in three areas: (1) greenhouse gases and climate change; (2) use of climate information in assisting sustainable social and economic development; and (3) priorities for enhanced research and observational systems. The ministerial declaration essentially recognized greenhouse warming to be an international problem and urged further elaboration and assessment of response strategies.
A large number of deliberations are under way concerning international negotiations on greenhouse issues. Recent experiences with the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer and its subsequent elaboration in the London Protocol and with the earlier Law of the Sea provide guidance about what approaches are useful and what to avoid. It is expected, however, that negotiations about limiting greenhouse warming will be more difficult than their predecessors in the environmental area.
There is a growing momentum in the international community for completion of an international agreement on climate change in time for signing at the 1992 U.N. World Conference on Environment and Development. The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group of Government Representatives to Prepare for Negotiations on a Framework Convention on Climate Change was held in February 1991. The panel believes that the United States should fully participate in this process.
Identification of priority actions should take full account of their potential to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions and their costs of implementation. Further, the panel believes that international arrangements should allow nations to receive credit for actions taken to reduce or offset emissions in other countries. In other words, under such an arrangement countries like the United States could negotiate interventions in other countries if these proved more cost-effective than domestic actions.
The importance of multilateral international agreements should not obscure the value of unilateral or bilateral action. The United States should not only adjust its own policies, but also pursue bilateral agreements and technical assistance programs that promote reforestation, protection of biodiversity, and greater energy efficiency.
In framing actions to respond to greenhouse warming, the United States should consider cooperative programs in other countries that might be more cost-effective than domestic options.