Policy Implications of Global Climate Change To Be Investigated

November 08, 1996

WASHINGTON, DC -- Resources for the Future (RFF) today announces the launch of its Climate Economics and Policy Program that aims to increase understanding and knowledge of the complex issues of global climate change that must be addressed to design appropriate, cost-effective policies in the United States and abroad.

RFF's new program responds to both the ongoing debate about climate change, and the specific debates surrounding the negotiations being carried out under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Convention involves an agreement among 154 countries to develop programs and cooperate in slowing climate change, and to consider climate change in its management of agriculture, energy, and water and natural resources.

"Policymakers around the world are paying increasing attention to climate change, as well they should," says RFF President Paul R. Portney. "The stakes are potentially enormous on all sides of this complicated issue, and it is essential that careful analysis complement the political calculations that so often drive decisions."

Climate change involves a gradual rise of the Earth's surface temperature as a result of human activity that is changing the way the atmosphere absorbs and emits energy. Certain gases that occur naturally in the atmosphere tend to trap the sun's heat. This natural "greenhouse effect" helps keep the Earth's average temperature at 59° Fahrenheit. Without these greenhouse gases, the Earth would be about 0° F.

But human activities are causing some greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, to build up in the atmosphere. Whenever fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, coal or natural gas are burned, more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. The resulting temperature changes will affect rainfall, sea level and other natural processes. These changes in turn could have significant social and economic consequences.

The publication of the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has signaled the beginning of a broader agenda of research and debate. While there is still scientific uncertainty about the magnitude of climate change risks, the world's policy makers are now shifting more of their attention to debating appropriate policy responses.

"RFF brings to this debate a well recognized and respected reputation for objectivity," says Darius Gaskins, Jr., chairman of RFF's Board of Directors. "Over its 45-year history, RFF researchers have tackled the most difficult issues in environmental policy, including the value of undisturbed wilderness areas, the design of more cost-effective pollution control measures, and the best way to prevent resource scarcity. It is only natural that they now address the challenges of climate change."

Integrating the various aspects of climate change with a substantial amount of ongoing and future research at RFF on energy markets, water and forest resource management, air pollution, environmental regulation, and sustainable development, RFF's Climate Economics and Policy Program focuses on five main areas:

The economic and environmental consequences of climate change and policies to deal with climate change.
Domestic and international policy design issues.
Interactions between climate change and other policies.
Equity, efficiency, and other criteria used in decisionmaking.
Development of analytical tools.

RFF will conduct a number of research projects and issue a series of short papers on a variety of issues related to policy design. It will also regularly share its climate change findings with members of the academic, business and environmental communities, and representatives of local, national and international governments by publishing and disseminating discussion papers and convening educational forums on selected topics. To support a well-informed public, RFF will provide regular reports of its climate change activities to the news media, post program updates and activities on RFF's internet home page (http://www.rff.org), and provide educational materials for lay audiences on the economics of climate change.
AT A GLANCE: RFF's Climate Economics and Policy Program

Principle areas of program investigation:
Economic and environmental consequences of climate change and policies to deal with climate change.
Domestic and international policy design issues.
Interactions between climate change and other policies.
Equity, efficiency, and other criteria used in decisionmaking.
Development of analytical tools.

Climate research projects underway at RFF:
Effective Environmental Policy in the Presence of Distorting Taxes
Carbon Consequences of Tax Reform
Vulnerability of Low-Income Households to the Hydrologic Effects of Climate Change
International Cooperation for Effective and Economic Greenhouse Gas Limitation
Implications of Climate Change Mitigation on Other Environmental Problems
Greenhouse Gas Consequences of Electricity Market Restructuring
Bringing Uncertainty into the Equation When Calculating Climate Change Risks
Carbon Policy and Endogenous Technical Change

Potential questions to be addressed by RFF policy briefs:
How should the climate problem be thought about in general?
How might a domestic emissions trading program be established?
How does the performance of revenue-raising and non-revenue-raising policy instruments compare?
How should emissions reductions be scheduled over time?
What is the potential for technical innovation to substantially lower the cost of greenhouse gas limitations, and what government policies can tap that potential?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of different modeling approaches for assessing the economic costs of greenhouse gas limitations?

How RFF will communicate the findings of its climate program:
Publish and disseminate discussion papers.
Host educational forums on selected topics.
Provide regular reports to the news media.
Post program updates and activities on RFF's internet home page
(http://www.rff.org). Provide educational materials for lay audiences on the economics of climate change. # # # RFF is an independent, nonprofit organization that has analyzed environmental policy and contributed to its formation for the past 45 years. Its research staff represents one of the largest groups of economists and policy analysts devoted to environmental and natural resource issues working under one roof anywhere in the world. Media representatives interested in speaking to RFF experts about climate change should contact Michael Tebo in RFF's public affairs office at (202) 328-5019.

Resources for the Future (RFF)

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.