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Clinton Speaks About Global Warming (10/1/97)
Clinton Takes Aim At Global Warming
President unveils gradual emissions reduction plan
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 22) -- Taking aim at the threat of global warming, President Bill Clinton unveiled his plan for the gradual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and tax breaks and other incentives to spur energy conservation.
In a speech at the National Geographic Society this afternoon, Clinton said, "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."
The president detailed goals for industrialized nations to reduce emissions to 1990 levels between the years 2008 and 2012, with further reductions in the following five years. Clinton also called on developing nations to cut their emissions, but stopped short of demanding they meet specific targets. (192K wav sound)
Clinton warned that climate change is not a problem the U.S. can ignore or fight on its own, saying, "Many previous threats could be met within our own borders, but global warming requires an international solution."
"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," Clinton said.
The proposal will serve as the initial U.S. negotiating position "in the pursuit of a realistic and effective international climate change treaty," Clinton said, at the upcoming December environmental summit in Kyoto, Japan.
But aides are downplaying the likelihood of the international community adopting Clinton's guidelines. Many nations have urged the U.S. to reduce emissions even more than in president's proposal, while mandatory compliance by developing nations is also at issue.
The U.S. will not meet its commitment at the 1992 environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro to voluntarily cut greenhouse gases back to 1990 levels by 2000. (288K wav sound)
Last month the Department of Energy released a report saying a 20 percent cutback to 1990 emission levels would be possible by 2010 without raising energy costs, through the spread of new technologies and finely targeted incentives like tax breaks for old coal-fired power plants. It is this moderate strategy that Clinton appears to be adopting.
The president agaonized over how far to go in dealing with global warming and setting limits on greenhouse gases. Late Tuesday he reached the decision to proceed with today's announcement.
In making his decision, Clinton had to balance pressure from environmental interests which want sharp reductions in emissions, and business interests which say such cuts would cost jobs.
Environmentalists think the Clinton Administration plan doesn't go far enough either and are predicting dire consequences if more isn't done. But industry leaders argue that there's no proof the emissions, which come from vehicles, power plants and other manufacturing operations, contribute to global warming.
Clinton acknowledged that critics from both sides will say that his plan is "too ambitious" or doesn't go "far enough." "If we do this properly, we will not jeopardize our prosperity; we will increase it," he predicted. (480K wav sound)
CNN's Carl Rochelle contributed to this report.
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Wednesday Oct. 22, 1997
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