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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

2002 Earth Technologies Forum, Washington, D.C.

03/25/2002
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
2002 Earth Technologies Forum
Washington, D.C.

March 25, 2002



Thank you for that introduction.

It is a pleasure to be with you to today and to be a part of a great partnership that brought this conference together for the 11th time. The many faces, the many languages – and probably the jetlag – in this audience shows the global nature of this challenge. And the groups that have joined together to sponsor this event show how important global partnerships will be to solving it.

I am pleased that EPA has gotten involved with our colleagues throughout the U.S. government, our counterparts from Australia, Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, and the United Nations, and interested partners from around the world to address global climate change in this forum.

As you know, the struggle to halt the effects of climate change does not recognize political boundaries. We must all work together if we are going to effectively stop and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and discussions like this one are a great place to start. By sharing ideas, exploring innovations, and evaluating technologies, we can bring the future of environmental protection to bear on the challenges we face today – and we can do so together.

Of course, discussions can only take you so far – actions are what get results. We can discuss process forever, but it is the progress we make that truly matters to the world. I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss with you some of the actions the United States has taken recently as members of this global effort to reduce the human impacts on climate change.

As you may know, President Bush recently announced that the United States would reduce its greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent over the next decade. This goal will help put the United States on course to address this issue of global concern in a manner that is consistent with our overall environmental philosophy and fair to American workers.

By making our environmental goals consistent with our economic prosperity, America will slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and then – as the science justifies – stop and reverse that growth in the future. President Bush’s proposal calls for voluntary actions across the country and will re-evaluate the effectiveness of this approach in ten years.

This proposal is supported by the President’s budget request. In it, he provides $4.5 billion for global climate change activities – a $700 million increase – which includes an unprecedented commitment to tax credits for renewable energy. This proposal give businesses the incentive to make long-term investments and develop new technologies to combat climate change. As importantly, baseline protection will be put in place for those companies that choose to take early action.

One of the ways they can take early action is through voluntary programs. We have found that voluntary programs can be incredibly effective, and I have every confidence that they will continue to lead us toward our goals for emissions reductions.

EPA’s climate protection programs work in partnership with businesses, organizations, and consumers to engage in voluntary practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Along with our partners, this past year was the most successful to date for protecting the environment through voluntary programs – most of which exceeded their goals for the year. In 2001 alone, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions totaled 38 million metric tons of carbon equivalent – that is the same as eliminating 25 million cars from America’s roadways.

The future looks just as bright. Taking into account only those investments already made by our partners, we have already locked in emissions reductions averaging more than 35 million metric tons every year between now and 2010. Of course, as our current programs expand and new programs are added – that number will continue to rise.

One of the largest contributors to this success is EPA’s Energy Star program. This comprehensive effort to encourage businesses and consumers to voluntarily make choices that will increase energy efficiency saved 80 billion kilowatt hours of energy last year alone. It does so by benchmarking the energy efficiency of everything from light bulbs and washing machines to office buildings and grocery stores.

This program has shown that people want to make the right choices for the environment. In the past decade, more than 750 million Energy Star products have been purchased across more than 30 categories and already the new rating system for buildings has been used to evaluate 10,000 buildings across our country.

The results have been incredible. Energy Star alone accounted for emissions reductions equivalent to that of 10 million cars last year – and at the same time saved businesses and consumers $5 billion on their energy bills. In fact, for every federal dollar spent on Energy Star – and other voluntary partnership programs – we leverage $15 dollars in private investment, save our partners and consumers $75 dollars on their energy bills, and eliminate 3.7 tons of carbon dioxide gases.

EPA is also proud of our efforts to address non-CO2 gases – methane, PFCs, SF6, and HFCs. The achievements of our global industry partners are quite impressive. Our Voluntary Aluminum Industry Partnership exceeded their 2000 goal by reducing emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels. Similarly, the World Semiconductor Council Partners eliminated 25 percent of their emissions and will reduce PFC emissions by 100 million metric tons by 2010. At this conference, EPA, the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, and the fire protection industry are announcing new HFC responsible use principles that will dramatically decrease emissions.

Just as important, they are doing so without harming their ability to stay competitive. Companies participating in the Voluntary HCFC-22 Partnership increased production by 35 percent, but were able to reduce emissions below 1990 levels at the same time. And later this week, the Building Air Conditioning Summit will be able to promote strategies that allow owners to make a profit by replacing old CFC air conditioners.

We have already gotten great results for climate change through voluntary programs, which is why I am so proud of our new Climate Leaders program at EPA that will build on those successes. I launched this exciting program in February with 11 charter partners that included Bethlehem Steel, Interface, Lockheed Martin, Cinergy, and others.

Companies who participate in Climate Leaders will work with EPA to inventory their greenhouse gas emissions, set aggressive reduction goals, and report their progress each year. In addition, interested companies can report these reductions to a registry that we will develop along with the Department of Energy, and get credit for emissions reductions in the future.

This is not an easy exercise, but an essential one – and it is what makes the Climate Leaders program so unique. These companies are voluntarily evaluating their impact on the environment and then acting to change for the better. They are setting an example for the rest of us to follow – and many are. We get calls every day from companies looking to get involved, showing that voluntary stewardship is alive and well among U.S. businesses.

In fact, since we announced it just over a month ago, six new partners have already joined the program. It is my pleasure to welcome Alcan Aluminum, Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, International Paper, BP, and Alcoa and thank them for their participation in Climate Leaders.

Meanwhile, our charter partners have been hard at work evaluating their current emissions and establishing – with the help of EPA – their targets for reduction of greenhouse gases. Two of our Climate Leaders just announced their pledges today – and they are setting the highest standards for their sectors.

Miller Brewing Company will be reducing emissions by 18 percent per barrel of production by 2006 and General Motors will reduce total emissions by 10 percent for all of their North American facilities by 2005. As you can imagine, each of these targets is significantly better than business as usual, and will help lead us toward the goals that President Bush has set for the Nation.

By working to develop long term reduction strategies that are cost-effective, Climate Leaders are establishing themselves as good corporate neighbors and proving that what’s good for the environment is also good for business. Their participation in this program will let citizens and consumers know which companies are doing their share and will allow them to use that knowledge to make informed decisions.

Of course, we are also looking beyond our borders to address this challenge. Last month, the U.S. and Australia agreed to a Climate Action Partnership which will focus on practical and economically efficient solutions to the climate issue, including common approaches for emissions measurements, climate change science, and collaboration with developing countries for capacity building.

Similarly, the U.S. and Canada announced an agreement that will strengthen existing areas of cooperation between our countries such as research and science, technology development, carbon sequestration, and market-based approaches. We have also identified similar areas for collaboration with Japan and Italy – specifically on the development of climate science and technology.

At EPA in particular, our Stratospheric Ozone and Climate Protection Awards – which will be presented tonight – show the global nature of this problem and the breadth of solutions being developed around the world. We will be honoring 48 winners that represent 12 different countries and 6 of the 7 continents. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate – in advance – all of the winners.

They have helped show that effectively managing this environmental challenge will require help from everyone. After all, since each of us contributes to global climate change, it only makes sense for everyone to be involved in eliminating it. That means that individuals, corporations, and governments from around the world must all take a close look at their behaviors that contribute to this problem.

If we do so – and then share what we find in forums such as this – I am confident that we can solve it together. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must.

Thank you.