Clinton Considering Extending Emissions Targets
Nod to industry on greenhouse gases concerns environmentalists
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 10) -- President Bill Clinton's advisers will present him today with a wide range of U.S. policy options for upcoming global-warming talks, some of which have environmentalists hopping mad.
The options at issue would delay for years, if not decades, the deadlines for developed countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. These emissions are strongly suspected of raising the Earth's temperature when released in large quantities into the atmosphere.
The U.S. pledged in a 1992 treaty signed in Rio de Janiero to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. But America is far from that goal -- emissions are currently projected to be 13 percent above 1990 levels by that time.
Economic and environmental advisers have reportedly been battling it out in the White House over the topic, the economic side arguing that it would cost too much to reduce emissions anytime soon, and the environmental side arguing that it's foolhardy not to.
The options have been worked up in preparation for a round of talks on the next global climate treaty, which kicks off in December in Kyoto, Japan.
One direction that has garnered some interest from the administration is referred to as a "hybrid" approach, developed by Resources for the Future, a Washington-based environmental think tank.
The hybrid approach would set strict emission guidelines for countries to meet, and perhaps allow them to trade emissions credits among themselves, but allow them to escape the limits if compliance ends up costing too much.
The escape hatch is what's angering environmentalists. The leaders of 17 environmental groups fired off a letter to Clinton decrying the hybrid approach, saying it "would allow nations to abandon the emissions reduction commitments" they agree to in Kyoto.
Nothing is settled yet, the administration is quick to point out. "We've been looking at a lot of ideas and we haven't ruled anything in or out," said Todd Stern, the aide in charge of global-warming issues for the White House.
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