Since the beginning of this century, the average global
temperature has increased by about half a degree Celsius.
A majority of climate scientists believe global warming
trends will continue well into the century, perhaps at
an even faster rate. As studies continue to link global
warming to dramatic and catastrophic weather events, including
increased violent storms, flooding, drought and shrinking
ice caps, an increasing number of Americans are beginning
to recognize global warming as a growing problem that
must be addressed.
The U.S. is the single biggest contributor to global
warming, producing about 22 percent of all greenhouse
gas emissions, which trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere
and are slowly warming the planet. Over the last two years,
however, efforts to curb these emissions have all but
drawn to a halt. Much of the delay can be directly linked
to controversies surrounding the Kyoto Protocol, an international
agreement negotiated in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.
The treaty calls for the U.S. and other industrialized
countries to make significant reductions in global warming
pollution by 2010. However, the Senate has yet to ratify
the treaty. Many senators say they are opposed to the
treaty because it does not require developing countries
to "meaningfully" participate in greenhouse gas reductions.
Last year the House passed several funding bills that
restricted the Clinton administration's ability to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions in advance of treaty ratification.
There has been growing support in the White House and
on Capitol Hill to establish a credit system for early
actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The primary
objective of such a credit program would be to reward
those companies that undertake early emission reduction
activities. Proponents believe that early action credits
would effectively encourage reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions and could spur research and development of technologies
to reduce global warming pollution. Opponents of early
action credits, however, argue that such a program would
be coercive, effectively penalizing non-participating
companies by losing a portion of their future emissions
allocations. In addition, they say companies taking early
action would likely lobby in favor of ratification of
the Kyoto Protocol to gain a competitive advantage. Bills
that would give regulatory credit for voluntary early
actions have been introduced in both the House and Senate.
For more information on global warming issues and what
you can do to help, check out these Web sites:
2000-2018, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund