President Clinton Speaks at Climate Change Event

Office of the Press Secretary
(Santa Monica, California)

For Immediate Release May 4, 1998

PATH Development Site
San Fernando,

10:57 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I think Christydid a terrific job. (Applause.) And the rest of her family is outhere -- we're glad you're here. And let me say to all of you howvery glad I am to be here. I want to thank Congressman Sherman. Iknow that Congressman Berman wanted to be here today, but a familyemergency prevented him from coming -- his daughter Lindsey is here.I thank her for coming. Thank, Lt. Governor Gray Davis for beinghere.

We have a number of people who have been involved inthis endeavor -- William Apgar, who is our Assistant SecretaryDesignate at HUD; Dean Evans, the staff director for PATH. Thankyou, Bob Villa. Thank you, Jeff Lee and Jay Stark, the president anddirector of development for the Lee Group. I thank the Braemar UrbanVentures, who are also a part of this project.

I say a special word of thanks to Don Martin, thepresident of the National Association of Home Builders -- came a goodlong way to be with us today. And that shows the kind of commitmentwe have out of this national organization. I thank him very much forhis remarks and his presence.

I see a lot of people in the audience, I hesitate toacknowledge some for fear of missing others, but I see our LA CountySupervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and City Councilman Richard Alarcon,former Assemblyman Richard Katz, Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg. I thankthem for coming.

And I have to make special notice of one person who ishere. I don't know a more ardent environmentalist than Ed Begley,Jr. He's the first person I ever met who owned an electric car.Thank you for coming. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very important day. Iknow that all of us are glad that our country is enjoying goodeconomic times, that we have 15 million new jobs, the lowestunemployment in 28 years, the lowest inflation rate in 30 years, thelowest crime rate in 24 years, the highest consumer confidence in 30years. We also have another accomplishment as a country that'sparticularly relevant today -- we have the highest homeownership everrecorded in the history of the United States. (Applause.)

And all of that is very good. The housing market hasnever been stronger. It appears that between now and 2010 we'll have15 million more new homes built in America. It's a great opportunityfor the American people. But like all the changes going on today, asI have repeatedly said, this is not a time for us to be smug orcomplacent. This is a time for us to ask, how can we take advantageof the good times we have and the changes that are going on to meetthe long-term challenges of America.

And we have a number of long-term challenges. One is toreform Social Security and Medicare for the 21st century so the babyboomers don't bankrupt the rest of the country. I can say thatbecause I am one. (Laughter.) Another is to bring the spark of freeenterprise to the inner-city neighborhoods that haven't yet felt it,to make sure everybody has a chance to be a part of the economicfuture of America. Another is to make the most of our rich racialand ethnic diversity so that we are even stronger than we have everbeen. (Applause.) Another is to build a world-class system ofelementary and secondary education to go along with our system ofhigher education. (Applause.)

But all of that requires us to be able to live in ourglobal home on free and fair and decent terms with our neighborsaround the world. And the biggest challenge to that today, in myopinion, is the challenge of climate change and global warming.

There is virtually unanimous -- not complete, butvirtually unanimous -- opinion among scientists that the globe iswarming at an unacceptably rapid rate. We know, for example, thatthe last decade is the warmest decade in 600 years. It literally--three years in the 1990s are the warmest years since the 1400. Youknow in California from the unusual severity of this El Nino whatthese kind of disruptive weather events can be like. And we knowthat if the climate, in fact, continues to heat up, through theexcessive emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we willhave more extreme, dramatic weather events such as those you'veexperienced so frequently in California in the last few years on amore regular basis throughout the United States and, indeed,throughout the world.

We also know what to do about it. We know that we cansubstantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we know if we doso, we can -- in the right way -- we can do it and continue to growthe economy at a perfectly acceptable rate. Now, it's already beensaid by previous speakers that emissions from homes in Americaaccount for about 20 percent of our total greenhouse gas emission.Let me try to put that into some perspective. Basically a third ofthe greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, primarily fromcars and trucks. About a third comes from factories and powerplants. And about a third comes from buildings, homes and officebuildings, commercial structures. In that third, about two-thirds ofthat comes from homes.

So if we know that we can do things with availabletechnology -- and you just saw it all demonstrated here -- that willactually be profitable to homeowners, won't hurt home builders, andwill help to save the planet, by definition it will put more moneyinto consumers' pockets, and by saving the environment, we willgenerate higher, not lower economic growth. It will improve theproductivity of home building and, in a very profound way, theproductivity of living in homes.

Now, that's what this PATH project is all about. Itwill be the most ambitious effort ever to help private home buildersand homeowners make cost-effective, energy-saving decisions that willpay big dividends throughout the 21st century.

Now, let me say that we have a specific goal here, and Idon't think it's an unrealistic one, based on what you have alreadyheard and the specific examples you saw at the beginning of thisevent. Over the next decade the goal of PATH is to cut energy use by50 percent in new homes and 30 percent in 15 million existing homes.Keep in mind, there are 100 million homeowners in America, as ourhome builder leader said. That's an achievable goal. If we achievethat goal, it means by the year 2010 we'll save consumers $11 billiona year in energy costs, reduce annual carbon emissions -- listen tothis -- by 24 million tons, equivalent to the amount produced eachyear by 20 million cars. For new homes and old ones, therefore, PATHwill lead us toward a cost-effective solution to help preserve ourreal home, the planet Earth.

Now, several weeks ago right here, PATH experts reachedout to the Lee Group to help identify inexpensive ways of buildingenergy-saving features into all the new homes. The results have beendramatic. The new technologies suggested by PATH experts -- listento this -- here will save homeowners in this very moderate climatemore than $230 a year on their energy bill, $7,000 during the life ofthe mortgage, without adding a dime to the price of the home. Inregions where there are greater extremes of hot and cold, the savingswill be much, much larger.

The power of this partnership is growing every day.Many federal agencies are working with builders and suppliers todevelop even better technologies. They're working with state andlocal officials to streamline regulations, and that's very important.That's why I'm glad to see so many state and local officials heretoday. The Los Angeles City Council just passed a resolution to helpspeed PATH projects. When homeowners agree to buy ultra-efficientappliances, the Department of Water and Power will help to pay anyextra cost. Fannie Mae will make it possible for more homeowners toquality for home mortgages, giving them credit for the energy savingsthey will collect in terms of the eligibility for their mortgage.And we ought to congratulate MetroLink, too, for making it so easyfor community members to leave their cars at home.

Now, this collaborative approach to energy savings isthe same one we're also trying to take with the commercial sector.Remember, residential and commercial together are about a third ofour greenhouse gas emissions. We're working with the owners and themanagers of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center inNew York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, and many other buildings to cuttheir energy use by up to 30 percent.

It's the approach we're taking in the car industry.Transportation is a third of the problem. We've already worked withFord, GM, and Chrysler for five years now to help them produceprototypes that will get more than twice the mileage of today's cars,with no sacrifice in comfort, safety, or performance. And we are onthe verge of having energy engine technologies in transportation thatwill reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 to 80 percent.

This is the approach that I'm trying to take to thisproblem in a comprehensive fashion. It's why I have asked theCongress to make a commitment that is unprecedented but a goodinvestment of $6.3 billion over the next few years for research andfor tax incentives to mobilize these new technologies. Some of theincentives I've proposed, such as tax credits for energy-efficienthomes or the solar panels you see there that are so dramaticallydifferent from the huge contraptions that used to be necessary to puton roofs, are designed specifically to promote the goals of PATH, theones I've just announced to you.

Today I hope again I can ask all of you to ask themembers of Congress who are here with Brad Sherman and don't agreewith Howard Berman and Brad to actually vote for this. It seems tome that every Republican and every Democrat member of Congress wouldbe for a system of tax credits that actually created a win-winsituation. It would generate more economic activity and lesspollution. It will save money for consumers and cut down ongreenhouse gas emissions by saving natural resources.

Now, let me say again, there's still people inWashington who think this is some great plot to wreck the economy.If I'm trying to wreck the economy, I've done a poor job of it.

(Applause.) Every time in the last 28 years since we started withthe Clean Air Act in 1970, every time we have faced an environmentalchallenge, people have said, oh, if they do this, they're going tohurt the economy. I have heard it and heard it and heard it--whether it was acid rain, pesticides, polluted rivers, the ozonehole -- everybody said it was terrible.

Well, guess what? The ozone hole is thickening now.The layer is thickening again. We got rid of CFCs, and we did it ina way that actually has improved the economy. Every singleenvironmental challenge we have met as a country in the last threedecades has actually served to strengthen the economy by creating ademand for new ideas, new technologies, and new businesses.

So we have generated more jobs, not fewer jobs, by doingthe responsible thing for our environment. And that's what willhappen again. These new technologies in our homes, in our cars, ourappliances, new sources of energy like solar power and fuel cells,working with other nations of the world in new partnerships -- allthese things are going to give us a much more well-balancedeconomy. On the other hand, if we don't do it, I will say again, ifyou liked El Nino for the last several months, you will love the 21stcentury if we keep on the path we're on.

I think the answer is clear. And when someone can standup here and make the kind of very personal testimonial about what itdoes to your living circumstances, like Christy did, and then say itenables her husband and her son and herself -- it enables them to begood citizens by making a statement about what kind of environmentalvalues they have -- that's the story we want every American to beable to tell.

So I ask you to support the PATH initiative. I ask youto go home and examine whether you can do something in your own hometo be a part of this. I ask you to ask the members of Congress,without regard to party, to make this an American crusade. Becauseif you think about the big, long-term challenges America faces, thisis clearly one, and we have it within our grasp to meet the challengein a way that will give these little babies that are in this audiencea much better life in the new century.

Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

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