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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Stephen L. Johnson
EPA Administrator

September 7, 2007

Stephen L. Johnson
Good afternoon, everyone. It's a pleasure to join you once again on this forum to share how the U.S. is working cooperatively with our international partners to address the long-term challenge of global climate change.

This week, President Bush traveled to Sydney, Australia, where he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. Meeting with the leaders of 21 member countries, the President had an opportunity to discuss America's commitment to the economic and environmental health of the region.

Working with the countries of APEC to address the interlinked challenges of climate change, energy security and clean development is an important part of the President's strategy to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. This week's meetings built on the progress we saw earlier this year at the G8 Summit in Germany, and it created momentum for the first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, to be hosted by the President here in Washington, D.C.

With that, I'm happy to take questions.

Michael, from Powell, Tn writes:
Why was APEC started?

Stephen L. Johnson
Thanks, Michael. Your question is a good place to begin this discussion.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation was formed in 1989 to facilitate economic growth, trade and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Its members are major players in the global economy – comprising 56 percent of the world gross domestic product and nearly half of world trade.

America is committed to being both good economic and environmental neighbors with our international partners, so we are working with APEC countries to help them understand that environmental progress should be linked with their growing economic influence.

Since its inception, APEC has reduced barriers to the exchange of goods, services and information, and has served as a forum to discuss regional and international concerns. However, this is the first time the issue of global climate change has been on their agenda. So President Bush took the opportunity to encourage them to develop a shared strategy to address the region’s energy, clean air and climate change challenges.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Administrator Johnson: What issues and hopes do the participants of APEC expect to accomplish? How do we get the under developed countries that are trying to DEVELOPE to address climiate issues and security issues? When the greatest and richest countries in the world are having a hard time addressing the issues. Even the United States is having a hard time convincing people there is even a CLIMATE ISSUE. Thank You

Stephen L. Johnson
Thanks, Cliff. I think I answered your first question above, so let me go on to your other questions.

On May 31, 2007, President Bush announced U.S. support for an effort to develop a new post-2012 strategy on climate change by the end of 2008. Unlike Kyoto, the plan recognizes a true global framework must include major economies – both developed and developing countries – some of which are members of APEC. The President’s plan also states that climate change must be addressed in a way that enhances energy security and promotes economic development.

In addition to working on this new consensus, EPA has been collaborating throughout the Asia-Pacific region to promote energy security, reduce pollution and address the long-term challenge of global climate change. For example, through EPA’s Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, we are developing and deploying new technologies and voluntary approaches to help our international neighbors responsibly grow their economies.

Joyce, from Singapore writes:
Good afternoon Will the U.S. government reconsidering ratifying the Kyoto Protocol? And also, I'm a Geography teacher and I'm currently teaching the topic on "Global Warming and Ozone Depletion". What message would you like to convey to them?


Stephen L. Johnson
Thank you for your questions.

With the Kyoto agreements expiring in 2012, President Bush is bringing together the world's economic leaders later this month to set a global goal on long-term greenhouse gas reductions. During this summit, called the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, we hope to rapidly develop a new comprehensive, post-Kyoto accord on climate change, energy efficiency, and energy security.

EPA and the President take seriously the challenge of global climate change. Since 2001, the Bush Administration has invested over $37 billion to advance climate change science and promote energy-efficient and carbon dioxide-reducing technologies. And internationally, we are working with developed and developing countries to advance clean energy innovations, while promoting economic growth.

But, most importantly, I would tell your class that there are things that each and every one of us can do to cut the amount of greenhouse gases we emit in our daily activities – commonly referred to as our “carbon footprint.” If everyone were to make a few changes in their lives – like taking public transportation or using energy-efficient products – it would add up to huge reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.

I encourage your students to visit the Personal Emissions Calculator on EPA's Web site for more tips on what they can do to lower their carbon footprints. It can be found at,

Therese, from Illinois writes:
Many scientists do not believe that gas emissions, have nothing to do with global warming, and that the warming is a natural phenomenon. Why should the United States submit to more rules and regulations, that continue to destroy our freedom ?

Stephen L. Johnson
Earlier this year, scientists from around the world concluded that the global climate change we have seen over the last 50 years is very likely the result of human activity. As a scientist myself, and someone who has worked at EPA for over 27 years, I support this conclusion.

Like you, the Bush Administration believes that U.S. efforts to address climate change should not adversely impact the continued growth of the U.S. economy, and such efforts must also be done in concert with international efforts to effectively address this global issue.

Susan, from sundown writes:
You've been CHina several times to advise them on the environment and the upcoming olympics. Do you think they will be able to clean up the air and water in time?

Stephen L. Johnson
The leadership of China understands the importance of addressing their environmental challenges as they invest in economic development. For the first time in history, China's National Plan has acknowledged the need to address environmental protection as they pursue economic development. The President has charged Treasury Secretary Paulsen and other Cabinet members, including EPA, to work with China on a variety of issues including the environment as part of the Strategic Economic Dialogue.

As for the Olympics, the Chinese government understands the eyes of the world will be upon them, and is working to "green" the Games through a number of energy efficiency, clean air, recycling, and other efforts.

Pollution knows no political or geographic boundaries. In the U.S., we recognize environmental responsibility does not stop at our borders, and we look forward to continuing to work with our global neighbors to reach our shared environmental goals.

William, from OHIO writes:
Has the administration ever actually acknowledged global warming yet; if so what if anything is being done to remedy the problems?

Stephen L. Johnson
Yes. In fact, on June 11, 2001, President Bush commented, "First, we know the surface temperature of the Earth is warming...there is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming...and the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity."

Since 2001, the Bush Administration has invested $37 billion - more than any other country - not only to better understand the science of climate change, but to invest in technologies that will help address this global challenge.

Irene, from Orange, NJ writes:
How do we get started on Greening 100 year old buildings with students at the Middle School level?

Stephen L. Johnson
Thanks so much for asking the question!

EPA is actively working to incorporate "green" approaches to all buildings, including historic landmarks. For example, at our own EPA historic building in Washington, DC, we're the first federal agency using 100% green power. We also use a wide range of technologies to minimize our environmental footprint, from Energy Star light bulbs and computers to rainwater collection systems we use to water outside plants and lawns.

I encourage you to visit our Green Buildings Web site ( and the Energy Star site ( to learn more about purchasing and using energy-efficient products for homes, businesses and schools.

Fred, from Irvine, CA writes:
Hi, Administrator Johnson: What part should conservation of resources play in our efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and can you tell me five things our government would like ordinary citizens could do to help?

Stephen L. Johnson
We all, including the President, recognize the need to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. In the last State of the Union address, President Bush charged Congress with passing his "20 in 10" legislation that would reduce gasoline consumption 20% by 2017.

In addition, on May 14, 2007, he directed EPA and our federal partners to take the first steps toward regulations that would reduce gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions using the "20 in 10" legislation as a starting point.

EPA recently improved the fuel economy sticker on new cars and trucks to more accurately reflect real-world driving conditions. These new window stickers will appear on 2008 models and will help you make a more informed decision when buying a new car. I would encourage you to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. You can find fuel economy estimates on our Green Vehicles Guide site (

For other easy ways to help protect our environment and reduce your personal energy consumption, see EPA's home page (

Stephen L. Johnson
I want to thank everyone for their great questions. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss how the Bush Administration is working to provide a cleaner, healthier, more productive world. And I want to congratulate the leadership of the APEC countries for working together to find common solutions to improve the environmental and economic welfare of those living throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Thanks, and I hope to see you all again soon on this forum.

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