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Annual Public Lectures Series > Vicki Arroyo

Scientists and Journalists:
Getting the Point Across
June 9-13, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 3:30 p.m.
U.S. Climate Policy and Politics Update:
Translating Climate Change Science into Policy Action

Vicki Arroyo, Director of Policy Analysis, Pew Center on Global Climate Change


Now that the basic science of climate change is widely accepted, Vicki Arroyo is optimistic that U.S. policy action will follow in the near future. Arroyo, director of policy analysis at the Pew Center on Global Change, gave a lecture at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography on June 11, 2008, on how climate science informs national policy for the Metcalf Institute's annual public lecture series.

Climate change has become a more pressing issue for many people in recent years. An ABC News/Stanford/Washington Post poll shows that in 1998 only 31 percent of the public saw climate change as very important, but by 2007 this number had risen to 52 percent. Looking at the history of regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Arroyo noted that reduction of GHG emissions first approved in Federal legislation in the early 1990s in the form of voluntary measures. President Clinton supported the Kyoto Protocol, but offered no mandatory action. Under President Bush, Kyoto has been abandoned, there has been a call for more research on climate change, and there is voluntary reporting of emissions. GHG emissions have been steadily increasing during the intervening years.

Arroyo explained that the McCain-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill in 2003 was the beginning of an educational process for Congress, but the bill did not pass. In the wake of that federal failure to regulate GHG, some states have taken the lead in cap-and-trade initiatives, often seeking to be the leaders in producing alternative energy.

One of the many groups that have formed to address the issue of global warming is the United States Action Partnership (USAP). This partnership, of which the Pew Center is a member, is comprised of businesses and non-profit organizations that are encouraging the federal government to enact legislation for significant reduction in greenhouse gases.

One of USAP's target goals is for a 60 to 80 percent reduction from 1990 GHG levels by 2050. According to Arroyo, there is a growing sense in industry that U.S. climate action is now inevitable and possibly desirable. Congress echoed this in 2007 with over 110 climate-related hearings, and 150 bills mentioning climate change.

The Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill, which would have established a cap-and-trade system to reduce GHG emissions, is the latest bill to reach the floor of the Senate. Although a majority of Senators (48) voted to end debate on the bill, thereby allowing a yea/nay vote, the sponsors were not able to gather the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture. Arroyo still remained optimistic, stating that the good news is that the debate is even happening.

She went on to note that people are seeing more and more evidence of global warming on a global scale. She is hopeful that policy change will come with the change of administrations - both 2008 presidential candidates support cap-and-trade bills. According to Arroyo, "the cost of inaction will greatly exceed the cost of action."

Vicki Arroyo is Director of Policy Analysis for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a position she has held since July 1998. Arroyo directs the Pew Center's domestic program, including oversight of analysis, reports, and workshops focusing on domestic policy issues, economics, and science/environmental impacts. She has overseen the development of over 50 published reports, briefs and white papers, and was Managing Editor of the Pew Center's book: Climate Change: Science, Strategies, and Solutions. Prior to joining the Pew Center, she practiced environmental law for four years in Washington, D.C. She has also served in two offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- overseeing development of air toxics standards in the Office of Air and Radiation from 1987-1988, and reviewing development of criteria air pollutant regulations in the Office of Research and Development from 1993-1994. In between her two stints at EPA, she served in Louisiana as Environmental Advisor to Governor Buddy Roemer and as Director of Policy Analysis for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Arroyo holds a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University, and a Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Climate Policy Journal, on the Advisory Council to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and on advisory committees to the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Catholic University and George Mason University teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental policy, and at Tulane University Law School.

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July 31, 2008