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Updated February 22, 2006
Climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are an issue in the 109th Congress, as they have been in past Congresses. Bills directly addressing climate change issues range from those focused primarily on climate change research to comprehensive emissions cap-and-trade programs for the six greenhouse gases covered under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Additional bills focus on GHG reporting and registries, or on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, as part of wider controls on pollutant emissions.
Within several broad categories, the bills vary in their approaches to climate change issues. For example, some bills covering research issues focus solely on modeling the effects of future climate change, whereas others address the development of monitoring technologies. Bills focusing on technology deployment do so through tax incentives and credit-based programs within the United States or by promoting deployment in developing countries. Bills with greenhouse gas registries may be voluntary or mandatory and vary in the entities covered and the gases registered. Bills with emission reduction requirements also vary in the entities covered, the gases limited, and the target emissions levels.
Most notably, on August 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58, H.R. 6). Among other provisions, Title XVI of the bill establishes programs to promote the development and deployment of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas intensity.
This report briefly discusses the basic concepts on which these bills are based and compares major provisions of the bills in each of the following categories: climate change research, technology deployment, GHG reporting and registries, and emissions reduction programs. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Contents Energy Bill Amendments Climate Change Research Bills Deployment of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Technology GHG Reporting and Registry Bills GHG Emission-Reduction Bills Carbon Dioxide Reduction Bills Comprehensive GHG Emissions Reductions Comparison of Emissions Reduction Bills List of Tables Table 1. Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Reduction Legislation Appendix 1. Climate Change Bills in the 109th Congress Appendix 2. Key Provisions of Climate Change Legislation in the 109th Congress
Climate Change Legislation in the 109th Congress
Climate change is viewed as a global issue, but proposed responses generally require action at the national level. In 1992, the United States ratified the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which called on industrialized countries to take the lead in making voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. (1) Over the past decade, a variety of voluntary and regulatory actions have been proposed or undertaken in the United States, including monitoring of utility carbon dioxide emissions, improved appliance efficiency, and incentives for developing renewable energy sources. In 2001, President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC, which called for legally binding commitments by developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, the Bush Administration has focused on reducing the greenhouse gas intensity (2) of the U.S. economy. In the meantime, some states and local governments, as well as private entities, have taken actions to reduce emissions and limit the potential impacts of climate change. In light of these actions, a number of bills have been introduced in Congress to address climate change.
In the 109th Congress, numerous bills have been introduced that directly or indirectly address climate change. Several bills address the climate change issue directly, either through emissions limits, incentives for reductions, or research and information gathering on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation. This report describes and compares bills that directly address climate change, as opposed to those that address other issues but could have ancillary impacts (e.g., energy efficiency and conservation). Topics covered by these bills fall into four major categories: (1) those that would promote research on the effects of climate change and on methods to measure and predict climate change; (2) those that would create incentives for the deployment of emission-reducing technologies in the United States or other countries; (3) those that would establish greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring systems as a basis for research or for any potential reduction program; and (4) those that would establish market-based programs to directly limit greenhouse gas emissions. These categories are not mutually exclusive, and several bills address more than one of the above categories. The major provisions of these bills are categorized in Appendix 1 and summarized in Appendix 2.
In several cases, bill sponsors have introduced modified versions of their climate change bills. For the purposes of the discussion below, it is assumed that the newest version supersedes earlier versions. These bills include S. 1151 for S. 342 (McCain); S. 883 for S. 386 (Hagel); S. 887 for S. 388 (Hagel); and S. 1203 for S. 387 (Hagel).
Energy Bill Amendments
On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58, H.R. 6). Title XVI establishes a voluntary national program designed to accelerate demonstration and deployment of less-carbon-intensive technology to encourage voluntary reductions in greenhouse gases. The title attempts to support actions focused on reducing U.S. carbon intensity (the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product). The program would not establish a requirement to reduce emissions. This title also establishes a program to encourage exports of carbon intensity-reducing technologies to developing countries. …