Redistributed as a Service of the National Library for the Environment*
RL30452: Climate Change Technology
Michael M. Simpson
Updated January 22, 2001
List of Tables
The Climate Change Technology Initiative was the Clinton Administration's package of R&D (to develop renewable energy sources and more energy efficient technologies), targeted tax credits (to encourage purchase and deployment of more efficient technologies), and voluntary information programs (to help businesses and schools be better informed when making purchasing and operating decisions that involve energy use and emissions).
A major focus of efforts to address possible global climate change was on energy use, given that carbon dioxide, the major "greenhouse gas," is added to the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. Federal programs to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources have a history that goes back well over two decades. While many of these efforts were aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on oil imports, they also are relevant to environmental concerns, including climate change. This report describes the R&D, voluntary information programs, and funding aspects of the CCTI (for details about the energy tax incentives in the last Clinton Administration budget, which this report does not discuss, please see CRS Report 98-193 E Global Climate Change: the Energy Tax Incentives in the President's FY 2000 Budget).
The FY2001 request for CCTI funds was made of two main parts: $1.432 billion for research and technology programs, and a 5-year $4.030 billion package of targeted tax incentives (the issue of tax incentives is not covered in this report). The largest portion of CCTI research and technology funding was to go to the Department of Energy (89% of the FY2000 overall CCTI budget as enacted; 81% of the FY2001 request) and to the Environmental Protection Agency (10 % of the FY2000 overall CCTI budget as enacted; 16% of the FY2001 request), with relatively small amounts to the Housing and Urban Development Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce.
While the Clinton Administration's budget requests for CCTI basic research activities generated little controversy, its requests for CCTI information and tax incentive programs were more controversial. Opponents argued that the renewable energy industry should have relied for commercial development on market forces rather than federal tax credits and information programs. Proponents held that the federal government needed to be involved to help overcome market barriers.
The Climate Change Technology Initiative was described as "the cornerstone of the (Clinton) Administration's efforts to stimulate the development and use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency products that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions," (1) through a combination of research and development (R&D), and information and tax incentive programs. Carbon dioxide, the major "greenhouse gas" of concern in possible climate change, is produced in large part as a result of energy production and use when these are based on fossil fuel combustion. The federal government has had programs dealing with energy efficiency for more than 20 years, and the Congress has held hearings about them since the mid-1970s, when a major goal of such programs was to reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports during the energy crisis.
U.S. government policies explicitly addressing possible climate change linked to "greenhouse gas" emissions date back to the mid-1980s. (2) These policies have focused heavily on scientific research. The Energy Policy Act of 1992, in conjunction with the U.S. ratification of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), set the direction of U.S. efforts under the Bush and Clinton Administrations toward energy efficiency, renewable energy, and R&D (3), to try to move toward stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. (4) The Climate Change Action Plan announced in 1993 included more than 40 federal programs working with business, state and local governments, and other entities with the goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. R&D and other programs since then had largely been maintained or extended, or modified with some new activities and names. With evolution from and hybridization among prior efforts, coupled with some augmentation, packages of programs in the Clinton Administration such as the CCTI were built upon these earlier efforts, including efforts to reduce dependence on oil imports.
Stage 1, as announced in 1997, included funding for research and development (R&D), tax incentives for early action, a set of federal government energy initiatives including various tax credits to encourage purchase and use of more efficient technologies, and industry consultations to explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Stage 2, expected to begin around 2004, would review and evaluate stage 1. Stage 3, as envisioned prior to Kyoto, included actions aimed at reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2008-2012, meeting the binding targets the U.S. expected to be in the Kyoto Protocol through measures that include domestic and international emissions trading. The Kyoto Protocol (which the United States signed on November 11, 1998 but which has not been submitted to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent on ratification), outlines an obligation for the United States to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 7% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. (7)
The Congress has passed budget resolutions and appropriations bills with provisions prohibiting the use of funds to implement the Kyoto Protocol, which has not been ratified by the United States or entered into force internationally. Some controversy has been engendered by the possible linkage of funding proposals associated with the CCTI to the Kyoto Protocol goals. After some early consideration of these concerns, for the most part the R & D elements have been acceptable to the Congress. Moreover, many of the programs related to the CCTI and other climate research preceded the Kyoto Protocol, and in fact would be relevant to the voluntary commitments the United States has made in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to try to meet a voluntary goal of returning greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. (See CRS Report RL30024, Global Climate Change Policy: From "No Regrets" to S.Res. 98).
As first outlined in President Clinton's FY1999 budget request (8), the CCTI was to be a combination of research and technology programs and of tax incentives to accelerate development and deployment of technologies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: "The CCTI builds and expands upon an existing foundation of advanced science, basic research, and government-industry partnership. It will increase U.S. competitiveness, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, help maintain U.S. leadership in energy technology, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time." (9)
CCTI funding consisted of two basic parts: (1) research and technology programs, and (2) targeted tax incentives (the tax incentive initiative is not covered in this report; see CRS Report 98-193 E Global Climate Change: the Energy Tax Incentives in the President's FY 2000 Budget). The research and technology program in turn consisted of two main parts: research and development, which primarily focused on understanding processes and developing new technologies related to carbon sequestration and to energy efficiencies; and information, audit, and other assistance programs to facilitate diffusion of technologies designed to improve energy efficiency or otherwise diminish greenhouse gas emissions. These two main parts of the research and technology side of CCTI were not always clearly distinct; to some extent there was a continuum with R&D at one end and assistance programs at the other. Nonetheless, the distinction has proved significant, in that R&D was noncontroversial, while the assistance programs had been, as some argued that market forces should have been allowed to determine commercial development and application. (The same objections were lodged against the tax incentive proposals.)
As enacted for FY1999, $1.021 billion went to research and technology programs and no funds were provided for tax incentives. As described in subsequent Clinton Administration documents, President Clinton's climate change plans were enlarged beyond the CCTI to include a proposed Clean Air Partnership Fund to support government and private efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ground-level air pollutants, work toward legislation on possible credit to companies for early voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon sequestration, and continuation of diplomatic efforts to develop details in the Kyoto Protocol on such matters as international emissions trading and participation by developing countries. This report discusses only the research and technology activities (which were basic R&D and information programs), and related funding aspects of the CCTI. (10)
The FY2001 request for the research and technology element of CCTI was $1.432 billion. Also requested was $4.030 billion for a 5-year package of targeted tax incentives, (11) not covered in this report. As shown in Table 1, by far the largest portion of CCTI research and technology funding was to go to the Department of Energy (DOE: 89% of the FY2000 overall CCTI budget as enacted; 81% of the FY2001 request) and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA: 10% of the FY2000 overall CCTI budget as enacted; 16% of the FY2001 request), with relatively small amounts to the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Commerce. It should be noted that as enacted in FY2000, while DOE received 87% of its FY2000 request, EPA was given 48% of its request, reflecting concerns raised about non-R&D activities.
Historically, as part of the FY1999 Clinton Administration budget proposals, President Clinton in February 1998 first proposed the Climate Change Technology Initiative. It proposed funding primarily for research and development activities at the Department of Energy, tax credits to encourage purchases of certain energy-efficient cars and houses, EPA's voluntary information programs to encourage businesses and others to conserve energy, and research into ways to sequester carbon in agriculture, in some cases as renewable fuels. In general in the CCTI, R&D relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources were largely evolutionary steps from earlier programs, initiated in the late 1970s and early 1980s to reduce dependency on oil imports.
Source: "President Clinton's FY2001 Climate Change Budget," page 13.
Speaking about the Clinton Administration's FY2000 CCTI budget requests, a senior DOE official said "although the tax credits are largely new initiatives, many of the other programs are continuations or expansions of ongoing research, development, and deployment programs." (12) The CCTI (composed of R&D, incentive, and voluntary information programs) grew from the base programs detailed in "The Climate Change Action Plan" (released by the U.S. in October 1993) with consultations among the Federal entities (including the Global Change Research Program) and the Office of Management and Budget.
Carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, arises mostly from combustion of fossil fuels. The Department of Energy (DOE), which has long had R&D programs relating to fossil fuel energy use from its days seeking to manage and to develop energy supplies, was by far the largest recipient of CCTI funding. DOE received $980 million for CCTI activities in FY2000 (89% of all federal CCTI funds), approximately 87% of the level of funding that it requested. DOE received from 82% to 89% of the total funding for the Initiative. Funding for the DOE's efforts in the CCTI were planned for the research, development, and deployment of more energy efficient and renewable technologies such as:
As with the PNGV program, many of DOE's CCTI research and technology dollars were spent in partnership with other federal entities such as EPA and HUD, with other governmental units, and with private sector entities. As noted above, many of DOE's activities identified as Climate Change Technology Initiative, were to a great extent a continuation or evolution of DOE (and other federal) programs that predate the CCTI (and predate the 1977 establishment of the DOE in some cases, e.g., research into energy conservation and renewable energy sources). All of DOE's FY2000 CCTI funding and programs were continuations of FY1999 programs.
See Table 2 for a breakdown of funding levels for the DOE CCTI research and technology programs. Specific program and funding details for FY2000 and prior years were released in May 1999, as shown in the Source note of Table 2.
The Environmental Protection Agency uses two main budget categories: Science and Technology (S&T, which includes R&D and technology development and diffusion efforts), and Environmental Programs and Management (EPM, which are the costs to run programs). Therefore, it is difficult to consistently separate R&D from technology assistance and diffusion efforts. For example, in EPA's CCTI Buildings Sector, the owner of a building can have EPA's benchmarking tool voluntarily applied to that building as a target for energy use. Various activities can be tried, e.g., plugging leaks and replacing less efficient lights with more efficient lights, to see if the benchmark will be met. If not, other activities can be tried in an iterative fashion, trying and recording and incorporating the findings in the benchmark. This program includes activities that can be described as both research-related and technology diffusion and assistance. EPA's figures for CCTI S&T are used here.
The EPA in FY2000 received $103 million for CCTI research and technology activities (about 9% of all the federal CCTI research and technology funds), a distant second to DOE's $980 million (89% of all federal CCTI research and technology funds). Also notable is the fact that while DOE received 87% of its FY2000 request, EPA got 48% of its request. While there has been some discussion about the proper roles for government, industry, and academe in climate change and other R&D, (14) the CCTI R&D activities were not highly controversial. In general, EPA funds targeted for R&D, especially areas of more basic R&D that predate the CCTI and the Kyoto Protocol, were less controversial, and funds for new programs intended to assist technology deployment and diffusion and to help consumers learn about and choose more efficient commodities and processes were more controversial.
The elements and levels of EPA's CCTI research and technology funds are summarized in Table 3. Activities related to these program areas are briefly described after the table. Some of these funding areas focused heavily on R&D, while others involved information dissemination and other activities.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy. "Department of Energy Report to Congress on FY2000 Expenditures for Energy Supply, Efficiency, and Security Technologies Supporting the Climate Change Technology Initiative" May 18, 1999. P. 3. "FY2000 Enacted" expenditures were obtained via telephone conversation on December 20, 1999 from the Department of Energy, and include estimates for the spread of the 0.38% rescission.
*Details were unavailable as of March 13, 2000.
**"Basic Science" was presented in FY2000 for the first time as a specific category. It had been funded before in a fragmented fashion throughout other categories.
Sources: (for all but FY00 and 01) EPA FY2000 Annual Performance Plan and Congressional Justification, p. VI-19 and HR1743 "Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air and Radiation Authorization Act of 1999" ordered to be reported May 26, 1999.
*From the EPA FY2000 Annual Performance Plan, p. VI-33, "Funding is discontinued for Climate Change Technology Initiative activities funded through the FY1999 Omnibus appropriation." FY00 enacted and FY01 figures were obtained from EPA at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/budget/budget.htm on February 8, 2000.
CCTI research and technology programs were new to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in FY1999, and the FY2000 budget proposed and received $10 million (no change from FY1999) for the government/housing developers/builders Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). Administered by HUD and identified as part of the CCTI, PATH research had a number of goals in addition to climate change. PATH efforts sought "to develop and disseminate technologies that will result in housing that is substantially more affordable, durable, disaster resistant, safer and energy/resource efficient..." (15) The FY 2001 request was for $12 million.
The FY2000 request of $16 million for USDA's CCTI research and technology activities included $7 million for the Agricultural Research Service, $3 million for the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and $6 million for the Forest Service, to understand and better manage the carbon cycle, from sources to sequestration, focusing principally on agricultural approaches. While some of those proposed efforts were to build on prior work, the specific designation of USDA programs as part of CCTI funding was new in FY2000. However, the USDA identified a much wider array of base programs that carry out climate related research. The USDA overall had some $55 million in climate-related research among some 5 USDA agencies, an amount that had been stable during the 1990s. (16) The FY2000 appropriations as enacted contained no CCTI funds for USDA. The total FY2001 request of $24 million for CCTI activities was divided into $14 million for developing advanced biomass energy technologies, $6 million for studying agricultural carbon sequestration, and $4 million for examining agricultural practices and their relationships with greenhouse gas emissions.
Various base programs within the Department of Commerce addressed issues relating to climate change. The wide range of research in Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) included long-standing climate-related work, much of it not specifically identified as CCTI but rather part of NOAA's generic mission. Among other things, research at NOAA sought to determine "the impacts of climate variability and change on ecosystems; ... understand how radiative, chemical, and dynamical processes interact in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere to affect climate; ... (and) study the effects of climate variability and change on health..." (17) There also were base programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which looked at climate change issues. (18) The $2 million requested and provided in the FY2000 budget for the CCTI specifically was new to the Department and did not go to NOAA (19) or NIST as a single CCTI line-item. No funds were specified for Commerce Department CCTI activities in the FY2001 budget request.
There were two parts to the research and technology elements of the CCTI: (1) R&D of environmentally more beneficial technologies and policies; and (2) information, audit, and other assistance intended to help individual and organizational consumers learn of, choose, and use more efficient goods and processes (e.g., energy saving computers or industrial processes).
The pursuit of R&D was not highly controversial, especially for basic research. More controversy arose from the federal government's past and proposed efforts to use public funds to encourage and to help private individuals, companies, and organizations more quickly benefit from various environmental technologies. As stated by then OMB Acting Deputy Director for Management Deidre Lee, spurring broader use of energy efficient technologies and renewable energy would have reduced energy bills and secure other benefits, so that "even if the threat of global warming did not exist, the (Clinton) Administration believes that these (CCTI) programs make good sense because they help our country address other energy-related and environmental challenges." (20) It was argued by some that economic benefits of saving money should have been sufficient incentives for consumers to invest in more efficient technology, that the renewable energy industry should have relied for commercial development on market forces rather than federal tax credits and information programs. (21) On the other hand, Lee and others argued that the Government needed to be involved to help overcome market barriers, such as a lack of accurate information, so as to permit informed energy-saving choices.
The CCTI was an effort by the Clinton Administration to draw on several federal agencies and departments in addressing the issue of climate change while securing other societal benefits as well. While the Clinton Administration's budget requests for CCTI R&D activities generated little controversy, its requests for CCTI information and tax incentive programs were more controversial. Differences between the Clinton Administration and Congress on the value of information and incentive programs in the various federal agencies and departments existed not only because of different perspectives between the executive and legislative branches, but also because of procedural and jurisdictional boundaries among the congressional committees and subcommittees responsible for the various federal agencies and departments (please see CRS Report RL30043 (pdf) Environmental, Health, and Safety Tradeoffs: A Discussion of Policymaking Opportunities and Constraints for details). These boundaries made difficult tradeoffs among the several elements of CCTI and meant that each element tended to fend for itself in budgetary considerations.
1. (back)Testimony on May 20, 1999 by Deidre A. Lee, Acting Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on National Economic Growth.
6. (back)Details about the plan, as set forth in 1997, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/publications/actions/clinton/index.html
7. (back)Please see CRS Report 98-2 Global Climate Change Treaty: Summary of the Kyoto Protocol for further details.
10. (back)See http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/publications/actions/clinton/index.html for a general description of the President Clinton's climate change plan.
13. (back)Analysis of the Climate Change Technology Initiative, Research and Development Support. Energy Information Agency, U.S. Department of Energy. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/climate99/research.html
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