Climate change — страница 2

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change. Through its Support for National Action Plans, the program is supporting the preparation of national climate action plans for eighteen developing countries, which will lay the foundation for their national communication, as required by the FCCC. More than twenty-five additional countries have requested similar assistance from the Country Studies Program. The United States is also committed to facilitating the commercial transfer of energy-efficient and renewable-energy technologies that can help developing countries achieve sustainable development. Under the auspices of the Climate Technology Initiative, the U.S. has taken a lead role in a task force on Energy Technology Networking and Capacity Building, the efforts of which focus on increasing the availability of

reliable climate change technologies, developing options for improving access to data in developing countries, and supporting experts in the field around the world. The United States is also engaged in various other projects intended to help countries with mitigation and adaptation issues. The International Activities chapter focuses on the most important of these U.S. efforts. Introduction and Overview Since the historic gathering of representatives from 172 countries at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, issues of environmental protection have remained high on national and international priorities. Climate change is one of the most visible of these issues--and one in which some of the most significant progress has been made since the 1992 session. Perhaps the

crowning achievement in Rio was the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). This Convention represented a shared commitment by nations around the world to reduce the potential risks of a major global environmental problem. Its ultimate objective is to: Achieve ¼ stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic human interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. However, since the 1992 Earth Summit, the global community has found that actions

to mitigate climate change will need to be more aggressive than anticipated. At the same time, the rationale for action has proven more compelling. Few "Annex I" countries (the Climate Convention's term for developed countries, including Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries and countries with economies in transition to market economies) have demonstrated an ability to meet the laudable, albeit nonbinding, goal of the Convention--"to return emissions of greenhouse gases to their 1990 levels by the end of the decade." While voluntary programs have demonstrated that substantial reductions are achievable at economic savings or low costs, the success of these programs has been overshadowed by lower-than-expected energy

prices as well as higher-than-expected economic growth and electricity demand, among other factors. Recognizing that even the most draconian measures would likely be insufficient to reverse the growth in greenhouse gases and return U.S. emissions to their 1990 levels by the year 2000, new U.S. efforts are focusing most intensively on the post-2000 period. Thus, while some new voluntary actions have already been proposed (and are included in this report), an effort to develop a comprehensive program to address rising U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is being developed in the context of the ongoing treaty negotiations and will be reported in the next U.S. communication. In spite of difficulties in meeting a domestic goal to return emissions to their 1990 levels, the U.S. commitment to

addressing the climate change problem remains a high priority. President Clinton, in remarks made in November 1996, both underlined U.S. concerns and exhorted the nations of the world to act: “We must work to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These gases released by cars and power plants and burning forests affect our health and our climate. They are literally warming our planet. If they continue unabated, the consequences will be nothing short of devastating ¼. We must stand together against the threat of global warming. A greenhouse may be a good place to raise plants; it is no place to nurture our children. And we can avoid dangerous global warming if we begin today and if we begin together.” Difficulties in meeting the "aim" of the Climate Convention