The long-term control of greenhouse gas emissions will require the diffusion and implementation of technology in developing countries. A real challenge will be to ensure that technologies reach those who need them, overcoming such obstacles as lack of information or inability to pay for them. The technological capabilities of developing countries need to be improved. The creation and enhancement of the infrastructure for research and absorption of technology form a precondition for this improvement. Programs in agriculture, forestry, pollution control, and housing might be used both as vehicles for the transfer of relevant technologies and for the enhancement of the research and technology infrastructure.
Similarly, reversing deforestation, to lower atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the short term, raises a host of issues other than costs. It will be important for international programs to use a broad perspective.
Much work has already been accomplished on the international level, and more is currently under way. Internationally, research on a variety of global change issues (including greenhouse warming) is being undertaken principally under the auspices of two complementary scientific programs: the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). The WCRP was established by the World Meteorological Organization in 1979 under its overall program, the World Climate Program (WCP). Its major objectives are to determine the extent to which climate can be predicted and the extent of human influence on climate. The IGBP was adopted by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) in 1986. The objective of the program is to describe the interactive physical, chemical, and biological processes that regulate the total earth system.
In 1988 the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme sponsored the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At the first IPCC meeting, in November 1988, three working groups were set up: Working Group I, to provide a scientific assessment of climate change; Working Group II, to provide an assessment of the potential impacts of climate change; and Working Group III, to consider response strategies. Hundreds of scientists from different countries contributed to the IPCC report produced in 1990.
The Second World Climate Conference was convened in late 1990 under the sponsorship of several U.N. organizations. The conference was separated into a scientific and technical session and a ministerial session. The conference discussed the results of the first decade of work under the WCP, the First Assessment Report of the IPCC, and the development of the IGBP. The scientific and technical session produced conclusions and recommendations