Global Warming:

Information on the Results of Four of EPA's Voluntary Climate Change Programs

RCED-97-163: Published: Jun 30, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined: (1) what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done to ensure that the greenhouse gas reductions it reports reflect only the results of its efforts, as opposed to other factors; and (2) whether EPA's projected reductions are consistent with experience to date.

GAO noted that: (1) for two of the four CCAP programs GAO reviewed, EPA adjusted the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions it had reported to account only for the effects of its efforts; for the other two programs, it did not adjust the reported reductions; (2) specifically, for the Coalbed Methane Outreach and Source Reduction and Recycling programs, EPA determined that nonprogram factors accounted for some of the reported reductions and, therefore, adjusted those reductions; (3) for the Green Lights Program, EPA officials said that some reported reductions were probably the result of nonprogram factors, but they did not attempt to quantify the extent of the nonprogram factors because they believe it is not possible to do so; (4) they said that any reductions resulting from nonprogram factors would likely be counterbalanced by reductions that they believe are attributable to the program but were not reported to EPA because the organizations did not participate in the program; (5) for the State and Local Outreach program, EPA did not attempt to determine whether some of the reported reductions resulted from nonprogram factors, although program officials said they tried to eliminate double-counting where reductions might be the result of other CCAP programs; (6) EPA officials said they limited their efforts to quantify how much of the reported reductions resulted only from the effects of EPA's programs because it is difficult to make such an assessment, especially in the early stages of the programs' development; (7) EPA's projections of future reductions in greenhouse gases are not consistent with experience to date for three of the four programs but are consistent for the fourth program; (8) for the Green Lights and Source Reduction and Recycling programs, the projected reductions are based on an assumption that the participants will, respectively, upgrade a larger proportion of their space and reduce waste at the source more in the future than they have thus far; (9) for the State and Local Outreach Program, the projections assume that one key project will increase its impact, even though there are questions about the basis for the reductions reported thus far; and (10) for the Coalbed Methane Outreach Program, the projected reductions are consistent with experience to date.

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