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Item #d93jun77

In an April 21 address commemorating Earth Day, President Bill Clinton committed the United States to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. This is a major reversal of the U.S. position developed under President Bush, which deliberately avoided emission targets and timetables. (See general accounts in Nature, p. 779, Apr. 29 1993; New Scientist, p. 7, May 1 1993; Chem. & Industry, p. 303, May 3 1993; Environ. Rptr. Curr. Devel., p. 3187, Apr. 23 1993; and Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 320, and p. 346 (reaction of European nations.)

Clinton wants his administration to develop a plan for meeting the commitment that encourages technological improvements over increased bureaucratic regulation or "unnecessary costs." An extensive analysis in Global Environ. Change Rep. (pp. 1-3, Apr. 23 1993) discusses the implications of the announcement in terms of the energy tax Clinton had recently proposed, the significant distinction between reducing all greenhouse emissions (as announced) and reducing CO2 emissions (which is more difficult and more costly), and possible approaches the U.S. can use for meeting the goal. The article also points out how Japan and some European countries that have already adopted emission reduction goals are having difficulty developing policies for achieving them. Another analysis, in Energy, Econ. & Clim. Change (pp. 11-14, May), examines why U.S. environmental groups have not tried to hold Clinton to his campaign pledge of reducing CO2 emissions (as opposed to greenhouse gas emissions) to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

On May 21, the White House announced that its Office of Environmental Policy will lead the process of developing a revised National Action Plan, required by the climate convention, for meeting the new emission reduction goal in a cost-effective manner. An Interagency Climate Change Mitigation Workgroup has been established, with subgroups for energy supply, energy demand, transportation, methane and other greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas sinks, and joint implementation (projects carried out in other countries that contribute to greenhouse gas reduction). The plan is to be ready for an August meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the climate convention in Geneva, a timetable most consider extremely ambitious. Public participation is being sought through workshops to be held around the country. A lengthy discussion of the development of the plan appears in Energy, Econ. & Clim. Change, pp. 2-4, May.

The original National Action Plan, developed in the closing days of the Bush Administration (GCCD, p. 13, Jan.), was the subject of oral testimony before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee March 1 (Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 168-169, Mar. 10; Chem. Eng. News, p. 6, Mar. 15), and of subsequent written testimony (Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 257-258, Apr. 7). The Global Climate Coalition, a broad-based group representing various industries, supported the Bush plan, and made recommendations for its development. (See Reports/Gen. Interest & Policy.) The Coalition and the utility and coal industries strongly oppose targets and timetables for emission reductions. Those calling for a revised, stronger plan include environmental groups, the Business Council for a Sustainable Energy Future, and the Alliance for Acid Rain Control and Energy Policy, consisting of current and former governors. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy wants the plan to address the energy consumption implications of international food trade.

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