Office of the Press Secretary

10:06 A.M. EST Saturday, January 31, 1998


The Roosevelt Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Today I'd like to talk to you about one of the ways we are strengthening our nation for the 21st century: our bold new efforts to deal with the challenge of global climate through the force of the market and the power of American innovation.

The world's leading climate scientists have concluded, unequivocally, that if we don't reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere all across the Earth, then the temperature of the Earth will heat up, seas will rise and increasingly severe floods and droughts will occur, disrupting life in low coastal areas, disrupting agricultural production and causing other difficulties for the generations of the 21st century. Fortunately, we can avert these dangers, and do it while keeping our economy going strong.

This past December, America led the world to reach an historic agreement committing nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through market forces, new technology and energy efficiency. We can do some things right here, right now, to show that America is doing its part. In my State of the Union address, I called for an unprecedented commitment of $6 billion for research and tax incentives to mobilize cutting-edge technology in the fight against global warming. I'd like to explain just what that means to you.

First, we want to help bring down the price of high-efficiency cars for every American. Earlier this month, Ford, GM and Chrysler unveiled prototypes of advanced-technology cars that get more than twice the mileage of today's models -- with no sacrifice in comfort, safety or performance. When cars like these begin to enter the showrooms in the year 2000, we'll give everyone who buys one a $3,000 tax credit to apply to every size car. When these cars become even more efficient, we'll increase the tax credit to $4,000. We're committed to making it not only wiser, but actually cheaper, to buy highly efficient cars.

Second, we'll help you turn your home into a model of energy efficiency. We'll offer tax credits that will give you a discount of 20 percent off the cost of energy-saving water heaters and air conditioners. And we'll also offer a tax credit -- worth up to $2,000 -- to help you put solar panels on your roof or to help you buy an energy-efficient home in the first place.

Third, we will accelerate research on clean, renewable energy and energy-saving technologies. We'll help to develop energy-efficient lighting, refrigerators and other appliances that will mean lower monthly bills for you, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. And we will work with industry to cut their energy use, so that they can also protect the environment while enhancing the bottom line.

Whenever we act to heal our environment, some always question whether it will hurt our economy. But today our economy is the strongest in a generation and our environment, the cleanest in a generation. Whether the problem has been acid rain, deadly pesticides, polluted rivers or the ozone hole, the ingenuity of the American people has always proved to carry the day -- and we'll do it once again. Working together, we will overcome the challenge of global climate change and create new avenues of growth for our economy. And, most important, we'll honor our deepest responsibility to pass on this home, without harm, to our children, our grandchildren and generations yet to come.

Thanks for listening.


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