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 Home > News & Policies > July 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 13, 2001

Action on Climate Change Review Initiatives
July 13, 2001

On June 11, 2001, President Bush announced initiatives to advance the science of climate change, to spur technological innovation, and to promote cooperation in the Western Hemisphere and beyond. Today, the President is announcing the first set of actions that the Cabinet has taken to date to advance these initiatives.

Advancing the Science through the U.S. Climate Change Research Initiative

The President directed the Secretary of Commerce to work with other agencies to set priorities for additional investments in climate change research and to fully fund priority research areas that are underfunded or need to be accelerated. The Cabinet-level climate change working group also requested a report from the National Academy of Sciences, which identified significant uncertainties in critical areas. The Secretary of Commerce has begun his review and is announcing today that NASA is undertaking research efforts to reduce fundamental uncertainties highlighted by the National Academy of Sciences report. Such research addresses critical questions for policymakers – e.g., the effect of natural climate fluctuations, the degree and impact of future climate change, and how human activities affect the climate system.

NASA’s investments will exceed $120 million over the next three years in the following areas:

Ø Carbon Cycle: NASA is selecting 80 new projects that will receive more than $50 million over the next three years to conduct remote sensing-oriented research on how carbon cycles through the Earth system and influences climate change. The research recognizes the key role carbon dioxide plays as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and as a key constituent in human, plant and animal life in the biosphere. The National Academy of Sciences report indicated that estimates of climate forcing by carbon dioxide “are only approximate because of uncertainty about how efficiently the ocean and terrestrial biosphere will sequester atmospheric CO2.” NASA’s research will further our understanding of the role that such “sinks” play in sequestering carbon and the impacts climate change has on agriculture, rangelands and forests.

Ø Water & Energy Cycle: NASA is investing $20 million over the next three years to improve our understanding of the global cycle of water and energy, particularly the roles that clouds and water vapor play in climate change. This research will enhance climate modeling and help further distinguish between natural fluctuations and human contributions to climate change – a fundamental area of uncertainty highlighted in the National Academy of Sciences report.

Ø Chemistry-Climate Connection: The National Academy of Sciences report noted that “climate forcing by anthropogenic aerosols is a large source of uncertainty about future climate change,” and indicated that this uncertainty is a “severe handicap for both the interpretation of past climate change and for future assessments of climate changes.” NASA is investing $22 million to help determine whether aerosols have a net warming or cooling effect, and whether climate change will hamper recovery of the ozone layer.

Ø Computational Modeling: NASA has selected nine proposals on computational modeling that will enable the improved simulation of a broad range of physical and biological climate systems. The computer models to be developed will allow for improved climate simulation by taking advantage of ever-increasing computational capabilities. NASA’s investment of $15 million in advanced computing this year has increased by ten-fold the speed at which climate models can be run, and will spark an additional hundred-fold increase in the next five years. The proposals on computational modeling will also help form an integrated framework for Earth system modeling based on standard methods that will enable more effective collaboration among scientists. This common modeling framework addresses a major issue raised by the National Research Council in its recent study “Improving the Effectiveness of U.S. Climate Modeling,” in which a clear need for linking of climate models within the broad climate modeling community was stated. In response, NASA will invest $10 million over the next three years to advance such modeling efforts.

The President has announced the intention to pursue a joint venture with Japan, the European Union and others to develop state-of-the-art climate modeling to help us better predict the causes and consequences of climate change. In the President’s recent summit with the Japanese Prime Minister at Camp David, the United States and Japan agreed to engage in high level consultations on climate change to explore areas of common ground and for common action. Today, the United States will host the first of a series of meetings with the Japanese Environment Minister at which they will focus on opportunities for cooperation on climate change.

Advancing Technology through the U.S. Climate Change Technology Initiative

President Bush directed the Secretaries of Energy and Commerce and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to improve climate change technology research and development, enhance basic research, strengthen applied research through public-private partnerships, develop improved technologies for measuring and monitoring gross and net greenhouse gas emissions, and support demonstration projects for cutting-edge technologies. The President specifically cited the promise of new carbon capture, storage and sequestration technologies.

The Secretary of Energy has committed $25 million to a number of projects to develop enhanced carbon sequestration technologies. The Department of Energy contribution will leverage approximately $50 million in contributions from the private sector and foreign governments. Two contracts signed on July 11, 2001 include partnering with the world’s largest private international conservation group and an international team of nine leading energy companies to develop cutting-edge technologies to capture, store and sequester carbon dioxide. The President and the Secretary of Energy are announcing:

Ø The Nature Conservancy Project: The Department of Energy will work in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and companies such as General Motors Corp. and American Electric Power to study how carbon dioxide can be stored more effectively by changing land use practices and investing in forestry projects. Using newly developed aerial and satellite-based technology, researchers will study forestry projects in Brazil and Belize to determine their carbon sequestration potential. Researchers will also test new software models that predict how carbon is sequestered by soil and vegetation at sites in the United States and abroad. The U.S. Government will provide $1.7 million of the $2 million cost of the three-year project.

Ø International Team of Energy Companies: The Department of Energy will work in collaboration with nine energy companies from four nations to develop breakthrough technologies to reduce the cost of capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and safely storing it underground. The nine energy companies are: BP-Amoco, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Pan Canadian (Canada), Suncor Energy (Canada), ENI (Italy), Statoil Forskningssenter (Norway), and Norsk Hydro ASA (Norway). The U.S. Government’s contribution of $5 million will leverage an international commitment that, including funding from the European Union, Norway’s Klimatek Program, and the nine industry partners, will total more than $25 million over the next three years.

Promoting Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere

President Bush directed the Secretary of State in cooperation with other agencies to consult with nations in the Western Hemisphere and throughout the world and identify areas for enhanced cooperation. The United States committed to work with others to promote sustainable forest conservation and land use, including through the Tropical Forest Conservation Act.

The Tropical Forest Conservation Act, bipartisan legislation passed in 1998, permits the United States to enter into debt swaps with other countries to protect globally and regionally important tropical forests. These forests sequester carbon dioxide and help mitigate climate change. The Administration strongly supports the Tropical Forest Conservation Act and is working to facilitate transactions with eligible countries.

The President also directed the Secretary of State, working in cooperation with other agencies, to strengthen and expand scientific research within the Western Hemisphere. The President, the Secretary of the State, Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are announcing the:

Ø Debt-for-Forest Swap with El Salvador: On July 12, 2001, the United States through the Department of the Treasury signed an agreement with El Salvador to generate over $14 million in funds to conserve tropical forests. The debt agreement will be followed shortly by a counterpart framework tropical forest agreement currently being negotiated by the Department of State and El Salvador. Through the debt agreement, the U.S. Government leveraged every dollar in debt relief for nearly two dollars in tropical forest conservation in El Salvador. Among the forested areas this will help protect from deforestation and other threats is El Salvador’s cloud forest, which is globally outstanding in terms of its biological diversity. The U.S. Government is working to execute additional debt-for-forest swaps this year with other eligible countries in this hemisphere and globally.

Ø Climate Change Cooperation Among the U.S., Canada and Mexico: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator initiated a dialogue with the environment ministers of Canada and Mexico during the June 29, 2001 meetings of the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Mexico to discuss global environmental concerns. They pledged “to explore further opportunities for market-based approaches for carbon sequestration, energy efficiency and renewable energy in North America.”

Ø Scientific Cooperation Among the U.S, Mexico and South America: The Department of Commerce, through NOAA, and the National Science Foundation are bringing together more than 100 scientists from the United States, Mexico and South America to conduct a month-long experiment based out of Hualtulco, Mexico that will produce a better understanding of the interaction of stratus clouds, precipitation, and cool ocean surface temperatures and how they interact with each other. The experiment is called the Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC). Two ships, two airplanes and eight miniature robotic aircraft will be utilized in the experiment. The project will study stratus cloud decks located off the west coast of South America, a region of cool sea surface temperatures located along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean and a region of intense precipitation located in the eastern Pacific north of the equator. All three of these phenomena interact to control the climate of the Southwest United States and Central and South America. The National Academy of Sciences study highlighted the importance of regional impacts of climate variability.