The Politics of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reduction: The Role of Pluralism in Shaping the Climate Change Technology Initiative

By Golden, Dylan | UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reduction: The Role of Pluralism in Shaping the Climate Change Technology Initiative


Golden, Dylan, UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


I.

INTRODUCTION

Slowly and surely the earth is warming. The increase in heat is due in substantial part to the increasing rate of release of greenhouse gasses - carbon dioxide primarily -- into the atmosphere by human activity.(1) Of these activities, the burning of fossil fuels is the primary contributor to carbon emissions.(2) For the United States a reduction in energy usage, or a radical change in the methods used to generate energy, is necessary to effect a reduction in global warming.

The Proposed 1999 Fiscal Budget advocated funding for a Research Fund for America designed to support a wide range of federal science and technology activities.(3) The $31 billion fund included a five-year research and technology initiative -- the Climate Change Technology Initiative (CCTI) -- to reduce the Nation's emissions of greenhouse gases.(4) The Energy Department (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were the primary recipients and leaders under the program. The budget proposed a combined $2.7 billion increase over five years for these and other agencies and the industries and research institutes with which they work, in order to work on projects that increase energy efficiency, generate cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources, and improve on carbon reduction technologies.(5) The budget also proposed $3.6 billion in tax incentives over five years to stimulate the adoption of more efficient technologies in buildings, industrial processes, vehicles, and power generation.(6) Specific examples of these incentives include: funds, administered through federal agencies, for research and development spending -- $277 million for researching "new generation" vehicles, $100 million for research on renewable forms of energy; and tax credits, for energy efficiency -- $4,000/person purchasing highly fuel efficient cars, $2,000/person for rooftop solar electricity and hot water, and $2,000/person for home improvements which save energy.(7)

The budgetary allocations to various agencies for CCTI implementation are listed below:(8)

CLIMATE CHANGE TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE (AGENCIES) (millions)

Selected Agencies                    1997       1998       1999
                                   Actual   Estimate   Proposed

Discretionary Budget Authority:
 Energy                               657        729      1,060
 Environmental Protection Agency       86         90        205
 Housing and Urban Development                               10
 Agriculture                                                 10
 Commerce                                                     7

   Subtotal, budget authority         743        819      1,292
Tax Incentives                                              421

 Total Initiative                     743        819      1,713

                                    Dollar    Dollar
                                   Change:   Change:
                                   1998 to   1999 to
                                      1999      2003

Discretionary Budget Authority:
 Energy                               +331    +1,899
 Environmental Protection Agency      +115      +677
 Housing and Urban Development         +10       +10
 Agriculture                           +10       +86
 Commerce                               +7       +38

   Subtotal, budget authority         +473    +2,710
Tax Incentives                        +421    +3,635

 Total Initiative                     +894    +6,345

While only a small step towards the Kyoto commitment to reduce United States carbon dioxide emission levels to 7% below 1990 levels by the year 2012(9), full enactment of the CCTI would be a convincing first step towards reducing emissions.(10)

The decision to split these subsidies between direct expenditures to government agencies -- and through these agencies to academia, think tanks, and research institutes -- and tax expenditures to businesses and the populous, in part reflects the fact that from the standpoint of administrative and economic efficiency different solutions require different implementation strategies. …

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