debate is over. The science is in. The time to act is now. Global
warming is a serious issue facing the world. We can protect our
environment and leave California a better place without harming our
-California Governor Arnold
that undertakes a climate protection program will need to set a
target for reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The targets
cities set should be tied to the various scientific studies that
calculate the amount of reductions necessary by various dates in the
future. They should be as aggressive as possible while still being
achievable. Some communities are ready to move rapidly to protect
the climate; others will wish to move more slowly. The goal each city adopts
will depend on how quickly it is ready to move.
typically follow one of several approaches:
goals set by the Kyoto Protocol: This is not
an ambitious goal, but more than 300 cities have joined the U.S.
Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in committing to meet or beat
them. The Kyoto Protocol goals set for the U.S. are to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases 7% below 1990 levels by 2012.
cities and other jurisdictions have set their own goals, which may
be more or less ambitious.
The New York State Energy Plan set a
goal of 5% below 1990 levels by 2010 and 10% below 1990 levels by
are adopting more ambitious goals and longer-range goals.
The city of Portland and
Multnomah County, Oregon, chose a level of 10% reductions below 1990
levels by 2010.
chose 20% below 1990 levels by 2010.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
picked 20% below 1990 levels, splitting the dates of attainment to
2007 for corporate business activities and 2012 for community
governments and companies have adopted goals ranging from cutting
emissions in half to eliminating them entirely to achieve carbon
“neutrality.” Examples from the public and private sectors include:
Seattle City Light, a
municipal utility, set a target of zero net emissions that was
achieved in 2005 through a purchase of 300,000 tons of GHG offsets
Fort Carson Mountain Post, U.S. Army set a goal of 100%
renewable energy by 2027.
DuPont set corporate goals of
65% reduction over 1990 levels by 2010, and has already met that
target for its global operations, with a savings to date of $3
Interface Inc.’s “Mission
Zero” commitment to “eliminate any negative impact our company may
have on the environment by 2020” includes a goal that all fuels and
electricity will be from renewable sources.
increasing number of cities are joining Chicago Climate Exchange:
Over 200 members, including
six cities and King County, Washington (as of September 2006) have
committed to the legally binding requirements of the Chicago Climate
Exchange (CCX). Cities that join CCX get a comprehensive carbon
calculator, as well as externally verified, third party audits of
their performance. CCX requires its city members to reduce
emissions from municipal operations a total of 6% by 2010 from a
baseline of the average emissions of
1998-2001. Annual requirements from the baseline from 2006 to 2009
are: 2007: 4.25%; 2008: 4.5%; 2009: 5%.
Based on the
best estimates by climate scientists at the time (1996) the Kyoto
Protocol set the base date of 1990 as the level of carbon emissions
to reduce below. Many cities have followed this lead. However,
many jurisdictions will find that they were not keeping records of
their carbon emissions at that time. Depending on the results of
the baseline inventory process (see Chapter 3), and the community’s
level of comfort with the accuracy of the baseline data of 1990
emission levels, there may be reasons to set a different point in
time from which to measure carbon reductions.
jurisdictions have chosen goals that will reduce emissions from what
they are at the time of goal setting:
Salt Lake City, Utah Mayor’s
Executive Order requires city operations to achieve a 21% reduction
from 2001 to 2006.
Vermont, pledged in 2000 to achieve a 10% reduction of 2000
emissions by 2010.
a 50% reduction from “present levels” (2005) by 2050.
establish 1990 or other historic baselines, cities such as Los
Angeles and Berkeley, California established emission reduction
goals compared to the emission levels expected from a “business as
usual” projection of future emissions.
aims to reduce 30% of electricity purchases for city operations by
aims to achieve 15% reductions below emissions that have been
projected for 2010.
reduction pledges, such as those represented by the Kyoto Protocol
and embodied in the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement are a good
start. However, increasingly clear scientific evidence of the speed and
severity of global warming is eliciting calls from scientists and
business and political leaders throughout the world for stronger
actions than those called for by the Kyoto Protocol.
In 2000, the
British Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded that
the U.K. needed to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. It
stated that such a target would be needed to “prevent excessive
climate change” by keeping levels of CO2 in the atmosphere below 550
parts per million (ppm).
The U.K. government formally adopted this goal. The Commission
recommended a short-term goal of 20% carbon reduction by 2010. The
government initially set this target, but recently scaled back to
15-18% reduction by 2010, as it struggles with the initial
reluctance to change, and the difficulties of getting such a program
coherent national mechanism to limit carbon emissions, U.S.
emissions increased 20% from 1990 to 2003,
despite the economy becoming about 20% less carbon intensive.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts a 75% growth in
global emissions from 2003 to 2030.
Observers around the world fear that unless the U.S. undertakes more
aggressive reduction plans there will be little hope of controlling
In October 2006
a report commissioned by British Prime Minister Blair was released.
Its author, the former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Sir
Nicolas Stern, stated that the planet faces catastrophe unless
urgent measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Report stated that the world has the means to avert catastrophe
from global warming although it will involve the huge expense of 1%
of global GDP (£0.3trn). This may seem
like an untenable amount of money to spend, but the report warned
that if it is not done, global warming could cost the world's
economies up to 20% of their gross domestic product (GDP). The
report called for "a rapid increase in research and development of
low carbon technologies”.
warned that 200 million people are at risk of being driven from
their homes by flood or drought by 2050. Four million square
kilometres of land, home to
one-twentieth of the world's population, is threatened by floods
from melting glaciers. It observed that 35,000 Europeans died in
the 2003 heatwave, an event likely to become 'commonplace'.
To prevent these
and worse disasters, the report found, it would be necessary to
spent £200bn, or 1% of global GDP every year. Failure to take such
action to limit climate change, the report warned, would force the
world’s economies to spend up to 20% of their GDP each year to deal with the floods, storms, fires, droughts and other
catastrophes. The technology does exist to confront the challenge,
the report stated, the financing public and private does exist, so
it doesn’t have to be a catastrophe, but it’s a challenging
message. In fact, the report finds reducing climate change could
become one of the world’s biggest growth industries, generating
around £250bn of business globally by 2050.
The Stern Report
reckons that such aggressive action would enable “carbon dioxide
levels to "stabilize" at 550ppm. This accords with scientists’
predictions that a 70-80% reduction of climate changing emissions
from all sources will be needed to “stabilize” concentrations of
GHGs in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century
at approximately double pre-industrial levels of CO2 in the
however, fear that even these levels would be too high. They point
out that the word “stabilise,” is misleading, however. Given the
time lags in global climate, it will take at least another 50 years
for the climate to stabilize at any particular level. There is
intense debate between scientists about how high concentrations can
rise before life as we know it cannot survive.
The level in the
atmosphere of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, stood at
280 parts per million by volume (ppm) before the Industrial
Revolution, in about 1780. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere today
stands at 382 ppm.
unthinkable dislocation in present energy practices, concentrations
of GHGs will inevitably reach 400 ppm in 10 years. Scientists
believe that this is the upper limit that can be safely maintained.
At a level of 450 ppm, the world would see a 4-5 F degree increase
in temperature, an interference with the climate system that
essentially all climate scientists consider dangerous.
The Stern report
6C is a
"plausible" estimate of how much world temperatures could rise by
the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions are unchecked
40% of the
world's species would face extinction if temperatures rose by 2C
people will suffer from water shortage if temperatures rise by 2C
35 per cent
drop in crop yields across Africa and the Middle East is expected if
temperatures rise by 3C
more people could be exposed to hunger if world temperatures rise by
2C (550 million more people could be at risk of hunger if world
temperatures rise by 3C).
reinforces itself, and is now occurring must faster than had been
predicted. Key factors include:
Loss of ice
reflection. As ice near the poles melts, incoming sunlight will
reach either oceans or land rather than being reflected back into
space by white ice sheets or caps. Greater absorption of solar
energy by land and water will raise temperatures and higher land or
ocean surface temperatures will further speed the melting of
permafrost in northern latitudes. If Arctic permafrost continues to
thaw, there is the potential for large releases of carbon in the
form of carbon dioxide and/or methane. For example, the Siberian
permafrost (400,000 sq. miles) alone is estimated to have the
potential to release methane equivalent to decades of human activity
if it thaws.
Methane is a more potent GHG than CO2
especially at high latitudes, speeds up dead plant material
decomposition, releasing more carbon as either CO2
scientists thus agree that the goal should be to peak at the lowest
level of emissions possible and then drop from there until the world
reaches levels well be low pre-industrial concentrations.
Union (EU) countries as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden
have set long-term goals ranging from 50% to 80% reductions.
Germany targeted all GHGs. Sweden set targets based on per capita
emissions. The EU Environment Council has
recommended that developed countries set goals of 15-30% by 2020 and
60 to 80% by 2050 below 1990 levels.In
2004, the Network of European Environment and Sustainable
Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) advocated political commitments
to goals of a 30% GHG reduction by 2020 and 70% by 2050.
In 2006, the
1,300 members of the Climate Alliance of European Cities with
Indigenous Rainforest Peoples resolved to reduce CO2 emissions 10%
every five years, reaching emission levels 50% below 1990 by 2030.
The resolution aims for a climate stabilization goal of 2.5 metric
tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per person,
approximately 25% of current emissions levels in the UK and Belgium.
California Governor Schwarzenegger set a California target of 80%
reduction of GHGs from 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim target
to reduce emissions by 2020 to 1990 levels.
2006, the Global Warming Solution Act, known as AB 32 passed was
passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
The2020 target was adopted as a statewide “limit” for greenhouse gas
emissions. The law sets a mandatory cap on carbon emissions and
establishes a trading regime by which companies failing to meet the
goal may face fines unless they purchase other entities excess
20, 2005, seven states announced an agreement to implement the
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as outlined in a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) signed by the Governors of the participating
states. The states that agreed to sign the MOU are Connecticut,
Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.
The MOU outlines the program in detail, including the framework for
a Model Rule. Participating
states would set requirements beginning in 2009 for its GHG
emitters. Emitters would be required to reduce emissions by 2012 or
Institute of Architects and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have
endorsed a minimum 50% reduction in fossil fuel consumption in
building construction and operation by 2010, with further reductions
of 10% annually for five years. Their long-term goal is carbon
neutrality for all new and renovated buildings by 2035.
process lays out a 15-step approach that cities may follow to
undertake an initial goal-setting process.
Establish the timeframe for which to set goals.
The timeframe should give a community enough time to implement a
reasonable program, but should include periodic benchmarks so that
the climate protection effort is not just passed on to a future
administration. It is worth building in the ability to revisit the
goals, in case the science or local circumstances dictate
strengthening or altering the goals as time goes by.
Set the most aggressive goal that the political climate will
U.S. communities, being among the world’s largest emitters
of GHGs, should set the strongest goals possible unless compelling
evidence demonstrates that they would face severe economic and/or
human health consequences.
In the wake of the Stern report, British Ministers were drawing up a
Climate Change Bill, which would enshrine in law the long-term
target of reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2050.
Determine whether there is sufficient political will to
simply set a goal or whether greater community support must be
obtained before such a goal can be established. ICLEI suggests that
mayors pass a resolution setting the goal to ensure longevity of the
climate protection program.
Establish the implementation plan that the city will follow
to ensure adherence with the stated goal.
Many communities form
citizen task forces to help determine appropriate actions for their
In the event that the Mayor cannot simply declare a goal by
Executive Order, outline the strategy needed to produce the
Determine whether it will be necessary to establish legal
findings to support inclusion of adopted goals into decision-making
procedures of the city, including land use regulations, which
require legally defensible findings.
Determine the best way to obtain the information necessary to
enable officials to set a goal.
At a minimum, it will be necessary
to calculate the city’s emissions at present, set the baseline date
against which the target will be measured, and establish the ability
to calculate emissions going forward.
Some cities hire consultants to
obtain the necessary data.
Denver used local university students supervised by a professor.
Some cities have an environmental department with sufficient staff
to undertake the analysis.
The use of local and non-local
scientific and technological expertise brings up a strategic
choice. Local experts and examples of sustainable behavior can be
much more powerful motivators for local businesses than consultants
or examples from afar. On the other hand, non-local experts can
legitimize sustainability and/or climate change efforts as
being on the global cutting edge.
Consider whether to partner with
other cities in the region or state to obtain information that might
apply to more than one community in order to reduce costs. Examine the climate change goals of other communities (particularly
those in the region and/or state) and determine the implications of
such goal choices (i.e. are there synergies to be achieved through
goal consistency on a regional or state basis).
Consider the creation of a Citizen Advisory Commission.
If a citizen
advisory commission for either climate change or general
sustainability has not yet been established, determine whether this
would enhance climate protection efforts. Be sure to create a
Commission with sufficient diversity and resources to be credible
and balanced in its development of climate strategies. Ensure
sufficient business community involvement to give the commission’s
work a strong economic development component. A citizen commission
can also be useful in developing a local action plan.
Leading examples include:
Boulder County Sustainability Task
Force, Boulder County, Colorado
Denver Greenprint Council
Aspen Global Warming Alliance, Aspen
Portland/ Multnomah County Sustainable Development
Commission, Portland Oregon
Alliance for Climate Action,
Green Ribbon Commission on Climate
Protection, Seattle Washington
Consider whether the climate goals should be integrated with
existing plans and progress indicators.
Most of the actions a community will take to address climate change
will make local companies more profitable. Similarly, a good
climate protection program can increase the effectiveness of city
and other local government operations. Often, however, existing
policies, plans and regulations form barriers that will impede
cost-effective climate change actions by municipal and community
members. The analysis should examine opportunities to help the
local economy and improve quality of life through climate change
revisions. This process should conduct a review of land use and
development policies and other goals of the city’s comprehensive
plans. Leading examples include:
Aspen Climate Impact Assessment,
Economic and Technology Advancement
Advisory Committee, State of California (to assist with regulatory
Consider whether to
undertake a local/regional climate change risk analysis.
It may be useful to conduct a science-based analysis of the likely
local physical effects that are expected to result from climate
change. Such an analysis will bring climate concerns home and build
greater stakeholder support. Stakeholder education efforts can then
include what can be forecast about climate change risks to your
ecology and economy. This analysis will also help citizens,
businesses and governments plan for what is coming.
Leading examples include:
University of Washington Climate
Impacts Report (for Pacific Northwest)
City of Santa Monica Solar Potential
Study (1997) and Community Energy Independence Initiative (2006),
Santa Monica California
The European project AMICA has
developed a methodology for cities to use in development of a
climate-change sensitive regional development strategy.
Climate Alliance of European Cities, which offers a model set of
progress indicators towards climate stabilization.
Scan Carbon Trading
The economics of achieving GHG reduction goals have changed with the
advent of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). Such major
metropolitan areas as Chicago, Portland, Berkeley, Oakland, Boulder and others have
determined that the procedures that CCX uses to establish the city’s
baseline, the third-party verification that CCX provides, and the
potential for greater returns from selling reductions in GHGs made
it worthwhile to make the legally binding commitment to reduce their
emissions by becoming CCX members. It is worth conducting a scan of
the trading opportunities that CCX offers and how they may affect
the economics of reaching your climate change goals.
Bring the results of
the assessments together as quickly as possible, preferably within
six months, in order to keep momentum up.
The findings will inform adoption of goals, and will support work to
develop a Climate Action Plan (Chapter 5). If there is a desire to
move more quickly, develop a local action plan at the same time as
the goal-setting process. It should be possible to develop both
strong short- and long-term goals and a Climate Action Plan in under
regulations and resources to maximize GHG reductions to the extent
technologically feasible and cost-effective
(as per California’s
Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006).
Establish enforceable short- and long-term total emissions
goals that estimate the implementation of maximum feasible and
Define “cost-effective” as any
investment with up to a ten-year payback (as per the energy
efficiency strategy of the U.S. Department of Defense).
Include a per-capita goal that psychologically reinforces the
duty of every citizen to adjust their own life choices to play their
part – such as the Swedish goal described below.
Revise the goals at
least every five years.
If the process
outlined above seems too ambitious at first, consider starting with
the simpler steps, and then undertake the more complicated steps as
you develop expertise and political will.
In addition to
the variables described above, there are other factors to consider
in setting a target for climate protection. These include:
of measurement to use:
Total GHG emissions vs. per
capita GHG emissions vs. carbon/GHG intensity
Gross emissions vs. net
Carbon only vs.
fundamental choices exist regarding how to measure greenhouse or
climate change goals:
primary measurement strategies;
gross or net measurement; and
carbon only versus all GHGs.
change goals will interact with population growth, economic
development and emissions rates. A simple formula is:
(Population) X (Per capita GDP) X
(GHG intensity*) = total GHG emissions.
* GHG intensity is defined as GHG
emissions per dollar of GDP generated in a given time period
caps set the total amount of GHGs that can be emitted;
the most meaningful measure is actual GHGs being put into the
atmosphere. A goal or limit of total emissions can be achieved by
reducing any or all of the three
variables in the equation above. As described above, most cities
and nations have adopted goals like the Kyoto Protocol that would
limit total emissions. Total emissions goals are stronger than
goals based on limits to carbon intensity or per capita limits.
total emissions limitation goals include:
California’s “Global Warming Solutions Act 2006” sets a statewide “limit” of no
more than the 1990 level of emissions in 2020. The Act mandates
development of regulations and programs that will promote the
maximum implementation of “technologically feasible and
Protocol implementation by the EU has set limits for the industrial
sector, for each country as well as sector-by-sector. This approach
means that limits are set for all major GHG producers. The limits
are calibrated to achieve the EU’s commitment of 8% total reductions
from 1990 levels by 2008-12.
reduction goals can be stated on a per capita basis. Sweden
translated its overall emissions goal of 50% reduction from 2005 to
2050 into a per capita goal of achieving 4.5 million tons of CO2
emitted per person. Its emissions at the time were 8 million tons
To achieve its
total emissions reduction goals, Sweden’s population will have to
government (as per policy statement by President Bush in 2002, not
enacted into law) is aiming for an 18% reduction in carbon intensity
from 2002-2012. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the
U.S. economy has been steadily reducing its carbon intensity for the
past two decades through energy efficiency, and through the steady
transition of the U.S. economy from energy-intensive heavy
manufacturing and light manufacturing to services during the past
goals or intensity goals leave room for total GHG emissions to
increase if the population or per capita GDP increase faster than
the reduction of emissions per capita or GHG intensity.
in intensity does not necessary mean a decrease in actual GHG
emissions. As a measure of progress, carbon intensity must be used
with caution. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) chart
below illustrates that while U.S. carbon intensity is decreasing,
actual GHG emissions are projected by EIA to rise significantly by
Figure: Energy Information Administration
cities have generally chosen to set gross emissions goals (i.e.
without subtracting for carbon absorption), the international
reporting system established by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change for the Kyoto Protocol recognizes an “aggregate”
emissions reporting basis in which gross emissions are offset by
credits for potential emissions absorption, for example, from
tree planting. The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the
Kyoto Protocol, upon which it is based, are aggregate emissions
Protocol recognizes and regulates six GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2),
methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6),
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
Climate Protection Agreement represents a goal for “global warming
pollutants,” meaning the six Kyoto GHGs. The reporting requirements
of the Chicago Climate Exchange also include all GHGs converted to
CO2 equivalents. These and most GHG reporting and goals call for
the reduction of all GHGs; however, they convert measurements of the
other gases to metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MtCO2e) in
which the other five GHG emissions are converted to the equivalent
amounts of CO2. This is a good practice. Capturing all GHGs is
important because all the other GHGs have more warming potential of
CO2. Thus, even smaller releases of these gases can have dangerous
impacts on the climate. Doing this, however, requires
more sophisticated measures of sources of emissions than just
tracking fossil energy use.
regional governments have increasingly been held accountable to
specific outcomes, particularly with regard to environmental and
health regulations. Stakeholder efforts since the early 1990s to
create “progress,” “sustainability” or other quality of life
indicators are based on the concept of identifying specific outcomes
that the community wishes to achieve, and implementing management
systems to ensure these outcomes. Climate change outcomes are no
different. Good goals, policies and activities should be tied to
consensus outcomes that are measurable and that contribute towards
all of the positive outcomes the community desires. Climate
stabilization and economic development are two primary goals that
should drive your climate protection program.
emissions of GHGs to rise is risking the ability of the Earth to
support life as we have known it. GHG levels now present in the
atmosphere are unprecedented in human history and are increasing
Given that our GHG emissions to date already have created climate
instability, stabilizing emissions at approximately double the
preindustrial level of GHGs in the atmosphere is likely to mean
accepting a very different climate than we experience today, one
about 4 to 5 degrees F warmer than in the year 2000. As stated in
the science primer at the beginning of this chapter, that will
result in enormous dislocations around the globe.
stabilization at some relatively safe level is widely agreed by
scientists to be preferable to allowing a continued rise in
atmospheric levels of GHGs that would mean temperature increases
more than twice this great and the much greater instability this
stabilization may require setting far more aggressive goals than
cities have done to date. It is better to start somewhere, even if
it is an inadequate goal, than to set no goals at all. However,
city leaders should prepare themselves and their citizens for the
likelihood that far tougher standards will be necessary.
Mitigation Initiative at Princeton University approaches the climate
change challenge as a choice between two scenarios. A
business-as-usual (or do-nothing) scenario of continuing the
historic growth of GHG emissions since 1976 to 2056, would lead to a
tripling of atmospheric carbon from pre-industrial levels, with 14
billion tons of carbon added annually. The second strategy would
hold annual carbon emissions at seven billion tons until 2056, then
cut emissions in half for the following century to avoid doubling
atmospheric carbon from pre-industrial levels.
Carbon Mitigation Initiative
outlines 16 basic strategies (below) to achieve the stabilization
strategy. Each of the strategies would result in the reduction of
about a billion tons of carbon a year. To hold emissions at 7
billion tons annually the world would need to implement seven of the
measures below. Reducing emissions further could be achieved by
implementing more measures:
efficiency and conservation
Increase fuel economy of two billion autos from 30 to 60 MPG
Cut average use of two billion autos (at 30 miles per gallon
(MPG)) from 10,000 miles/year to 5,000
use in buildings 25%
Fuel switching (“power generation” and
“alternative energy sources”)
Drive two billion autos (at 60 MPG) on ethanol instead of
Improve power generation efficiency at 1,600 large (1,000 MW)
coal-fired electric powerplants from 40 to 60%
Replace 1,400 large coal-fired plants with gas-fired plants
Increase wind-generated electricity 80-fold to make hydrogen
Increase solar-generated electricity 700-fold to displace
coal-fired power plants
Increase wind-generated electricity 40-fold to displace
coal-fired power plants
Double nuclear power plant output to displace coal-fired
power plants (or increase nuclear power plant output by a factor of
five to displace all coal plants—achieving more than double the
Expand conservation tillage to 100% of cropland
Stop all deforestation
Curtail emissions of methane (primarily from agricultural
Install Carbon Capture & Storage systems at all
coal-to-syngas plants (that make enough syngas to replace 1/3 of
today’s oil production)
Install Carbon Capture & Storage systems at coal-fired power plants that make hydrogen for
1.5 billion vehicles
Install Carbon Capture & Storage systems at 800 large
coal-fired power plants
note that setting a price for carbon emissions between $100 and $200
per ton—enough to make it cheaper for owners of coal plants to
sequester carbon rather than vent it—is required to “jump-start” the
needed transition. The current price (as of January, 2007) on both
the Chicago Climate Exchange and the European Exchange is running
between $4 and $5. They also note that holding global population to
eight billion rather than the projected nine billion would also be
the equivalent of reducing emissions by one billion tons over
forecasts, and would thus count as one of the seven strategies
Goals must also
consider local and global issues of carbon equity (or environmental
justice). These sorts of issues have been central to international
climate change negotiations:
that are now more carbon / GHG intensive (like the U.S.) need to
adopt more aggressive goals in order to make room for carbon-based
economic development of less developed nations, at least in the
carbon-intensive personal lifestyles (motor sports, and long
distance air travel) need to be more aggressively regulated in order
to allow some growth of carbon-usage by the community’s
These are thorny
issues that frequently derail efforts to reach international
agreement on carbon / GHG reductions. It is unlikely that
individual cities will be able to resolve them, but awareness of
them is important.
Since the 1970s,
advocates for environmental health have demonstrated that
well-designed environmental protection measures increase economic
Yet the climate change debates in the U.S. have featured unfortunate
and acrimonious claims that economic competitiveness and growth
would be unacceptably diminished by climate change efforts. The
discussion in Chapter 2 of this manual shows that there is actually
a strong business case for aggressively reducing emissions of GHGs.
Based on reading the report on which Chapter 2 of this manual is
based, the Chamber of Commerce of Boulder, Colorado switched from
opposing a proposed municipal carbon tax to supporting it.
discussions must examine all sides of the issue: the economic
consequences of runaway climate change as well as the potential
costs or benefits of responsibly addressing it. As the Stern Report
in the UK found, the costs of doing nothing may far exceed any costs
of action. The California Global Warming Solutions Act leads with a
warning for other U.S. states and regions:
Global warming poses a serious threat
to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources, and
the environment of California. Global warming will have detrimental
effects on some of California’s largest industries, including
agriculture, wine, tourism, skiing, recreational and commercial
fishing and forestry.
climate change strategies would diminish economic health are largely
based on the unexamined expectation that the only way to elicit
reductions of energy use would be to require higher energy costs for
businesses and consumers. However, as described by economic
analysts at the non-profit research center, Redefining Progress:
. . . credible economic models estimate
that controlling U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases would result in
less than a 0.5% one-time loss of Gross
Domestic Product (GDP). Public policies with significant impacts are usually phased in over
time. Assuming a ten-year transition period, this approach would
amount to reduced growth of
GDP and real income of less than one tenth of 1% per year. Pessimistic
studies estimate that real GDP per employee will grow from $54,000 in 1995 to $61,000 in 2010 under
Kyoto Protocol commitments.
projections supported the U.K. government’s commitment to a 60%
reduction goal by 2050.
climate change investments by the private sector (and public sector
organizations through management of their own operations) actually
achieve strong rates of return—far beyond the cost of money (the
bottom-line of investment returns). These rates of return are
amplified if fossil fuel energy prices increase faster than the rate
of inflation. Unless a government is prepared to make the case that
fossil fuel energy will decrease in real dollar costs (a very
difficult case to make in a time of diminishing U.S. production and
global reserves, increasing global demand and increasing
availability of cost-effective substitutes), community policies that
support reduced fossil fuel dependence will enhance your community’s
protection programs also confer economic development benefits.
These include quality of life improvements and reduction of indirect
costs (such as costs of traffic congestion) as well as increased job
The U.S. Mayors
Climate Protection Agreement states:
. . . many cities throughout the nation,
both large and small, are reducing global warming pollutants through
programs that provide economic and quality of life benefits such as
reduced energy bills, green space preservation, air quality
improvements, reduced traffic congestion, improved transportation
choices, and economic development and job creation through energy
conservation and new energy technologies. . .
development case was important to the Seattle Green Ribbon
Commission’s 2006 findings and recommendations:
One of the primary obstacles to
responsible climate policy is the perception that reducing fossil
fuel use will be economically costly. We believe the opposite is
true. The road to a more climate-friendly community is paved with
economic opportunities ranging from cost-savings for families to new
business development for companies. For example, the state’s new
“clean car” standards are projected to save drivers $2,500-$3,000 in
fuel costs over the life of the vehicle, while reducing global
warming pollution by 25-30% per vehicle. Similarly, investing in
more energy efficient homes and businesses creates local jobs. And,
here in Seattle, new jobs already are being created by
climate-friendly businesses engaged in sustainable building design
and biodiesel production.
of governments including economic development goals in their climate
change efforts are:
Colorado Climate Action Plan;
State Energy Strategy 2006;
development goals are included in the sustainability indicators of
Santa Monica, California;
and the recommended indicators of the Pikes Peak Sustainability Indicators
Compels Strong Action, Physical basics: how and why GHGs affect
World Resources Institute
Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, a project of the United Nations Environment
Programme and the WMO, especially “Climate Change 2001: The
Tim Flannery, The
Weathermakers, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006.
predictions of global physical effects
“The Scientific Consensus on
Climate Change,” Essays Beyond the Ivory Tower, 2004.
The Climate Group’s “About
Climate Change” Case studies of companies and governments
ClimateArk’s Climate Change
and Global Warming Portal and its Climate Change Overview.
Climate Change Impacts on
the United States: The Potential
Consequences of Climate Variability and Change”, US Global Change
Research Program, Cambridge University Press 2000.
predictions of local physical effects
“Climate Change Impacts on the
United States – the Potential
Consequences of Climate Variability and Change,” prepared by U.S.
Global Change Research Program, 2000.
Technology and Innovation
Opportunities: US Government National Climate Change Technology
Daniel R. Abbasi, “Americans
and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action – A
Synthesis of Insights and Recommendations from the 2005 Yale F&ES
Conference on Climate Change,” 2006.
Climate Initiative Call to Action, United States, 2006.
Center, especially corporate
commitments made through the Business Environmental Leadership
Disclosure Project supports progress towards corporate reporting of
climate change impacts.
a project of the Presidio School of Management, provides a system
for people to offset the climate impacts of their driving.
Climate Forum includes recent information developed by the EU.
for Climate Protection Campaign
Seattle, Green Ribbon Commission – Resources for Local Governments
The Heat is
On, Economist Article, Sept 7, 2006. The many issues surrounding
climate change are explained clearly and succinctly in this article
with a focus on economics and
The report applies the science of global warming to an analysis of
the future of the world’s economy. His conclusion is that, left
unchecked, global warming will generate an unprecedented economic
collaborative in EU trying to establish a regional development
methodology with climate change considered
Too Hot Not
To Handle. HBO cautionary documentary offers a guide to the effects
of global warming in the United States.