Meeting the Challenge of Global Warming
November 11, 2000
Today, in an address broadcast over the Internet, President Clinton will announce the completion of the first comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of climate change across the United States, and will call for a comprehensive new clean air strategy that can significantly reduce emissions from U.S. power plants that contribute to global warming. On the eve of international climate change negotiations, the President also will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to work with other nations to ensure a strong, cost-effective agreement to fight global warming. The Internet address can be viewed beginning at 8: 00 a.m. today at www.whitehouse.gov.
Assessing the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on the United States. A report today to the President and Congress provides the most detailed assessment ever of ways in which climate change may affect our nation. The report, Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, was requested by Congress and undertaken by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a federal interagency science program. The assessment is the product of three years of analysis, with contributions from hundreds of the nation's leading climate scientists. The report has been through multiple rounds of scientific peer review, and was released in draft in June for public review and comment. Key findings of the report, which can be found at www.gcrio.org/NationalAssessment/, include:
A Comprehensive Approach to Limiting Pollution from Power Plants. The President today will call for a comprehensive approach to limiting harmful emissions from US electric power plants--including regulation of carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to man-made global warming. This "four pollutant" approach would establish national emissions standards, or 'caps' on sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides, and mercury as well as carbon dioxide (CO2). Electricity generation is the largest source of air pollution in the U.S., releasing more than two thirds of the nation's sulfur dioxide, and approximately one third of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury emissions. These pollutants contribute to disease and premature death from smog, soot, and toxic air pollution, worsened visibility in national parks, acid rain and water pollution, and global warming. Many of these pollutants are emitted by older power plants that are specifically exempted from clean air rules.
The President will call for a flexible and market-based emissions trading program, modeled on the Clean Air Act's acid rain program, that would allow the power sector to meet these strong goals in a cost-effective way. Such an integrated strategy covering all four pollutants would provide planning certainty to the utility industry, and greatly reduce the cost of cutting the emissions on a pollutant-by-pollutant basis. This approach has strong bipartisan support in Congress and among industry leaders.
A Global Solution to a Global Problem -- Upcoming International Negotiations on Climate Change. Next week, representatives of more than 160 nations will gather in The Hague in The Netherlands to shape an international response to the world's greatest environmental challenge: global warming. In his Internet address, the President will reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States to negotiating a climate change treaty that has environmental integrity, is cost-effective, and promotes the meaningful participation of key developing countries in the fight against global warming.
In these negotiations, the United States will:
The United States is Fighting Global Warming at Home. The United States has made significant progress in reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. For example, in 1998 and 1999, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions grew by just one percent while the overall Gross Domestic Product grew by 8 percent. These figures suggest that efforts to increase energy efficiency and implement new technologies have begun to "de-link" economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions.
As part if its overall effort to fight climate change, the Administration has secured a more than 50% increase (FY 1998 to FY 2001) in annual funding for improvements in efficiency and research and development to help develop these new technologies. Research by the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, a joint business-government program begun by Vice President Gore in 1993, has led to the development by the major automakers of cars that achieve 70 to 80 miles a gallon. The technologies developed under PNGV have also contributed to announcements by both Ford and General Motors that they will increase fuel economy in many large vehicles by 15-25% by 2005. The President has issued a series of Executive Orders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including efforts to triple the production of bioenergy and biofuels to 10% of US energy use by 2010; to decrease oil use in government vehicles by 20 percent by 2005; and increase energy efficiency of government buildings by 35 percent by 2010.
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