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Global Climate Change Digest

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

FROM VOLUME 10, NUMBER 11, NOVEMBER 1997

NEWS...
U.S. POLICY


Item #d97nov89

In an attempt to convince Americans of the need to control greenhouse gas emissions, the Clinton Administration invited over 100 television weather forecasters to the White House October 2, 1997, urging them to spread the word to their viewers. This was followed on October 6 by a White House Conference on Climate Change at Georgetown University, which was broadcast to more than 30 locations across the country. Speakers and panelists from various sectors of society discussed the scientific, economic, technological and international aspects of climate change.

On October 22, President Clinton announced that the U.S. will seek binding commitments in Kyoto to reduce emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, and to make further (unspecified) reductions after that. It will insist that developing countries also make commitments to reduce emissions, and seeks the creation of domestic and international emission trading markets within 10 years.

To reduce U.S. emissions, the government will encourage more efficient energy use rather than taxing consumption, and has proposed nine immediate actions. Foremost is a package of tax cuts and research and development spending totaling $5 billion over five years, beginning in fiscal year 1999 (regardless of the outcome of Kyoto). The government will also work with industries on plans to reduce emissions, and will provide incentives for early reductions.

The willingness of Americans to reduce emissions remains to be seen. A public opinion poll conducted in August for the World Wildlife Fund determined that they support emission cuts even if means higher energy prices. (See Nature, p. 531, Oct. 9, 1997.) But a poll of 24 countries by Toronto-based Environics International suggests that Americans are the most skeptical of the need for drastic steps. (Associated Press, Nov. 9.)

Fact sheets and other information on the U.S. proposal appear on the White House Web site (http://www.whitehouse.gov); click on Global Climate Change Initiative. A feature on the Weathervane Web forum (http://www.weathervane.rff.org/) analyzes the proposal. For information on recent Congressional hearings and resolutions see the Moderating Change section of Global Change Electronic Edition (http://www.globalchange.org/current.htm).

See Intl. Environ. Rptr. (Oct. 29, 1997) and Global Environ. Change Rep. (Oct. 24) for detailed printed discussions; also Time (pp. 64-68, Nov. 3, and p. 36, Oct. 13). A skeptical commentary, "Bill and Al's Global Warming Circus," appears in the Nov. 3 issue of Forbes, and on the Web site of the Cooler Heads Coalition (http://www.globalwarming.org/), which also has treaty developments and related material.

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