Past Policy Leadership Forum

James L. Connaughton - Productive Harmony in Environmental Policy in the 21st Century

Jan 22, 2004

About the Event

Attaining Productive Harmony in Environmental Policy in the
21st Century
Policy Leadership Forum w/ James L. Connaughton
January 22, 2004

James L. Connaughton
Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality

James L. Connaughton was appointed by President Bush in 2001 to serve as chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In this capacity, he is the senior environmental advisor to the President as well as director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy, which oversees the development of environmental policies, coordinates interagency implementation of environmental programs, and mediates key policy disagreements among federal agencies, state, tribal and local governments, and private citizens.

Prior to joining the Bush administration, Mr. Connaughton was a partner in the law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, in its Environmental Practice Group. From 1993 until 2001, Mr. Connaughton served as one of the lead U.S. negotiators of the ISO 14000 series of international environmental standards. Mr. Connaughton also worked with officials from U.S. EPA, California EPA, and the Environmental Law Institute to help form the Multi-State Work Group on Environmental Management Systems.

Video of this RFF Policy Leadership Forum and commentary by Journalist-in-Residence John Anderson on Connaughton's remarks on climate policy follow below.

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Introduction: Paul Portney
President and Senior Fellow
Resources for the Future






James L. Connaughton
White House Council on Environmental Quality
Transcript | Slides



Questions and Answers



by John Anderson
RFF Journalist-in-Residence

CEQ Chief Connaughton Addresses Role of Developing Countries
in Setting World Climate Policy

Global policy to mitigate global warming will have to include the developing countries from the beginning, James. L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said on Jan. 22.

Connaughton spoke at a RFF Policy Leadership Forum at Resources for the Future.

If developing countries do not participate, he said, the climate regime will suffer "leakage"—the migration of industries to countries with no restrictions on emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol, a treaty signed by most of the world's governments but not yet in force, would put emissions limits only on developed countries. The Bush administration opposes the protocol.

Integrating the developing countries into an effective world climate policy is proving a major issue. Greenhouse gases are generated mainly by burning the fossil fuels on which modern industry runs, and many of the poor countries suspect that emissions limits are a ruse to hold back their rise to prosperity.

Connaughton suggested that the solution may be to address those countries' immediate concerns by linking ways to reduce air pollution, which has become a major health threat in many of the rapidly industrializing economies, with the longer-term plans to control greenhouse emissions.

He vigorously defended President Bush's proposal to use emissions intensity—the ratio of emissions to Gross Domestic Product—as the key measure of compliance. The Kyoto Protocol uses a country's total emissions as its basic measure. One of President Bush's reasons for opposing Kyoto is the difficulty, at least in the short-to-medium term, of reducing emissions without shrinking the economy that produces them.

Connaughton's comments on climate policy came in response to questions from the audience. His talk surveyed the environmental advances of the past 30 years. The administration believes, he said, that technical innovation promises more progress than litigation.