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John A. Young Letter to the President

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 May 15, 1998


President William J. Clinton
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC   20500

Dear Mr. President:

 As you have stated so clearly, the issue of climate change presentsthe United States and the world with one of the great challenges of the21st century.  Measurements and analyses by climate scientists havebeen reinforcing almost daily the conclusion of the 1995 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Global impactsof human activities on climate are real, are already being experienced,and are likely to grow in the next century to levels highly disruptiveto human well-being, in countries both rich and poor, unless adequate countervailingactions are taken.

 The Kyoto protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Changeis a strong first step toward meeting the climate challenge.  But if the judgment of the IPCC and the great majority of climate scientistsabout the probable course and consequences of anthropogenic climate changesproves correct, as we in PCAST think likely, then meeting the emissionslimits set in Kyoto is only a down payment on the changes required overthe long run.  The development of a plan to address that longer runchallenge should begin now.

 At the heart of this issue are the respective roles of the industrializedand developing countries in the creation of the problem and in its solution. Ways must be found for the developing countries to achieve their economicaspirations without concomitant increases in greenhouse-gas emissions,and ways must be found to maintain and expand the prosperity of the industrializedcountries while their emissions are being reduced.

 Technology must be a cornerstone of the solution.  And asyou have noted, this should be seen more as an opportunity than as a burden. Your Climate Change Technology Initiative is an excellent beginning toaccelerate development and deployment of new technologies.  Theseadvances in technology will bring a range of environmental and economicbenefits.  The firms and countries that learn first and best how toprovide the goods and services that people want in energy-saving and emissions-reducingways will prosper from this knowledge.  How far and how fast emissionsreduction ought to proceed, and at what cost and benefit, are key questionsfor industrial, transition, and developing countries alike as they workto achieve the goal of the climate treaty--"stabilization of greenhousegas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerousinterference with the climate system."

  What must now be fashioned to supplement those agreements isa global collaborative framework for greenhouse-gas reductions.  Robustand comprehensive international cooperation among industrial, transition,and developing countries in research and development on advanced energytechnologies could serve as the cornerstone of such a collaborative framework. This could provide the basis for delivering the increased quantities ofaffordable energy that meeting the economic aspirations of the developing
countries will require, while simultaneously reducing their greenhouse-gasemissions.

  PCAST would be pleased to review, in concert with the NSTC, theexisting array of international cooperative activities in energy R&Din which the United States is engaged,
and to participate in the generation of recommendations that wouldmake them a more robust basis for addressing climate change in the contextof global economic development and related issues of capacity buildingand international competition.  The insights gleaned from such a reviewwould also have important implications for our broader international S&Tengagements, helping us analyze the broader issues of the Federal activitiesand strategies in international science and technology.  Strong internationalcooperation is going to become a much more important tool in achievingour international objectives, from climate change, to biodiversity, toemerging infectious diseases.  We look forward to pursuing these possibilitieswith you further.



John A. Young

President'sCommittee of Advisors
on Scienceand Technology
1600 Pennsylvania Ave,N.W
Washington, DC 20502

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