The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on September 26 regarding the ongoing international global climate change negotiations.
At the Second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Geneva in July, the U.S. endorsed a ministerial declaration, calling for the establishment of legally binding emissions control targets for developed nations and for advancement of emissions control in less developed countries. Known as the Geneva Declaration, its purpose is to provide a framework for development of specific standards and rules. The final agreement will be signed at the third Conference of the Parties, in December 1997.
Committee members expressed concern that the U.S. may be rushing into a binding agreement on emissions control standards without adequate research and assessment. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), ranking minority member of the full committee, raised concerns that the U.S. and other developed countries would be held to a legally binding standard, while less developed nations would not. Rep. Dingell and other committee members felt that this would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage.
Members also expressed doubt about the Administration's ability to put together a proposal with a specific plan in time for the third Conference. The Administration stated that its analytical "toolbox" was still being assembled, and that no specific proposal had been formulated. This answer did not satisfy several committee members, despite the Administration's assurances that every effort was being made to protect U.S. interests.
The Administration representatives said that they will continue to work with Congress to develop recommended standards for emissions control before the conference in December 1997.
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