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This blog is expressly directed to readers who do not have strong training or backgrounds in science, with the intent of helping them grasp the underpinnings of this important issue. I'm going to present an ongoing series of posts that will develop various aspects of the science of global warming, its causes and possible methods for minimizing its advance and overcoming at least partially its detrimental effects.

Each post will begin with a capsule summary. It will then proceed with captioned sections to amplify and justify the statements and conclusions of the summary. I'll present images and tables where helpful to develop a point, since "a picture is worth a thousand words".

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The U. S. Needs a Unified Global Warming Agency, As Other Nations Have

Summary. The previous post detailed the distributed administrative structures dealing with global warming in the U. S. government.  It identified several problems and difficulties arising from this situation.

Here, ministries and departments dealing with global warming in the European Union and selected  countries around the world are examined.  Among the countries examined, those in the developed world have a single ministry, or at most two, dedicated to the global warming issue and related concerns.  These structures effectively focus administrative effort on this topic in these countries.

It is concluded that the U. S. should revise its scattered administrative structure for dealing with global warming by establishing a cohesive cabinet-level department or agency.  The new entity would beneficially address global warming effectively: characterizing its worsening effects, and developing policies for mitigation and adaptation to its impacts.

Introduction.  The previous post presented details showing that disparate activities related to the issue of global warming are strewn among fourteen offices housed in thirteen federal departments and agencies of the U. S. government.  The post showed that this arrangement presents many problems and concerns.  In order to overcome these difficulties, it was proposed to unify all or most of these activities in a single cabinet-level department or agency.

Here, this post presents administrative information on energy and environment ministries and departments drawn from a selection of a regional transnational authority (the European Union (EU)), and sovereign nations from the EU and elsewhere around the world.

Global Warming Ministries in The European Union and Selected Nations Around the Globe

Ministries and similar agencies from the EU and nine nations were chosen to be described here.  Developed and developing countries from Europe, Asia and South America are considered.  (The choices that were made followed this writer’s inclinations and so are not random.  Every nation chosen is presented below; none was eliminated from presentation because of information developed during searching.)  Their ministries are summarized here.  More comprehensive descriptions appear in the Details section at the end of this post.

Developed Countries

The European Union

The EU is a political compact among, currently, 28 member nations.  Its executive organization is the European Commission, which interacts with the European Parliament to enact legislation and policies.

The European Environment Agency (EEA), an agency of the EU, provides information on the environment to other bodies of the EU so that relevant, unbiased background is available for policymakers and the public.

The European Commission has several subordinate Directorates-General, among which are those for Climate Action, Energy, and the Environment.  For example, the Directorate-General for the Environment developed the EU’s greenhouse gas mitigation policy (see Details).

Four EU nations were chosen for discussion here.
Germany has a cabinet-level Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.  Among its responsibilities is development of national environmental policy.
Germany also has a a Ministry of Economics and Energy whose responsibilities include promoting the security of the country’s energy supply and the environmental compatibility of its energy.

The United Kingdom (UK) has a cabinet-level Department of Energy and Climate Change concerned with developing its energy supply, promoting energy efficiency, and overseeing the UK’s diplomacy related to international climate policy.

The UK also has a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whose areas of practice include climate change and sustainability of resources.

Sweden has a Ministry of the Environment whose responsibilities include climate policy and environmental legislation; as well as a Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications whose tasks include providing energy security for the nation.

Norway has a Ministry of the Environment that includes Departments for Climate Change, and Nature Management, among others.  It also has a Ministry of Petroleum and Energy responsible for energy production.
Japan has a cabinet-level Ministry of the Environment.  Its motto is to work “towards a lifestyle that could be passed on to generations 100 years from now.”  Japan recognizes that global warming is a long-term problem.  It believes the experience gained in its recent economic development can be applied internationally to mitigate greenhouse gas  emissions.

Japan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources includes responsibility for developing energy and mineral resources in an environmentally sound way.

Australia’s Ministry of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency promotes policies for the mitigation of and adaptation to global warming from greenhouse gases, as well as developing the country’s policies in international negotiations on warming.

Its Ministry of the Environment focuses on preserving Australia’s natural environment.

Developing Countries

The nations from the developing world discussed below were chosen for consideration because some of them are among the nations with the highest annual rates of emission of greenhouse gases in the world, and/or the highest rates of growth in those emissions. 

China’s administrative structure (on the English language website) did not readily show a ministry or department related to the issue of global warming, nor for energy.  The China Renewable Energy Scale-Up Program participates in international efforts in this area.  Its Ministry of Environmental Protection works under the State Council to develop policies for environmental protection, including protection from environmental pollution and for development of natural resources.

India has a National Action Plan on Climate Change, issued in 2008, having eight committees, or Missions, with specified tasks.  The missions report directly to the Prime Minister.

India has a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.  There is also a Ministry of Power overseeing production and distribution of power.

Brazil has a Ministry of the Environment, devoted to protecting and preserving the nation’s environment, and sustainable use of its resources. 

The Ministry of Mines and Energy has the objective of promoting sustainable environmental policies while assuring the supply of energy and natural resources.

Indonesia has a Ministry of Forestry that includes the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation.

Generalizations from this worldwide selection of nations suggest that nations in the developed world have well-defined administrative structures devoted to, or involved in, assessing global warming and its effects, as well as developing and implementing meaningful policies for mitigation of and adaptation to global warming.  In general the ministries and departments examined here concentrate all or most of the administrative functions needed for addressing global warming into a single, or in some cases two, ministries or departments.

(The developing countries considered here appear not to have as well-developed administrative structures, at least apparent to the internet researcher,  as do those for countries in the developed world.  Furthermore, they appear not to have strong mechanisms for developing and implementing policies that mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.) 


The previous post detailed the distributed administrative structures in the U. S. federal government involved in various aspects of global warming research, climate policy development, and implementation of rules and programs governing greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.  The post identified several critical problems and difficulties arising from this arrangement, and concluded that a single cabinet-level department or agency should be created solely devoted to most or all aspects of the global warming issue.

The cases of the European Union and nations from the developed world presented here provide examples of single, or at most two, cabinet-level ministries dealing with global warming and its impacts on society.  Their integrated administrative structures minimize the problems identified in the U. S. federal government arising from the fact that disparate offices and bureaus, residing in several different departments and agencies, address various aspects of the global warming issue.

It is concluded that in order to develop effective global warming policy, the U. S. should reorganize all or most of these disparate activities into a new Department or Agency dealing exclusively with global warming, its causes, characteristics and impacts.  The examples from the developed world discussed here generally have such integrated administrative structures.   The new entity would evaluate the worsening trends related to warming, and formulate unified policies addressing both the mitigation of, and adaptation to, global warming at the national and international levels.


Developed Countries

The European Union

The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an agency of the European Union (EU). Its task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. It is a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public.

The European Commission is the high level body for the European Union, formulating policy proposals presented to the European Parliament for action.  The European Commission has several Directorates-General (DG), including those for Climate Action, Energy and the Environment.

The DG for Climate Action assembled the 20-20-20 goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions: a 20% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels; producing 20% of the EU’s energy from renewable sources; and improving energy efficiency by 20%; by 2020.

The DG for Energy sets up an energy market for Europe, and promotes sustainable energy production and use consistent with the EU emissions goal for 2020.

The DG for the Environment oversees enforcement of EU environmental law.

Any act passed by the European Parliament is implemented by passing corresponding legislation in each member nation.  Examples of some European national-level environmental or global warming agencies are presented here.

Germany has a cabinet-level Ministry of for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.  Its responsibilities include

Fundamental national environmental policy,
Informing and educating the public about environmental issues,
Environmental remediation and development in Eastern Germany, and
Climate protection and energy.

Germany also has a Ministry of Economics and Energy whose objective is promoting economic efficiency, security of supply and environmental compatibility of its energy.  The Ministry formulates and implements energy policy.

United Kingdom: The cabinet-level Department of Energy and Climate Change assures responsible development of energy sources for the UK, promotes energy efficiency, and develops international approaches for limiting climate change.  It oversees the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Climate change, adaptation and energy use; and
Sustainable consumption and production; among others.

Sweden: The Ministry of the Environment has responsibilities that include, among others,

Climate policy,
Environmental quality objectives,
Environmental legislation, and
Sustainable Development.

Sweden’s Ministry of Enterprise, Energy andCommunications includes responsibility for assuring an efficient energy system at competitive prices.

Norway: The Royal Norwegian Ministry of the Environment is specifically responsible for carrying out the environmental policies of the Government.  Among its sections are

Department for Climate Change,
Department for Marine Management and Pollution Control, and
Department for Nature Management.

Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy oversees energy production and usage.  Much of Norway’s energy is derived from hydropower.

Japan: The cabinet-level Ministry of the Environment has 10 interrelated policy guidelines with the overall objective of integrating policies that secure a sustainable environment while developing the economy and promoting the wellbeing of society.  Its policy is to work “towards a lifestyle that could be passed on to generations 100 years from now.”  In order to reduce the nation’s burden on the environment while still ensuring a high quality of life for all, “it is necessary for each one of us to think about how we can lead a rich and eco-friendly life….”  The environmental policy recognizes that Japan must work with all peoples of the world, including applying the experience gained in the development of Japan’s economy to those nations now undergoing development.  Global warming is a long-term problem, requiring a time horizon of at least 50 years  to achieve emission reduction goals. 

Japan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has the mission of managing development of energy and mineral resources in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

Australia has the following ministries.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency promotes policies for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to global warming already under way, promotion of energy efficiency and development of Australia’s positions in global negotiations on warming.

The Ministry of the Environment is devoted to preservation and protection of Australia’s natural environment.

The Ministry of Industry includes a Department of Industry whose charge is to integrate policies in industry, energy, resources and skills to promote economic growth and competitiveness.

Developing Countries

China: The mission of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China includes

Developing laws, regulations and assessments, as endowed by the State Council, for environmental protection.  Protection from pollution extends to air, water, soil, marine areas and vehicle emissions, among others.  In addition the Ministry oversees development and utilization of natural resources affecting the environment.  The Ministry also develops environmental standards and capabilities for environmental measurements.  It also generates basic principles that come to bear on global environmental issues, participating in and coordinating negotiations on international environmental conventions. 

The China Renewable Energy Scale-Up Program appears to participate in an international program in renewable energy.  Its web page shows date stamped entries of news items up to June 2013.  It is not clear how it fits into the national administrative structure. 

There appears to be no ministry dealing with energy.
India: India issued a National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008. Important components include the National Missions for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, Solar (Energy), Enhanced Energy Efficiency, and various missions for aspects of sustainability and reforestation.  These are found within a Council on Climate Change reporting directly to the Prime Minister.

India’s Ministry of Power oversees generation and distribution of power, including from thermal and hydro generation sources.

India also has a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy whose aim is to develop and deploy new and renewable energy sources to supplement the country’s energy needs.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has the goals of preserving the nation’s natural resources and reducing pollution.

An Energy Planning Commission in India seeks to unify development of the nation’s energy policy.  India recognizes “the need for an integrated energy policy because the responsibility for different energy sources is distributed over a number of different Ministries, e.g. Petroleum, Coal, Power, Water Resources (in the case of hydroelectricity), Atomic Energy and New & Renewable Energy.”

Brazil: The Ministry of the Environment has the goal of protecting and restoring the country’s environment, and of the sustainable use of its natural resources.  The ministry is responsible for developing policy for the environment and water resources, for preservation, conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems, for improving environmental quality and for sustainable use of natural resources.

Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy has as its mission “to guarantee the supply of energy and mineral resources…and promote …sustainable environmental and economically viable policies.”

This writer did not find an administrative body directed toward global warming.

Indonesia:  The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources promotes security of energy supply and production of minerals.

The Ministry of Forestry includes the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation.        

© 2014 Henry Auer

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