Presidential Talk on Global Climate Change

Don Staples dstaples at
Mon Oct 27 12:14:21 EST 1997

To ACF Members and others - for your information only.  (Just because I
this has no meaning)

>=====================fwd msg=================================
>                             THE WHITE HOUSE
>                      Office of the Press Secretary
> ___________________________________________________________________
> For Immediate Release                            October 22, 1997
>                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
>                         ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
>                        National Geographic Society
>                             Washington, D.C.
> 2:57 P.M. EDT
>       THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Murphy, Mr. Vice
> President, to all of you who are here.  I thank especially the members
> of Congress who are here, the leaders of labor and business who are
> here, all the members of the administration, and especially the White
> House staff members that the Vice President mentioned and the Secretary
> of Energy, the Administrator of the EPA, and the others who have helped
> us to come to this moment.
>       On the way in here we were met by the leaders of the National
> Geographic, and I complimented them on their recent two-part series on
> the Roman Empire.  It's a fascinating story of how the Empire rose, how
> it sustained itself for hundreds of years, why it fell, and
>speculations on what, if any, relevance it might have to the United States 
  and, indeed, the West.
>       And one of the gentlemen said, well, you know, we got a lot of
> interesting comments on that, including a letter referencing a statue
>we had of the bust of Emperor Vespasian.  And one of our readers said, 
  why in the world did you put a statue of Gene Hackman in a piece on
> Roman Empire?  (Laughter.)  And I say that basically to say, in some
> senses, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
> (Laughter.)
>       For what sustains any civilization, and now what will sustain all
> of our civilizations, is the constant effort at renewal, the ability to
> avoid denial and to proceed into the future in a way that is realistic
> and humane, but resolute.  Six years ago tomorrow, not long after I
> started running for President, I went back to my alma mater at
> Georgetown and began a series of three speeches outlining my vision for
> America in the 21st century -- how we could keep the American Dream
> alive for all of our people, how we could maintain America's leadership
> for peace and freedom and prosperity, and how we could come together
> across the lines that divide us as one America.
>       And together, we've made a lot of progress in the last nearly five
> years now that the Vice President and I have been privileged to work at
> this task.  At the threshold of a new century, our economy is thriving,
> our social fabric is mending, we've helped to lead the world toward
> greater peace and cooperation.
>       I think this has happened, in no small measure, in part because we
> had a different philosophy about the role of government.  Today, it is
> smaller and more focused and more oriented toward giving people the
> tools and the conditions they need to solve their own problems and
> toward working in partnership with our citizens.  More important, I
> believe it's happened because we made tough choices but not false
> choices.
>       On the economy, we made the choice to balance the budget and to
> invest in our people and our future.  On crime, we made the choice to be
> tough and smart about prevention and changing the conditions in which
> crime occurs.  On welfare, we made the choice to require work, but also
> to support the children of people who have been on welfare.  On
> families, we made the choice to help parents find more and better jobs
> and to have the necessary time and resources for their children.  And on
> the environment, we made the choice to clean our air, water, and land,
> to improve our food supply, and to grow the economy.
>       This kind of commonsense approach, rooted in our most basic values
> and our enduring optimism about the capacity of free people to meet the
> challenges of every age must be brought to bear on the work that remains
> to pave the way for our people and for the world toward a new century
> and a new millenium.
>       Today we have a clear responsibility and a golden opportunity to
> conquer one of the most important challenges of the 21st century -- the
> challenge of climate change -- with an environmentally sound and
> economically strong strategy, to achieve meaningful reductions in
> greenhouse gases in the United States and throughout the industrialized
> and the developing world.  It is a strategy that, if properly implemented, 
> will create a wealth of new opportunities for entrepreneurs
> at home, uphold our leadership abroad, and harness the power of free
> markets to free our planet from an unacceptable risk; a strategy as
> consistent with our commitment to reject false choices.
>       America can stand up for our national interest and stand up for
> the common interest of the international community.  America can build
> on prosperity today and ensure a healthy planet for our children
> tomorrow.
>       In so many ways the problem of climate change reflects the new
> realities of the new century.  Many previous threats could be met within
> our own borders, but global warming requires an international solution.
> Many previous threats came from single enemies, but global warming
> derives from millions of sources.  Many previous threats posed clear and
> present danger; global warming is far more subtle, warning us not with
> roaring tanks or burning rivers but with invisible gases, slow changes
> in our surroundings, increasingly severe climatic disruptions that,
> thank God, have not yet hit home for most Americans.  But make no
> mistake, the problem is real.  And if we do not change our course now,
> the consequences sooner or later will be destructive for America and for
> the world.
>       The vast majority of the world's climate scientists have concluded
> that if the countries of the world do not work together to cut the
> emission of greenhouse gases, then temperatures will rise and will
> disrupt the climate.  In fact, most scientists say the process has
> already begun.  Disruptive weather events are increasing.
> Disease-bearing insects are moving to areas that used to be too cold for
> them.  Average temperatures are rising.  Glacial formations are
> receding.
>       Scientists don't yet know what the precise consequences will be.
> But we do know enough now to know that the Industrial Age has
> dramatically increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, where they
> take a century or more to dissipate; and that the process must be
> slowed, then stopped, then reduced if we want to continue our economic
> progress and preserve the quality of life in the United States and
> throughout our planet.  We know what we have to do.
>       Greenhouse gas emissions are caused mostly by the inefficient
> burning of coal or oil for energy.  Roughly a third of these emissions
> come from industry, a third from transportation, a third from
> residential and commercial buildings.  In each case, the conversion of
> fuel to energy use is extremely inefficient and could be made much
> cleaner with existing technologies or those already on the horizon, in
> ways that will not weaken the economy but in fact will add to our
> strength in new businesses and new jobs.  If we do this properly, we
> will not jeopardize our prosperity -- we will increase it.
>       With that principle in mind, I'm announcing the instruction I'm
> giving to our negotiators as they pursue a realistic and effective
> international climate change treaty.  And I'm announcing a far-reaching
> proposal that provides flexible market-based and cost-effective ways to
> achieve meaningful reductions here in America.  I want to emphasize that
> we cannot wait until the treaty is negotiated and ratified to act.  The
> United States has less than 5 percent of the world's people, enjoys 22
> percent of the world's wealth, but emits more than 25 percent of the
> world's greenhouse gases.  We must begin now to take out our insurance
> policy on the future.
>       In the international climate negotiations, the United States will
> pursue a comprehensive framework that includes three elements, which,
> taken together, will enable us to build a strong and robust global
> agreement.  First, the United States proposes at Kyoto that we commit to
> the binding and realistic target of returning to emissions of 1990
> levels between 2008 and 2012.  And we should not stop there.  We should
> commit to reduce emissions below 1990 levels in the five-year period
> thereafter, and we must work toward further reductions in the years
> ahead.
>       The industrialized nations tried to reduce emissions to 1990
> levels once before with a voluntary approach, but regrettably, most of
> us -- including especially the United States -- fell short.  We must
> find new resolve to achieve these reductions, and to do that we simply
> must commit to binding limits.
>       Second, we will embrace flexible mechanisms for meeting these
> limits.  We propose an innovative, joint implementation system that
> allows a firm in one country to invest in a project that reduces
> emissions in another country and receive credit for those reductions at
> home.  And we propose an international system of emissions trading.
> These innovations will cut worldwide pollution, keep costs low, and help
> developing countries protect their environment, too, without sacrificing
> their economic growth.
>       Third, both industrialized and developing countries must
> participate in meeting the challenge of climate change.  The
> industrialized world must lead, but developing countries also must be
> engaged.  The United States will not assume binding obligations unless
> key developing nations meaningfully participate in this effort.
>       As President Carlos Menem stated forcefully last week when I
> visited him in Argentina, a global problem such as climate change
> requires a global answer.  If the entire industrialized world reduces
> emissions over the next several decades, but emissions from the
> developing world continue to grow at their current pace, concentrations
> of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere will continue to climb.
> Developing countries have an opportunity to chart a different energy
> future consistent with their growth potential and their legitimate
> economic aspirations.
>       What Argentina, with dramatic projected economic growth,
> recognizes is true for other countries as well:  We can and we must work
> together on this problem in a way that benefits us all.  Here at home,
> we must move forward by unleashing the full power of free markets and
> technological innovations to meet the challenge of climate change.  I
> propose a sweeping plan to provide incentives and lift road blocks to
> help our companies and our citizens find new and creative ways of
> reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
>       First, we must enact tax cuts and make research and development
> investments worth up to $5 billion over the next five years -- targeted
> incentives to encourage energy efficiency and the use of cleaner energy
> sources.
>       Second, we must urge companies to take early actions to reduce
> emissions by ensuring that they receive appropriate credit for showing
> the way.
>       Third, we must create a market system for reducing emissions
> wherever they can be achieved most inexpensively, here or abroad; a
> system that will draw on our successful experience with acid rain
>permit trading.
>       Fourth, we must reinvent how the federal government, the nation's
> largest energy consumer, buys and uses energy.  Through new technology,
> renewable energy resources, innovative partnerships with private firms
> and assessments of greenhouse gas emissions from major federal projects,
> the federal government will play an important role in helping our nation
> to meet its goal.  Today, as a down payment on our million solar roof
> initiative, I commit the federal government to have 20,000 systems on
> federal buildings by 2010.
>       Fifth, we must unleash competition in the electricity industry, to
> remove outdated regulations and save Americans billions of dollars.  We
> must do it in a way that leads to even greater progress in cleaning our
> air and delivers a significant down payment in reducing greenhouse gas
> emissions.  Today, two-thirds of the energy used to provide electricity
> is squandered in waste heat.  We can do much, much better.
>       Sixth, we must continue to encourage key industry sectors to
> prepare their own greenhouse gas reduction plans.  And we must, along
> with state and local government, remove the barriers to the most energy
> efficient usage possible.  There are ways the federal government can
> help industry to achieve meaningful reductions voluntarily, and we will
> redouble our efforts to do so.
>       This plan is sensible and sound.  Since it's a long-term problem
> requiring a long-term solution, it will be phased in over time.  But we
> want to get moving now.  We will start with our package of strong market
> incentives, tax cuts, and cooperative efforts with industry.  We want to
> stimulate early action and encourage leadership.  And as we reduce our
> emissions over the next decade with these efforts, we will perform
> regular reviews to see what works best for the environment, the economy,
> and our national security.
>       After we have accumulated a decade of experience, a decade of
> data, a decade of technological innovation, we will launch a broad
> emissions trading initiative to ensure that we hit our binding targets.
> At that time, if there are dislocations caused by the changing patterns
> of energy use in America, we have a moral obligation to respond to those
> to help the workers and the enterprises affected -- no less than we do
> today by any change in our economy which affects people through no fault
> of their own.
>       This plan plays to our strengths -- innovation, creativity,
> entrepreneurship.  Our companies already are showing the way by
> developing tremendous environmental technologies and implementing
> commonsense conservation solutions.
>       Just yesterday, Secretary Pena announced a dramatic breakthrough
> in fuel cell technology, funded by the Department of Energy research --
> a breakthrough that will clear the way toward developing cars that are
> twice as efficient as today's models and reduce pollution by 90 percent.
> The breakthrough was made possible by our path-breaking partnership with
> the auto industry to create a new generation of vehicles.  A different
> design, producing similar results, has been developed by a project
> funded by the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency and the Commerce
> Department's National Institute of Science and Technology.
>       The Energy Department discovery is amazing in what it does.
> Today, gasoline is used very inefficiently in internal combustion
> engines -- about 80 percent of its energy capacity is lost.  The DOE
> project announced yesterday by A.D. Little and Company uses 84 percent
> of the gasoline directly going into the fuel cell.  That's increased
> efficiency of more than four times traditional engine usage.
>       And I might add, from the point of view of all the people that are
> involved in the present system, continuing to use gasoline means that
> you don't have to change any of the distribution systems that are out
> there.  It's a very important, but by no means the only, discovery
> that's been made that points the way toward the future we have to
> embrace.
>       I also want to emphasize, however, that most of the technologies
> available for meeting this goal through market mechanisms are already
> out there -- we simply have to take advantage of them.  For example, in
> the town of West Branch, Iowa, a science teacher named Hector Ibarra
> challenged his 6th graders to apply their classroom experiments to
> making their school more energy efficient.  The class got a $14,000 loan
> from a local bank and put in place easily available solutions.  The
> students cut the energy use in their school by 70 percent.  Their
> savings were so impressive that the bank decided to upgrade its own
> energy efficiency.  (Laughter.)
>       Following the lead of these 6th graders -- (laughter) -- other
> major companies in America have shown similar results.  You have only to
> look at the proven results achieved by companies like Southwire, Dow
> Chemical, Dupont, Kraft, Interface Carpetmakers, and any number of
> others in every sector of our economy to see what can be done.
>       Our industries have produced a large group of efficient new
> refrigerators, computers, washer/dryers, and other appliances that use
> far less energy, save money, and cut pollution.  The revolution in
> lighting alone is truly amazing.  One compact fluorescent lamp, used by
> one person over its lifetime, can save nearly a ton of carbon dioxide
> emissions from the atmosphere, and save the consumer money.
>       If over the next 15 years everyone were to buy only those
> energy-efficient products marked in stores with EPA's distinctive
> "Energy Star" label, we could shrink our energy bills by a total of
> about $100 billion over the next 15 years and dramatically cut
> greenhouse gas emissions.
>       Despite these win-win innovations and commitments that are
> emerging literally every day, I know full well that some will criticize
> our targets and timetables as too ambitious.  And, of course, others
> will say we haven't gone far enough.  But before the debate begins in
> earnest, let's remember that over the past generation, we've produced
> tremendous environmental progress, including in the area of energy
> efficiency, at far less expense than anyone could have imagined.  And in
> the process, whole new industries have been built.
>       In the past three decades, while our economy has grown, we have
> raised, not lowered, the standards for the water our children drink.
> While our factories have been expanding, we have required them to clean
> up their toxic waste.  While we've had record numbers of new homes, our
> refrigerators save more energy and more money for our consumers.
>       In 1970, when smog was choking our cities, the federal government
> proposed new standards for tailpipe emissions.  Many environmental
> leaders claim the standards would do little to head off catastrophe.
> Industry experts predicted the cost of compliance would devastate the
> industry.  It turned out both sides were wrong.  Both underestimated
> the ingenuity of the American people.  Auto makers comply with today's
> much stricter emissions standards for far less than half the cost
> predicted, and new cars emit on average only 5 percent of the
> pollutants of the cars built in 1970.
>       We've seen this pattern over and over and over again.  We saw it
> when we joined together in the '70s to restrict the use of the
> carcinogen, vinyl chloride.  Some in the plastics industry predicted
> massive bankruptcies, but chemists discovered more cost-effective
> substitutes and the industries thrived.  We saw this when we phased out
> lead and gasoline.  And we see it in our acid rain trading program --
> now 40 percent ahead of schedule -- at costs less than 50 percent of
> even the most optimistic cost projections.  We see it as the
> chlorofluorocarbons are being taken out of the atmosphere at virtually
> no cost in ways that apparently are beginning finally to show some
> thickening of the ozone layer again.
>       The lesson here is simple:  Environmental initiatives, if sensibly
> designed, flexibly implemented, cost less than expected and provide
> unforseen economic opportunities.  So while we recognize that the
> challenge we take on today is larger than any environmental mission we
> have accepted in the past, climate change can bring us together around
> what America does best -- we innovate, we compete, we find solutions to
> problems, and we do it in a way that promotes entrepreneurship and
> strengthens the American economy.
>       If we do it right, protecting the climate will yield not costs,
> but profits; not burdens, but benefits; not sacrifice, but a higher
> standard of living.  There is a huge body of business evidence now
> showing that energy savings give better service at lower cost with
> higher profit.  We have to tear down barriers to successful markets and
> we have to create incentives to enter them.  I call on American business
> to lead the way, but I call upon government at every level -- federal,
> state, and local -- to give business the tools they need to get the job
> done, and also to set an example in all our operations.
>       And let us remember that the challenge we face today is not simply
> about targets and timetables.  It's about our most fundamental values
> and our deepest obligations.
>       Later today, I'm going to have the honor of meeting with
> Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of 300,000,000
> Orthodox Christians -- a man who has always stressed the deep
> obligations inherent in God's gift to the natural world.  He reminds us
> that the first part of the word "ecology" derives from the Greek word
> for house.  In his words, in order to change the behavior toward the
> house we all share, we must rediscover spiritual linkages that may have
> been lost and reassert human values.  Of course, he is right.  It is our
> solemn obligation to move forward with courage and foresight to pass our
> home on to our children and future generations.
>       I hope you believe with me that this is just another challenge in
> America's long history, one that we can meet in the way we have met all
> past challenges.  I hope that you believe with me that the evidence is
> clear that we can do it in a way that grows the economy, not with
> denial, but with a firm and glad embrace of yet another challenge of
> renewal.  We should be glad that we are alive today to embrace this
> challenge, and we should do it secure in the knowledge that our children
> and grandchildren will thank us for the endeavor.
>       Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
>              END                          3:24 P.M. EDT

Don Staples

My Ego Stroke:

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