The Heat Is Online

RIP: Global Climate Coalition

Global Climate Coalition Ends Its Work;

Voice for Industry Opposed Global Treaty

By Pamela Najor

Bureau of National Affairs, Jan. 25, 2002

The Global Climate Coalition, which represented U.S. industry groups opposed to implementing mandatory greenhouse gas emission reductions, has been dissolved, a coalition official told BNA Jan. 25.

Frank Maisano, spokesman for the group, said, "We have achieved what we wanted to accomplish with the Kyoto Protocol."

The coalition had been the most active U.S. industry voice opposing U.S. involvement in the global treaty to curb greenhouse gases. The treaty, which calls on industrialized nations to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012, was signed by the United States in 1997. But in March 2001, the Bush administration rejected global efforts to implement the treaty, saying the United States would not participate in mandatory reductions

that could cause harm to the U.S. economy.

Maisano said since the Bush administration is more in line with the coalition's approach to climate change—voluntary policy initiatives--there is no battle to fight with the White House. He said action on climate change is going in the direction of relying on the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse emissions through voluntary incentives.

Kert Davies, director of the global warming campaign for Greenpeace U.S., told BNA that the coalition's "destructive influence on Kyoto negotiations" will not be missed. Saying he was "pleasantly surprised" by the announcement, Davies called the coalition the "last stronghold to prevent progress on global warming. Now President Bush and Exxon stand alone."

He added that it is "more than symbolic that voices like GCC's are no longer relevant in the climate change debate." He said that although they were successful at "industry-funded campaigns to confuse the public and Congress and deceive them regarding the science," progress is being made. "Now, they are irrelevant."

However, he is concerned that the GCC members may have "left a stain on the Bush-Cheney climate change policy."

The administration is expected to announce shortly its domestic policy on climate change. "We are hearing that something is brewing and it smells like Exxon," Davies said. He speculated that it will largely involve climate change research and voluntary measures.

Battles Still Loom

Maisano acknowledged that a battle still looms in Congress over energy policy and legislation that calls for mandatory carbon dioxide reductions. As a result, the industry members once part of the coalition will remain involved in the issue.

He noted that those industry members who represent multinational companies will still have to comply with Kyoto targets in countries moving forward with the protocol. However, he said the approach to dealing with Kyoto for one association of companies may not be the best approach for another. As a result, one broad coalition could not work on behalf of associations on an individual basis.

The coalition had undergone changes since it was formed in 1989. In March 2000, it announced it would no longer accept individual companies as members and will allow only trade associations to join (53 DEN A-8, 3/17/00).

That statement came on the heels of membership withdrawals announced March 14, 2000, by General Motors Corp. and March 8, 2000, by Southern Co.

The coalition opposed Senate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol because it held the view that the U. S. economy would be "severely hampered and energy prices for consumers would skyrocket."

The coalition also opposed the treaty because it does not require the largest developing countries to make cuts in their emissions. The treaty's first commitment period, 2008-2012, does not include developing country targets, but future targets will be aimed at developing countries as well.

Coalition Included Major Groups

The Global Climate Coalition described itself as an organization of trade associations to coordinate business participation in the international policy debate on the issue of global climate change policy.

Its members represented more than 6 million businesses, companies, and corporations. The members included the American Chemistry Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest and Paper Association, American Highway Users Alliance, American Iron & Steel Institute, American Petroleum Institute, American Portland Cement Alliance, Association of American Railroads, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, National Lime Association, National Mining Association, National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

According to Maisano, businesses and industries that make up the coalition members' trade associations are active participants in voluntary programs for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of the federal government's U.S. Climate Action Plan.

Carol Raulston, senior vice president for communications at the National Mining Association, told BNA that from "our standpoint, the primary purpose of the coalition was to comment on the Kyoto Protocol and since the administration has decided to pursue another course, the work of coalition is essentially done." However, the mining association and other members, she said, still intend to provide any statistical information regarding clean coal technology that would contribute to the debate for reductions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

Raulston said that although some of the members of the mining group have facilities in other countries that will be participating in the Kyoto Protocol, the group only represented their U.S. operations.