PCSD: June 4 1998 Meeting Summary
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Meeting of The President's Council on Sustainable Development
JUNE 4, 1998

(PCSD Co Chairs: Ray C. Anderson, President & CEO of Interface, Inc., and Jonathan Lash, Executive Director of the World Resource Institute.)

PCSD Co Chairs Ray Anderson and Jonathan Lash welcomed the participants to the 19th meeting of the President's Council on Sustainable Development. Jonathan Lash reviewed the day's agenda and objectives. Mr. Anderson then provided the Council with a summary of the previous two meetings. He noted that:

  • In Tulsa, OK, Council Members heard presentations from experts on the science and impacts associated with climate change, potential economic costs and benefits of addressing climate change, and innovations in the U.S. that address climate change without sacrificing economic goals. The Council began its policy deliberations on climate change and raised public awareness on the issue.
  • At the Atlanta, GA meeting, experts presented information on some promising greenhouse gas reduction technologies in buildings, transportation, and industry. A community forum was held on quality of life and climate change. The Climate Task Force developed and delivered to the President a set of climate principles.

Katie McGinty, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality)

Katie McGinty of the White House Council on Environmental Quality updated the Council on sustainable development activities undertaken since the publication of Sustainable America. Specific activities she highlighted included:

  • The Interagency Working Group on Sustainable Communities, chaired by CEQ, is preparing a strategy report for the Vice President that will include:
      - new policies offering information, data, and tools for communities interested in implementing smart growth initiatives, and
      - new federal policies that will encourage collaboration across local jurisdictional lines.
  • The American Heritage Rivers Initiative, will recognize ten rivers by the end of June. The program is designed to bring the extensive resources of thirteen federal agencies to the service of communities wishing to achieve environmental restoration, economic development along river fronts, and revitalization of river fronts.
  • Transportation Equity Act For The 21st Century Act (ISTEA reauthorization).
  • PCSD Climate Change Principals where presented to the President in December.
  • The PATH Initiative. The PATH initiative will help to advance technology in the housing sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This new budget initiative will put $6.3 billion over five years towards research in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and will provide tax incentives for consumers and businesses to utilize these new technologies.
  • The Partnership For New Generation Vehicles. Through this public - private initiative, the Big Three auto makers have pledged to produce cars that get about 80 miles per gallon by 2001 -- helping put the US on road to greenhouse gas reduction.
  • President Frei of Chile and the G-8 countries have recognized that developing countries need to participate and assume binding targets that addressing climate change.
  • The CEQ is involved in Emissions trading proposals and Clean Development Mechanism proposals that are being discussed in Bonn, Germany in preparation for the Buenos Aires conference.
(Ray Anderson; Carol Browner, Administrator of the US EPA; and Jim Hartzfeld, Interface, Inc.)

Ray Anderson, Co Chair of the National Town Meeting For A Sustainable America (NTM) introduced the Council to the initiative. Mr. Anderson briefly highlighted the efforts of the different working groups that are planning the NTM. He noted that PCSD will take a role as a "co" of every aspect of the event: co-host, co-convener, co-sponsor, etc. with the sustainable development community. Mr Anderson stated that he hopes the NTM will enable fifty million Americans to speak with one voice for sustainable development.

Carol Browner, EPA Administrator and NTM Co Chair, urged participants at the meeting to become involved in preparations for the NTM and in discussions about sustainable development in general. She also stressed EPA's commitment to executing the NTM.

Jim Hartzfeld of Interface Inc., a member of the Executive Committee for the NTM gave a slide presentation that outlined major goals, themes, and designs for the meeting. These points are presented below.

Goals for the National Town Meeting

  • to create a national dialogue that will continue after the meeting,
  • to actively engage participants and honor them as well,
  • to reach across boundaries and find solutions through collaboration with those not yet a part of the sustainable development community,
  • to commit to personal action, institutional action, and real change.
Creating a network
  • The event will bring together change agents from all sectors of America society and provide them with leverage for sustainable development.
  • Concurrent events in other cities will help galvanize support from a second group of citizens, many of whom have not had much exposure to sustainable development.
  • A third group of citizens, more concerned with day to day matters, will learn about sustainable development through publicity around the event.
Events surrounding the National Summit
  • The Journey to Detroit. To build momentum, the NTM is urging other events and programs that are scheduled between now and May sign up as affiliated events.
  • Closely affiliated events will be 10 large, community-sponsored and organized events that be held at the same time as the event in Detroit. These events will be linked to the "hub" event in Detroit by a variety of information technologies, such as satellite linkage. In addition, co-marketing, organization, and strategizing would be linked with the NTM. To qualify for closely affiliated status, these event will have to align themselves with the ten goals of PCSD.
  • Loosely affiliated events will be events held on or around May 2 - 5 but are not directly linked to the hub event in Detroit. Such events will be able to self-certify themselves, possibly have access to the NTM logo and materials, and the privilege of showing that they are part of this historical event. Partnering with the so called loosely affiliated events will help the NTM reach a wider audience.
  • Detroit will serve as the hub for the event, which will take place on May 2 - 5. The NTM in Detroit seeks to attract about 3,000 participants. Pre-summit events will include cultural and religious activities. The core of the meeting will occur on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
  • Main program themes will be crossing boundaries, building trust, and making commitments. Cross-cutting themes include people, place, the environment, communities, business, and government. Big anchor events will motivate people to take action, while plenary sessions and working groups will get people into an honest learning mode.
  • The PCSD - Renew America Awards will recognize work already done. Community receptions will help to create a national round table preparing commitments to action.
  • The Council's rolewill be to act as a catalyst for action, to lend support and enthusiasm to local events, to provide in kind contributions and monetary contributions, and to add input on activities deserving of honor at the awards ceremony.
    Discussion topics for the plenary events included: technology as a means of including people nation-wide, international participation, criteria-setting for participation, media coverage, an event in Philadelphia, an event linking religion and ethics to the discussion on sustainability, the desire of NGOs to get involved, and the need to include more energy groups on the list of organizers.

(Working Group Chair Scott Bernstein, President of the Center for Neighborhood Technology; Mortimer Downey, Undersecretary, Department of Transportation)

4.1 Overview Of Working Group Activities

Scott Bernstein updated the Council on the efforts of the Cross-Cutting Working Group of the Climate Change Task Force. Mr. Bernstein outlined the rationale, goals, and potential projects stemming from the Working Group. The main points of his presentation are outlined below:

The rationale for the working group:

  • The majority of sources of greenhouse gas emissions are from small emitters or producers. This means that climate change policy is needed for everyday living.
  • These sources can be addressed in ways that result in significant and widely distributed benefits beyond controlling greenhouse gases.
Three goals of the working group are:
  • to promote voluntary action at the local community, regional, household, and firm level that furthers climate and other sustainable development objectives,
  • to promote policies and practices that help achieve climate protection and contribute to PCSD's objectives, and
  • to identify and capture the net economic and environmental benefits from such initiatives.
Eight recommended principles to meet these goals are:
  • promote early action and rapid learning at many different levels throughout society,
  • take full advantage of technology as it becomes available,
  • act in a continuous improvement mode,
  • take full advantage of entrepreneurship by developing new markets to achieve climate objectives,
  • use the capacities of developed communities and networks to achieve mutual gains across the full range of interests and values,
  • ease transaction costs and risks,
  • find a way to track performance, and
  • benefit everyone.
Some examples that demonstrate these goals and principles:
  • Atlanta's 211 project, developed by the Atlanta Regional Council and the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta in conjunction with the public commission and the telephone company, helps connect people to volunteer projects by simply by dialing "211" on the telephone.
  • A program put together by a consortium of bond underwriters led by Goldman Sachs and DOE helps to provide incentives for energy efficiency to schools and hospitals by counting the extra expected cash flow from energy efficiency in bond underwriting.
  • US EPA's Smart Growth Partnership helps growing communities utilize existing downtown areas, parking lots, and first generation shopping centers to their full potential
  • A partnership between banks and the Federal National Mortgage Association will offer location efficient mortgages that account for the amount of transportation necessary given the location. Another transportation initiative encourages credit enhancement and public policy to facilitate reinvestment in the market.
4.2     ISTEA Reauthorizing Legislation Highlights

Mortimer Downey, Undersecretary of Transportation spoke about the potential benefits in transportation re-authorization legislation. Mr. Downey noted the following:

The ISTEA legislation will include:

  • forty-two billion dollars for transit which local and regional governments can use at their discretion for development,
  • strong measures on seat belts, drunk driving, rail grade crossings, and other safety programs,
  • opportunities such as welfare-to-work, disadvantaged business provisions, and labor provisions,
  • the continuation of the congestion management and air quality program with a focus on non attainment areas and air quality strategies by Congress. Enhancements will be continued and expanded, with more than three billion dollars over the next six years.
  • more bicycle and pedestrian programs and scenic byways,
  • tax code changes that remove the disincentive for employers to offer the transit benefit,
  • a technology program that focuses on truck and bus vehicles,
  • Section 1221, the transportation and community and systems preservation pilot program puts $120 million towards involving metropolitan areas in discussions about the linkage between transportation investment and development,
  • more transportation investment to Brownfields areas to encourage development,
  • a research program put together by NSTC's Technology Committee through the government that addresses sustainable development and transportation, and much greater use of pricing in transportation.
(Robert Hickmott, Counselor to the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, and Scott Bernstein)

5.1 Overview Of Task Force Activities

Task Force Chair Scott Bernstein reviewed the task force's goals and principals. He discussed the four major goals of the task force, which are:

  • to advance critical thinking and action on both rural and urban issues and cross-cutting issues between them,
  • to promote support of policies for multi-stakeholder, multi-jurisdictional, and regional partnerships,
  • to recommend a framework of indicators to track and evaluate progress both at the national and at the community level, and
  • to engage in community initiatives to promote awareness, share information, and show support.
Mr. Bernstein noted that four working groups are currently investigating rural strategies, innovative economic strategies for sustainable communities, multi-jurisdictional and regional collaboration, and evaluating progress. He then reviewed the principals of the task force which include:
  • sustaining existing communities,
  • building on local assets (economic, ecological, and social) and systems that take advantage of those in a positive manner, and
  • ensuring that sustainable strategies are implemented in the places that most need them.
In closing, Mr. Bernstein discussed the task force's emphasis on continuous investment in education. In addition, the task force wants to ensure that community-based initiatives are matched by market-based opportunities, are able to leverage trends in the financial services industry, will offer incentives to overcome barriers to sustainability goals at the local level, and will package economic strategies for sustainable development as " franchises" so that they can be distributed quickly.

5.2 Current Initiatives at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Robert Hickmott, Counselor to the Secretary of Intergovernmental Relations, Department of House & Urban Development, listed several initiatives currently underway at HUD, including:

  • A deconstruction program that enables some materials to be recovered from buildings that would otherwise be torn down or dynamited and promotes the welfare-to-work idea is underway;
  • A "regionalism project" with the Joint Center for Sustainable Communities to develop best practices and incentives for groups that are implementing a regionalism initiatives;
  • A Showcase Community recognition program that will reward sixteen communities for Brownfields cleanup initiatives; and
  • Establishing a dialogue with the Home Loan Bank Board to encourage bankers to step up lending for Brownfields economic development in urban America
(Ted Strong, Executive Director, Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission)
Ted Strong began his presentation with a video about the Regional Council's work. Afterwards, he spoke on the uncertain future of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council, but emphasized that activities about sustainable development will not cease even if the Council is disbanded. Mr. Strong urged the President's Council to do more with Regional Councils so that the Members can witness the challenges of implementing sustainable development concepts and goals.

(Dr. D. James Baker, Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce; Steve Percy, President, BP America; and Fred Krupp, Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund)

7.1     Presentation

The Council heard presentations on the importance of early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a scientific, economic, and environmental perspective.

Dr. D. James Baker, Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce noted that once emitted, most greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for decades to even centuries. The more rapidly gases are emitted, the greater the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, consequently accelerating the rate which the climate will change. Dr. Baker also noted that:

  • Due to the thermal inertia of the ocean, global warming can only be reversed very slowly.
  • Even if the emissions reductions agreed upon at Kyoto are reached, stabilization of the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases will take many years.
  • Early action will buy time to react to climate change impacts to ecological and socioeconomic systems.
Steve Percy, President, British Petroleum America, stated that the Kyoto Protocol will require the development of new technologies and new ways of doing business in a relatively short time frame. Without any change in our current patterns of energy use, U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases will be 34% higher in 2008 than they were in 1990. The Kyoto Protocol commits the U.S. to reduce emissions 7% below 1990 levels to be obtained between 2008 and 2012. To avoid economic dislocation, it is very important for businesses to start reducing emissions now. Early action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions helps businesses gain competitive advantage, provides them with opportunities to learn about how to reduce emissions cost-effectively, and has much lower costs than crash programs. In addition, Mr. Percy noted that:
  • Translating innovation into market realities takes time, but lead times for renewable energy are quickly evaporating.
  • BP America is launching a pilot program for intracompany emissions trading in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund. By starting early, BP America hopes to gain a competitive advantage and benefit from early learning.
  • The business community needs to have some tangible incentives in the form of current value or reduced future uncertainty to provide the incentives for companies to find solutions to the climate change dilemma.
Fred Krupp, Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund, noted that an "annuity of benefits" could be realized in the decades and centuries to come by avoiding the impacts of climate change. He also recognized that rapid economic transition will become more difficult the longer we wait. An early action strategy can help get everyone involved in the business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Specific incentives to elicit voluntary efforts by some companies would help give businesses a reason to take action now. An early action program would help everyone learn about new technologies, and would also help address design issues of the ultimate regulatory program such as verification of emissions reductions. Mr Krupp also noted that:
  • It is necessary to ease the transition to lower emissions for the sake of both the economy and the environment, but the transition to lower emissions must be facilitated.
  • One way of providing certainty to those that want to take early action is to reward those that their emissions below a certain level and then be awarded a greenhouse gas emissions reduction credit. This credit would be taken from the total emissions the U.S. is allowed between 2008-2012, ensuring the environment would benefit.
  • Emissions credit programs could allow a wide variety of investors in business to participate, will provide certainty for business, and can increase accountability on the international level.
7.2     Discussion Period

Carol Browner noted that EPA currently runs an emissions trading program for reducing sulfur emissions from electric power plants. She stated that the program has been tremendously successful -- pollution reductions have come earlier than otherwise, the program is cost effective, and the compliance rate is higher than in other programs. EPA is looking to expand its program to include other media. One problem with an emissions trading program will be convincing business to participate in a program when the details are not yet worked out.
Scott Bernstein raised additional reasons for early action. The first is that joint action is necessary to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions not traceable to one entity. Second, an emissions credit program will help cut emissions from small sources in metro areas that need incentives to cut back on pollution. The emissions credit program would also foster continuous learning and a continuous improvement system. The level of trust will rise as the offsets are set at the correct point.

Carol Browner raised several challenges for creating such a program such as finding the baseline information and deciding how to allocate the credits.
Katie McGinty spoke on the reservations other nations have about emission trading. Europeans are hesitant to adopt an emissions trading system due to their inexperience with market-based mechanisms for environmental protection. Developing countries fear that developed countries would simply buy emissions credits rather than clean up their domestic production.
Jonathan Lash mentioned that an emissions trading program could use a variety of methods--auction, cap and trade, or simply tax incentives --for U.S. policy to achieve reductions. Also, he reminded the participants that not everyone is in support of meeting Kyoto goals, and that there isn't any value to credits if no policy exists to enforce the Kyoto goals. He proposed that the program include measures so that early actors are not penalized, and questioned what specific policy recommendations or principles for early action the Council would endorse.

Ray Anderson wanted to know whether a metric that looks at emissions per unit of output would work. Conceptually, how would credits be handled--as a unit of sales or in absolute terms? He also wondered how emissions that come from diffuse sources be handled?

Other questions and comments focused on equity issues surrounding an emissions reduction program, the time line involved, and monitoring and baseline information.
(Jonathan Lash; Dr. James Markowsky Executive Vice President for Power Generation, American Electric Power; Denny Minano on behalf of Harry Pearce, Vice Chairman, General Motors; Dr. Joseph Romm, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary For Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, US DOE.)
Jonathan Lash introduced the panel and this part of the program as a discussion rather than a presentation. Council members had been given a report that outlined promising technologies for greenhouse gas reduction and outlines of potential barriers to the implementation of these technologies.
Discussion focused on technologies that have potential to improve efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and barriers to implementation of those technologies. The following paragraphs provide a summary of this discussion.
James Markowsky encouraged the Council to consider both short-term (achievable by 2008 or 2012) and long-term (twenty years or more) time frames. The long-term time frame should focus on R&D and commercialization issues to achieve the goals of improved efficiency and reduced emissions, he stated.

Dennis Minano questioned the idea of a list of recommended technologies because such a list would be outdated in a few years. Additionally, Mr. Minano felt that such a list would slow down entrepreneurship. He suggested supporting an early incentive program that encourages risk-takin and entrepreneurship.

James Markowsky thought that identifying performance objectives for each sector might be a better approach. He thought that in the electric utility sector, performance objectives might include thermal efficiency with milestones set out to achieve that goal.

Joe Romm said that the group did not intend to pick winners. The list they generated focused on the classes of technologies that would be effective, such as cogeneration and renewable energies, without necessarily picking specific technologies.

Scott Bernstein asked about the role of information technologies on the list of technologies to consider.

Jonathan Lash asked whether some appropriate criteria for evaluating technologies would include more than their greenhouse gas reduction potential. He recommended including a CO2 measure that would favor low-carbon fuels over high-carbon fuels and give a measurement for early action credit.

Katie McGinty wanted to know of the technology issue could encourage more people to be positive actors toward climate change goals even if they did not support Kyoto.

Donna Wise of the World Resource Institute clarified the work of the task force as focusing heavily on rapid deployment of technology. They did not seek to rigorously evaluate the emissions reduction potential of specific technologies. She thought the Working Group would focus most of its efforts on overcoming barriers to the development of the identified classes of technologies.

Overcoming barriers
Fred Krupp (EDF) mentioned the need to get the incentives right--to align prices with society's goals--as the biggest barrier.

James Markowsky again mentioned the need to address time frames, R&D, and commercialization issues. Moreover, how can advanced technologies be introduced over the next ten years so that they are ready to be deployed in the time after 2010?
Jonathan Lash raised the issue of aligning the Clean Air Act requirements and possible future CO2 reduction strategies.

Dennis Minano suggested looking at the problem with a systems approach to make it more understandable.
Carol Browner stressed that incentives must be created so that those who are achieving ozone, NOx, and particulate matter reductions can also reduce greenhouse gases but that the benefits of cleaner air must not be delayed.
Joe Romm emphasized that emissions reductions agreed upon in Kyoto are well within the U.S.'s reach. No industries will be devastated, although transition costs need to be addressed in some cases.
James Markowsky suggested climate should be integrated into policy over the longer term because a step change is not very efficient.  He also provided statistics about Kyoto's effect on coal use, which Browner questioned because they do not assume technology advances. Markowsky clarified that it is important to consider the longer term impacts of climate policy requires sustained low levels of emissions in a growing economy.
(Dennis Minano on behalf of Harry Pearce, Vice Chairman, General Motors; Carol Browner, Administrator, EPA; Mike McCloskey, Sierra Club, not present)
9.1 Presentation

Dennis Minano introduced the task force's basic views on the need for a new environmental management framework. He noted that the Environmental Management Task Force work is particularly timely given the global climate issue.

Dean Drake of General Motors and member of the Task Force then provided the Council with a multi-media presentation of the Task Force's work towards creating a vision of a new environmental management framework. Mr. Drake began this presentation by showing a video vignette of General Motors' Futurama 1939-40 World Fair. He noted that this vision of future, which was seen by nearly 23 percent of the U.S. population, help shaped development and planning decisions in the US in the decades following its release.
Mr. Drake then discussed the process the Task Force used to develop a vision for the future environmental management system. He noted that the group began by asking itself, "How will the future environmental management system further the ideas presented in Sustainable America?" He then explained how the visioning exercise helped the Task Force develop a sense of a new environmental management framework that could foster sustainable development. Currently the Task Force is reviewing current innovative environmental management reforms. Mr. Drake stated that the visioning exercise helped the Task Force create a lens for viewing current initiatives in a manner that will enable them to identify elements that facilitate sustainable development.
Some of the attributes of a future environmental management framework that the Task Force is considering include:

  • adapts to changing circumstances with innovation,
  • allocates resources efficiently,
  • achieves its goal through a strategic combination of regulatory, voluntary, social, and economic means,
  • anticipates future technology, and
  • uses measures of key performance or performance indicators.
The new framework will depend on:
  • integrated systems,
  • enforceable performance-based goals,
  • information and learning,
  • community involvement,
  • employee engagement,
  • the strength of the market to reward, and
  • environmental stewardship
The working group looks forward to formulating its final report and completing its work as a Task Force.

9.2     Discussion

U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner asked the audience to think about how to create incentives for companies to move beyond compliance and how information and sophisticated company know-how can be used positively to achieve environmental goals.
Dennis Minano expressed GM's reasoning for participating in this task force, that is, looking forward to a system that rewards and promotes good environmental performance in new ways, one based on a "systems approach" necessary for pollution "reduction curves" like those that will be needed for addressing climate change.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner agrees with the need for a system that supports companies on the front-end of environmental management with a demonstrated ability to "do more than the bare minimum." She was also interested in having the task force evaluate the role and value of "third party certification" in a new framework.
Council co-chair Ray Anderson was also keen to know how a company, like Interface, that was moving toward goals of sustainability that are well beyond compliance could expect to be "assisted" by a new environmental management framework and EPA.
Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technologies exhorted the task force to look for the economic logic that anticipates social goals critical to the success of a new environmental management framework, rather than solely looking for an economic justification of environmental aims.
Joe Romm of the Energy Dept. strongly urged the task force to integrate the energy management perspective which has long been segmented from environmental factors.
Ted Strong from the Pacific Northwest Regional Council on Sustainable Development felt that community and "social indicators" are indispensable to the success of any new framework.
Katie McGhinty would like CEQ to brief the task force on NEPA and looks forward to the task force further identifying the "inter-linkages" between environmental, equity, and economics with which the council was unanimous in agreement.

Jonathan Lash stated that indeed we ought to look at environmental issues from all three perspectives, not look just at the environmental consequences, but the social consequences of performance, particularly for manufacturing industries thus expanding the sensitivity of the system to the range of sustainability issues.


Tom Jensen, representing Tom Cast, chairman and CEO of Trigen Energy Corporation, asked members to look over Trigen's papers on impediments to generation efficiency in electricity production.

Jack Heckleman from the Alliance for a Sustainable Future believes that questions should be framed in terms of policy rather then technology. He mentioned the Bonn negotiations and the need for a public outreach campaign on the necessity of emissions reductions.

Tina Carsburg, a representative from Northeast-Midwest Institute, believes electricity deregulation will be crucial for emissions reductions. She urged consideration of an electricity restructuring plan being drafted by the Administration and asked the Council to become involved with electricity restructuring so that barriers to technologies that result in lower greenhouse gas emissions are overcome. She mentioned a new bill, the Innovation-Based Electricity Restructuring Bill, that Northeast-Midwest Institute and Representatives Meehan and Franks are working on.

Scott Blumberg, a former retailer businessman, former environmental manager in public service to the State of Maryland, and consultant to organizations undergoing change, stated that sustainability must be seen as a business and environmental incentive in order to draw support from small business and small- to medium-sized companies.

Phil Heinrich of Get America Working thinks that recognition of market share is necessary. Markets can be segmented into different groups to set up trading regimes.


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