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Summary 9/28-29/98 Pittsburgh Meeting

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Council on Sustainable  Development
9/28/98 Summary | 9/29/98 Summary | Council Meetings | PCSD Home


Monday Sept. 28th 1998

1. Introductions

Council Co-Chairs Jonathan Lash and Ray Anderson welcomed the Council Members and public and facilitated introductions. Mr. Anderson began by thanking Mayor Thomas Murphy for making the meeting possible. Mr. Anderson also thanked Andrew McElwaine and the Heinz Endowment, Ray Chrisman, Bob Hurley, and the local host committee for planning and sponsoring this event.

Mr. Lash gave an overview of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, explaining that prosperity, fairness, environment, and development values are key to Sustainable America. Mr. Lash illustrated this idea by pointing to Pittsburgh's successful cleanup efforts and riverfront revival.

Mr. Anderson outlined the agenda for the meeting in Pittsburgh to include:
  • A discussion of the "Sustainable Pittsburgh" program
  • Planning for the Nation Town Meeting for a Sustainable America
  • Recommendations to the President on Early Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Preliminary recommendations on metropolitan and rural strategies for sustainable communities

1a. Welcome - Mayor Thomas Murphy described Pittsburgh's profound transformation over the past 20 years. Pittsburgh has been successfully building a new economy around the ideals of sustainability. Mayor Thomas Murphy pointed out some of the recent highlights,
  • Mellon Bank and P & C Bank are moving their headquarters downtown which will create 5,000 new jobs in the urban core.
  • Alcoa has moved its world headquarters to Pittsburgh
  • 2, 000 new homes under construction near downtown
  • Washington's Landing has been swept clean and is now a thriving area with new homes and sports facilities
  • 27 miles of riverfront are now under public control

1b.Comments by Kathleen McGinty, Chair of the White house Council on Environmental Quality
Ms. McGinty commended PCSD for its efforts to articulate and generate interest on the following two primary issues, and noted that Vice President Gore has recently drawn from PCSD for three major policy announcements.

  • Climate Change
    1. Encouraging industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before mandatory regimes are in place
    2. Identifying the relationship between local sustainable community projects and global greenhouse concerns
    3. Attracting Wall Street's attention to environmental issues

  • Sustainable and livable communities
    1. Working together at both Federal and local levels
    2. Developing the idea of location efficient mortgages
    3. Protecting farmland from burgeoning growth e.g., initiative with Rich Rominger, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


    2a. Presentation by Andrew McElwaine, program officer and director of environmental programs at the Pittsburgh based Heinz Endowments

    Mr. McElwaine described the importance of the "Sustainable Pittsburgh" initiative by explaining that this effort will create choices and enable empowerment. Mr. McElwaine also discussed the goals and achievements of Governor Tom Ridges' 21st Century Environment Commission, The Green Neighborhood initiative, The Green Building Alliance, and The Center for Neighborhood Technologies metropolitan initiative. He stressed the need to support existing infrastructures before expending resources on new initiatives.

    2b. Presentation by Elbert Hatley, Executive Director of the Hill Community Development Corporation in Pittsburgh

    Mr. Hatley laid out 8 points of consideration for cities interested in revitalizing neglected communities:
      1. Basic and human services must be provided
      2. Business development and retention, including funds for small businesses
      3. An economic agenda must drive revitalization efforts e.g., if homes are built jobs must be created for those who live in them
      4. Community involvement is necessary
      5.Fair share planning and zoning
      6.Fair employment and housing practices
      7.Housing policies that advocate diversity
      8. Tax sharing policies that eradicate disparities

3. National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America

    3a. Presentation by Carol Browner, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

    Ms. Browner stressed that economic prosperity and environmental protection need not be incompatible in a sustainable America. Ms. Browner welcomed the Global Environment and Technology Foundation as a NTM co-sponsor, along with PCSD. She announced that the EPA and USDA have made $400,000 available for the planning activities. She also explained that EPA has assigned a full-time employee, Ken Patterson, to PCSD as the NTM Director

    3b. Presentation by Hank Habicht, CEO of Global Environment & Technology Foundation (Co-sponsor of the NTM)

    Mr. Habitch gave a brief history of GETF, stressing GETF's desire to build an infrastructure and knowledge base around energy and environmental issues. He went on to explain his enthusiasm for the coming NTM as well as the use of technology to bring people together around issues of sustainability. Pursuant to this he unveiled the new "Sustainable America" logo as well as the "Sustainable America' web site. Mr. Habitch also outlined what he believes the current priorities of NTM organizers are:

    • Define an excellent program
    • Identify 'Journey to Detroit" and concurrent events
    • Develop sponsorships across the country

    Jonathan Lash added to the preceding presentations a positive note about the sea change already afoot in America. Mr. Lash explained that his travels across the country have shown him that businesses can work with communities to effect sustainable change.

    Following these presentations the members held a discussion about the NTM.

    Key points were as follows:
    • Involve more than just Council members. Other sectors and interests groups should be represented.
    • Emphasis alternative business practices that are already in place so that business can realize that, yes, there is another way of doing things.
    • Illustrate unusual and creative methodologies that have achieved results.
    • Envision what the future should be and determine the action today that will facilitate this future.
    • Discuss the sustainability of agricultural production in America with an eye towards preventing urban sprawl that endangers farmland.
    • Consider tomorrow's child in terms of where he or she will live, work, play, and learn.

    Questions generated by audience members:

    • How are conflicts between the need for economic activity and the need for sustainability resolved?
        A. Situations where these two vital needs come into conflict need to be noted and the solutions or end results need to be published in such a way as to inform, empower, and enlighten future decision makers. It is just such conflicts that have given rise to groups such as PCSD.

    • Are drugs taken into account when considering sustainable development?
        A. Communities observe locally that which is vital to sustainability in their communities. Sustainable development is concerned with both hardware infrastructure and social infrastructure. So, the answer is yes.

4. Metropolitan and Rural Strategies
for Sustainable Communities Task Force

    4a. Presentation by Member Bernstein

    Goals of the task force:
      1. advance critical thinking
      2. promote policies that support multi-stakeholder processes
      3. develop a framework of national indicators
      4. engage all initiatives concerned with sustainable communities
      5. advance recommendations

    Four kinds of tools required:
      1. Access to quality information
      2. Economic mechanisms and incentives
      3. Financial and technical intermediaries
      4. Examples of partnerships and local capacity from which we can learn

    Five categories for draft recommendations:
      1. Green Infrastructure
      2. Land use and development
      3. Community revitalization and reinvestment
      4. Rural enterprise development
      5. Materials use and reuse

    4b. Presentation by Rob Wolcott, Acting Deputy Administrator, USEPA Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation

    Mr. Wolcott spoke to the issues of smart growth and development, and lands use. His primary focus on these issues for this presentation was to acknowledge five effective program strategies.
      1.Spearhead a national dialogue on land use and growth questions
      2.Engage the financial and business community in our efforts
      3.Integrate urban and rural community strategies to reflect the inter-relatedness of these communities. Support and sustain the economic basis of rural America.
      4.Launch a smart citizen network
      5.Determine a method whereby environmental and metropolitan benefits can survive political changes.

    4c. Respondent Panel,

    Benjamin Starrett, Administrator, Strategic Planning and Policy Coordinator, Florida Department of Community Affairs
    Andrew McElwaine, Program Officer and Director of Environmental Programs, The Heinz Endowment Foundation
    Elbert Hatley, Executive Director, Hill Community Development Corporation

    Mr. Starrett spoke about initiatives for sustainability in Florida
    • Florida Sustainable Communities Network
        -32 cities and counties have entered into a partnership with Florida to explore sustainable development.
    • Eastward Ho Brownfields Partnership
        -a partnership of 50 local governments to promote the redevelopment of the historic urban core in the Brownfields area
    • Statewide greenways and trail system
    • Preservation of the Everglades

    Mr. Mc Elwaine expressed his support for the draft recommendation's sections on economic mechanisms and incentives and the actions linked to these areas. In addition, he recommended that the Task Force emphasize investment and markets.

    Mr. Hatley recommended that the Task Force address the question of race. He also suggested that economic empowerment is essential to social change.

    4d. Comments and Discussion from Council Members

    • Members examined one of the current dilemmas in the field of sustainability, "How can one revitalize a neighborhood without pricing out its current residents?" Solutions discussed were the possible use of price capping and tax credits.
    • Members noted that SBA has increased its loans to minorities by two to three hundred percent.
    • Members expressed concern that the Clean Water Act has not been reauthorized at a national level.
    • USDA programs to aid rural communities were discussed (e.g., telemedicine, low-interest loans for housing, community centers etc.)
    • The importance of Federal and local partnerships was discussed.

    How can we encourage youth participation in the sustainability movement?
      A. At is point we have a sub-committee addressing just this issue. We are talking to educators at all levels and hope for as much participation as possible.

    There is federal support for the renovation of buildings for the purpose of creating income producing rental properties but none for properties intended for owner occupancy. Since owner occupancy and home ownership are essential to revitalizing old neighborhoods is there something we can do to encourage federal support?
      A.This is just the kind of issue that we are dealing with. We need to support policies that encourage community participation and community interest. Specifically we do not have an answer right now, but this is what we are working towards.

    I just want to voice my enthusiasm that Vice President Gore has not forgotten his campaign promises and has instead helped to create this fabulous dialogue that we are witnessing today.

    Several audience members voiced concern about the potential construction of a coke plant in their neighborhood.



Tuesday Sept. 29th 1998

1. Science Report - Latest updates on climate science
    1b. Presentation by Tom Karl, director of National Climatic Data Center

    Mr. Karl presented the latest data on global warming provided by climate science. He displayed a series of graphs and charts that presented evidence from surface temperatures, ocean temperatures, alpine glaciers, and sea levels that indicated that the earth's suface temperature is rising. While data are generally consistent with predictions for a warming world, some uncertainties remain. Mr. Karl suggested that the primary scientific debate is about how much of an effect greenhouse gas release has on the environment, not whether or not there is an effect.

      If the climate issue was not so politically charged, would that change the tenor of the scientific debate? (unnamed questioner)
        A. The IPCC report frames what we know and what the uncertainties are. Even some prominent skeptics agree the climate will warm somewhat. The debate is how much greenhouse gasses would change the climate by the end of the century.

      Skeptics have pointed out that the rate of warming was slower from the 1950's to the 1960's when our emission of greenhouse gases was increasing rapidly. How is this explained? (Mr. McCloskey)
        A. Mr. Karl pointed out that climate is dependent on a number of variables including greenhouse gases, volcanoes, solar variability, and anthropogenic aerosols as well as natural variability in the climate system itself. The latest science suggests that you can't take any one of these variables out of context. Overall the observed patterns suggest a human influence on climate.

      It sounds like even full compliance with the Kyoto Protocol will not have a huge effect on future temperature changes. Is this true? (unnamed questioner)
        A. Mr. Karl agreed that this was true, but that one has to start somewhere.

      At this point Member Bernstein made the recommendation to disseminate information on microclimates so that smaller communities could understand the local impact of this global phenomenon. Mr. Karl agreed this was important, but noted that in some cases we do not yet have the infrastructure to provide microclimate impact data. The US national climate assessment that is currently underway is an attempt to address this issue.
2. Report from the International Task Force
    2a. Presentation by Member Diane Dillon-Ridgley, Women's Environment and Development Organization

    Ms. Dillon-Ridgley suggested that the clean development mechanism (CDM) would play an important role in the Kyoto protocols as they apply internationally. She would like to see the CDM developed incrementally in such a way that would not delay participation, but rather encourage participation. Member Diane Dillon-Ridgley continued her presentation on the CDM by making the following points, that arose from the forum on the CDM and Sustainable Development that the Task Force convened in July.
    • Develop policies that mitigate cost and risk while increasing returns
    • Make the tradeoffs between concerns for effectiveness and equity more apparent
    • Assess the incentives for adhering to the CDM criteria
    • Create flexible mechanisms that allow for benefit realization as well as cost effectiveness
    • Finally, she responded that the next item on the Task Force agenda is to interact more with other national and international councils

3. Decision on Early Action Principles

The discussion about early action principles resulted in the following document, which PCSD presented to the Vice-President on Oct. 27th, 1998. /PCSD/tforce/cctf/cprinc.html

4. Technology Policy Recommendation Deliberations

Members discussed the language of the "Policy Principles and Draft Objectives to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions" which resulted in the document at the following address: /PCSD/tforce/cctf/obj_prin.html

Members confined the scope of the recommendations to domestic activities and technologies that can be deployed in the next ten to fifteen years.
    Objectives focus on these actions

    • Buildings
    • Transportation
    • Electric power
    • Industry
    • Agriculture

    Some of the issues they considered were:

      1. The amount of energy required to recycle products.
      2. How coal can be used in ways that optimize kilowatt hours per pound of fuel?
      3. Dissemination of information to consumers as well as planners, civic leaders, politicians, and businesses.
      4. Technologies that benefit the environment versus technologies that harm the environment.

5. Wall Street Meeting Background and Report
    5a. Presentation by Ken Locklin, managing director for Renewable and Energy Efficiency Fund, for the Energies Investors Fund

    Mr. Locklin explained the financial impact of adverse climate changes. He began by outlining specific climate changes:
    • Increasing concentration in carbon dioxide over the last 120 years, the corresponding increase in global surface temperature since the industrial revolution.
    • One of the early indications of climate changes predicted by the general circulation models is an increase in extreme precipitation events; those events where you receive more than an inch of rainfall an hour. The frequency of htese events has increased over the last century.
    • The US contains five percent of the world's people, 22 percent of its wealth, but generates 25 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions

    Mr. Locklin explained why companies would position themselves on the solution side rather than the problem side of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
      1.balance sheet risk
      2.market risk
      3.operating risks
      4.capital costs risks
      5.business sustainable risks
    Mr. Locklin next spoke about the World Bank's three window fund. He feels that the three-window fund strategy is one that will be useful for sustainable energy investments. The fund is composed of the following three sources of funding:
      1. Market Funds
        -The use of public assistance, training, good product, and seed capital to mature markets..
      2.Debt Funds
        -Formerly nonexistent in renewable energy projects.
      3.Equity Funds
        Formerly nonexistent in renewable energy projects.

    Mr. Locklin ended his presentation by outlining the requirements for financial success in the renewable energies business

      1.Solid Markets
      2.Proven Technologies
      3.Strong Commercial Companies
      4.Responsive Financing

    5b. Presentation by Member Bernstein,
    Mr. Bernstein presented the ideas for convening a forum with "Main Street" financiers, which was developed by the Climate Task Force's Cross-cutting Climate Working Group

    • Explore the use of incentives to encourage the collective reduction of emissions by "small" sources of emissions. (In some localities calculations show that Metro area "small" sources produce up to two-thirds of the total tonnage of greenhouse gases)
    • Recommendation to hold a meeting with the financial community about the possibility of voluntary investments in climate change reduction. (Several financial institutions have already expressed support for green investments and the Brookings Institute has offered to co-sponsor the meeting.)
    • Examine the possibility that such investments and reductions could be cost- effective for the participating organizations. Instead of creating new systems and transactions to carry out plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, existing networks could be used as a cost effective measure. For example, deployment of an idea similar to customer affinity cards where an entity could be rewarded for cumulative investments in climate-friendly products or activities.

    Bernstein asked for Council participation and ideas in making this forum productive.

6. Public Comment

Mr. Robison made the following comments. The issue of rational land use was raised in terms of avoiding urban sprawl with pro-urban policy making. Benefits of pro-urban policy making were categorized as:
    1. Public transportation can predominate in an urban setting putting less pollution into the air.
    2. Public utilities such as sewers, electricity, gas, and water are cheaper to build in pre-existing high-density areas as opposed to new areas of sprawl.
    3. Job opportunities are easy to access in high-density areas.


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Summary 9/28-29/98 Pittsburgh Meeting

Draft Objectives to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions