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Global Warming : NACAA Positions| Related Documents| Related Links

Global climate change, also referred to as global warming, refers to atmospheric changes that are causing the Earth’s surface temperature to rise. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have increased at an accelerating pace because of human activities – concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased nearly 30 percent, methane (CH4) concentrations have more than doubled, and nitrous oxide (N2O) concentrations have risen by about 15 percent. These increases have enhanced the heat-trapping capability of the earth's atmosphere. Over the past 100 years, global average surface temperatures have increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Reports by the National Academies of Science, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), and other expert groups have concluded that the balance of evidence indicates this buildup of GHGs will lead to further increases in worldwide average temperature, rising sea levels, erosion of coast lines, increased storm intensity, changing rainfall patterns, and loss and migration of species.

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Federal :  NACAA Positions| Related Documents| Related Links

Current GHG policy in the U.S. centers on reducing GHG intensity (ratio of GHG emissions to economic output) 18 percent by 2012. Planned new strategies include a tool to measure and credit emissions reductions which provide incentives to businesses to invest in new, cleaner technology and voluntarily reduce GHG emissions; reforms to ensure that businesses that register voluntary reductions are not penalized under a future climate policy and to give credit to companies that show reductions; increased funding for climate change-related programs; and new international policies focusing on research and development, renewable energy, incentives, and an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.

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International :  NACAA Positions| Related Documents| Related Links

In 1992, 188 countries negotiated the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC went into effect in 1993 after it was ratified by 50 nations, including the United States. The UNFCCC contains voluntary commitments by industrialized nations to reduce their GHG emissions back to 1990 levels by 2000, a target that was not met. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to achieve stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous man-made disruption of the global climate system. It also requires nations to report net emissions, including sources and sinks, and promotes technology transfer and other assistance to developing countries. In 1997, parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mandatory emissions limits for industrialized countries. However, the Protocol has not gone into effect because, under its ratification rules, either Russia or the United States must ratify the Protocol for it to come into force, and neither has done so.

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State/Local :  NACAA Positions| Related Documents| Related Links

Regional, state and local governments are developing their own global warming initiatives to reduce emissions from significant GHG emissions sources, such as automobiles and power plants. For example, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI or "ReGGIe") is a cooperative effort by seven Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to discuss the design of a regional cap-and-trade program initially covering CO2 emissions from power plants in the region. In the future, RGGI may be extended to include other sources of GHG emissions, and GHGs other than CO2. In California, where transportation is the largest contributor of CO2, emissions regulations have been proposed to control GHGs from passenger cars and light-duty trucks beginning with the 2009 model year.

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