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Federal Register Notice


U.S. Climate Action Report (USCAR), September 1994; United 
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific 
Affairs

PUBLIC NOTICE
Availability of the U.S. Climate Action Report

ACTION:  Notice of availability of USCAR and public comment 
period.

SUMMARY: In June 1992, the United States signed the United 
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 
Pursuant to the reporting requirements under Articles 4.2 and 
12 of the Convention, the United States has prepared and 
submitted the U.S. Climate Action Report (USCAR) in fulfillment 
of these requirements to the UNFCCC Secretariat.  The USCAR 
provides a description of the current U.S. program designed to 
reduce emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.  The 
information presented in the USCAR, together with information 
provided by other Annex I Parties (developed country Parties 
and Parties with economies in transition to market economies), 
will be reviewed and discussed by the Parties to the UNFCCC 
beginning at the first session of the Conference of the Parties 
in early 1995.

In keeping with international guidelines, the USCAR provides an 
inventory of current U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks, 
estimates effects of current mitigation measures and policies 
on future emissions levels, and describes U.S. involvement in 
international programs including associated financial transfers 
and contributions.  In addition, the USCAR includes a 
discussion of U.S. national circumstances which affect its 
vulnerability and responses to climate change.  Information on 
adaptation programs and the U.S. Global Change Research 
Program, the largest climate change research program in the 
world, is also presented.  While it briefly discusses the 
future direction of the U.S. effort, the USCAR does not seek to 
identify policies or measures additional to those described in 
the Climate Action Plan, announced by President Clinton and 
Vice President Gore on October 19, 1993, that might ultimately 
be taken as the United States continues to move forward in 
addressing climate change.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  In June 1992, at the United Nations 
Conference on Environment and Development (the "Earth Summit"), 
the United States signed the United Nations Framework 
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The ultimate objective 
of this Convention is to: " achieve...stabilization of 
greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that 
would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the 
climate system.  Such a level should be achieved within a time-
frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to 
climate change, to ensure that food productions is not 
threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a 
sustainable manner."

It has been predicted that human produced greenhouse gases 
(primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) will 
cause change in global average climate at a rate that could far 
exceed any natural change that has occurred in the last 10,000 
years.  Although there are uncertainties regarding the 
magnitude, timing and regional patterns of global climate 
change, any human-induced change that does occur is not likely 
to be reversed for decades -- or even centuries -- because of 
the long lifetimes of the greenhouse gases and the inertia of 
the climatic system.

In accordance with the UNFCCC's reporting requirements as 
specified in Articles 4.2 and 12, the United States has 
prepared the U.S. Climate Action Report (USCAR) and submitted 
it to the UNFCCC Secretariat. The USCAR represents the United 
States' first formal communication to the Secretariat under 
these Articles.


Content of the USCAR

The USCAR provides a background to the issue of global climate 
change and describes current U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse 
gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.  Following the 
Introduction and Overview (chapter 1), the report begins (in 
chapter 2) with an analysis of United States national 
circumstances which affect its vulnerability and responses to 
climate change.  These circumstances include natural resources, 
the economy, energy production and consumption, governing 
institutions, and U.S. policies related to climate change.

The next chapter (chapter 3) consists of an inventory of U.S. 
greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, 
nitrous oxide, and HFC and PFC emissions.  Because the full 
U.S. submission includes a copy of the EPA Report "Inventory of 
U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks for 1990-1993", the 
USCAR itself provides a summary of this complete inventory.

Chapter 4 deals with the specific actions being taken to reduce 
greenhouse gas emissions.  This section is drawn from the 
material contained in the 1993 U.S. Climate Change Action Plan.  
As with the emissions inventory, a detailed supplement was also 
submitted to the INC Secretariat on this material. That 
document, "The Climate Change Action Plan: Technical 
Supplement," has been published separately by the Department of 
Energy.  The 1993 Action Plan aims to limit greenhouse gas 
emissions while continuing to guide the U.S. economy toward 
environmentally sound economic growth into the next century.  
The Plan is comprehensive, as it targets all greenhouse gases 
and all sectors of the economy through a portfolio of nearly 
fifty different actions.  It is designed for rapid 
implementation by building on existing technologies, programs, 
and voluntary efforts to deliver cost-effective results. It is 
a coordinated federal response, involving several government 
agencies working together, and was developed through an 
interagency process.  The Plan is being actively monitored to 
ensure that it meets the President's goals, and will be 
modified to adapt to changing circumstances.  Finally, the Plan 
lays the foundation for an international response to climate 
change through the United States Initiative on Joint 
Implementation.

The combined effect of the U.S. actions, assuming 1993 economic 
predictions and full funding of all mitigation measures, would 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1,459 million metric tons of 
carbon equivalent (MMTCE) by the year 2000, slightly below the 
1990 level of 1,462 MMTCE.  Without these mitigation policies, 
projected net greenhouse gas emissions would rise to 1,674 
MMTCE.  Since these policies were first developed and their 
effects projected, economic growth has been more robust, and 
oil prices lower than predicted in the Action Plan. These 
differences and other effects on meeting the projected emission 
reductions of the Plan are now being evaluated.

Chapter 5 of the USCAR examines the potential impacts of global 
climate change as well as strategies to adapt to any such 
change.  Both adverse and beneficial consequences of climate 
change are plausible, with the overall effect depending on the 
rate and magnitude of change and the vulnerability or 
sensitivity of human and natural systems to such changes.  
Possible consequences include rising sea levels, coastal zone 
erosion, shifts in precipitation patterns (causing either more 
floods or droughts), shifts in agricultural production, and 
increased stress on forest ecosystems.

Chapter 6 highlights current U.S. research and public education 
efforts regarding climate change.  The U.S. Global Change 
Research Program, the largest climate change research program 
in the world, seeks both to expand knowledge about the 
processes that affect climate change and to develop integrated 
models to predict these effects.  In addition to basic science 
research, the U.S. is promoting research in all economic 
sectors -- including industry, transportation, housing, and 
agriculture -- to develop strategies to reduce emissions.  The 
United States is coordinating its research efforts with both 
international organizations and on a bilateral basis with 
individual countries.

To ensure that the public has a solid understanding of the 
science of climate change and the consequences of policy 
options, the U.S. is also continuing to develop its efforts to 
coordinate general education, communication, and information 
programs for the public.  Educational outreach programs include 
GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the 
Environment) for K-12 students, and Project Earthlink, a long-
term effort targeting community leaders, informal educators, 
teachers, students, journalists, and the general public.

International activities and cooperation regarding global 
climate change are discussed in Chapter 7.  The Climate 
Convention requires all Parties to communicate a national 
inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and sinks and describe 
measures taken to implement the convention.  To help developing 
countries meet this commitment, the U.S. initiated its Country 
Studies program in 1992.  This program is providing technical 
and financial support to developing countries and countries 
with economies in transition to help them prepare studies to 
address climate change.  Chapter 7 also highlights other ways 
in which the United Staes is implementing its financial 
commitments under the Convention, including numerous U.S. 
bilateral mitigation projects as well as multilateral 
cooperation through such organizations as the Global 
Environment Facility, multilateral development banks, the 
Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the 
International Energy Agency, and the Asia-Pacific Economic 
Cooperation organization.

The final chapter of the Climate Action Report addresses future 
actions to address climate change.  In this chapter, two 
important issues are raised: (1) the uncertainties in 
projecting the effectiveness of current actions to meet the 
U.S. domestic commitment to return greenhouse gas emissions to 
their 1990 levels by the year 2000, and (2) the long-term 
actions that must be taken to address global warming -- as 
greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise beyond the turn 
of the millenium.


PREPARATION OF THE REPORT:  The U.S. Climate Action Report was 
prepared in a broad interagency process, incorporating -- to 
the greatest extent possible -- data from all relevant sectors 
and programs.  Preliminary versions of the Report were 
circulated to nongovernmental organizations, including 
environmental and business groups, for their review and 
comment.  Where possible, suggestions received were 
incorporated into this text.


AVAILABILITY OF THE REPORT:  Copies of the U.S. Climate Action 
Report may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Post Office Box 37082, 
Washington, DC 20013-7082; tel: (202)512-1800.  The publication 
number for the Report is 0-16-045214-7.  In addition, GPO will 
provide copies to federal depository libraries.

The text of the U.S. Climate Action Report will also be 
available electronically through:

--  The Federal Bulletin Board Service (BBS) of the U.S. 
Government Printing Office which can be reached at (202)512-
1387.  The Report can be found in the Department of State (DOS) 
environment library under "global issues".

--  the internet via gopher to summit.fiu.edu under Department 
of State (DOS) Reports.


PUBLIC COMMENT:  The Framework Convention on Climate Change 
requires that Parties periodically prepare additional 
communications on their actions to address climate change.  It 
is the U.S. intention to collect comments received on this 
first submission and on the basis of those comments -- and 
additional actions being taken within the government -- to 
prepare additional documents for submission.

For this reason, while the timing for subsequent submissions 
has not been determined, written comments on the U.S. Climate 
Action Report are invited.  Comments should be submitted to the 
Department of State no later than December 30, 1994.  Comments 
or questions should be directed to:  Mr. Daniel A. Reifsnyder, 
Director, Office of Global Change, Room 4329-A, Department of 
State, 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520-7818; 
telephone: (202)647-4069; fax: (202)647-0191.
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