The Administration's Climate Change Program
Climate Change is a growing threat to the United States and all nations.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), which represents the work of more than 2,000 of the world's leading
climate scientists, estimates that global temperatures will rise by 2 to 6.5
degrees Fahrenheit this century. (By way of comparison, the last ice age was
only 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit colder than today). Recent studies by the
National Climatic Data Center indicate
that worldwide temperatures have been rising very rapidly--at a rate of .35
degrees Fahrenheit per decade over the last 20 years.
Even small average temperature increases are likely to have significant
consequences. A draft report regarding possible impacts of climate change on
the U.S. finds an increased potential for extreme weather events like storms
and droughts, adverse impacts on many natural ecosystems, coastal flooding on
much of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, possible water shortages (particularly in
the West), and many other potentially serious impacts.
The causes of global warming are also becoming clearer. Scientists
increasingly believe that greenhouse gas emissions--from automobiles, power
plants and other devices that rely on the burning of fossil fuels--are at least
partly, if not primarily, to blame for rising world temperatures.
To help address these issues, President Clinton and Vice President Gore
have developed and implemented an aggressive and comprehensive series of
initiatives to fight global warming. For fiscal year 2001, the
President's budget includes more
than $4 billion for research and development of clean energy sources and
technologies, energy efficient and other measures to help reduce greenhouse
emissions while maintaining strong economic growth. The President has also
proposed $4.1 billion in direct tax incentives over five years for consumers
who purchase energy efficient products and for producers of energy from
renewable sources to help spur development of these clean technologies.
In addition, President Clinton has issued a number of
Executive Orders to address
the climate change problem. On Earth Day 2000, the President issued two
Executive Orders that
instructed the government to become more energy efficient. One directive aims
to make the Federal vehicle fleet significantly more fuel efficient; another
orders agencies to offer public transportation incentives to Federal workers.
These measures are in addition to Executive Orders issued by the President last
year to promote development of fuels and products from plant matter and to
increase the energy efficiency of all Federal buildings and installations.
Many Americans are beginning to take action to fight climate change and
its consequences. A growing number of state and local governments and private
companies are stepping forward to address climate change with prudent,
creative, cost-effective stategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, it is clear that U.S. action alone is not enough.
Global warming is a global problem that requires a global solution. The U.S. is
engaged in serious negotiations with the world's nations to develop a
cost-effective and fair approach to reducing the threat that greenhouse gases
pose to our climate. The President and Vice President believe that in the long
term an international agreement must be reached to check the growth of
greenhouse gases that threatens us.
In his State of the Union
message in January 2000, the President called global warming "the greatest
environmental challenge of the 21st century." The President and Vice President
urge all Americans to help find solutions to this urgent problem.