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Global Climate Change


Global Climate Change

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									                              Global Climate Change
                                  Science & Impacts
                              Congressional Briefing Series
                          Pew Center on Global Climate Change
                       Contact: Nikki Roy ( or 703-516-0633)

               Costs & Risks of Climate Change Impacts
                                          Friday January 18, 2008
                                    2325 Rayburn House Office Building

The climate is changing more rapidly than scientists expected. Trends moving faster than projected include the
increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, global sea level rise, the loss of Arctic sea ice, change in
average annual precipitation, the net loss of land ice from Greenland and Antarctica, and the loss of ice from
mountain glaciers around the world. Many of the observed changes are dramatic. The changes occurring in the
Arctic are beyond anything that scientists who have worked their entire careers there could have imagined. Two
years ago scientists thought the Arctic Ocean might become ice free during the summer by the end of this century.
One year ago some said it could be ice free by 2040. One month ago, a well respected and traditionally
conservative glaciologist commented that it could be ice free by 2017. The situation is similar with the large land-
based ice sheets. In 2001, the IPCC predicted that these ice sheets would not experience net ice loss during the
21st century. This year, the IPCC concluded that both Greenland and Antarctica are already experiencing net ice
loss. It is clear that scientific models systematically underestimate change in key components of the climate system
and that change is not likely to be smooth or linear. Unfortunately, the greatest uncertainty is at the high end of
change, meaning that we cannot place upper limits on how severe climate impacts might become. On the other
hand, it now appears highly unlikely that impacts will turn out to be minor.

The urgency communicated by climate scientists over the past two years, however, has not been echoed by most
economists, nor their economic models. Instead, the debate in this area has emphasized the costs of policy, with
modeling results often used to support not taking action, or at least delaying action. Economic models that assess
these costs, however, have not done a good job of accounting for the long-term environmental costs, like the
melting of large ice sheets or the potential for abrupt changes that the science increasingly points toward. These
costs are difficult to estimate because of their long term nature, the lack of precision in predicting damages, and
because many do not have market values. As a result, the cost associated with impacts generally are not included
in the models, nor are the associated risks balanced against the costs of policy. Without this context, any cost can
look significant. While models are useful for gaining insight into the relative merits of policy options, they are not
intended to identify absolute costs—be those the costs of policy or the costs of inaction. Rather than using them
to predict absolutes, economic models are better used to provide insights including which policy approaches are
least costly and which economic relationships are most significant. Models can provide important guideposts for
developing good policy. For climate change, good policy may be best thought of as a risk management strategy.

Companies like Marsh and Entergy understand the necessity of assessing the risks of climate change under
uncertainty. It is not prudent to assume that “best estimates” of change and attendant impacts are sufficient for
planning purposes. The possibility that damages will be greater than predicted is an inherent part of planning for
an uncertain future. How smart companies prepare for an uncertain future can provide useful case studies for
government action to prepare society for the impacts of climate change.
              Costs & Risks of Climate Change Impacts
                                         Jay Gulledge, Ph.D.
                                 Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Dr. Gulledge is the Senior Scientist and Program Manager for Science and Impacts at the Pew Center
on Global Climate Change. He coordinates the Pew Center’s efforts to analyze and communicate policy-
relevant information on the science and environmental impacts of global climate change to policy-
makers, business leaders, the media, and the public. Dr. Gulledge is a Certified Senior Ecologist and an
adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming, home to his academic research on biological
cycling of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Dr. Gulledge has published 16 articles in peer-reviewed
scientific journals as well as several scholarly works at the science/policy interface. He serves on the
editorial board of Ecological Applications, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Ecological Society of
America. Prior to joining the Pew Center, he was on the faculties of Tulane University and University of
Louisville and was a Life Sciences Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. Dr.
Gulledge earned his Ph.D. in ecosystem sciences from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

                                           Gary Guzy, J.D.
                                             Marsh USA, Inc.

Mr. Guzy is a Senior Vice President and the National Practice Leader for Emerging Environmental Risk
at Marsh USA. He develops new solutions for clients in responding to emerging environmental risks and
trends, spearheading Marsh’s efforts in the climate change arena. He served as the General Counsel of
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1998 to 2001. He also served as Counselor to the
Administrator at EPA and as the Agency's Deputy General Counsel, as well as having been a Senior
Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he handled major environmental litigation from the
Everglades to Alaska. Mr. Guzy has practiced environmental law in the private sector as a Partner with
the law firm of Foley Hoag LLP, has served as a consultant to the U.S. Senate Environment & Public
Works Committee and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the
Environmental Law Institute. He frequently testifies as an environmental expert before Congress and
speaks on emerging environmental issues at law schools.

Marsh USA, Inc., the world's leading risk and insurance services firm, has 26,000 employees and annual
revenues approaching $5 billion. The firm provides advice and transactional capabilities in the areas of
global risk management, risk consulting, insurance broking, financial solutions, and insurance program
management services for businesses, public entities, associations, professional services organizations, and
private clients in over 100 countries. Marsh is partnering with Yale University and Ceres to educate
corporate board members about the potential liabilities and strategic opportunities global climate change
can create for companies.
                                          Janet Peace, Ph.D.
                                  Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Dr. Peace is the Senior Economist and Program Manager for Economics at the Pew Center on Global
Climate Change. She coordinates and provides qualitative and quantitative analysis of state and federal
policy proposals, assists with identifying cost-effective policy options, and works with differing modeling
efforts to ensure credible modeling results. She is also responsible for communicating economic
concepts, modeling results and climate policy implications to policy makers, the media and the non-
economists by means of reports, briefings, and presentations. Her most recent paper Insights not Numbers,
the Appropriate Use of Economic Models (co-authored with Dr. John Weyant of Stanford University and the
Energy Modeling Forum), will be released by the Pew Center in the next few weeks. Prior to coming to
the Pew Center, Dr. Peace was the Director of Offsets Development and Industry Relations with a
Canadian non-profit group, Climate Change Central, and an adjunct Assistant Professor in the
Department of Economics at the University of Calgary. Dr. Peace holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in
Economics and an undergraduate degree in Geology.

                                            Jeffrey Williams
                                               Entergy Corp.

Mr. Williams is Manager of Corporate Environmental Initiatives for Entergy Corporation. In that
capacity, he helps Entergy manage carbon risk and execute future sustainable growth opportunities. He
has been a strong advocate for taking proactive, responsible action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
and has stressed the importance of creating innovative, efficient market mechanisms for achieving cost
effective greenhouse gas reductions.

Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production
and retail distribution operations. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $10 billion and
approximately 14,000 employees. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000
megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United
States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.6 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and
Texas. Entergy was named to the Forbes list of America’s Most Trustworthy Companies for its
corporate governance practices and accounting transparency, and was the only electric utility to make the
list. According to Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard, “Entergy is committed to build a consensus for
responsible global climate change policy.”


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