketplace, which likely to attract lobbying
can be more desirable than ``pushing'' because benefits are harder
them. to channel to particular
8. Government procurement............ Can be powerful where government is a Federal purchases (and
significant customer. leases) have much more
leverage for some GHG
sources (buildings) than
others (production of
9. Demonstration projects............ Can be effective for technologies that are Tainted by past undertakings
relatively well understood in principle widely viewed as wasteful
but for which practical application and/ and ineffective, including
or market opportunities have yet to be energy projects. New
fully explored. institutional learning would
probably be required to re-
projects as a viable
Information and Learning
10. Education and training........... The most powerful single mechanism for Diffusion is relatively slow
diffusion of knowledge. via established channels
(e.g., university degree
programs); quality of
shorter education and
training courses highly
variable, may be hard for
potential participants to
11. Codification and diffusion of Many well-established channels (reference Not a traditional role for
technical knowledge. documents, consensus best practices, government (with exceptions
computer-aided engineering methods and such as public works).
databases, technical review articles, Existing channels slow,
etc.). especially those that depend
12. Technology/ industrial extension. Suited to case-by-case problems (e.g., Labor-intensive, hence
energy utilization in small manufacturing costly; relatively new in
firms). the United States and may
not be fully accepted.
13. Technical standards b............ Once in place, can have broad, deep, and Standards often represent
lasting impacts. compromises among competing
private interests with
14. Publicity, persuasion, consumer Possible to reach large numbers of Competing interests may
information. decisionmakers at relatively low cost. attenuate, perhaps distort,
messages coming from
government, despite efforts
to provide unbiased
a The taxonomy omits policies such as intellectual property protection that create generalized incentives for
b This eniry reers only to technical standards intended to ensure commonality (e.g., driving cycles for testing
automobile fuel economy and/or emissions) or compatibility (e.g., connectors or charging electric vehicle
batteries), not to regulatory standards.
The Chairman. Dr. Levine, you are the cleanup hitter here.
STATEMENT OF DR. MARK D. LEVINE, DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL ENERGY
TECHNOLOGIES DIVISION, LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY,
Dr. Levine. Well, thank you very much. It is a real
privilege and pleasure to be here. I am from Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, as you indicated.
I am here to address two topics. The first is a very brief
summary of the Clean Energy Futures study that was conducted by
a group of five national laboratories. It was funded by the
Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The analysis, however, is that of the authors. It is our
report, not the Government's report. Of course, I am speaking
for myself but will summarize the main features of the study.
This was a comprehensive assessment of technologies and
policies to address energy-related challenges to the Nation.
The study concluded that accelerating the development and
deployment of energy efficient and renewable energy
technologies could significantly reduce the growth of
greenhouse gas emissions, oil dependence, air pollution, and
economic inefficiencies. The study also concluded that the
overall economic costs and benefits of policies to bring about
these impacts appear to be roughly comparable to one another.
In other words, it is affordable to do this.
We looked at three different scenarios. By the way, this
went to the year 2020. A business-as-usual case, a moderate
case, moderate policies in a sense, and an advanced case,
advanced meaning tougher policies and advanced technologies. We
had a portfolio of policies in all the cases, as I said,
tougher ones in the advanced case. An important difference
between the advanced case and the moderate case was that we had
a carbon charge that could have resulted through a cap and
trade system or other means of $50 a ton carbon emissions, and
this had the effect of moving natural gas to replace coal for
Let me tell you the results of those scenarios. This is a
very detailed, quantitative analysis, obviously, of course,
based on many different assumptions, all of which we tried to
make very explicit.
In 2020, carbon emissions are reduced by about 10 percent
in the moderate case compared with the expected business-as-
usual case and about 30 percent in the advanced case, bringing
emissions in the advanced case down to 1990 levels by 2020.
Oil use was reduced by 2 million barrels a day in the
moderate case, 5 million barrels a day in 2020 for the advanced
case, again bringing oil use back to about 1990 levels.
We were able in this scenario to cut emissions of
pollutants by a factor of 2 in the advanced case. An important
impact in the advanced case was that coal use declines by
almost 50 percent, a major impact on the coal industry as
natural gas, as I said, replaces coal.
However, an important point has to do with the use of
natural gas and the growth of natural gas. In the cases we
looked at, natural gas grows for both the moderate and the
advanced case by about 22 percent by the year 2020, but in the
business-as-usual case it grows by 33 percent. So, in fact, in
spite of the fact that we are backing out coal, replacing it
with natural gas, because of energy efficiency, because of the
growth of renewable energy systems, and because of the
maintenance and life extension of nuclear powerplants, by doing
all those things, one can contain growth of natural gas. A
terribly important issue.
Now, I want to point out our study does not make any policy
recommendations. This is really an analysis of what could
happen if one adopts certain policies. It is meant to be a
background or framework for analyzing the problem and one that
we hope will be seriously considered as a part of that
One matter stands out particularly strongly. We have heard
it from the other speakers, and that is in all the scenarios
that we talk about, a necessary ingredient, and certainly for
the advanced case, is R&D. R&D for advanced technologies,
advanced energy technologies, are critical even in this 20-year
time frame for addressing climate change issues and more and
more important as one goes into a longer time period.
I want to turn to R&D very briefly and I wanted to
illustrate from our laboratory some results of R&D. I think it
has been inadequately recognized that Government supported R&D,
generally combined with industrial partners, has had a huge
impact over the years in enabling energy demand reductions and
thus reductions in carbon emissions to take place. As I said, I
will use LBNL's work, but I use that to illustrate the point.
There is other work in many other laboratories around the
country and you can hear very similar stories in those cases as
We did work in three technologies, and this is explained in
an addendum to my testimony. Back in the 1970's and 1980's the
construction of a computer code to analyze energy use in
buildings is now used by virtually all architect/engineering
firms in the country who design complex buildings.
We were instrumental in creating the electronic fluorescent
ballast, which is the forerunner of the compact fluorescent,
more efficient fluorescent lamps.
We were very active in creating advanced window coatings,
which have achieved substantial market penetration. This is the
one case where we did not have policy that drove these things.
In the other cases, policies were quite instrumental in bring
these technologies to bear.
Our analysis shows that these three technology developments
from some time ago result in a net lifetime savings to the
country of on the order of $40 billion. That is growing every
year as these products move into the market. The assumption
behind these calculations was not that the technologies would
not have been developed, but that they would have been
developed later. So, we are not taking full credit for all of
it. Now, all of that at a cost of less than half a billion
dollars. So, those investments alone would pay for lots of
other R&D, much of which is successful, not all of which is
going to be successful.
My final point is that there continues in the pipeline
tremendous R&D opportunities that are going to be absolutely
essential if we are going to deal either with our range of
energy problems or with the problem of emission of carbon. I
give examples in my addendum of work, again, that we are doing.
Let me just list them very quickly.
Energy efficient and safe torchiere lightings, that is the
lamp that projects onto the ceiling and has been made with
halogen lamps. They are very hot, very inefficient. We have
developed a compact fluorescent version. They do not cause
fires. I am hoping that they will move rapidly into the
We are looking very hard at reducing standby power losses
which turn out to be the energy used when you have equipment
plugged in that is just sitting there and not doing anything
useful. That turns out to be projected to be one of the largest
growths of energy in buildings and it is nonproductive.
We have a technology that is moving rapidly into the
marketplace and will have a big impact of ceiling ducts, that
is, the ducts that carry the air from the furnace or the air
conditioner to the house. Typically those ducts, amazingly
enough, lose 20 percent of their energy, that is to say, are
heating or cooling the outside. We have efficient furnaces,
thanks to appliance standards, but we are not delivering the
product to the right place.
Other examples, efficient burners. We are concerned about
urban heat islands, reducing heat in urban areas, reflecting
more a new lamp that is very efficient, and other developments
So, in conclusion, I want to indicate the value of the R&D
that has been done so far, and I want to support very strongly
the need for R&D if we are going to address climate change not
only in efficiency. We need it in supply technologies. We need
it in exploratory research. We need it in the full range of
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Levine follows:]
Prepared Statement of Dr. Mark D. Levine,\1\ Director, Environmental
Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
I am pleased to participate in the portion of your hearing on
technology solutions to address greenhouse gas emissions.
\1\ The statements in this testimony are the views of Dr. Mark D.
Levine and do not necessarily reflect those of either the University of
California or of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
I will first introduce myself. I have been involved in energy
matters, as an analyst and/or R&D manager continuously since 1972. I
have worked for the Ford Foundation Energy Policy Project, SRI
International, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (since 1979).
I presently lead the division at the Berkeley Lab that does most of our
energy research. The emphasis of our division of more than 400 staff
members is energy efficiency R&D. I serve on various board of directors
of energy non-profit organizations, have been a lead author of the 1995
and 2000 mitigation assessments for the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, and am one of the authors of the Clean Energy Futures
study, which will be a portion of my testimony today.
I address two topics in this testimony. First, I provide an
overview of the Clean Energy Futures Study. The executive summary of
that report and the first chapter, Integrated Analysis and Conclusions,
provide the full details, so I hope that my summary will be
sufficient.\2\ Second, I want to talk about an important implication of
this study and other analyses on the critical role of energy technology
R&D in addressing the reduction in energy-related greenhouse gas
\2\ ``Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future,'' ``Interlaboratory
Working Group on Energy-Efficient and Clean Energy Technologies,''
ORNL/CON-476, LBNL-44029, NREL-TP-620-29379, November 2000. Available
OVERVIEW OF THE CLEAN ENERGY FUTURES STUDY
The Clean Energy Futures Study is a comprehensive assessment of
technologies and market-based policies to address energy related
challenges to the Nation. It deals with the period to 2020. The report
was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy and co-funded by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The analysis was performed by
researchers from five national laboratories: Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory. The study reflects the results of analysis of its
authors and does not speak for DOE.
The study concludes that accelerating the development and
deployment of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies could
significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, oil dependence, air
pollution, and economic inefficiencies. The study concludes that the
overall economic costs and benefits of policies to bring about these
impacts appear to be comparable.
In reaching this conclusion, the study addressed three scenarios:
business as usual (BAU), moderate, and advanced cases. BAU is similar
to the Energy Information Administration forecast of U.S. energy future
The moderate case has an array of market-based policies and
programs including a 50% increase in cost-shared energy R&D, expanded
voluntary programs, and selected tax credits. The advanced case has
more aggressive policies including a doubling of R&D, voluntary
agreements to increase auto fuel economy and to promote energy
efficiency in industry, renewable energy portfolio standards, and a
domestic cap and trading system on carbon that results in a $50/tonne
charge on carbon.
Some of the important findings of the study are:
CO2 emissions in 2020 are reduced by 9% in the
moderate case and 29% in the advanced case, almost back to 1990
levels in the latter case. One important difference between the
moderate and advanced case is the $50 per tonne carbon trading
value in the latter. Carbon trading is a key policy leading to
reductions in carbon emissions by promoting the replacement of
coal by natural gas.
Oil use in 2020 is reduced by 2 million barrels per day in
the moderate case and by 5 million barrels of oil per day under
the advanced scenario. In the advanced scenario oil use would
be about the same in 2020 as it is today.
Nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from electricity
production are cut in half in the advanced scenario.
Electricity demand grows by half a percent per year in the
moderate case to remaining about constant in the advanced case.
This compares to a growth of about 2%/y for BAU.
Coal use would be about the same as today under the moderate
scenario and 40% less under the advanced scenario.
Natural gas demand would grow as much as 22% (both advanced
and moderate cases) but much less than for the BAU for which
the increase was 33%. The reduced growth is because of greater
efficiency (end use and energy conversion) in the moderate and
Renewable energy sources would grow 40-60%.
Nuclear would be 14% higher in the advanced scenario
(because of higher electricity prices) or 13% lower in the
moderate scenario (because of lower demand for electricity)
compared with BAU. No new nuclear plants would be built during
this time period.
It is useful to put this study in perspective. First, the study
makes no policy recommendations. It assesses a wide range of policies,
programs, and technologies to describe energy scenarios for the nation.
Its purpose is to describe what might be possible under a variety of
circumstances and assumptions, rather than to prescribe what is to be
done. Second, each reader needs to assess for herself the degree to
which the different cases are achievable as well as the tradeoffs among
different policies that underlay the scenario. The moderate case
depends on a return to a policy environment somewhat reminiscent of the
period between 1973 and 1986, in which energy and carbon emissions in
the United States did not grow at all for 13 years. (The moderate case
actually shows a 17% growth in energy demand over the 23-year study
period.) The advanced case depends on significant advances in R&D and
rapid entry of the R&D achievements into the marketplace. It is this
quick entry into the market that is, I believe, of the greatest
I would point out the need for greater analysis of the ability of
various programs to bring about rapid penetration and to promote new
technology over the coming years. Trials and assessments are needed.
Extensive analysis is needed to assess individual policies. At the same
time, it is clear that many of the approaches suggested in the Clean
Energy Futures study deserve to be given serious attention.
One matter stands out. In all of the scenarios described in the
Clean Energy Futures studies, technology is a necessary ingredient in
our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. R&D is an essential
underpinning of any effort to improve the nation's energy future as
well as to address greenhouse gas emissions.
IMPORTANCE OF ENERGY TECHNOLOGY R&D
I noted earlier that the U.S. economy grew by 35% from 1973 to 1986
while energy use grew 0%. Much of that reduction in energy intensity
came from the production, sale, and use of more energy-efficient
technologies. Those technologies were made possible by research and
development. Much of that R&D came from the public sector.
I think it has been inadequately recognized that the government-
supported R&D has had a huge impact over the years in enabling energy
demand--and thus carbon emissions--to grow more slowly than would
otherwise have been the case. The U.S.--and the global community--would
be much poorer without this R&D.
I want to use our own work at LBNL to illustrate the benefits that
the nation has received from energy efficiency and environmental R&D. I
use these examples because I am most familiar with the work. However,
R&D in other areas of energy technology is equally important and there
have been numerous successes. From the vantage point of greenhouse gas
emissions, we need to develop better ways of finding natural gas,
clearly the choice fuel for the United States. We need to pursue R&D on
a host of renewable energy technologies, to continue the progress of
bringing their prices down to competitive levels. We need to continue
to learn how to use coal more efficiently--reducing greenhouse gases--
and ultimately to convert coal to hydrogen. We need to study ways of
capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide.
Let me repeat that I've used examples from research at Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory because I am familiar with this research.
Many other research institutions working on many different facets of
energy technology R&D could provide similar examples of successes that
have had favorable impacts on the U.S. economy and environment.
The attachment shows examples of some of our R&D successes. The
first page of the handout lists many of these achievements (which are
more fully described in the following pages.) This page also shows that
three early achievements (from the 1980s)--the DOE/LBNL building energy
analysis tool, electronic ballasts for fluorescent lamps, and advanced
window coatings--have resulted in an estimated net lifetime savings
from products purchased to date of more than $40B! \3\ Although much of
the costs to achieve these savings were from product development and
marketing costs paid by the private sector, they would not have been
possible without the federal R&D program. The total cost of all R&D on
energy efficiency at LBNL over the past 25 years was less than $0.5
billion in today's dollars.
\3\ See end notes at the conclusion of this paper for a description
of what is meant by net lifetime savings and for brief notes on the
The handout shows additional R&D successes. We are actively working
with private firms to bring these products into use as quickly as
possible. However, it takes many years for products to move from the
lab to the marketplace. It is thus too early to assess the full impacts
of the R&D. But it is already clear that these products will have
This is all directly relevant to the main topic of this panel--
mitigation of climate change. If we have to rely on existing
technologies to reduce carbon emissions, we can achieve some reductions
(at least in growth) over the next decade or so. That is, there is a
backlog of technologies that have not yet been fully adopted in the
market, and there are tools to bring them forward. But this is a quick
fix to a long-term problem, and current technology is not nearly
adequate to address the problem. In my view, we need to expand:
R&D on energy efficiency technologies to make affordable
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the coming several
decades and longer;
R&D on natural gas development, also likely to have impacts
in the coming few decades;
R&D into low or no carbon energy supply technologies,
including renewable energy and electricity systems, more
efficient fossil fuel conversion to electricity, and nuclear
power (and especially the problem of long-term high-level
radioactive waste storage);
Exploratory research efforts on the hydrogen economy,
practical methods to apply fusion for electricity, and carbon
The Clean Energy Futures study provides a quantitative analysis of
possible futures to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, oil
imports, and local air pollution. While offering no specific policy
recommendations, the study does provide a basis for assessing energy
futures for the country, and does identify programs and policies that
could promote greater measures of energy efficiency than will occur in
the base case, thereby achieving reductions in the growth of greenhouse
gases and other benefits.
Regardless of our future energy path in the near term, we will find
ourselves without adequate means of combating greenhouse gas emissions
without serious attention to energy technology R&D. Previous experience
with federal energy technology R&D--illustrated by specific cases from
one laboratory--show very substantial net benefits to the nation. These
examples were largely in energy efficiency R&D. But R&D will be needed
in numerous energy areas for us to achieve affordable ways of reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
Lifetime savings mean the energy savings from all products
purchased to date. Thus, a product purchased today continues to save
energy over its lifetime and these savings are included in the figure.
Net savings means that the added cost of the energy efficiency
attributes of the product is deducted from the benefits.
The savings from the use of the building design tool are lifetime
savings resulting in increased use of energy efficiency features for
buildings that have been designed using this code (most large
commercial buildings in the United States).
The savings for window coatings and electronic ballasts are for all
of these products purchased to date minus the added first cost of the
products. The calculation assumes that such products would have come
onto the market but slower and five years later without the LBNL R&D
Net lifetime savings from appliance standards of almost $50B are
also shown in the handout. Berkeley Lab has provided a staff of 25
professionals to do the analysis.
The full documentation of the impacts of these technologies--and
the R&D that led to them--is under review at this time. The review may
cause the final numbers to be higher or lower than reported here. The
savings from appliance standards are well documented in the Department
of Energy Technical Support Documents and in various publications by
The Chairman. Thank you all very much for your testimony.
Let me ask Dr. Levine about a specific issue which I
believe you have some expertise on and that is air conditioner
efficiency. As you know, the prior administration had an
efficiency standard that they had arrived at relative to air
conditioners, and that was rolled back a couple of months ago.
I guess I would be interested in any comments you have as to
the appropriateness of the standard that was earlier arrived
at, and also how big an issue is this? Does it really impact
significantly on the amount of energy used, or is this
something that is sort of lost in the noise, particularly I
guess at the peak times when we have the blackouts around the
country, particularly in California?
Dr. Levine. I am glad you mentioned the peak issue.
I think the issue of the level of the standard was a
difficult one in the previous administration. They originally
came out with an SEER 12 in the notice of proposed rulemaking
and then later went to 13, and now there is discussion of
rolling it back to 12. It is a hard call. The technical
analysis could have supported either, depending on some
assumptions that you made. That is why the original proposal
was for 12. So, I think it has become a politically important
issue but technically it is very difficult for me to say very
much between the two.
However, on the peak power issue, I think a great deal can
be said. I think the fact that this is now a controversial
issue gives us an opportunity to do something that is crucial.
We need to look at how to design air conditioners and optimize
them for peak power, how you can have them as efficient as
possible at the time of peak. We also need to look at the
question of putting chips into air conditioners so that you can
control them during a period of peak power so that when your
cost of electricity is very, very high, you have a way of
controlling the air conditioner itself. We worry about air
conditioners especially for peak power. It is a huge impact on
peak and maybe we can use this opportunity to address the
question of how we can design air conditioners to deal with
The Chairman. Let me ask Dr. Friedman. Your concept of
technology policy road maps I think is an interesting one. We
are preparing to develop and mark up legislation here in the
Senate, which we hope will address many of the issues that have
been talked about here this morning. We are trying to figure
out what the right policy should be in a legislative sense, the
extent to which the Federal Government should involve itself in
promoting use of particular technologies or development of new
technologies and the extent to which we should be incentivizing
the actual use of technologies by people. Do you have any other
thoughts about how we get from here to there in the next 3 or 4
weeks? How developed is your technology policy road map in this
Dr. Friedman. Three or 4 weeks is a tough one. I think the
notion that we were considering and trying to put forth was
what we need to do is this sort of exercise on a more
continuing basis and with more direct involvement of industry
directly, the recipient end of some of these policies. I think
institutionally it is a tough one. This sort of consideration
might happen in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, or
it might happen with identification of a couple of lead
How you can do this, however, this quickly--maybe the best
to do is to set up the institution and get the institution
running. As James Edmonds points out, climate change will be
the impact of cumulative emissions. It will also be the impact
of cumulative policies, the policies that we put in place and
modify periodically over the next decade. Maybe we just need to
get started with that process of getting folks together and
being a little more deliberate on the choice of particular
policies that we choose.
The Chairman. Mr. Chandler, let me ask you. You have had a
lot of experience dealing with foreign governments and
foundations, as I understand it. Are there things that we could
be doing that would facilitate getting the right technology to
some of these foreign countries that would really be of
assistance? Is there technology that we have available to us
that we need to make more readily available to other countries,
and if so, how do we do it?
Mr. Chandler. To accelerate deployment, the problem is
overcoming barriers to the adoption of not just new
technologies but existing technologies. We recommended on the
International Energy Panel of the President's Council of
Science and Technology Advisors that capacity building be a
high priority. Examples of what can work include the creation
of some institutions for the promotion of energy efficiency
that I have been involved with. We helped organize six energy
efficiency centers in countries as diverse as Russia and China
in which we invested in helping local expertise to address
their own problems of policy and to organize the resources,
including financial resources, to implement and deploy
technology. The kinds of things that those centers can do
include, for example, in Ukraine the organization of investment
in private industry to replace glass furnaces in a bottle
making factory. To overcome these barriers, investing in reform
and in capacity building is a high priority.
The Chairman. Let me ask Dr. Edmonds. You pointed out that
we need a diverse technology portfolio clearly in order to
ensure that we have energy in the future and get away from a
reliance on fossil fuels to such an extent. What do you see as
the right role for the U.S. Congress in moving us in that
direction? Should we just have a robust budget for research and
development? Should we have a whole phalanx of tax incentives
to encourage people to use these technologies? Should we do
some combination of those or something else, as you see it?
Dr. Edmonds. Thank you, Senator. That is actually a very
I think you are absolutely correct when you recognize the
point I am making about the need for a diverse technology
portfolio. Part of that portfolio is going to have to be
delivered by the private sector. But there is a role for
government and the role for government in delivering
technologies has to do more with creating the optimum
conditions. If you look at the basic energy research, that does
not get undertaken by the private sector. If you look at the
biotechnology research that holds such promise, you do not
expect that to be undertaken independently by the private
sector. So, the public sector has an important role in
supporting those very basic research needs.
I would hope that in fact as we go forward into this long-
term problem--and again, it is such a long-term problem that it
is very difficult for me even to really appreciate it, after
having worked in this field for a quarter of a century. But 100
years is just a staggering amount of time, and yet there is
such a staggering amount that needs to be accomplished in that
That very first point that I made about the concentrations
and non-emissions, since it is cumulative emissions that turn
into a concentration, the stabilization of the concentration
means that emissions by the middle of the century for the whole
world are going to have to peak and begin this very long-term
I would hope that one of the investments we would make
would be investments that could help make it possible for the
fossil fuels, which are the current backbone of our energy
system, to continue to play an important and central role in
providing the energy services that we are all going to need.
That is not to deny the importance of the variety of other
technologies. But, for example, the potential for carbon
capture and sequestration I think is an important research and
development investment opportunity. If we can develop
technologies that allow us to capture carbon and store it in
geologic formations where it will not return to the atmosphere,
then we have really changed the fundamentals of the problem and
made it exceedingly easier for us to move into this regime
where emissions are getting arbitrarily small.
The Chairman. Well, thank you all very much for your
testimony. I think it has been a useful hearing, and we will
follow up with additional questions as we get closer to
actually developing a bill. Thank you very much for being here.
[Whereupon, at 11:58 a.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
Responses to Additional Questions
The National Academies,
August 13, 2001.
Senator Jeff Bingaman,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate,
Dear Senator Bingaman: In response to your letter of July 9, 2001,
we have forwarded the follow-up questions from Senator Hagel and
Senator Murkowski to Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland, Dr. Eric Barron and Dr.
John Wallace. The responses to the specific questions represent the
individual views of the panelists, and were not subject to formal
National Research Council review. The responses represent the
panelists' accumulated knowledge of the subject and their involvement
in, and knowledge of, the wide array of NRC reports related to the
science of climate change.
On behalf of the National Research Council, I thank you and the
members of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, for your
interest in the results of this recent NRC study on climate change
Warren R. Muir, Ph.D.,
Division on Earth and Life
National Research Council.
Responses to Questions From Senator Hagel
Question. Dr. Richard Lindzen, who also participated in the NAS
study, wrote the following in the June 11 edition of the Wall Street
Journal regarding media reports suggesting that the report represented
unanimous decision that global warning is real and is caused by man.
``As one of the 11 scientists who prepared the report, I can state
that this is simply untrue. For starters, the NAS never asks that all
participants agree to all elements of a report, but rather that the
report represents the span of views. This the full report did, making
clear that there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-
term climate trends and what causes them.''
Would you agree with Dr. Lindzen's assessment of the full report?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. I believe that the first paragraph of the
summary fairly represents the contents of the report. I certainly
believe that by far the most probable overall explanation for the vast
amount of climate change data now available is succinctly described by
the brief phrases ``global warming is real and is mostly caused by
man.'' But such a summary leaves out the uncertainties outlined in the
first paragraph of the Summary and in many places throughout the
document and in my use of the words ``most probable''.
The greenhouse gases have certainly accumulated in the atmosphere
during the 20th century, and a major cause for the increased emissions
of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide and the sole cause for
the emissions of the chlorofluorocarbons have been the activities of
mankind. The greenhouse effect itself is not in question--it exists and
the Earth was about 57 deg.F (32 deg.C) warmer in 1900 than it would
have been without the natural levels of carbon dioxide, methane,
nitrous oxide and water vapor. (The chlorofluorocarbons are entirely
man-made and were not present in the atmosphere in 1900. The
concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere is ultimately controlled
chiefly by the temperature of the ocean, which can be indirectly
affected by man through the other greenhouse gases.) The ability of
increased concentrations of these gases to trap additional outgoing
terrestrial infrared radiation, with a consequent increase in global
average temperature, is not really questioned either. When additional
heat is added to the atmosphere, a chain of consequences is initiated,
and different scientists will have their own candidates for the most
probable chains and varieties of consequences. When one asks for the
full range of regional description covered by the word ``climate'',
then it is obvious that consensus does not exist.
Question. As we know carbon dioxide is emitted and absorbed through
a variety of natural cycles. In the NAS report, you stated that HALF of
the carbon dioxide emitted during the 1990s by the use of fossil fuels
was absorbed, mostly by the oceans and land, and did not remain in the
atmosphere. How much do we know about the role of the oceans?
The NAS report also stated that tropical deforestation added 10-40%
as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as the burning of fossil
fuels. And that during the 1990s the net storage of carbon by land
vastly increased. Doesn't this suggest to you that a much greater
understanding of the role of the oceans and the use of better land and
forestry management practices that increase carbon sequestration could
play a very significant role in helping to counter emissions of carbon
Answer from Dr. Rowland. The oceans are the ultimate major sink for
carbon dioxide, and therefore play a crucial role in our efforts to
understand and improve the global management of its greenhouse
contribution. An important difference between the atmosphere and the
oceans is the difference in overall mixing times for the transfer of
energy and materials throughout the entire system. The time scale of
concern about physical changes in the Earth systems with respect to
global warming is essentially decadal, and because the major greenhouse
gases tend to redistribute themselves globally more rapidly than that,
we can obtain a useful understanding of carbon dioxide and methane with
a relatively small number of measuring stations--and the atmosphere is
readily accessible to measurement. The world's oceans do not
interchange heat and salinity globally within the decadal time frame,
and therefore a much denser network of measurement capability is
required for a comparable understanding and predictability. The shallow
oceans are not the initial repository of global warming energy, but in
the end most of the heat is absorbed there, with its further transfer
to the deep ocean a limiting step on the century-long time scale. It is
perhaps significant that some of the most urgent concerns about the
consequences of global warming are connected with possible alteration
of current methods of oceanic heat transfer. Two prominent examples are
the questions of the frequency and intensity of El Nino, and the
possibility of a waning intensity for the Gulf Stream.
There is an analogy here with the shorter-lived greenhouse forcings
in the atmosphere, such as tropospheric ozone and the various
particulate components such as black soot. The time scales of these
phenomena are likewise faster than the atmospheric mixing times and a
denser network of measurements in time and space, carried out over a
decade or more is required for quantitative assessment of their
The key questions with carbon sequestration processes are how long
the material will be stored in locations other than the atmosphere, and
what are the costs associated with the processes. In general, the
species of trees which last for hundreds of years grow in the colder
regions of the planet, and any sequestration process, which allows its
carbon to return to the atmosphere in a few decades through decay is
not very significant for the solution of the century-long overall
global warming problem. This means study not only of the initial uptake
of carbon dioxide, but the longevity of the sinks into which it has
gone. Obviously, much of this involves intensive study of the world's
Question. The NAS study points to methane as a greenhouse gas whose
impact ``could be slowed or even stopped entirely or reversed.'' And
that ``with a better understanding of the sources and sinks of methane,
it may be possible to encourage practices that lead to a decrease in
atmospheric methane and significantly reduce future climate change,''
and this could happen ``rather quickly.'' Is this true? Why are we not
focusing more on methane, as Dr. James Hansen suggested in his study
last August, since we have much of the technology needed to mitigate
against this gas?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. The sink for methane is well known--
primarily it is destroyed by reaction with hydroxyl radical in the
atmosphere. The major methane sources have also probably all been
identified and qualitatively evaluated. However, the limits on
quantitative measurements of the various source strengths are their
large number and their diversity. Methane has an atmospheric lifetime
of about one decade, in comparison to the century scale lifetimes of
carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons, so that
successes in mitigation can be observed and verified in only ten or
twenty years. It is true that some of the needed technology is readily
available--for example, eliminating leaks in long distance pipelines
used for transferring natural gas. It is also a fact that the rate of
growth in atmospheric methane concentrations has slowed in the 1990s
relative to that of the 1980s. The reasons for this slowing are not
well understood, and probably were independent of concerns about the
contribution of methane to global warming. A reduced demand for natural
gas in the slumping ex-Soviet economy (and the corresponding reduction
in leakage during transmission) may have played a role in its reduced
emission rate in the 1990s. Clearly, an excellent opportunity exists to
explore ways in which methane emissions to the atmosphere can be
reduced, but as often is the case, the devil is in the details.
Because of its decadal lifetime, the atmospheric concentration of
methane can respond more rapidly than carbon dioxide to mitigation
steps. The most important sources for methane release into the
atmosphere include biological reactions in flooded rice paddies, in the
stomachs of cows and from natural wetlands--it has long been known as
``swamp gas'' because of this emission source. In addition, methane is
the main ingredient in natural gas, and occurs as well in conjunction
with deposits of oil and coal.
In many situations, an economic incentive has always existed for
preventing the escape of methane to the atmosphere because of its
marketability as a fuel. However, upkeep and repair of transmission
lines has an economic cost as well, and the current sales quota for
methane delivery at the outlet end of the pipeline can often be met by
ignoring the leaks and raising the inlet pressure into the pipeline,
albeit at the expense of diminishing future fuel reserves. The
apparently minimal economic value for capture of gaseous fuels at the
well-head is demonstrated by the commonplace observation of the flares
from burning gas as it escapes.
The emission of almost half a pound of methane per day per cow
represents a substantial loss to the atmosphere from the total carbon
feed intake of the animal. Efforts to redirect the digestive processes
toward forms of carbon useable in cattle growth have an obvious
economic advantage by reducing the amount and cost of feed, and have
been an ongoing project in the cattle industry for some decades. While
some isolated successes have been reported on very small scales,
verification and then application on a global scale to 1,500,000,000
animals requires penetration of the techniques to hundreds of millions
of small farmers in every country of the world. Manipulation of rice
planting to suppress methane emission will also require extensive
experimentation, and subsequently, if the result is successful,
diffusion of the control techniques to small farmers throughout many
tropical countries. Such implementation may not take place rapidly--the
``green revolution'' of the early 1970s has not yet reached many
African farmers simply because they cannot afford the seeds.
Question. As you know, black soot is not addressed in the Kyoto
Protocol. And yet it may have a very real impact on global warming. Dr.
James Hansen has written about this extensively and has briefed the
White House on the effects of black soot in the atmosphere. The NAS
report states that ``there is a possibility that decreasing black
carbon emissions (black soot) in the future could have a cooling effect
. . .'' Is this true and how much do we know about the role of black
soot? Wouldn't you suggest that it is an area that should be looked at
along with carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. Certainly we need to investigate all of
the potential contributors to the greenhouse effect, and black soot is
one of them. As discussed more fully below, I do not believe that
actions with respect to the greenhouse gases for which the level of
scientific certainty is much higher should be delayed pending
completion of studies on black soot and other aerosols.
Question. The NAS report indicates that, ``It is not implausible
that solar irradiance has been a significant driver of climate during
part of the industrial era.'' As a non-scientist, it seems very
plausible to mean that the sun could have an impact on global warming.
That would make sense. In fact, Dr. Sally Baliunas of the Harvard
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has done some innovative research
in this area and has been able to directly correlate increases in the
Earth's temperature with increased solar activity. Would you please
comment on this?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. The National Academy of Sciences has been
very interested in the question of the effects of solar variability on
climate and weather for the past two decades, and has issued several
reports involving this subject, including the 1982 report ``Studies in
Geophysics: Solar Variability, Weather and Climate'', the 1988 report
on ``Long Term Solar-Terrestrial Observations, and the more recent,
``Solar Influences on Global Change'', issued in 1994. Over the distant
past, variations in solar output have undoubtedly been responsible for
some of the changes in Earth's climate and its average temperature.
However, the present best explanation for the series of ice ages, which
swept over Earth during the past 400,000 years relies, on changes in
the orbital mechanics of the Earth-Sun relationship--changes which
affect the fraction of solar radiation, which is delivered to the polar
region of the northern hemisphere in summer, rather than variations in
the amount of energy delivered by the sun.
A major difficulty in searching for cause-and-effect relationships,
or even correlation, between solar output and terrestrial response is
the absence of a long record of the quantitative energetic output of
the sun. This difficulty has been approached in the past by
substitution for the actual energy release from the sun of various
proxy measurements of solar activity--for example, the formation of
radioactive isotopes such as carbon-14 in the upper atmosphere, the
waxing and waning of sunspots on the solar disk in an approximate 11-
year solar cycle, variations in the apparent length of this sunspot
I was personally involved in 1986-1988 in an evaluation of the
contribution of the solar cycle to the amount of ozone in Earth's
atmosphere, and we concluded that the atmosphere held about 1% to 2%
more ozone at the peak of the sunspot cycle versus the amounts of ozone
present during quiet periods. [``Report of the International Ozone
Trends Panel 1988'', Volume 1, Chapter Four, F.S. Rowland et al., pages
179-382.] This kind of analysis of other contributory changes is
necessary in order to determine whether long-term non-cyclical changes
are occurring. (Other contributions affecting total ozone
concentrations, which were evaluated at the same time included the
well-known yearly cycle peaking at the end of winter, nuclear bomb.
testing in the atmosphere, and the 26-month cycle in stratospheric wind
directions known as the QBO.) We would have preferred then to have a
long series of direct measurements of the intensity of very hard
ultraviolet radiation (i.e., the most energetic, which creates the
ozone initially) but such data did not exist, and do not really exist
now. We therefore resorted to a comparison of total ozone measurements
with one of the proxy measurements of the intensity of solar aetivity--
the 12-month running average of the observed sunspot intensity. This
comparison indicated that the variation of total ozone with the 11-year
solar cycle, and by implication, with the UV intensity within that
cycle, was 2% or less and could be separated from the search for any
long-term trend in total ozone concentrations.
Fortunately, accurate direct measurements of the total energy
output of the sun without atmospheric interference to the instrumental
operation have become available from several satellites carrying
acronyms such as ERB, ACRIM and ERBE. These satellites have been
reporting data from space over the past two decades and have detected a
cyclic variation in solar energy output at a level only 0.1% higher at
the maximum of solar cycle activity than in the quietest periods. (The
percentage change in hard ultraviolet emission mentioned above is much
larger than in the visible and infrared wavelengths, which carry most
solar energy to the Earth.) Any residual long-term trend in solar
energy output has been much less than 0.1% during these 20 years.
Furthermore, during 1991-1993, the transmission of the energy of
sunlight into the atmosphere was partially hindered (that is, some of
it was reflected back to space without ever being absorbed into the
atmosphere) by the sulfate layer debris from the June 1991 volcanic
eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. The global temperature
responded quickly to this reduction in absorbed solar energy, with a
transient lowering of temperature by 1 deg.-2 deg.C which lasted about
two years, demonstrating that the temperature responds quickly to
changes in absorbed solar energy. In the case of the observed warming
of the globe during the past 20 years, it is quite clear that solar
variability has been a negligible contributor.
Knowledge of Factors other than CO2
Question. I would like to point your attention to a chart contained
on page 15 of the NAS study.
This chart lists the gases, compounds and natural factors that have
been shown to have a warming or cooling effect on the earth's climate
and compares the level of scientific understanding about each factor.
According to this chart, we have a relatively good understanding of
carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. But when you get into the
areas of black soot, clouds, land use, and solar activity--our level of
scientific knowledge drops to ``very low.'' Don't you think we should
attempt to gain a much better scientific understanding of these
factors, especially before this country would commit itself to anything
like the kind of drastic actions called for under the Kyoto Protocol?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. Our committee did not address this policy
question. As a personal opinion, I would answer ``no.'' In quick
summary, the amounts in the atmosphere of the greenhouse gases--carbon
dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)--
have unquestionably increased between the years 1800 and 2001, with
most of these increases occurring during the last 50 years. We know
that a very plausible scientific mechanism exists--the trapping by the
greenhouse gases of outgoing terrestrial infrared radiation--for the
normal greenhouse effect, warming the Earth by 57 deg.F during the 19th
century and for millennia before that, relative to the temperature
expected if all of the terrestrial infrared radiation were to escape to
space. We also know that the increases in accumulated greenhouse gases
since the Industrial Revolution offer a very plausible mechanism for an
enhanced greenhouse effect--and it is the magnitude of this
enhancement, and not the existence of the greenhouse effect, which is
the object of our current concern. Finally, we know that the Earth's
surface has warmed by slightly more than 1 deg. Fahrenheit over the
past century, with about half of that taking place during the past two
decades, and that rapid change has many possible negative effects--
including the economic changes associated with sea level rise,
increased storm frequency, drying of Midwestern agricultural land,
lessening of the snow-pack in the Sierras, etc. In my view, this
situation is close enough to a direct cause-and-effect relationship to
warrant current action.
With regard to the other factors about which we have ``very low''
certainty, all of these share a common factor of wide regional and
temporal variability that separates them from the greenhouse gases. The
major greenhouse gases are all emitted into an atmosphere which is in
constant motion, and which mixes these worldwide within a year or two--
rapidly enough for them to have similar concentrations everywhere in
the lower atmosphere. These gases can readily be monitored and
evaluated anywhere and such measurements have been made in many
localities. Furthermore, these data have been collected for many
decades in enough locations to establish the changes, which have
occurred on a global basis with rather high accuracy. The trapping of
air in bubbles encapsulated in glaciers and in Greenland and Antarctica
has extended this knowledge for the major greenhouse gases back to the
time long before the industrial revolution through the last four major
series of ice ages--in total, going back more than 400,000 years. The
atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide varied from about 190 parts per
million by volume (ppmv) during the coldest ice age times to 280 ppmv
in the warm periods, including the present one to the year 1800. The
current concentration is about 370 ppmv, rising at 1.5 ppmv/year. The
current methane concentration of 1.77 ppmv is also far above the range
of levels (0.30 during the coldest periods; 0.70 in the warmest) which
were present over the past 400 millennia.
The common characteristic of the possible contributors other than
these greenhouse gases is that the changes in concentration are very
localized, but occur all over the globe, often varying from day to day.
The consequence is that the detection of global average change requires
highly specific regional and local data, taken nearly everywhere over a
substantial period of time. This period of data collection is really
only starting, and the ``substantial period of time'' may well require
several decades. Certainly, we should be working very hard to establish
the detailed understanding of each potential contributor, and its role
in the overall effect. However, in my opinion, the most likely outcome
of these studies is that some will turn out not to be very significant
on a global basis, some may make the impending warming less severe and
some may make it more severe, with the contribution from the greenhouse
gases still the major influence.
The greenhouse contribution of tropospheric ozone (formed by smog,
and by biomass burning--the clearing by fire of forests and/or
agricultural waste) share this characteristic of large local and
regional differences, with short enough lifetime in the atmosphere that
thorough mixing does not occur. In this particular case, we know that
an important contributor to total tropospheric ozone is its formation
during automotive transport in urban locations, and that such ozone has
a negative effect on humans and agriculture in and downwind of the
locality where it is formed. Therefore, I believe it makes sense to
mount strong efforts to control ozone formation in every urban location
around the world because of the immediate benefits for the local
population, with the diminution of its contribution to the greenhouse
effect as an added global benefit. Recent research has shown that the
downwind effects of ozone in smog can extend for thousands of miles, so
there is even an incentive for countries to assist in smog control for
countries an ocean away. Good knowledge exists now about how to reduce
urban ozone formation (e.g., catalytic converters) but application of
this knowledge tends to wait until the local pollution effects have
already become nearly intolerable.
Question. Just how reliable are computer models? Isn't it true that
two of the models the U.S. relies on (from Britain and Canada) have
produced different results?
Answer from Dr. Barron. Computer models, to a large degree, reflect
the state of the science--our best current ability to represent the
physical processes that govern the climate system. However, climate
models are, of necessity, simplifications of the actual complex natural
system. For this reason, climate model results are characterized by
substantial uncertainty. The U.S. Global Change Research Program
(USGCRP Report 95-01) attempted to quantify the level of reliability of
climate models by holding a forum on Global Change Modeling designed to
examine the use of climate models to inform policy. Although there have
been substantial advances in climate models since this 1995 report, the
structure of the statements on the reliability of climate models is
still appropriate. The reliability of the model results depends on the
scale and on the variable being predicted by the model.
For example, the IPCC and the NRC report ``Climate Change Science''
give a range for the increase in globally averaged surface temperature
(2.5 to 10.4 deg.F) by 2100, relative to 1990. It is considered likely
that an increase within this range will occur. The reasons are
straightforward. We know that greenhouse gases selectively absorb
radiation emitted from the Earth's land, oceans, and clouds and that
there are a number of feedbacks that enhance the direct effects of the
selective absorption. Therefore, warming is very likely with increased
concentrations of greenhouse gases. At issue is not whether the Earth
will warm due to human activities; the issues are how fast and by how
much. By giving a range for the temperature increase, much of the known
uncertainty about climate models is incorporated into the estimate of
future global warming. Hence, climate scientists have confidence that
if greenhouse gas emissions continue according to the IPCC emission
scenarios, then the globally averaged warming will likely fall within
the range of 2.5 to 10.4 deg.F by 2100. Our confidence also begins to
grow with the demonstration that climate models can reproduce the
record of change during the last century when the combined effects of
aerosols, solar variability and greenhouse gases are included as the
forcing terms in the climate models.
On the other hand, specific predictions about the course of climate
change over the next several decades or for specific places on the
earth are far more challenging to predict. Again, the reasons are
relatively straightforward. The year-to-year and decade-to-decade
changes are difficult to predict because there are many different
sources of climate variability and their interactions are complex.
Climate change in specific regions depends on the large-scale
atmospheric circulation and on the local details of factors such as the
land-surface characteristics. So far, it is impossible for global
climate models to include this level of detail using modern computers.
For these reasons, many of the details of climate change over the next
decades and for specific regions of the Earth must be considered
The use of the climate models from the United Kingdom and Canada
for the U.S. National Assessment provides good examples of the nature
of the reliability of climate models. These two models were chosen
following a set of criteria (spatial resolution, the completion of
simulations from 1895 to 2100, ready availability of data, etc.) that
are described in the National Assessment report. In addition, they were
selected precisely because they captured a large part of the difference
in modern climate simulations. Taking the Great Plains as an example,
the U.K. model predicts an increase by 2100 of about 4-5 deg.F while
the Canadian model predicts increases above 10 deg.F. This can be
viewed as evidence of a lack of reliability, but on the other hand, all
models (including these two examples) indicate significant warming. And
importantly, even a climate model at the lower end of the range of
sensitivity to increases in greenhouse gases still indicates a warming
of at least 4-5 deg.F for the Great Plains. These two models also
demonstrate that we know a great deal less about predicting how
variables such as precipitation may change. The precipitation
predictions for the U.S. northeast are very different. The reasons are
that the northeast has a complex land surface, small changes in the
path of winter storms create significant changes in regional
precipitation, and summer precipitation (because of the small spatial
scale of thunderstorms) is difficult to predict using global models.
Therefore, the changes in precipitation predicted by climate models are
associated with great uncertainty, and in fact, the two model results
are very different. There are still other examples where predictions
associated future water availability have higher levels of certainty
even though there are some differences in the prediction of
precipitation. For example, the Canadian model predicts a decrease in
precipitation in the Great Plains south of the Dakotas. The U.K. model
predicts an increase. Yet, both models raise concerns about water
availability. Why? The reason is that both models predict that the
average pattern of the circulation (westerly flow across the Rockies
with subsiding air in the lee of the mountains) will be similar to the
present pattern. Hence, the region will still exhibit a climate that is
typical of the lee of a major mountain range 100 years from now. At the
same time, both models predict warmer temperatures and hence greater
evaporation. Therefore, both models predict a greater tendency toward
future drought in large parts of this region. The Canadian model
predicts the most intense drought conditions.
The above discussion demonstrates that the question of model
reliability is not a matter of simply accepting or rejecting model
results. By considering the range of results and the physical basis for
many of the changes projected by climate models, we can gain more
confidence in many aspects of model predictions. The differences
between models are also of great value. They help guide future research
and ensure that we accept model results only with an understanding of
their physical basis.
Question. What is the current computer modeling ability in the
Answer from Dr. Barron. The current computer modeling ability of
the United States is best articulated in two National Research Council
reports ``Capacity of U.S. Climate Modeling to Support Climate Change
Assessment Activities'' and ``Improving the Effectiveness of U.S.
Climate Modeling.'' The U.S. climate research efforts are arguably the
strongest in the world and have been instrumental in improving our
understanding of climate and climate change. The weakness of the U.S.
efforts is an inability to complete the high-resolution, long-term,
climate simulations that are critical for assessing the impacts of
climate change. The reason is clear--we are far from competitive in
terms of the computational and human resources that are available when
U.S. efforts are compared with a number of international efforts. The
NRC reports cited above state that ``insufficient human and
computational resources are being devoted to high-end, computer-
intensive, comprehensive modeling.'' There are several keys to
improving the effectiveness of the U.S. efforts. These include (a)
providing dedicated resources to enable the U.S. community to focus on
activities that serve societally-important activities, such as national
impact assessments, (b) access to the computer systems that best serve
the needs of the climate modeling community, (c) greater U.S.
coordination across the nation to maximize effectiveness (e.g.
promotion of common modeling infrastructure), (d) resources that enable
the climate modeling community to compete for highly skilled technical
workers and increase graduate student enrollments, and (e) resources
that promote effective delivery of climate services to the nation.
Disparities in the Levels of Warming During the 20th Century: Satellite
vs. Surface Temperatures
Question. As stated in the NAS Report, most of the warming over the
last century occurred before 1940, before large-scale emissions of man-
made greenhouse gases.
Answer from Dr. Rowland. This is a truncation of the actual
statement on page 3 of the NAS Report, which said, ``The observed
warming has not proceeded at a uniform rate. Virtually all the 20th
century warming in global surface air temperature occurred between the
early 1900s and the 1940s and during the past few decades.'' Obviously,
the past few decades have been the ones in which the large-scale
emission of greenhouse gases has occurred. The most probable
explanation for the drop in temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere
between 1945 and 1970 is the presence during that period of an
atmospheric sulfate layer from the burning of high sulfur coal. This
layer reflected some sunlight back to space, providing a cooling effect
to the atmosphere, which has been reduced in recent decades by the
lowering of the sulfur content of the coal used in combustion.
Question. In fact, North America experienced a cooling trend from
1946-1975. In 1975, a NAS report led Science magazine to conclude in
its March 1, 1975, issue that an ``ice age is a real possibility.'' In
February 1973, Science Digest warned, ``Once the freeze starts, it will
be too late.'' And Newsweek, in their April 28, 1975, issue reported
that, ``the Earth's climate seems to be cooling down.''
Of course, the ice age never came and now we're being warned
against massive global warming. Is the span of two or three decades
enough to provide a sound scientific basis to predict future climate
Answer from Dr. Rowland. The meaning of this question is different
depending upon whether the ``is the span of two or three decades enough
. . .'' concerns two or three decades of additional study by the
climate community, or two or three additional decades of accumulated
data. However, my answer to both interpretations is yes. During the
past three decades, the growth in concentrations of carbon dioxide,
methane, nitrous oxide and the chlorofluorocarbons have all been firmly
established, together with temperature increases that have made the
1990s the warmest decade in the 140-year global thermometer-based
temperature record, and the 1980s the second warmest decade.
The strides in understanding of the climate system in the past
three decades have been enormous, and can be seen by examining the
possibility of climate change as understood and expressed in the early
1970s. In the 258-page National Academy Report ``Weather and Climate
Modification. Problems and Progress'', published in 1973, the comment
is made in a short section on Climate Change (p. 152), ``The burning of
fossil fuels contributes to the addition of carbon dioxide to the
atmosphere. Heating of the atmosphere may occur as a result of altering
the character of the surface of the earth or as a result of the release
of heat to the atmosphere through a variety of combustion processes.''
This was followed by two pages (p. 154-155) summarizing what was known
about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In contrast, the Third IPCC
report this year runs to about 3,000 pages.
In 1972, a conference held at M.I.T. had reported after their
consideration of the timing of the ice ages which had occurred at
regular intervals over the past 500,000 years, ``Global cooling and
related rapid changes of environment, substantially exceeding the
fluctuations experienced by man in historical times, may be expected
within the next few millennia or even centuries . . .''. The 1975 NAS
report ``Understanding Climatic Change. A Program for Action'' said (p.
189) ``There seems little doubt that the present period of unusual
warmth will eventually give way to a time of colder climate, but there
is no consensus with regard to either the magnitude or rapidity of the
transition. The onset of this climatic decline could be several
thousand years in the future, although there is a finite probability
that a serious worldwide cooling could befall the earth within the next
hundred years.'' This expectation of eventual global cooling was based
on what seemed the best explanation for the rise and fall of
temperatures during the ice ages which periodically covered large parts
of the Earth over the last few hundred thousand years. This expectation
of an eventual general cooling is still the preferred conclusion from
ice age timing, although improved calculations now place the onset of
any major cooling more than 10,000 years in the future. Such a
statement also implicitly assumes no major interference to the process
Much too frequently, present descriptions of the scientific
statements about the conclusions in the early 1970s do not go back to
the scientific statements themselves, and totally ignore the ``sometime
in the next few thousand years'' nature of these expectations. There is
an enormous difference between an expressed probability of one part in
50 (that is, ``next century'' versus 5,000 years) and the current
evaluation that the activities of mankind are the most likely cause of
the warming occurring now.
Question. Additionally, the NAS report state, ``The causes of these
irregularities and the disparities in the timing are not completely
understood.'' In addition, satellite temperatures, which have only been
available since 1979 show very little warming of the air temperature in
the troposphere over the last 20 years.
First, which do you consider to be more reliable-satellite data, or
surface temperature data gathered by humans in outposts such as Siberia
and boats in the ocean?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. The NRC devoted an entire report to this
question Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change,
released in January 2000. Finding #1 of that report is, ``Surface
temperature is rising. . . . In the opinion of the Panel, the disparity
between surface and upper air temperature trends during 1979-98 in no
way invalidates the conclusion in the IPCC (1996) Report that global
surface temperature has warmed substantially since the beginning of the
20th century. . . . The warming of surface temperature that has taken
place during the last 20-years is undoubtedly real, and it is at a rate
substantially larger than the average warming of the 20th century.
Finding #2 of the report is ``Based on current estimates the lower to
mid troposphere has warmed less than the earth's surface during the
past 20 years. . . .''
Finding #1 represents a strong endorsement of the warming trend
based on the surface observations. Finding #2 represents a somewhat
more qualified endorsement of the much weaker warming trend in
temperatures aloft indicated by the satellite observations.
Question. Second, regarding the disparity between warming of the
surface temperatures and the minor change in the atmospheric
temperatures, this is what the NAS report concluded ``The committee
concurs that the observed differences between surface and tropospheric
temperature trends during the last 20 years is probably real.'' And
that it ``is difficult to reconcile with our current understanding. . .
What do you make of this? If the disparities are real, what does
this mean for long-range climate change?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. Clearly the disparity between surface
temperature trends and upper air trends measured by satellite, remains
one of the important scientific questions for understanding how climate
is changing. As stated in the 2000 NRC report Reconciling Observations
of Global Temperature Change, ``The various kinds of evidence examined
by the panel suggest that the troposphere actually may have warmed much
less rapidly than the surface from 1979 into the late 1990s, due both
to natural causes (e.g., the sequence of volcanic eruptions that
occurred within this particular 20-year period) and human activities
(e.g., the cooling of the upper part of the troposphere resulting from
ozone depletion in the stratosphere).''
The issue of understanding long-range climate change involves
having access to accurate and precise vertical measurements of
temperatures. It is important to note that the disparity in temperature
trends is based on a 20-year record of measurements. However, the
increases in surface temperatures, which reflect a long-term data set,
are consistent with the predicted temperature increases expected given
the measured increase in greenhouse gases. Understanding the complex
feedbacks, which control the vertical distribution of temperature, and
being able to measure it accurately, is one of the challenges facing
the scientific community.
FUTURE CLIMATE CHANGE
Question. According to the NAS report, the scenarios used to
predict future climate change assume the annual greenhouse gas
emissions will continue to accelerate. Yet the report also states the
increase in global CO2 emissions has fallen below the IPCC
scenarios. If this continues to hold true, would that require reducing
estimates for future global warming?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. It would slow the rate of greenhouse
warming, but not level of warming that would ultimately be reached
after all accessible deposits of fossil fuels have been exploited. A
factor that has contributed to lowering the rate of greenhouse gas
emissions in recent years is the conversion form coal to natural gas in
China. After such conversions in China and elsewhere are completed,
emissions are likely to increase more steeply again.
Question. According to Dr. Richard Lindzen, one of your colleagues
on the NAS report, a doubling of carbon dioxide by itself would produce
only a modest temperature increase of one-degree Celsius. Would you
please comment on this?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. The build-up of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere has both a direct and indirect affect on temperature. The
latter defines the ``climate feedback'' and can either amplify or
dampen atmospheric temperature increases. The direct effect of doubling
of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is a 1.2 deg.C
increase in the Earth's mean temperature. The remaining warming would
result from the feedbacks within the system resulting from this
increased temperature. For example, a warming may melt some of the sea
ice. This is a positive feedback because the darker ocean absorbs more
sunlight that the sea ice it replaced. The responses of atmospheric
water vapor amount and clouds are considered to be the most important
global climate feedbacks. Most atmospheric scientists believe that
atmospheric relative humidity and the distribution of clouds will not
change substantially as the climate warms. Under these assumptions, the
direct radiative response to greenhouse warming would be approximately
doubled. Dr. Lindzen believes that relative humidity will drop as the
climate warms and that the fractional area of the tropics covered by
deep clouds will decrease just about enough to cancel the positive
feedback from water vapor. It is the lack of agreement concerning these
hydrologic feedbacks that gives rise to the largest uncertainties about
Question. The NAS report also states ``there are large
uncertainties in underlying assumptions about population growth,
economic development, life style choices, technological change, and
energy alternatives.'' These are some very large variables. Chances are
we will see vast improvements in technology and energy alternatives.
And it seems to me that these kinds of changes could have a large
impact and potentially decrease the estimates for future warming. Would
you please comment on this?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. It is true that there are large
uncertainties in many of these variables that will limit our ability to
make projections of global warming into the future. However, the
lifetime of many of the greenhouse gases in question are long enough
that adding them to the atmosphere today will continue to influence
climate for centuries to come. We also know that it is not going to be
easy to find acceptable alternatives to fossil fuels.
``acceptable concentration levels'' of greenhouse gases
Question. I was very interested in the NAS reaction to the question
about whether there is an ``acceptable concentration level'' of
greenhouse gas emissions. The report stated that determining this would
rely on a variety of factors--but it never answered the question. This
is perhaps one of the most critical question that we, as policymakers,
need answered. If we could be provided with this information, we could
accurately define the policies needed to achieve this goal. Until then,
we're shooting in the dark. Why wasn't that question answered? And when
might the scientific community be able to provide such an answer?
Answer from Dr. Barron. The report attempted to indicate why this
is not a simple question. A ``safe'' concentration depends on the
nature of societal vulnerability, the degree of risk aversion, the
ability to adapt, the valuation of ecosystems, and on the sensitivity
of the Earth system to climate change.
The report cites a significant range in terms of plausible future
climate change (e.g., the increase in globally averaged surface
temperature from IPCC models ranges from 2.5 to 10.4 deg.F) by 2100.
So, human perceptions of what constitutes a ``safe'' concentration will
vary depending on the model sensitivity. This is the reason the report
states that some regions are more sensitive than others to climate
change and that the nature of the impacts will be far greater if the
climate change is associated with a larger increase in globally-
averaged temperature. The difference between 2.5 and 10A deg.F is very
large in terms of potential impacts. Although this range may well
narrow over the next decade, we can expect that assessments of future
climate change will always be described in terms of a range of
plausible outcomes. As with many other aspects of society (e.g.,
insurance, investments, defense) we will have to make decisions even
though some uncertainty remains. The foundation for these decisions
will also become more robust as we develop modeling capabilities that
are better designed to assess the impacts of climate change and invest
more effort into examining the potential consequences of climate
However, even with this additional information, the question will
be difficult to answer because it will depend on value judgments and
viewpoint. The following example is intended to clarify this issue.
Suppose, as occurs in many climate models, that Nebraska and large
parts of the Great Plains are characterized by an increased tendency
toward drought, and that the decreased water availability has a large
negative impact on the region's ability to compete in agricultural
markets. At the same time, regions to the north or elsewhere achieve a
longer growing season and/or have greater water availability, and are
able to produce more crops and be more competitive on the world market.
Many agricultural economists claim that, under these circumstances,
climate change of this magnitude does not have a significant impact.
They reason that human populations are able to produce sufficient food
and fiber, only the place where this food is produced has changed.
However, the residents of Nebraska and the large parts of the Great
Plains might feel very differently. There are many such examples in the
U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts in which there are
both winners and losers, but if we aggregate to a sufficient level, the
impact is much smaller.
The valuation of natural ecosystems provides an even greater
challenge. Many coastal wetlands (e.g., the Everglades) reef systems,
and U.S. alpine environments are at risk according to the U.S. National
Assessment. Many U.S. citizens place great value on these ecosystems,
and therefore, they would place much more stringent criteria on the
definition of ``safe.''
Clearly, scientists need the resources to develop climate model
simulations that are better suited to examining these impacts and the
U.S. needs to invest greater resources into the science of assessing
and evaluating the impacts of climate change. These investments will
yield a stronger foundation for decision-makers. At the same time, the
definition of ``safe'' is likely to continue to be dependent on
viewpoint and value judgments. The impacts will not be uniformly
distributed between nations and regions.
Responses to Questions From Senator Murkowski
Question. Is there a minimum amount of warming that most scientists
would agree is certain to occur given an effective doubling of
greenhouse gas concentrations?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. This question speaks to the importance of
understanding the direct and indirect effects of greenhouse gases.
Scientists are virtually all agreed that a doubling of CO2
would have a direct effect of increasing global mean temperatures by
2.2 deg.F (1.2 deg.C). Most scientists believe that substantial
additional warming would result from the feedbacks within the system
resulting from this increased temperature. For example, a warming may
melt some of the sea ice. This is a positive feedback because the
darker ocean absorbs more sunlight than the sea ice it replaced. The
responses of atmospheric water vapor amount and clouds are considered
to be the most important global climate feedbacks. Most atmospheric
scientists believe that atmospheric relative humidity and the
distribution of clouds will not change substantially as the climate
warms. Under these assumptions, the direct radiative response to
greenhouse warming would be approximately doubled, yielding a global
temperature increase of 4-5 deg.F.
Question. Given the factor of four spread in global mean
temperature predictions by climate models, how should decision-makers
factor into their policy decisions the kinds of uncertainties you
describe with regards to climate change and its impacts?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. This is more a policy question than a
science question. In my view, a prudent course would be to plan for the
mid-range estimates, but to be prepared to make adjustments (either
towards strengthening or relaxing measures to curb CO2
emissions) if we discover that these estimates are too high or too low.
Question. Your report also indicates that emissions of greenhouse
gases have not been rising as fast as has been assumed in climate
Would this slower rate of increase of greenhouse gases imply a
slower rate of climate change than projected?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. Climate change is generally the product of
its forcing by accumulated greenhouse gases (and by other sources of
forcing) multiplied by the sensitivity of the climate system. Both the
accumulated forcing and the sensitivities have uncertainties attached
to them, but whatever the actual sensitivity, a slower rate of increase
of greenhouse gases should mean a slower rate of temperature change and
therefore of climate change.
The caveat here concerns the unstated assumption that change occurs
rather smoothly--a little warmer each decade, a little more rain, etc.
The possibility exists that more than one climate condition, sometimes
quite different from one another, can exist for the world with only
slight differences in the driving forces. Certainly in the past very
different climates from that of the present have existed for a thousand
years or more, and then abruptly altered to enter a still different
climatic state. We have no way of knowing whether the appropriate
metaphor for the present climate is a ``dial'' or a ``switch''.
Question. Your report also indicates that emissions of greenhouse
gases have not been rising as fast as has been assumed in climate
Are there revised climate studies underway using these more modest
emissions projections? What will be the likely result?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. The answer is already in--lesser emissions
lead to lesser concentrations and lesser temperature change in the year
2100. The climate studies of IPCC did not have a lone future projection
of emissions, concentrations and associated temperature change. Rather,
they offered a wide range of such projections--42 scenarios in all.
Comparison of existing scenarios with more modest emission projections
than the average show smaller global temperature changes in the year
2100. The scenarios used for the 3rd IPCC assessment included a wide
range of possible rates of increase, with the variations in assumed
alternate choice especially large for the period 2050-2100. These
choices in the possible amounts of greenhouse gases are the source of
much of the variability in predicted global temperatures for the year
2100. The scenarios were constructed under a directive not to make any
assumptions about possible human choices made out of concern about
climate change. They did, however, investigate, for example, alternate
choices of action versus no action in response to steadily worsening
Question. What advice would you have for policy-makers then? Should
we ignore the Summary for Policy Makers and read the full Technical
Answer from Dr. Barron. As stated in the report ``Climate Change
Science,'' the Summary for Policymakers is consistent with the main
body of the report. The main differences involve the manner in which
the uncertainties are communicated. The SPM conveys levels of
uncertainties through the use of terms such as ``likely'' or ``very
likely.'' In some cases, the nature of the uncertainty is included. For
these reasons, the SPM remains a very useful document. However, more
information on the nature of the uncertainties is included in the
Technical Report and this additional information is likely to enhance
the ability to make good decisions.
Question. How can these concerns be conveyed back to the IPCC in
the hopes that the process of writing the Summary for Policy Makers
yields a result that more accurately reflects gaps in our knowledge as
well as that which we know?
Answer from Dr. Barron. The contents of the report ``Climate Change
Science'' are of great interest to the international community and a
strong U.S. role is critical to the success of the IPCC process.
Consequently, the contents will almost certainly be debated by the
IPCC. A comprehensive review of various ``Assessment'' activities,
ranging from the IPCC to the U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change
Impacts, may be in order. Both of these specific activities have
recently released reports and we have much to learn from examining the
strengths and weaknesses of these important efforts.
Question. Will the National Research Council convey your concerns
with regards to future participation and self-selection to the IPCC
Answer from Dr. Rowland. This report provides guidance to U.S.
policy makers regarding the IPCC following a direct request from the
White House. The current 1PCC Chairman has a copy of the full NAS
report. Many significant positive changes were made by the IPCC in the
preparation of this Third Report in response to various comments
received during and after the preparation of the Second Report,
published in 1995.
Question. Is if fair to say that this report does not agree with
the sentiment that the science of climate change is ``settled''?
Answer from Dr. Barron. The science of climate change is far from
``settled.'' This is reflected by the range of climate model results
and the number of uncertainties described within the report and the
importance of these uncertainties in developing sound policies.
However, the fact that there are uncertainties does not abrogate the
fact that temperatures are rising and that the changes observed over
the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities,
although we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes
is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming is
also expected to continue through the 21st century. The mid-range of
the IPCC estimates for the increase in globally-averaged surface
temperatures (5.4 deg.F), based on the premise that concentrations of
greenhouse gases will continue to increase, stems from state-of-the-
science models and is also consistent with other measures of climate
sensitivity. Therefore, climate change is a critical problem and the
national policy decisions that we make will influence the extent of any
damage suffered by vulnerable human populations and ecosystems.
Question. Isn't this conclusion at odds with those in the media and
interest groups active on this issue who say that your report is a
``call to action''?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. Who should bear the burden of proof--those
who call for actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions or those who
oppose such actions--is a question of ethics, not science. In my view,
to insist on draconian measures designed to avert even a remote threat
of harm from global warming is absurd, but no more so than to insist on
absolute certainty concerning the science of greenhouse warming as a
prerequisite for taking any action to avert the risk. Those who regard
our report as ``a call to action'' believe the threat of serious
consequences of global warming is serious enough to warrant action at
this time to slow the rate of increase of carbon emissions. Based on
their reading of our report, they consider these consequences to be not
just a remote threat, but a probable outcome, unless actions are taken.
Question. What can the scientific community do to improve media
reporting on not only the certain findings of scientific research, but
also the uncertainties that remain?
Answer from Dr. Barron. It is a challenge for the scientific
community to influence the manner in which the media communicates
scientific results. However, the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology,
along with the major federal agencies that support research and
operational atmospheric science activities, have recently asked the
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate to address this topic as a
key part of its focus on ``Communication in the Atmospheric Sciences''
during its summer workshop to be held August 7-11, 2001.
Question. Do you believe that any future U.S. climate change policy
should make a value judgment on what this ``safe'' level is and
organize its programs and policies towards that goal?
Answer from Dr. Wallace. Given the wildly differing value judgments
concerning greenhouse warming and its consequences, it would be very
difficult to achieve a consensus on this issue.
Question. The NRC committee opted not to--for good reason, I
think--address the issue of what constitutes a ``safe level'' of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, preferring to state that it is a
value judgment that requires consideration of a number of complex
How can scientific research inform such a discussion--particularly
if there are as many shortcoming in our understanding of the Earth
system as your report describes?
Answer from Dr. Rowland. Almost every decision governments (and
people) make about the future is done with imperfect information, often
with quite incomplete information. Will countries X, Y, or Z decide to
try to develop nuclear or biological weapons, or procedures to disrupt
the internet? Will they succeed, and if they do, what should we do? On
a different level for which more and better information is available,
what are the most likely forms of influenza virus to break out next
year and should therefore be included in this year's flu vaccine?
The NAS report rightly describes the uncertainties in our knowledge
of the ingredients, which make up climate. What scientific research
will do is continue to narrow the uncertainties, providing better
information on which to base actions with future implications. However,
the climate system includes many facts for which the present
uncertainty is very small, and we shouldn't let the less-well-defined
obscure the significance of what we already know rather well. The
amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was larger at the end of the
1990s than it was at the end of the 1980s, and that statement has been
true for every decade compared with the previous decade for the last
200 years. The probability that the concentration of carbon dioxide
will be higher in 2010 than it was in 2000 is not really in question,
and the increase every decade will almost certainly continue until the
middle of the 21st century and beyond even if actions begin now. Will
the global average temperature rise if the carbon dioxide concentration
continues to increase? Very high probability. Will this temperature
increase have more adverse than beneficial effects on a global basis?
In my opinion, quite likely.