Global climate change is the premier environmental challenge and opportunity of the 21st century, and the risks it poses justify sensible preventive steps. Addressing this issue is one of the United States' greatest imperatives, for this and future generations. Recognizing the solid foundation of climate science, President Clinton is committed to strong and sensible action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- including realistic and binding emissions targets.
Key elements of President Clinton's climate change proposal include:
BINDING TARGETS: The U.S. binding target is realistic: It seeks to return U.S. emissions to 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012 and reduce them further thereafter. We reject the European proposal for more stringent early reductions, as well as the "do-nothing" approach of some interests. The target is achievable: By providing incentives for early action to reduce emissions, attacking domestic energy inefficiencies, and putting in place a market-based emissions trading system, we can reach 1990 levels in the proposed time frame with minimal economic costs. And it is meaningful: Achieving 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012 would amount to almost a 30 percent reduction off a business-as-usual path, an important first step on the road toward stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
SOLID PRINCIPLES: The President's five climate change principles include: that the policies should be guided by science, rely on market-based, common-sense tools, that we should seek win-win solutions, that global participation is essential to addressing the global problem of climate change, and that we must have regular common-sense reviews of the economics and science of climate change.
SOUND AND SENSIBLE THREE-STAGE APPROACH: Reflecting his five key principles, the President's plan includes three stages: Stage 1 includes priming the pump through programs such as R&D, tax incentives, incentives for early action, and Federal leadership, and industry consultations. Stage 2 builds upon the first stage by including a review and evaluation in preparation for the permit trading system. Stage 3 -- which does not occur for a decade -- involves meeting binding targets through a domestic and international emissions trading program. The President is committed to working with labor and Congress to insure that we give proper assistance to any workers dislocated by the changes in energy usage inherent in any climate change plan.