Boucher Releases White Paper on Emissions from Developing Countries

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 05 Feb 2008 15:46:00 GMT

In the middle of September 2007, Rick Boucher (D-W.Va.), chair of the the the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee of John Dingell’s Energy and Commerce Committee, announced he would be releasing a series of white papers “over the next six weeks” on issues related to the development of climate change legislation.

October saw the first such paper, Scope of a Cap-and-Trade Program.

16 weeks later, he has released the second, Competitiveness Concerns/Engaging Developing Countries.

Since the U.S. cannot unilaterally bind other countries, our goal will be to craft legislation limiting U.S. carbon emissions that also induces developing countries to limit their emissions growth (1) on a timetable that meets both environmental and trade competitiveness concerns; (2) in a manner that is reasonably certain to withstand challenge before the World Trade Organization (WTO); and (3) on terms that pose acceptable risks to U.S. interests in the event of a negative WTO determination.

The white paper, which draws from a March 27 subcommittee hearing on international issues, discusses the IBEW/American Electric Power proposal of applying a “greenhouse gas intensity tariff” (which was included in Bingaman-Specter and Lieberman-Warner); the “carbon intensive” performance standard proposal; and the Environmental Defense “carrots and sticks” proposal for carbon market design.

The “questions for further discussion” are listed after the jump.

  1. Do any of the three alternatives discussed in this White Paper – border adjustments, performance standards, or carbon market design – offer clear cut advantages as a legislative policy in terms of encouraging developing countries to limit their GHG emissions and simultaneously protecting U.S. industry in global trade markets? Are there other approaches Congress should consider and, if so, what are their advantages and disadvantages?
  2. Are the various policies mutually exclusive, or can they be combined in some fashion to achieve the best balance between reducing global GHG emissions and protecting U.S. industry and jobs?
  3. In terms of timing, how closely should legislation link commencement of a U.S. domestic cap-and-trade regime with policies to induce developing countries to limit their GHG emissions?
  4. Should U.S. legislation distinguish between the “least developed” countries and other “developing” countries?
  5. Which approach is most likely to satisfy WTO requirements? Which approach is most likely to result in the promp resolution of any WTO challenge, and thereby provide most certainty with respect to both global environmental benefits and the long term impact on U.S. industry and jobs?
  6. How can climate legislation that includes both domestic and international components be drafted to align with any post-Kyoto Protocol accord the U.S. agrees to under the UNFCCC? How might U.S. adoption of climate change legislation affect the likelihood that such an agreement is concluded and influence the formulation of a U.S. international negotiating position?
The accompanying memo makes the following request:
Following a review of this paper, we strongly encourage interested parties to share with us their views and suggestions regarding the proper approach to encouraging the control of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.

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