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Chapter 3 - Meeting the Challenge of Global Warming

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Earth Day 2000
Photo: Vice President Gore Speaking in Kyoto, Japan, December, 1997 "In time the nations of the world will arrive at a course that maintains strong and sustainable economic growth, respects the needs and aspirations of all nations, and protects future generations from the threat of global warming."
Vice President Al Gore
November 12, 1998

Photo: Kyota, Japan, December 1997

Global warming is one of the most profound challenges of the 21st century. The world’s leading atmospheric scientists agree that the Earth is warming and that human activities are at least partly to blame. They warn that average global temperatures could rise 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, causing increased flooding and drought, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and the spread of infectious disease.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore are leading efforts — in the United States and abroad — to protect future generations from these grave risks. At home, the Administration has launched major new initiatives to improve energy efficiency and develop clean, renewable energy sources — steps that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving money and creating jobs. On the diplomatic front, the United States is working with other nations to create cost-effective solutions and to ensure that all nations join in meeting this global challenge.

Sound, common-sense approaches to climate change will help put the United States and other nations on the path to a clean energy future, ensuring a healthier environment while creating new opportunities for strong, sustainable growth.

Forging Strong, Sensible International Agreement

Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. In 1997, with critical leadership from Vice President Gore, representatives of more than 160 nations agreed on the basic architecture of an international strategy to combat global warming. This historic agreement, called the Kyoto Protocol, sets strong, realistic targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries, and establishes flexible, market-based mechanisms to achieve them as cost-effectively as possible.

The Kyoto Protocol remains a work in progress. Through ongoing negotiations, the Administration is working with other nations to turn the treaty’s broad concepts into working realities. The Administration also is pursuing an aggressive diplomatic strategy to achieve broader participation by developing countries in this global effort. The President and Vice President are committed to completing the important work begun in Kyoto so this important treaty can be ratified.

Improving Our Scientific Understanding

Our strategy for addressing global warming must be founded on the best possible science. Since 1993, the Administration has secured $11.6 billion for the United States Global Change Research Program, which works to strengthen our understanding of the human and natural forces that influence the Earth’s climate, and the potential impacts of global warming. Key priorities have included improved surface and satellite monitoring of changes in temperature and precipitation; expanded research into the effects of climate change on the natural and built environment; and a better understanding of the role of farms, forests, and other natural or managed lands in capturing and storing carbon.

Funding for Technology Programs to Combat Climate Change
(in millions of dollars)
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Estimated
2001
Proposed

603 796 960 788 764 825 1,009 1,095 1,432

Investing in Clean Energy Technologies

New technologies that improve energy efficiency and provide clean, renewable energy hold great promise for curbing greenhouse gas emissions. They also can ease our reliance on imported oil, reduce other forms of harmful air pollution, and provide significant long-term savings for businesses and consumers.

To help spur these advances, President Clinton launched the Climate Change Technology Initiative, a comprehensive program of research investments and targeted tax incentives. Over the past two years, the President has secured more than $2 billion to research and develop clean energy technologies in the four major carbon-emitting sectors of the economy — buildings, transportation, industry, and electricity generation. The President also has proposed $4 billion in tax credits over five years for wind and biomass energy production, and for the purchase of energy-efficient homes and appliances, solar energy systems, electric and hybrid vehicles, and other clean energy products.

Forging Partnerships with Industry

The Administration has forged new partnerships with major industries to promote voluntary, cost-effective efforts that can achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. These include:

Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing — In a joint venture announced in 1998 by President Clinton, the federal government is working with the building industry to develop technologies to make new homes 50 percent more energy efficient, and to make at least 15 million existing homes 30 percent more energy efficient, within a decade. PATH projects are now underway in pilot communities in Denver, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Tucson.

Photo: Energy Star(R) high-rise in Minneapolis Energy Star® high-rise in Minneapolis

Energy Star® — This highly successful partnership helps consumers save energy and save money. Participating manufacturers, utilities, and retailers label energy-efficient products with the Energy Star® logo. More than 3,000 products — from computers to refrigerators to new homes — have qualified for the logo. The partnership has helped spur more than $3 billion in technology investments to date, and will help eliminate almost 40 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Climate Wise — This program gives technical assistance to more than 530 manufacturing companies that have entered into partnership agreements with the Federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Industries of the Future — This program works in partnership with the nation’s most energy-intensive industries — such as aluminum, glass, chemicals, forest products, mining, petroleum refining, and steel — to develop technologies that increase energy and resource efficiency. By 2010, participating industries are projected to avoid emissions of more than 25 million tons, and realize over $5 billion in energy savings.

Growing Clean Energy
Promising new bio-based technologies convert crops, trees, farm waste and other "biomass" into a vast array of fuels and products. These new technologies will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing U.S. energy security and creating new economic opportunity for farmers and others. President Clinton issued an Executive Order last year to coordinate federal efforts to spur the development of bio-based technologies and move them from the laboratory to the marketplace. The President also set a goal of tripling America’s use of bioenergy and bioproducts by 2010. Achieving this goal could generate $15 billion to $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural communities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 100 million tons a year — the equivalent of taking 70 million cars off the road.

Million Solar Roofs
In June 1997, President Clinton launched the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, with the goal of installing solar energy systems on one million U.S. roofs by 2010. Meeting this goal will reduce carbon emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 850,000 cars, while creating high-tech jobs and increasing domestic production of solar technologies. The initiative is well ahead of schedule: the Department of Energy already has received commitments for close to a million solar roofs. To further spur solar energy technologies, the President has proposed a 15 percent tax credit (up to $2,000) for the purchase of rooftop solar systems.

Wind Powering America
Wind is the fastest growing source of energy in the world. Dramatic improvements in wind turbine technology helped spur a 25 percent increase in wind-generating capacity over the last decade. Federal researchers, working in collaboration with private industry, are helping to develop the next generation of wind turbines, which will make wind energy even more competitive.

Currently, the U.S. has an installed capacity of about 2500 megawatts of wind energy — enough to power about half a million homes. The Wind Powering America Initiative, launched last year, sets a goal of generating five percent of U.S. electricity with wind power by 2020.

Chart: Renewable Energy Production
* Includes conventional hydroelectric, geothermal, biofuels, solar energy, and wind energy. Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration

Saving Energy and Money At Home
Roughly a fifth of the energy consumed in the United States is used to power our homes, nearly all of it for appliances. The Administration has issued new energy-efficiency standards for heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, refrigerators, and clothes washers and dryers. By 2010, these energy conservation measures will have saved consumers more than $40 billion and avoided cumulative greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 190 million metric tons.




Los Angeles, California
Building the ‘Green’ Home of the Future

The walls are super-insulated. Innovative new windows do a better job of keeping the heat and cold out. Rooftop solar panels provide much of the electricity needed. And the homeowners are saving 50 percent or more on their energy bills.

These homes of the future are here today, in the path-breaking Village Green development in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Families began moving into the first 22 of 186 planned homes last year, just about a year after President Clinton visited the site to launch the Administration’s Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH).

Through PATH, federal agencies work with America’s building industry to speed the creation and use of advanced technologies that can radically improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance and affordability of the nation’s housing. Village Green is one of five PATH pilot projects around the country.

Photo: President Clinton at Villege Green, May, 1998

Villege Green, May, 1998

One of PATH’s goals is to cut energy use by 50 percent in new homes — and by 30 percent in 15 million existing homes — over the next decade. That could save consumers $11 billion a year energy costs in 2010 and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 24 million tons — the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off the road.

The new homes at Village Green are already demonstrating the environmental and economic benefits of "green" construction. "Village Green," said Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, "is living proof that the building industry can combine new environmental technologies with affordable housing right here in one of the largest housing markets in the nation."




New York, New York
In Central Park, Clean Power for NYPD

Amid the steel and concrete of Manhattan, Central Park has long been a treasured oasis of green. And now, green energy powers the park’s only police station.

Without additional electricity, the Civil War vintage precinct house would not have been able to operate digital fingerprinting equipment, or even keep its air conditioner running. But the most obvious source, a new underground power line, would have been costly and disruptive.

Photo: NYPD Electric VehicleThe answer was a fuel cell - an ultraclean electric-generating technology that could be installed in a corner of the station’s parking lot. Powered by natural gas from an existing line, NYPD’s quiet, efficient fuel cell generates enough pollution-free electricity for the station — and to recharge a fleet of electric vehicles used to patrol the park.

Department of Energy, Robert Porter

 

The technology behind the fuel cell was developed through a partnership between the Department of Energy and International Fuel Cells, Inc. of South Windsor, Connecticut. The federal government paid one-third of the installation cost as part of a program to encourage use of this innovative technology, which is supplying clean power to a growing number of energy users across the nation and overseas.






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