Congress and the Politics of Climate Change

  • Gary Bryner


The policy of United States government toward climate change poses a puzzling paradox. U.S.-funded research has played a major role in identifying the threat of climate change and in developing climate models, and American scientists have been among the leading voices in drawing attention to the challenges it poses to the global community. Vice President Al Gore, who enjoyed unprecedented power and influence for a vice president in the Clinton administration, focused on climate change in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, calling it the most important environmental problem we face. But U.S. policy commitments to addressing the threat of climate change have been quite weak. The United States will fall far short of its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the year 2000 to 1990 levels, as agreed to in the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), and it led the opposition, until recently, to binding commitments for reducing emissions. Even though the Clinton administration agreed to a seven percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 in the Kyoto Protocol, there has been great opposition to binding emission reductions in Congress.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    R. A. Kerr, “Hansen vs. the World on the Greenhouse Threat”, Science 244 (1989): 431–43; letters section, Science 245 (1989): 451–52.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    James A. Baker III, “Remarks by the Honorable James A. Baker III, Secretary of State,” before the Response Strategies Working Group, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Washington, DC: Department of State, 30 January 1989.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gary C Bryner, Blue Skies, Green Politics: The Clean Air Act of 1990 and Its Implementation (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1995): 114–16.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gary C Bryner, ed., Global Warming and the Challenge of International Cooperation (Provo, UT: David M. Kennedy Center/Brigham Young University, 1992): 103–04.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gary C Bryner, U.S. Land and Natural Resources Policy (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998): 195–96.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    U.S. Department of State, The Climate Change Action Plan (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 1993).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    U.S. Department of Energy, The Climate Change Action Plan: Technical Supplement (Springfield, VA.: National Technical Information Service, 1994): 9–10.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Christopher Flavin, “Climate Policy: Showdown in Berlin,” 8 World-Watch (July/August 1995): 8–9.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 4–5.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    Gary Bryner, “Congressional Decisions About Regulatory Reform: The 104th and 105th Congresses,” in Better Environmental Decisions: Strategies for Governments, Businesses, and Communities, edited by Ken Sexton, Alfred A. Marcus, K. William Easter, and Timothy D. Burkhardt (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1999): 91–112.Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    Charles Pope, “Opposition to Global Warming Treaty Is Cropping Up in Spending Bills,” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (1 August 1998): 2107–08, at 2108.Google Scholar
  12. 34.
    Christopher Flavin, “Last Tango in Buenos Aires,” World-Watch 11 (November/December, 1998): 10–18.Google Scholar
  13. 37.
    John Houghton, Global Warming: The Complete Briefing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  14. 38.
    Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On (Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1997).Google Scholar
  15. 40.
    U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Building Energy Efficiency (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992).Google Scholar
  16. 41.
    Amory Lovins, Soft Energy Paths (New York: Harper Collins, 1979);Google Scholar
  17. Lovins, World Energy Strategies (New York: Harper Colophon, 1980).Google Scholar
  18. 42.
    Walter A. Rosenbaum, Environmental Policy and Politics (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1998): 261–96Google Scholar
  19. 44.
    James L. Sundquist, Congressional Reform and Effective Government (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, revised edition, 1992);Google Scholar
  20. James A. Thurber, Divided Democracy: Cooperation and Conflict Between the President and Congress (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  21. 45.
    Robert D. Putman, “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: the Logic of Two-Level Games,” International Organization, vol. 48, no. 2 (1988): 427–60.Google Scholar
  22. 46.
    National Academy of Public Administration, Setting Priorities, Getting Results: A New Direction for EPA (Washington, DC: NAPA, 1995).Google Scholar
  23. 47.
    Christopher Flavin and Seth Dunn, “Climate of Opportunity: Renewable Energy After Kyoto,” Renewable Energy Policy Project Issue Brief no. 11 (July 1998).Google Scholar
  24. 48.
    J. Clarence Davies and Jan Mazurek, Pollution Control in the United States: Evaluating the System (Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 1998).Google Scholar
  25. 49.
    Michael E. Kraft, “Environmental Policy in Congress: From Consensus to Gridlock,” in Environmental Policy in the 1990s, edited by Norman J. Vig and Michael E. Kraft (Washington, DC: CQ Press, fourth edition, 2000): 121–44.Google Scholar
  26. 50.
    Ed Gillespie and Rob Schellhas, eds. Contract with America (New York: Times Books, 1994): 125–41.Google Scholar
  27. 53.
    Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).Google Scholar
  28. 54.
    Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram, Policy Design for Democracy (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  29. 59.
    John Lanchbery, “Expectations for the Climate Talks in Buenos Aires,” Environment 40: (October 1998): 16–20, 42–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 60.
    Curtis Moore and Alan Miller. Green Gold: Japan, Germany, and the United States, and the Race for Environmental Technology (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  31. 61.
    R. A. Kerr, “The Next Oil Crisis Looms Large—And Perhaps Close,” Science 281 (1998): 1128–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul G. Harris 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Bryner

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations