January 28, 1992 | Backgrounder on Energy and Environment
,874 January 28,1992 GUIDELINES FOR THE U.N ENWR0"TAL CONFERENCE INTRODUCTION The United Nations this March continues its analysis of how national environ mental policies affect economic development. Convening in Manhattan from March 2 to April 3 is the fourth preparatory conference for the U.N. Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED Unofficially called the "Earth Summit UNCED will meet from June 1 to 12,1992, in Rio de Janeiro.
On the Rio agenda is the discussion of economic development and the environ ment. This conference and the March preparatory session will be an important test of whether the U.N. is ready to abandon the ideologically doctrinaire positions which paralyzed i t for nearly a quarter-century. In Rio, UNCED will demonstrate if it can prod the nations of the world to agree on economically sustainable and scientifically sound solutions to world environmental problems. If not, the UNCED negotiations will yield enviro n mental policies that will strangle eco nomic growth and slow development in the world's poarest, as well as richest, na tions. UNCED could also damage the environment in the long run by promoting the kind of command and control policies that wrought ecolo gical devastation on the former socialist Eastern bloc.
Risks for America. The outcome of the UNCED negotiations also could affect profoundly America's economic growth, productivity, and international competi tiveness, If political momentum for costly and UMCXXSS environmental regula tions builds as a result'of this conference, regulations touted at UNCED could be imposed on the United States by. Congress or the Bush Administration without any actual environmental benefit. Thus, American business, labor, a nd political leaders must be alert to the environmental and economic risks that the UNCED process poses for America.
The Bush Administration negotiators at UNCED should support only those en vironmental policies based on sound scientific evideke. Several e nvironmental false alarms, such as the global cooling fear of the mid-l970s, have taught that faulty scientifk analysis and evidence can lead to costly unnecessary environmen tal regulations. U.S. negotiators in Rio also should stress that environmental p r o tection need not come at the expense of economic growth. Americas negotiators too must reject demands by Third World nations for the U.S. and other advanced nations to finance projects sponsored by the World Bank, United Nations Environ ment Programme ( U NEP and United Nations Development Programme UNDP) that not only are costly and destroy jobs, but also are environmentally damaging To prevent the UNCED conference from advocating policies that could cripple economic development in the Third World, and el s ewhere, the Bush Administra tion should advance environmentally sound, free market goals at the March UNCED preparatory meeting in New York and at the main conference in Rio de Janeh. These are GOAL #1: Limit discussions of global warming? UNCED has the p o tential for shaping world public opinion on environmental issues. It thus should restrict itself to those issues in which it has competence. On global warming, for example, UNCED expertise and scientific objec tivity will be very limited. UNCED should awa i t the outcome of those negotiations that the U.N. is conducting specifically to address this very complicated matter. These talks on climate change began in Feb ruary 1991 in the U.N.s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee INC a body created by the U.N. General Assembly on December 21, 1990 greenhouse gases by a set date. Scientific evidence on global warming needs to be more solid before costly regulations are imposed on the worlds economy. The U.S. should urge the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committe e to study global warming and examine objec tively with sound scientific evidence whether there is global warming and whether it threatens the environment GOAL a: Do not draft a detailed plan for reducing specific quantities of GOAL #3: Do not address issu e s dealt with by other international bodies The 1989 Basel Convention, an international agreement signed by the U.S sets guidelines for regulating the transportation of hazardous waste across international boundaries. There thus is no need for UNCED to rev i sit the work of the Basel Convention and impose more 1 2 Anna J. Bray, The Ice Age Cometh: Remembering the Scare of Global Cooling, Poky Review, Fall 1991 The question of global wannhg is also referred to as global climate change and the greenhouse effect pp. 82-84 2 stringent regulations. The International-Maritime Organization (IMO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), both U.N. agen cies, already are discussing the problems of disposing of low-level nu clear waste. Here too UNCED need not g e t involved GOAL 4: Promote an understanding of biotechnology that realistically as sesses its risks and benefits The UNCED staff has broached the sub ject of environmentally sound management of biotechnology. In re sponding to the UNCED staff s major pape r on biotehnology, the U.S. has noted that some critics of biotechnology overestimate the dan gers associated with it, while some of biotechs promoters inflate the benefits from this science. The world must become more knowledge able about biotechnology so that scientific research will not be im peded by unnecessary regulations. UNCEDs New York and Rio ses sions will be a good place for the U.S. to begin this educational pro cess.
GOAL #5: Protect private intellectual property rights. Some Third World count ries want relaxed international rules allowing the appropriation of patented and copyrighted technologies. They claim that this will help them develop more environmentally safe ways to consume en ergy. These countries are using the environmental argument a s a trans parent rationale for appropriating intellectual property. What is worse any relaxation of intellectual property rights will discourage the inven tion of innovative and environmentally beneficial technologies. To protect the research investments o f American companies, the U.S. del egates should oppose strongly any UNCED agreement that under mines protection of patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights. The U.S. also should block actions at UNCED that could inter fere with the int e llectual property agreement that may emerge from the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GAIT the worlds main forum for negotiating trade issues GOAL Oppose UNCED proposals to spend more money on environ mental problems in developi n g nations. Funds already set aside at institutions like the World Bank should be spent on projects that pro mote environmentally sound free market reforms 3 U.S. Statement on UNGA Document A/CONF.l5l/FC/67 Environmentally Sound Management of Biotechnology : Background and Issues (Geneva: American delegation document for UNCED Reparatory Committee III, August 22,1991 3 THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE ENVIRONMENT The U.N.3 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC which focuses on eco nomic, health, and human rights iss u es, passed a resolution in 1968 noting mankinds urgent need to limit damage to the worlds environment! This resolu tion called for an international conference to discuss ways to clean the environ ment. As a result, the U.N. Conference on the Human Environ ment, the first inter national conference of its kind met- in Stockholm in June 19
72. Participants there called for environmentally sound development. While this could have meant finding ways for the Third World to develop economically in ways safe for th e en vironment, the phrase became a rallying cry for the kind of environmental regula tion that slows economic growth.
Monitoring the Environment. As a follow-up to the Stockholm Conference the U.N. in 1972 established the United Nations Environment Progr amme UNEP) primarily to promote international cooperation on the environment and to set general policy guidelines for the management of the U.N.3 environmental pol icies. Headed by Mostafa K. Tolba of Egypt since 1977, UNEP has its headquar ters in Nairob i , Kenya. UNEP is funded by voluntary contributions. The U.S. in 1990 paid $1 1.5 million of the $50.8 million pledged to UNEPs Environment Fund or 22.6 percent of the total UNEP projects, among other things, monitor global and regional environmental trend s , underwrite scientific research on the en vironment, and disseminate studies to promote economic growth not harmful to the environment As the environmental movement increased in the past decade, the U.N. became even more involved in environmental issues. The culmination of this was Resolu tion 44/228, passed on December 22,1989, by the General Assembly. It called for the worldwide U.N. conference scheduled for Rio. The conferences purpose is to promote policies that lead to environmentally sustainable dev elopment, or economic development that does not harm the environment.
Distorted Concept. While this concept is reasonable, it can be distorted and the conference transformed into a vehicle that stunts economic growth and in creases unemployment. Pushing in this direction was the World Commission on Environment and Development, an ad hoc organization of government officials.
Headed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norways current Labor Party Prime Minis ter this commission issued a report in 1987 entitled Our Comm on Future. This report stated that economic growth is both necessary and possible, but only if fundamental changes are made in the management and content of growth through a transition to sustainable development 4 ECOSOC Resolution 1346 (XLV) of 1968 4 Co d e Phrase. For Brundt land and her group, the idea of environmentally sustainable development is a code phrase for subordinating commercial activity and economic growth to the most extreme claims of environmental protection claims often uncorroborated by s c ientific study. The aim of those who subscribe to Brundtlands views will be to get UNCED to impose strict in ternational regulations to estab lish worldwide air quality stan dards that would force many na tions to redirect the production and consumption p a tterns of their economies. For example stringent reductions of carbon dioxide could greatly curtail the use of automobiles in the U.S Many UNCED proponents favor state-controlled economic planning to protect the environ ment. UNCED Secretary Gen eral Maur i ce Strong, a Cana dian businessman and former U.N. official, believes that the changes envisaged by UNCED include systems of incentives and penalties that motivate the economic behavior of corpora tions and citizens. Strong and his political allies believ e that significant changes in life styles will be required to pro tect the environment, particu larly in advanced industrial countries, where they believe consumption must be lowered and altered Accusing Industrial Nations. Many members of the Geneva-based UNCED secretariat, along with delegates from Third World countries, argue that their na tions cannot afford to adopt strict environmental regulations without aid from the industrialized countries. They claim that environmentally sustainable develop 5 ment requires access to additional financial resources and technologies to adapt economic production to higher levels of environmental safety. Since much of the worlds pollution has been caused by the industrial world, they charge, industrial nations should he l p pay for a cleaner environment in the Third World. Argues UNCED Secretary General Strong: In this transition to a more secure and sus tainable future, the industrialized countries must take the lead. They have devel oped and benefitted from the unsustain a ble patterns of production and consump tion which have produced our present dilemma. And they primarily have the means and responsibility to change them redistributionist campaign waged inside the U.N. by the developing nations in the 1970s. Launched by t h e Group of 77 (or G-77), originally a group of 77 devel oping nations organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Develop ment (UNmAD) in 1964, this campaign culminated in 1974 in the passage of a General Assembly resolution demanding what is c alled a New International Eco nomic Order NIEO Its aim is to help the Third World at the ex ense of the ad vanced industrial nations. The G-77 now has over 120 members Third World Demands. The NE0 envisaged massive transfers of wealth from America, German y, Japan, and other advanced nations to poorer nations.
The NIEO also demanded that the West transfer advanced technologies to the Third World and pay huge sums of money to finance economic development pro jects. The NJEO, of course, failed. Increasingly e conomists recognize that nations are poor because they pursue policies that keep them poor. To become rich, these nations do not need transfers from successful nations; they need to reform their own policies.
Resuscitating the dormant spirit of NIEO, some UNCED environmentalists de mand that the West pay for cleaning up the Third Worlds air and waterways.
They would do this, among other things, by asking the industrialized nations to re linquish or relax their proprietary rights in certain environmentally related technol ogies. Example: the technology that allows for the scrubbing of sulphur dioxide gases when coal is burned.
Third World countries envisage many ways for the West to finance environmen tal projects. One is debt relief. Sometimes called debt for nature swaps, Third World countries want to ask their Western creditors to forgive their debts if they promise to ban economic activity on some of their environmentally pristine lands usually tropical rain forests This hostility toward the industrial ized countries is reminiscent of the 5 6 Trekking to the Summit: Now Comes the Hard Part,Eurth Summir in Focus, No. 2 (New York United Nations Department of Public Information, August 1991 p. 2.
The call for the NIEO took place at the Sixth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1974.
At that session a pup of OPEC members led the G-77 in adopting the Declaration and Action Programme on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order. See Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of Internutionul Relutions (Princeton: Princeton Unive r sity Press, 1983, p. 298 6 I There also are other schemes for.extracting money from the West, One general concept envisages taxing those who use the global commons areas.In its most extreme form this would charge for the use of the Ocean for deep-sea fish i ng or shipping, or even for the use of the air by airplanes PROMOTING PROSPERITY AND A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT The Bush -Administration should base its negotiations on the environment, at UNCED and elsewhere, on two fundamental principles. The first is that pol i cy pri orities should be set using the method of risk assessment. In environmental mat ters, this consists of estimating and ranking the probability of actual exposure and harm that people or other living things receive during the life cycle of a pollutan t or contaminant. This technique allows policy makers to rank comparatively the risks from various environmental hazards.8 The second fundamental principle is that market solutions to environmental problems are more effective and long-lasting than governme n t imposed regula tions. Using market solutions puts the cost burden of pollution on the backs of those polluters who most harm the environment. This gives businesses an incen tive to reduce pollution and preserve natural resources. Example: the U.S. has l e arned that timber is best preserved not by laws preventing the cutting of trees but by economic incentives for lumber companies to husband their resources and replant farests after they have been cut. When lumber producers have no property rights in the f o rest, they have an incentive to cut down as many trees as possible before their competitors do so. Once property rights to the forest are protected, by contrast, a much stronger in entive exists to harvest the resource in an orderly way that permits repla n ting. s Central Theme. Promotion of these two principles should be the central theme of Americas negotiating strategy at UNCED. For one thing, these principles will prevent UNCED from disintegrating into a pointless standoff between the Third World and th e advanced nations. After all, if the U.S. and other advanced nations come under attack, they will go on the defensive and cooperate very little with the Third World. For another thing, promoting these principles could prevent UNCED from advocating environ m ental regulations that will slow economic growth by hampering attempts to increase worker productivity. For example, if UNCED were to impose regulations intended to address global warming the au tomotive and electric power generating industries around the world would be hit with increased costs 7 Earth Summit in Focus, No. 1, p. 6 8 See 2educing Risk: Setting Priorities and Strategies for Environmental Protection, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Science Advisory Board, Washington, D.C September 1990 9 See Doug Bandow, A New Approach for Protecting the Environment, in Doug Bandow, ed Protecting the Environment: A Free Market Approach (Washington. D.C.:The Heritage Foundation, 1986 7 To ensure that those dangers are avoided, the U.S. should approach UNCE D with the following goals. They are GOAL #1: Limit discussions of global warming.
Some participants want to put the issue of climate change on the UNCED ne gotiating agenda. This would be a mistake The U.N. Intergovernmental Negoti ating Committee (INC) w as created by the General Assembly on December 21,1990, expressly to examine global warming. It has been doing so and is far better prepared to deal with global warming than UNCED will be. There are two reasons for this: 1) the UNCED meeting in Rio will b e too large and politicized on the environment to examine fairly an issue as scientifically com plex as global warming; and 2)-the U.N.s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committees staff is better qualified than will be UNCED to examine this topic. The INC is composed of specialists who have been working in a very fo cused set of meetings less pliant to the glare of activist pressure.
One of the most important achievements for U.S. negotiators at UNCED will be protecting the integrity of the INC discussions that should strive to pro duce a realistic and scientifically sound appraisal of the evidence that exists on INC.
First, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the worlds largest coordi nated global warming research program with a budget of $1 billion, sh ould work closely -with the INC to produce the most.scientifically sound assessment of climate change possible. Second, a framework should be developed to incor porate new data produced by an integrated comprehensive, long-term program of earth observatio n s into the evolving climate assessment. Third, agreement must be reached on how data will be weighted in computer models of the earths environment. This agreement should be based not only on scientific un derstanding of how the earth system functions, but also on the latest advances in supercomputing speed which will allow more complex and realistic model ing. Conclusions by the INC should be based on computer modeling only when the modeling of the climate is an accurate predictor of changes in the earth s ystem.
GOAL #2: Do not draft a detailed plan for reducing specific quantities of global warming. There are three problems that-need to be addressed by the greenhouse gases by a set date.
The talks of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee probably wi ll not produce a detailed plan requiring the worldwide reduction of specific quanti ties of greenhouse gases by a specific date. There are reasons for this cau tion. The scientific evidence about whether global warming exists is mixed.
There is little dou bt that the burning of greenhouse gases and other fossil fuels 10 Also. referred to as global climate change and the greenhouse effect 11 See UN. General Assembly Resolution 45/212 8 produces massive amounts of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. H o w ever, the causes and extent of global warming, if it exists at all, are not known as is indicated by a =cent article from two Danish scientists looking at patterns of solar radiation.12 The results from this and numerous other studies indicate that the world generally needs to learn a great deal more about long-term envi ronmental phenomena before advocating costly regulatory policies.
Since no clear scientific consensus yet exists on global warming, the U.S should block any UNCED agreement that promotes specific percentage reduc tions of greenhouse gases according to a rigid timetable. The current body of scientific knowledge is incomplete and cannot support an international agree ment mandating specific regulations Consensus Preferable. Far preferable t o a rigid, detailed plan is a general agreement or what U.N. officials call a framework convention, producing a consensus on whether and to what extent global warming actually exists, if it does exist. This agreement also could specify the nature of the s c ientific re search that still needs to be done on global warming. It also could recommend the kinds of international scientific arrangements and institutions needed to fa cilitate the sharing of data and cooperation on research A good example of the sort of approach to be avoided at the UNCED prepa ratory meeting in New York is the action plan called Agenda
21. Being ne gotiated in the working groups of the UNCED Preparatory Committee, this plan is intended as a detailed blueprint for regulating economic activity to pro tect the environment. Agenda 21 will advocate specific targets for reducing particular emissions GOAL #3: Do not address issues dealt with by other international bodies Those pushing hardest in the UNCED process worry about the potential d a n gers of disposing of hazardous wastes and are seeking to ban their transporta tion across international borders. Advocates of limiting the transport of these materials desk that UNCED endorse such a prohibition. A transportation ban of hazardous wastes, however, would cripple the capability of many industries around the world that now destroy these wastes efficiently A transportation ban, for example, would require that hazardous chemicals be destroyed at their place of production rather than in a centra l location. Cur rently, such materials often are transported to distant reprocessing sites. It is often cheaper and more efficient to collect hazardous chemicals in a few loca 12 For example, an article by two Danish meteorologists in the respected journal Science argues that variations in global temperature over the last century correspond closely to changes in the length of sunspot cycles.
According to them, variations in the amount of solar radiation hitting the earth may explain the temperatue changes o f the climate. See E. Friis-Christensen and K. Lassen, Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity, Science, Vol. 2541 November 1991, pp. 698-700, also, William K. Stevens, Danes Link Sunspot Intensity to Global Temperature Rise, New York Ti m es, November 5,1991, p. C4 9 tions and then destroy them in large quantities. It is also easier to mobilize tech nical expertise at central hazardous waste disposal centers than at many di verse sites A ban would increase the potential for ecological dama g e because the policy would encourage illegal dumping posal facilities would have to be built, imposing new costs on national econo mies. Some production would no longer remain economically viable and would have to be-stopped. And, of course, stopping the safe international trans portation of wastes would curb the production of many economically critical chemical processes that produce dangerous by-products.
Hazardous waste disposal is a key issue that has already been addressed by the 1989 Base1 Convention on Control of Hazardous Waste Movement. The London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Vienna based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) already are discussing is sues related to the dumping of low-level radioactive waste. Low-le v el radioac tive waste disposal is also discussed by delegates in the periodic follow-up meetings of the London Dumping Convention which went into force on De cember 29, 1972.13 If UNCED were to ban international shipment of hazardous wastes, new dis GOAL W : Promote an understanding of biotechnology that realistically assesses its risks and benefits Biotechnology will be considered at UNCED because some environmental experts have warned that creating new strains of corn, micro-organisms that eat oil, and ot h er new or altered life forms will harm the Earths ecosystem The American delegates should point out that the risks of biotechnology are ex aggerated The report of the UNCED Secretary General to the third prepara tory conference, held during August 1990 in Geneva, was strongly criticized by the American delegation because it contained basic misunderstandings of both science and safety characteristics of biotechnology and gave insufficient consideration to the vast experience of governments, industry and con sumers with genetically altered organisms.14 Not only did the UNCED document overstate the risks of altering genetic material, it failed to recognize that not all genetic manipulation is dangerous.
Genetic alteration has occurred for decades, if not centur ies, with the breeding of cows, horses, and other domesticated animal stocks and of corn, rice and other plants. The American document also stated that laboratory genetic engi neering, when not done for the purposes of producing weapons, poses little dang e r to human health 13 The full title of the convention is The London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 14 U.S. Statement on UNGA Document A/CONF.l51/PC/67, op. cit p. 2 10 The American delegates also sho uld stress that just as the threats from ge netic engineering have been exaggerated, so, too, have its potential benefits.
Biotechnology will not give a quick fix to health, nutritional, and-environmen tal problems. Explained the U.S. delegation at last su mmers 1991 preparatory conference in Geneva: biotech products have been far slower in coming, and more modest in impact, than the popular press has led the public to expect.15 GOAL #5: Protect private intellectual property rights UNCED Secretary General s a ys that all countries should have access to en vironmentally-sound techn~logy What he and many representatives from the Third World apparently want is virtually free access to some technologies that are protected by patents or copyrights. Typical of such a product is the coolant, S WA, invented by E.I. Du Pont De Nemours Co. of Wilmington Delaware. It was developed as a substitute for the chlorofluorocarbons (the CFCs) that are key components of refrigeration and air conditioning units but are also suspect ed of damaging the ozone layer.
As the world leader in technology, America has an enormous stake in main taining the integrity of intellectual property. Patents and copyrights enable companies to recoup research and developme nt costs that make product inno vation possible. Such innovation often le s to greater productivity, new goods to sell, and increased economic growth. These environmentally beneficial in novations will be discquraged if return on investment is diminished o r elimi nated. The .U.S. thus should block any UNCED agreementthat legitimates the infringement of patents, copyrights, and other intellectual pr~perty If UNCED were to endorse technology transfers mandated by some U.N agencies, then the owners of patents and copyrights would lose the income from licensing agreements with Third World countries. American and other Western businesses will be more interested in reaching licensing agreements with developing countries if they know that their technical knowledge will be protected and used only if there is some form of compensation.
GOAL M: Oppose UNCED proposals to spend more money on environmental problems in developing nations.
Participants at UNCED will press America and other industrial nations for billions of dollars for environmental projects in the Third World. More funds for this are unnecessary. Environmental protection already is funded through 15 I6id p. 2 16 &th Summit in Focus, No. 3, Transferring Technology for Environmentally-Sustainable Developme n t (New Yo& United Nations Department of Public Information, September 1991 p. 2 17 Ibid. p. 2 18 Economist, Economic Growth: Explaining the Mystery, January 4,1992, pp. 15-18 19 For more information, see Christopher M. Gacek. U.S. Goals for Patent Protect ion in the GATT Trade Talks Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 863, October 3 1.1991 11 I the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Na tions Environment Programme, and other international financial institutions.
The U.S. alread y has committed a total of 150 million to the Global Envi ronment Facility (GEF), which is an environmental project administered by the World Bank and run in conjunction with UNDP and UNEP to achieve a better world environment.m The U.S. contribution is p a rt of $2 billion given to the GEF since November 1990 by a group of nations made up primarily of the de veloped economies. This demonstrates that the West has not been stingy with respect to the international environment, but is, indeed, being very genero u s vironmental problems. Yet the assistance provided by the U.S. and the other major economic powers cannot substitute for what developing countries can do themselves both to spur economic growth and clean the environment. Third World countries need to cre a te enough wealth of their own to finance their own environmental programs America has been generous in providing funds to help solve international en 21 CONCLUSION The United Nations will hold a major international meeting from March 2 to April 3,1992, in New York City to examine the impact of economic development in the worlds environment. This meeting will be the fourth and final preparatory conference for the Earth Summit, or the United Nations Conference on the En vironment and Development which will c o nvene in Rio de Janeiro this June 1 to 12. Many Third World delegates will try to use this Manhattan preparatory ses sion to turn UNCED into a forum for pressuring America and the industrial na tions of the West to adopt costly and highly restrictive regu latory policies to pro tect the environment. They will also demand that the West pay for expensive envi ronmental programs.
Free Market Solutions. The U.S. delegation at the UNCED preparatory ses sion should resist these pressures and the attempts to blame the West for the Third Worlds environmental problems. Instead of bureaucratic regulation of the world economy, the U.S. should press UNCED to advocate free market solutions to en vironmental problems. Only these solutions can clean the environment withou t strangling the global economy 20 U.S. Delegation to the Geneva Preparatory Conference, UNCED, Progress Report on Financial Resources August 28,1991, p 2. See The World Bank and the Environment: A Progress Report, Fiscal 1991 (Washington D.C The World Ban k , 1991 pp. 100-104 21 A recent study looking at 42 countries indicates that air pollution decreases after an economy reaches output of 5,000 per capita GDP in 1985 dollars. See Gene M. Grossman and Alan B. Krueger, Environmental Impacts of a North America n Free Trade Agreement, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs Princeton University, Discussion Papers in Economics No. 158 (November 1991 p. 5 12 At the preparatory conference and in Rio, the U.S. should oppose agreements that call for s pecific reductions with timetables for gases suspected of causing global warming. The U.S. also should resist attempts by the U.N. and the Third World to infringe on intellectual property rights, to transfer large sums of money to the Third World for wast eful environmental projects and to ban the shipment of hazardous waste materials across national boundaries.
At Rio, UNCED could turn into a public relations frenzy intended to stampede Western countries into supporting extensive and costly programs callin g for the rapid reduction of specific air emissions as the means to prevent potential global warming. To prevent this, the U.S. delegation must remain fm at UNCED in New York and Rio. A successful conference will not be one that bashes the West while stif ling the economies of the Third World, but one that creates wealth and jobs while protecting the environment.
Realistic Appraisal. The U.S. would like the New York preparatory session the meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) and UN CED itself to be productive. The most important achievement would be for the INC discussions to produce a realistic and scientifically sound appraisal of the evidence that exists on global warming. There a~ two problems that need to be addressed. First, a scientific consensus needs to be developed on the way data will be weighted in computer models of the earths environment. Second, agreement should be reached on ways to improve the reliability of.the data that will be used in computer models assessing glo bal warming. This consensus might require new scientific field work.
If the U.N.s 1992 environmental meetings and conferences can solve just these two difficult problems, the U.N. will have ma& a significant contribution to ad vancing knowledge of the environmental questions the world faces.
Christopher M. Gacek, Ph.D.
Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs and James L. Malone a Monterey, California-based attorney James L. Malone is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 13