Global climate change is the premier environmental challenge of the 21st Century. In his State of the Union address, President Clinton is announcing a $6.3 billion package of tax cuts and new spending to spur advanced energy technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sound Science. The world's leading climate scientists have confirmed that existing evidence points to a discernible human influence on the Earth's climate. New data show that 1997 was the hottest year ever recorded, and nine of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1987. Scientists predict that continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions are likely to have severe consequences, including rising sea levels, more severe storms and droughts, and the increased spread of infectious disease.
The Challenge Ahead. Global warming is caused by rising emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmosphere. Reducing these emissions means improving our energy efficiency and using new, cleaner energy sources. It also means taking a global approach, bringing industrialized and developing nations together in a common effort to address this important challenge.
The President's Plan. In October 1997, the President outlined a comprehensive plan for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This plan includes win-win initiatives to effectively address climate change while simultaneously promoting economic growth and competitiveness. It includes:
$6.3 billion package of tax cuts and R&D spending. This package provides tax incentives for consumers and businesses to adopt cleaner energy technologies and supports research on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Industry-by-industry partnerships. The Administration will work with major sectors of U.S. industry to develop initiatives to cut emissions.
Efficiency in Federal procurement. The Administration will undertake a major effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Federal sources and, in so doing, to help stimulate a broader market for energy-efficient products.
Electricity restructuring. The Administration will propose restructuring the electricity industry to unleash competition, reduce costs to the consumer, and substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol. The international agreement reached in December in Kyoto, Japan, is an historic step in building sustained global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately stabilize concentrations of such gases in the atmosphere. It is also a major victory for the United States approach of harnessing the power of the free market to protect our environment. The essential elements of the Kyoto Protocol include binding emissions targets for developed countries and flexible market mechanisms for achieving those targets. Both the structure of the targets and the means for reaching them closely resemble U.S. proposals. Follow-up work is under way to secure stronger commitments from developing countries.