Climate Change:

Observations on EPA's March 2000 Climate Change Report

RCED-00-166R: Published: Jun 5, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 2000.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) March 2000 climate change report, focusing on: (1) the agency's climate change programs for fiscal year (FY) 2001; (2) the programs' goals, strategies, and procedures to verify and validate performance information; (3) EPA's justification for requested funding increases; and (4) how the programs are justified independently of the Kyoto Protocol agreement.

GAO noted that: (1) EPA's March 2000 report on its climate change activities is generally comprehensive and explains the activities for which EPA is seeking $258 million for FY 2001; (2) the report explains how the many individual programs relate to broader program groups and still-broader sectors and areas; (3) EPA's report generally includes all of the major sectors and areas included in EPA's FY 2001 budget justification for its climate change activities; (4) moreover, the report includes a table that shows how the 26 individual programs relate to 8 program groups and how the 8 program groups relate to 3 key sectors and 5 other broad areas; (5) EPA's report uses reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as the principal yardstick for measuring the success of its climate change efforts; (6) the report provides more information about the efforts to verify and validate the programs' performance, but it provides little information at the individual program level on goals and objectives; (7) the report provides information on 2 ongoing studies that are designed to validate the specific benefits attributable to EPA's programs; (8) EPA's report provides a justification for the requested $125.8 million increase in funding for its climate change activities overall as well as the funding increases requested for all 3 key sectors and 4 of the 5 broad areas; (9) the report provides information on the incremental benefits expected to be achieved from an increase in funding for those activities that are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions; (10) the report also provides information on additional activities expected to result from full funding; (11) the report does not specify funding levels or expected benefits at the individual program level; (12) EPA's report explains that its climate change activities are legally justified by long-standing agency goals and objectives and are not intended to implement the Kyoto Protocol; and (13) specifically, the report explains that these activities are justified by an international convention on climate change that was ratified by the Senate in 1992 and by 9 specific environmental laws.

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