Addressing Global Climate Change
The policy challenge is to act in a serious and sensible way, given the limits of our knowledge. While scientific uncertainties remain, we can begin now to address the factors that contribute to climate change.
President George W. Bush
Discussion on Global Climate Change
June 11, 2001
President Bush is addressing the complex and important issue of global climate change with an ambitious strategy: slow the rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and then, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. In February 2002, the President affirmed his commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its central goal of stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
The Presidents strategy includes several bold initiatives that incorporate scientific research, technological innovation, and international cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening the economy. Through public-private partnerships, the President is working with businesses to encourage voluntary, cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions. The President is also investing in carbon sequestration technologies and practices that can capture carbon dioxide from fossil energy systems or the atmosphere, and store those greenhouse gases in forests, plants, and soils, or in geologic reservoirs underground.
- Global Climate Change
- Ambitious National Goal to Reduce Emissions Intensity
- Cabinet Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration
- Federal Climate Science Program
- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiatives
- Targeted Incentives for Greenhouse Gas Sequestration
- Proposed Guidelines for Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- International Outreach and Partnerships
- Presidents Initiative Against Illegal Logging
Science Program in July 2003. The plan describes a strategy for developing knowledge of variability and change in climate and related environmental and human systems, and for encouraging the application of this knowledge. Secretary Evans also announced a $103 million two-year Federal initiative to accelerate the deployment of new global observation technologies, focused on oceans, atmospheric aerosols, and the carbon cycle. After reviewing the Strategic Plan, the National Research Council commended its scope and content, stating that [t]he plan articulates a guiding vision, is appropriately ambitious, and is broad in scope. It encompasses activities related to areas of longstanding importance as well as new or enhanced cross disciplinary efforts. Advancing science on all fronts identified by the program will be of vital importance to the nation.
Climate VISION Partnership: In February 2003, President Bush announced that companies from twelve major industrial sectors and the membership of the Business Roundtable had committed to work with four of his Cabinet agencies (DOE, EPA, DOT, and USDA) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. Participating industries included Americas electric utilities; petroleum refiners and natural gas producers; automobile, iron and steel, chemical and magnesium manufacturers; forest and paper producers; railroads; and the cement, mining, aluminum, and semiconductor industries. In December 2003, the Department of Energy established an official Climate VISION Web site (www.climatevision.gov) to serve as an information clearinghouse for the program.
Climate Leaders: Announced in 2002, Climate Leaders is an EPA partnership encouraging individual companies to develop long-term, comprehensive climate change strategies. Partners set corporate-wide GHG reduction goals and inventory their emissions to measure progress. Fifty major companies are now participating, including General Motors, Alcoa, BP, Pfizer, Staples, International Paper, IBM, Miller Brewing, Eastman Kodak, and Target.
In June 2003, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman announced that consideration will be given to conservation practices that store carbon when implementing USDAs forest and agriculture conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). USDA would provide financial incentives, technical assistance, demonstrations, pilot programs, education and capacity building, along with measurements to assess the success of these efforts.
Earth Observation Summit: The first-ever Earth Observation Summit was held July 31, 2003, to generate strong, international support to link thousands of individual technological assets into a coordinated, sustained, and comprehensive global Earth observation system. The purpose of the system is to provide the observations needed to substantially improve our ability to identify and address critical environmental, economic, and societal concerns. Throughout the world, individual systems have already demonstrated their value, from estimating crop yields to monitoring water and air quality to improving airline safety. We have limited knowledge, however, of how to address concerns such as drought, disease outbreaks, stronger agricultural production, and energy and transportation challenges. International cooperation can provide the tools needed to address these scientific uncertainties. More than 30 countries and 20 international organizations participated in the Summit. Participants adopted a Summit Declaration recognizing the need to minimize data gaps and maximize the utility of the observations, and established an intergovernmental group to develop the implementation plan.
The second Earth Observation Summit was held in Tokyo in April 2004. NOAA administrator Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher and EPA administrator Michael Leavitt both represented the United States. There are currently 48 international partners.
Global Environmental Facility (GEF): The Bush Administration pledged $500 million to the GEF over the next four years (the largest contribution of any country, and almost a quarter of worldwide spending) to help developing countries address environmental problems, including global climate change. The GEF is the financial mechanism under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This commitment, which will fund technology transfer and capacity building in developing countries, for environmental purposes, represents a 16 percent increase over the U.S. contribution in the previous replenishment.
Tropical Forest Conservation and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership: In FY 2003, the Bush Administration directed $50 million for tropical forest conservation. These funds provide the resources needed to pursue additional debt-for-nature projects under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act and for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership launched by Secretary of State Powell and former EPA Administrator Whitman in September 2002 to preserve eleven key landscapes in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo. On February 13, 2004, President Bush signed the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act, authorizing appropriations to carry out the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) program.
In July 2003, Secretary of State Powell launched the Presidents Initiative Against Illegal Logging, which assists developing countries in their efforts to combat illegal logging, including the sale and export of illegally harvested timber, and fighting corruption in the forest sector. This initiative represents the most comprehensive strategy undertaken by any nation to address this critical sustainable development challenge, and reinforces the U.S. leadership role in taking action to counter the problem, and preserve forest resources that store carbon.