February 28, 2007
GCRIO Program Overview
Our extensive collection of documents.
Archives of the
Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
REPORTS (JUNE 1999)
Profiles in Carbon: An Update on Population, Consumption and
Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Robert Engelman, Population Action
International, available at
This report highlights the linkage of population and climate and
illustrates the contribution that population policies could make to the
slowing of climate change. Just as past population increase has influenced
the composition of the Earths atmosphere in the late 20th century,
the rate of future increase will influence the Earths climate for
centuries to come. This report profiles per capita emissions of CO2, ranks
countries by their 1995 per capita emissions, and charts population and
emissions trends. The data highlight the significant global disparities in
individual human use of the atmosphere for the disposal of CO2. These
disparities complicate international negotiations and cloud the role of
population growth in changing climate because the greatest per capita
contributions to climate change are made by populations that are growing
relatively slowly while rapidly growing populations have very low per
capita greenhouse- gas emissions. Per capita emissions and populations are
nonetheless increasing rapidly and in tandem in much of the world. The
conclusions reached are that:
- The limited capacity of the atmosphere and biosphere to absorb
greenhouse-gas emissions without adding to the risk of climate change
must be shared fairly on a per capita basis.
- A flexible system of international emissions trading would allow
those with higher emissions to compensate those with lower emissions
while reducing total emissions.
- The more slowly population growth proceeds, the more rapidly global
emissions can be made to decline, especially if equity is practiced in
slowing climate change.
- The further one looks into the future, the more important slowing
population growth becomes.
The report recommends that
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should include
population-climate interactions in its Third Assessment.
- The Framework Convention on Climate Change should make specific
reference to the Programme of Action agreed to at the 1994 International
Conference on Population and Development as a way to slow the pace of
human-induced climate change.
- Climate-change protocols should recognize the principle of the equal
right of all humans to use the atmosphere to dispose of greenhouse
- Experience with Emission Baselines Under the AIJ Pilot Phase,
Jane Ellis, OECD Information Paper, Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development, Paris, April, 1999; available free of
charge at http://www.oecd.org/.
Emission baselines are a means of assessing the potential environmental
and financial performance of a project. But no internationally agreed-upon
method exists for how to calculate emission baselines for activities
implemented jointly (AIJ) projects, and the methods currently used to
calculate emission baselines in AIJ projects are highly diverse.
Standardized means of drawing up emission baselines may need to be
explored for use under joint implementation and/or the clean development
mechanism, as called for in Articles 6 and 12 of the Kyoto Protocol.
Because the calculational methods vary, the emission baselines themselves
vary considerably, and many potential baseline shapes are valid for a
given project type. They could be made more consistent, comparable, and
transparent by setting out guidelines on how they should be calculated and
- the length of time over which different project types generate
- the issue of uncertainty,
- whether emission baselines should be calculated in the same manner
for greenfield and replacement projects,
- how to deal with learning issues, and
- how to calculate the environmental benefits of energy efficiency
Improvements to the current uniform reporting format could include
- a more detailed disaggregation of current project classifications,
- separate reports for subprojects,
- references to the availability of more detailed information,
- an agreed-upon accounting convention on the sign of emission
benefits from projects,
- differentiated reporting requirements for different project types,
- including relevant and readily available data and information,
- recommended units of measurement, and
- independent verification/validation of data.
- Is Climate Changing Where the Wild Things Are?, USEPA, 12
pp., 1999, available free at www.epa.gov/
This report summarizes presentations made at a conference cosponsored by
19 organizations examining the potential and observed effects of climate
change on wildlife. A central theme was the fragility of ecosystems and
the environmennt. Observations included:
- It is becoming difficult to deny the importance of climate change.
- Evidence shows that some impacts are occurring.
- Glacial retreat is evident.
- The natural average rate of climate change to which species have
adapted is 1o per millennium; current climate change is about 1o per
- Climate change will add an additional stress to the many existing
threats to biological diversity.
- At current rates of deforestation, the 80% of the worlds
plants and animals that live in tropical moist forests will be lost by
the middle of the next century.
- Species with very small geographic ranges are overwhelmingly
threatened with extinction.
- Of 47 birds that summer in northern Michigan, 4 have expanded their
ranges northward, and 15 have advanced their arrival dates by up to
- Adélie penguins, which feed by diving through cracks in sea
ice to feed on krill, have declined during winters of low sea ice
because suitable feeding sites are too scarce or distant.
- Northward shifts of butterfly populations match temperature
increases in those locales.
- CO2 increases increase the carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of plants,
reducing their nutritional value to insects.
- In Monterey Bay, species with southerly ranges have become more
abundant and those with northerly ranges have declined as sea-surface
temperatures have increased 1oC in the past 30 years.
- Because fish physiology and development are tightly linked to water
temperature, many fish prefer to live within only a 4oC range in
- Sea-level rise will cause problems for wildlife that live in coastal
areas as those areas are inundated.
- Responses to climate change must include large-scale reforestation,
increased use of renewable energy, better communication of the risks to
decision makers and the public, reduction of emissions, and recognition
that exponential changes can occur in response to an environmental
- Cities at Risk, ICLEI/US, 77 pp., April 1999, $25 plus
shipping and handling; also available at
This report explores and assesses the potential impacts of global
climate change on five urban areas in the United States: Boston, Denver,
Chicago, New Orleans, and Seattle. The assessment is based on the the IPCC
estimate that average global temperatures will rise to 1.8° to 6.3°F during
the 21st century. It does not address mitigation but focuses on what these
U.S. urban areas can expect if emissions are not reduced. The climate
changes expected are
- Elevated temperatures in every region;
- Increased precipitation in some regions, mainly in the northern half
of the United States;
- Decreased precipitation in other regions, mainly in the south;
- An increase in the incidence and intensity of extreme weather
events, such as floods, blizzards, tornadoes, and droughts;
- A continuing rise in ocean level; and
- A drop in water level in certain lakes, especially the Great Lakes.
The report specifies particular physical, financial, environmental,
economic, and health risks for each of the five urban areas. Its general
conclusions are that
- These urban areas have huge investments in public and private
infrastructure that will be at increased risk of damage or destruction
from extreme weather events.
- They also have huge investments in public-works infrastructures,
such as water, sewage, and storm-water systems that may be overtaxed or
rendered obsolete by major shifts in weather patterns and ocean levels.
- Many of these urban areas have serious air-pollution problems that
will be exacerbated by rising temperatures.
- Residents of these urban areas may be at risk from diseases whose
ranges will spread as temperatures or precipitation increase.
- Economies dependent on tourism, agriculture, forestry, or fisheries
will be at risk of disruption and cutbacks from changed weather patterns
or extreme weather.
- Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion: 1998 Assessment,
UNEP; also published as a special issue of the Journal of
Photochemistry and Photobiology, B: Biolology, 1998, 107 pp.; also
available at http://www.gcrio.org/ozone/toc.html; hardbound copies are
also distributed free of charge by GCRIO.
Increased penetration of solar UV-B radiation to the Earths
surface has resulted from the decrease in atmospheric ozone now observed
over much of the globe. Although the effects of ozone depletion would have
been dramatically worse without the actions called for by the Montreal
Protocol, many of them will persist during most of the next century, and
the ozone layer will be the most depleted during the next two decades.
Evidence indicates that a slow recovery may be expected during the next
half-century. Stratospheric ozone levels, however, are currently near
their lowest points since measurements began, and surface UV-B irradiation
has been correlated with overhead ozone, although satellite observations
have been shown to produce UV-B-irradiation values that are lower than
actual. The increased UV-B is likely to lead to increased health effects.
Many of these increases are related to the eye: snowblindness, cataracts,
ocular melanoma, and squamous-cell carcinoma. Depressed immune responses
will lead to increases in certain tumors and infectious diseases,
impairment of vaccinations, and alterations in some autoimmune and
allergic responses. The severity of psoriasis may be decreased, but
photoaging and skin cancer will increase among the fair-skinned. UV-B can
damage plants and microbes, but these organisms also have protective
mechanisms and repair processes. Most direct effects on these organisms,
though, are manifested in altered patterns of genetic activity rather than
cellular damage; this leads to the accumulation of effects from year to
year and from generation to generation. Indirect effects on plants include
unbalancing the competition among higher plants, herbivory, and
susceptibility to pathogens. UV radiation adversely affects the growth,
photosynthesis, protein and pigment content, and reproduction of
phytoplankton, and thus it affects the entire food web. Macroalgae and
seagrasses show significant sensitivity to UV-B and so, to a lesser
extent, do sea urchins, corals, and amphibians. These negative effects of
UV-B on aquatic and marine organisms will reduce the uptake of atmospheric
carbon dioxide, exacerbating global warming. Increased UV-B changes the
chemical composition of plant tissue, enhances photodegradation, and
changes the community makeup of microbial decomposers and nitrogen fixers.
It also increases atmospheric-chemistry activity, particularly in polluted
areas (i.e., high-NOx atmospheres), although it helps remove primary
pollutants from the air. Studies of the degradation of HCFCs and HFCs
currently in the air have not found any significant effects on humans or
the environment. Finally, UV-B negatively affects the physical and
mechanical properties of polymers as well as other structural and
utilitarian materials, and conventional photostabilizers are not likely to
be able to mitigate those effects.
Sources of Conflicts in Climate Policy Within the EU: An Economic
Analysis, H. Asbjørn Aaheim and Camilla Bretteville, Report
1999:3, CICERO, free, 40 pp.; also available at
Factors were sought to explain the different economic interests EU
countries have in cutting CO2 emissions. Interests result from different
perceptions of the cost of emission cuts among stakeholders. Sector-based
comparisons indicate that the conflicts resulting from an announcement of
emission cuts are likely to be moderate in Germany, the Netherlands, and
the United Kingdom while the possibility for conflicts is significantly
higher in France, Italy, and Spain. To a large extent, the conflicts are
determined by whether or not emissions can be reduced in the electricity
sector. The presense of these differences may explain why the EU has not
succeeded in implementing common measures across the member countries. To
prepare for a common policy, a coordination of the electricity market
should be given priority. Meanwhile, the different targets agreed upon
after Kyoto clearly mitigate conflicts: Italy has very strict targets
compared with the other countries, while the Netherlands and Spain have
Analysis of the Climate Change Technology Initiative, Report
No. SR/OIAF/99-01, EIA, April 1999, 101 pp.; also available at
This analysis was undertaken at the request of the Committee on Science
of the U.S. House of Representatives. In its request, the Committee asked
EIA to analyze the impact of specific policies on the reduction of
carbon emissions and their impact on U.S. energy use and prices ... in the
2008-2012 time frame. A subsequent communication from the Committee
specified that EIA analyze the impact of the Presidents
Climate Change Technology Initiative, as defined for the 2000 budget, on
reducing carbon emissions from the levels forecast in the Annual Energy
Outlook 1999 reference case. The projections and quantitative
analysis were primarily conducted with the National Energy Modeling
System, an energy-economy model of U.S. energy markets, which is used to
provide the projections in the Annual Energy Outlook. The analysis
concludes that in 2010, the Clinton Administrations proposed tax
credits for buildings, industrial, and transportation technologies would
reduce primary energy consumption by 0.03% or 31.6 trillion Btu. Tax
credits for wind and biomass electricity generation would reduce
fossil-energy use in electricity generation by 0.06% or 71.9 Btu. The tax
credits would result in carbon emissions in 2010 that are 0.17%, or 3.1
million metric tons, lower than the base case.
Guide to Publishers
Index of Abbreviations