|Climate Protection and the National Interest (WRI, 1997, 56 pages)|
Five years after the United States signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change, little progress has been made in limiting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. A major reason for this inaction is the belief - erroneous, we think - that the costs of reducing emissions, especially carbon dioxide emissions, will be large and immediate, while the benefits remain distant and uncertain. A new WRI study, Climate Protection and the National Interest: The Links Among Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Energy Security, by World Resources Institute Senior Associate James MacKenzie helps sort out the benefits of controlling greenhouse gas emissions, not only in reducing the risks of global warming, but in cutting air pollution and enhancing national security as well.
As the United States prepares for the Climate Summit in Kyoto in December, it should recognize that measures to cope with climate change need not - indeed, should not - be thought of as financial burdens. Rather, they represent major business opportunities to develop and introduce new environmentally friendly energy technologies that will address not only the climate problem but other vexing national problems as well. For example, technologies that combat climate change can also help abate air pollution. And measures to cut carbon emissions from vehicles will enhance national security by cutting oil imports from unstable regions of the world. Climate change, air pollution, energy security. All are interconnected because they are rooted in our consumption of fossil fuels. Policy based on a clear appreciation of this synergy will rely on cost-effective integrated approaches rather than costly stop-gap measures that characterize past, piecemeal approaches to individual environmental problems.
The linkages among these problems provide a useful framework for business leaders and policy-makers to approach long-term corporate and economic planning. In the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, greater business investment will be needed for more energy- efficient and sustainable technologies. The markets for these technologies will be global and represent enormous opportunities for growth across the U.S. economy. As the worlds largest consumer of energy and a leader in cutting-edge environmental technology, the United States can play a key role in this transition from a largely fossil-fuel dependent economy to one based on renewable and more sustainable forms of energy.
The World Resources Institute through its Climate Protection Initiative is reaching out to the business community to form partnerships to identify sound policies and strategies to achieve climate protection goals. This effort is based on the belief that climate protection and a sound economy can co-exist. As Climate Protection and the National Interest shows, the links among climate change, air pollution, and energy security lend themselves to creative solutions that will yield important benefits not only for the climate but in other areas as well. But we can only achieve these optimal results if policy-makers and business leaders understand these links.
We at the World Resources Institute hope that Climate Protection and the National Interest will help the business community to appreciate the opportunities that will open up as policies evolve to protect Earth s climate. And we hope that this report will be helpful to those searching for sound overall policies to combat these complex and interrelated problems.
We would like to thank the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Summit Foundation, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their support of WRI's Climate Protection Initiative under whose auspices this report was prepared. We also thank The Joyce Foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and The Pew Charitable Trust for their support of WRI's work on climate, energy, and pollution issues.
World Resources Institute