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Council on Environmental Quality
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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 President’s 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.

Ambitious National Goal to Reduce Emissions Intensity

In February 2002, President Bush committed the United States to a comprehensive strategy to reduce the greenhouse gas emission intensity of the American economy by 18 percent by 2012. Meeting this commitment will prevent more than 500 million metric tons of carbon-equivalent emissions through 2012, the equivalent of taking 70 million cars off the road. This step will set America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions and, as science justifies, to stop and then reverse the growth of emissions.


Cabinet Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration

Recognizing the importance of the climate change issue, President Bush has created an interagency, Cabinet-level committee, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy, to coordinate and prioritize Federal research on global climate science and advance cleaner energy technologies. This Committee develops policy recommendations for the President and oversees the sub-cabinet interagency programs on climate science and energy technologies.


Federal Climate Science Program

The President requests nearly $2 billion in his FY 2005 budget for climate science research, with $238 million for the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI), a 42 percent increase over the FY 2004 enacted level. Energy Secretary Abraham, Commerce Secretary Evans, and White House Science Adviser Marburger released a 10-Year comprehensive Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change

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.”


Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiatives

The Federal Government administers many different voluntary programs on energy efficiency, agricultural practices, and greenhouse gas reductions. Major initiatives announced by the Bush Administration include:

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 America’s 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 ( 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.


Targeted Incentives for Greenhouse Gas Sequestration

In June 2003, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman announced that consideration will be given to conservation practices that store carbon when implementing USDA’s 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.


Proposed Guidelines for Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In December 2003, DOE proposed guidelines for the voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and reduction efforts under the program established by section 1605(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. By encouraging complete reports on the greenhouse gas emissions of all participants in the program, these guidelines would improve the accuracy and verifiability of greenhouse gas emission data reported under the registry. In addition, the revised guidelines will provide a means for entities that are able to meet these additional requirements to register greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and gain recognition for their efforts to help meet the President's goal for reducing U.S. emissions intensity by 18 percent between 2002 and 2012. Through this program, major U.S. companies and institutions will be encouraged to comprehensively review and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This proposal is another key component of the Bush Administration’s efforts to address the complex, important issue of global climate change.


International Outreach and Partnerships

International Cooperation: The United States is engaged in extensive international efforts on climate, both through multilateral and bilateral activities. Multilaterally, the United States is by far the largest financial provider for the activities of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The United States also leads R & D projects through the Generation IV International Forum, which is developing the next generation nuclear systems to produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. Bilaterally, the United States has developed a number of agreements with major international partners to pursue research on global climate change and deploy climate observation systems, collaborate on energy and sequestration technologies, and explore methodologies for monitoring and measuring GHG emissions. To date, new bilateral agreements have been established with countries representing over 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions: Australia, Japan, China, India, Italy, Canada, Russia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, the European Union, Brazil, CONCAUSA, an organization of seven Central American countries, and South Africa.

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.

For more information, visit the EPA's GEOSS Web site and NOAA's Web site.

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.


President’s Initiative Against Illegal Logging

In July 2003, Secretary of State Powell launched the President’s 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.

 Department of State's Brochure on the President's Initiative Against Illegal Logging (244K)


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