Magazine article Science News

Clinton Unveils New 'Greenhouse' Policy

Magazine article Science News

Clinton Unveils New 'Greenhouse' Policy

Article excerpt

President Clinton this week released his long-awaited Climate Change Action Plan. The package of mostly voluntary initiatives aims to avert the threat of global warning through "American ingenuity," Clinton said, "not more bureaucracy or regulation." The plan involves roughly 50 measures for reducing an atmospheric buildup of "greenhouse" gases, principally carbon dioxide.

By the year 2000, the plan envisions reducing annual U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to 109 million metric tons of carbon dioxide ([CO.sub.2]). The key words here are equivalent to, since not all the measures would reduce [CO.sub.2] emissions. Fast-growing trees planted as part of new reforestation programs, for example, are slated to sop up 10 million tons of [CO.sub.2] annually. Other programs would cut releases of different greenhouse gases.

If the plan achieves its objective, it will return net U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels, thereby satisfying a key near-term objective of the Convention on Climate Change. This proposed treaty, endorsed by the United States during last year's Earth Summit in Brazil (SN: 6/20/92, p.407), will go into effect once 50 nations endorse it -- probably by the end of this year.

At a press briefing, Energy Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary unveiled two major new government-industry partnerships that will contribute to the projected greenhouse-gas savings. As part of a voluntary "Motor Challenge," 27 companies, eight industrial associations, and seven organizations representing state energy offices have pledged to collaborate in developing new ways to reduce the energy consumed by electric motors and the products they drive. These efforts are expected to account for 8 percent of the greenhouse-gas reductions anticipated under the new plan, O'Leary said.

Under "Climate Challenge," corporate members -- electric-power companies responsible for 60 percent of the [CO. …

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