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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d93nov120

On October 19, President Clinton released his Administration's plan for reducing national greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 levels by the year 2000. Relying heavily on voluntary actions by industry it has the approval of most industries, but has received mixed reviews from environmental groups. The plan differs from the Bush Administration plan released last year in its adoption of a timetable for greenhouse gas reductions (announced by Clinton in April), and in its emphasis on government-industry partnerships to achieve greenhouse gas reductions without resorting to rigid regulatory actions. However, such actions will be sought through legislation if industry fails to voluntarily make progress.

The plan consists of 50 initiatives affecting all economic sectors. Some are expansions of existing programs, such as the successful Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Lights project, while others are new. Two major government-industry partnerships will be established. "Climate Challenge," to be run by the Department of Energy (DOE), will negotiate voluntary reductions in CO2 emissions with electric power utilities. "Climate-Wise Companies," to be administered jointly by DOE and EPA, will encourage energy efficiency and emissions reductions in all sectors of the economy, and provide technical assistance and public recognition for participating firms.

The plan does little to stem the growth of CO2 emissions from the transportation sector, a serious omission in the eyes of those who favor fuel efficiency requirements, since transportation is a large and growing source of emissions. The White House will oversee the development of new provisions, due in October 1994, to deal with this trend. The plan does not address emission trends after the year 2000; that will be taken up by a White House group which will make recommendations for long-term emission goals by the end of 1994. "Joint implementation" projects involving other countries will not count toward the current emission goal, but the State Department will lead a U.S. Initiative on Joint Implementation to encourage and evaluate such projects.

The provisions of the plan are expected to cost the federal government $1.9 billion between 1994 and 2000, but should increase federal income by $2.7 billion. On the other side of the federal-industry partnership, industry would recover its $61 billion investment by the year 2000 and would achieve another $207 billion in energy savings in the following decade.

The Climate Change Action Plan is for sale by the U.S. Government Printing Off., Mail Stop SSOP, Washington DC 20402 (202-783-3238).

Extensive discussion of the plan and reactions to it appear in Energy, Econ. & Clim. Change, pp. 1-13, Oct.; Global Environ. Change Rep., pp. 1-3 and p. 4, Oct. 22; Environ. Rptr., pp. 1178-1179, Oct. 22; and The New York Times, p. C4, Oct. 12. Shorter articles are in New Scientist, p. 8, Oct. 30, and Science News, p. 263, Oct. 23.

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