This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 20, 2002

President Bush Unveils U.S. Global Warming Initiative

President Bush unveiled a new U.S. initiative for addressing global climate change last week. Rather than focusing on the absolute amount of greenhouse gases emitted each year, the Bush administration's plan emphasizes "greenhouse gas intensity," that is, the amount of greenhouse gases produced per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP). The initiative sets a goal of reducing the U.S. greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent in the next ten years — from 183 metric tons of emissions per million dollars of GDP to 151 metric tons of emissions per million dollars of GDP. The initiative relies on a combination of voluntary emissions reductions, advances in energy technologies, and tax credits for renewable energy installations, energy efficient vehicles, and other energy technologies.

President Bush also announced a new initiative for cutting power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury. The "Clean Skies" initiative proposes a system of tradable emissions credits that will lead to lower emissions, similar to the system already in place for sulfur dioxide emissions. If enacted into legislation, the initiative will mark the first time that power plant emissions of mercury have been regulated.

See the "Global Climate Change Policy Book," with links to the President's speech and the "Clean Skies" documents, on the White House Web site.

DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted last week that voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are making headway. Companies that are currently reporting on their voluntary greenhouse gas reductions achieved 269 million metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide reductions in 2000. The 222 companies participating in the voluntary program implemented 1,882 projects to achieve those reductions, which equaled nearly 4 percent of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2000. See the EIA press release.

EIA included such advances in its Annual Energy Outlook 2002, released last November. Based on past trends toward a more energy-efficient economy, the outlook projected that the "carbon intensity" of the economy — essentially equivalent to the greenhouse gas intensity — would decline at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent per year through 2020. That projection would result in a 14 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2012. But with the anticipated growth in the U.S. economy, the projection shows actual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion increasing to about 1.9 billion metric tons — about 40 percent above 1990 levels. See the EIA press release.