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Climate Change at the Stack: Posturing Toward Kyoto

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1997

or not it's the kind of agreement that the senate might ratify in the near future."

Outside the agency world, on the legislative side, a spokesperson for one leading proponent of restructuring, Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.) says she hasn't heard from bureaucrats on delays in plans for industry restructuring legislation.

"I think they're wrong," says Dana Perino, Schaefer's spokesperson. Perino suggests their tactic could be to stall or discourage House and Senate action. "We'll just have to see," she says.

Others in the industry feel adamant about not making the restructuring legislation an environmental bill.

"Let's not have save-the-planet legislation," says Terry Thorn, senior v.p. at Enron Corp. "Let's focus on what is the problem in the context of electric restructuring. And that is you have a whole generation of plants that are exempted. You could have one paragraph in this bill that basically says all power plants in the United States ... will meet new source performance standards. ... And the second part of this paragraph would be, 'To meet those requirements, there's authorization to set up a trading program.'"

Novak is more concerned that the regulations mesh. For instance, he says, if he owned a coal-fired power plant and had to invest in it to meet ambient air quality standards, it would mean he would want to operate it longer to recoup his costs. But CO2 regulations might dictate just the opposite, requiring shorter run times or even shutdowns.

"Between deregulation, the national ambient air quality standards ... between CO2, boy imagine trying to be a utility company and make decisions on how to meet increasing electricity demand," he says.

Policy and Projections

Will Kyoto end up a mere prelude to a later, more far-reaching agreement?

"Right now, things seem, to be honest, kind of bleak," says the State Department official. "Because [the nations] are very far apart and I'm not sure that will become very clear after October. But we're in a wait-and-see game. Things can happen quickly."

Hopp seems more hopeful. "There will be some form of

agreement that will result in additional obligations being committed to by (em the way it looks now (em the Annex 1 countries," Hopp says. "With very little in additional commitments on the part of developing countries."

Annex 1 countries include the U.S., the European Union, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Doniger says the administration believes any agreement will comprise four key elements: binding targets, flexible domestic implementation, flexibility of trading and international implementation and reasonable participation by developing countries.

"We need to share the burden of achieving the environmental objective," he says.

Hopp says the U.S. government must preserve its sovereignty to implement voluntary approaches over mandatory ones, even if it assumes mandatory obligations on the international level. Others point out that part of the reason for that approach is to maintain leverage with developing countries like China. China has huge coal deposits and is building power plants whose CO2 output will equal that of all Annex 1 countries by 2010, according to EEI.

China's output now is one-tenth that