Statement of David M. Gardiner
June 4, 1998
Statement of David M. Gardiner
Assistant Administrator for Policy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
June 4, 1998
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the President's Climate Change Technology Initiative -- a $6.3 billion dollar investment to help the country meet the challenge of global warming and, at the same time, achieve multiple environmental and economic benefits. We have proposed this initiative because the scientific evidence strongly supports our belief that a changing climate would pose very serious risks to public health and to the environment.
It is difficult to predict with certainty what will happen in the future, but the risks are enormous. If emissions of greenhouse pollutants are not reduced worldwide, atmospheric concentrations are expected to reach double pre-industrial levels by the year 2060. That would cause global temperatures to rise by roughly two to six degrees by the year 2100, and global sea levels to rise 6 - 38 inches.
Climatic changes on that scale would pose very serious threats to public health and the environment. For example, a doubling of current atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse pollutants could contribute to more frequent and intense episodes of urban smog, thus increasing rates of human illness and death. The projected increase in the duration and frequency of heat waves could increase mortality rates due to heat stress.
Climate change also could lead to increases in several infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, as the range of organisms that carry these diseases expands. It has been estimated, for example, that as global surface temperatures rise, by the end of the 21st century the global population will suffer an additional 50 - 80 million cases of malaria.
By the year 2100, rising sea levels could submerge 15 - 60 percent of America's coastal wetlands. These wetlands are nature's kidneys; they cleanse and purify the waters that pass through them. Their loss would be a blow to the health of humans and wildlife alike.
Groundwater aquifers and surface waters could be rendered unfit for drinking by the saltwater intrusion that could be common as sea levels rise. Seven thousand square miles of dry land in states like Louisiana and Florida could be inundated, with devastating effects on local agriculture, quality of life, and drinking water sources. Both droughts and floods are likely to become more frequent and severe as average temperatures rise, thus increasing personal and property damage.
In Alaska, rising surface temperatures will melt the permafrost - and endanger the roads and structures that rest upon it. Wildlife, forestry and commercial fishing operations will also be threatened by rising temperatures.
In short, the potential consequences of climate change go far beyond a few degree rise in average global temperatures over the next century. Rising temperatures and related climate phenomena pose a distinct and serious threat to human health, the environment, and the quality of life on earth. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the problem succinctly: "Climate change is likely to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse impacts on human health, with significant loss of life." In the face of this evidence, and because the effects of climate change would be so serious and so costly, the President has proposed a Climate Change Technology Initiative to allow our nation to reduce greenhouse pollution in common sense, cost-effective, and flexible ways. The partnership programs and targeted tax cuts that the CCTI will fund will improve on the success of the Administration's current climate change programs in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And funding these programs is a wise investment in America's energy future that will benefit the economy, public health, and our environment.
The investments proposed by the President will bring economic benefits beyond those associated with the control of global warming. They will provide incentives for American businesses and communities to cut greenhouse gas emissions now in ways that make economic sense now. They will speed the adoption of today's cost-effective, energy-efficient, low-carbon technologies throughout the economy, and hasten the development of even more advanced technologies in the future. Over 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the burning of fossil fuels, our nation's primary fuel source. Thus, using energy more efficiently in our businesses, homes, and vehicles will save money and make our overall economy far more productive, while at the same time reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
We've already seen how effective these kinds of incentives can be. Under our current Climate Change Action Plan, the Administration has negotiated more than 6,000 EPA partnerships with U.S. businesses, local governments, hospitals, universities and schools across the nation. Dozens of companies like General Motors, IBM, Motorola, and Lockheed Martin are cutting energy use, saving money, and reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases.
And they work. By 1999, continuation of existing voluntary programs can reduce greenhouse pollutants by over 40 million tons a year, and eliminate 90,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, a prime component of urban smog. In fact, every dollar we invest to improve energy efficiency and limit climate change will also control conventional air pollutants like particulates, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide. These pollutants have been linked to heightened risks of mortality, chronic bronchitis, congestive heart failure, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to these pollution-related illnesses.
And these voluntary programs produce real energy savings. They can reduce U.S. energy consumption by over 45 billion kilowatt hours in 1999, providing $3 billion in energy savings to consumers and businesses. For every dollar spent by EPA, the nation's energy bill is reduced by more than $70.
Let me give you some examples of how rewarding these actions can be for both the environment and the economy:
. EPA partnerships with industry have resulted in significant reductions of greenhouse emissions. DuPont has taken steps to cut energy use that saved the company 31 million dollars in 1995, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 18 million tons by the year 2000.
. Climate Wise Partner BP America is working in Alaska to improve the efficiency of its extraction and exploration operations. In all, over the last three years, BP America has reduced emissions in Alaska alone by over 460,000 tons of CO2 per year. This is equal to taking over 100,000 cars off the road.
. EPA and DOE have expanded their successful Energy Star programs and developed new partnerships with window manufacturers to produce more efficient windows, and with electronic manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of new televisions and VCRs. Without any noticeable change in the product, improving the efficiency of our TVs can reduce pollution by up to a million tons of carbon per year and save consumers up to $500 million per year on their energy bills. But TVs are just one of the many products offered under EPA and DOE's Energy Star partnerships. The Energy Star partnership with computer manufacturers, launched in 1992, delivered several hundred million dollars in energy bill savings to consumers and businesses in 1997 -- all from computer systems that use energy more efficiently and reduce pollution simultaneously.
. Under the Energy Star Buildings program, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center and other major office buildings have agreed to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the installation of energy efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems.
These voluntary programs help enhance the productivity of the American economy. They help American businesses compete more effectively in the global economy. And by reducing greenhouse pollution they help us reduce the threat of global warming. The Climate Change Technology Initiative continues this common-sense, cost-effective strategy. The President's Initiative expands these voluntary programs designed to reduce greenhouse pollutants. And if the Initiative is implemented, we can expect to achieve even greater reductions in emissions, and with greater energy savings for consumers and industry alike:
. Today, a majority of home energy-using products are now covered by the ENERGY STAR label, including heating and cooling equipment, computers, and appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. If over the next 15 years everyone were to buy only those energy-efficient products marked in stores with EPA and DOE's distinctive "ENERGY STAR" label, we could shrink our energy bills by a total of over $100 billion over the next 15 years and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.
. Our Energy Star Buildings objective is to profitably improve the energy efficiency of one-half of all commercial buildings and homes by the year 2010. The objective can be accomplished by improving the technologies that home and building owners purchase over the next decade, and by improving the design and construction of new homes and buildings. Achieving this objective would yield annual savings of about 70 million tons of carbon by 2010 and about 170,000 tons of nitrogen oxides while saving consumers and building owners more than $30 billion per year.
. In the industrial sector, our objective under CCTI is two-fold: first, to work with businesses to double their normal rate of energy efficiency improvements between now and 2010; and second, to reduce methane, HFC, PFC, and SF6 emissions by 25 percent from projected baseline levels in 2010. Achieving those dual objectives in the industrial sector would result in annual reductions of about 140 million tons of carbon by 2010 and annual energy bill savings to American industry of up to $15 billion per year by 2010.
. There is tremendous potential for emissions reductions in the transportation sector, now responsible for a full one-third of the U.S. greenhouse gas emission inventory. Our objective will be to increase the efficiency of light vehicles through the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles and through the introduction to the market of ultra-high fuel economy vehicles even earlier than the 2004 model year.
Some have suggested that the CCTI is a "backdoor attempt" to implement the goals agreed to by the United States and other industrialized nations under the Kyoto Protocol. This is an erroneous interpretation of this proposal. Many of the programs that will be continued and expanded under the CCTI were begun under President Bush's leadership. These programs are strictly voluntary. They are good for the economy and can save energy costs for businesses and consumers. And these programs are consistent with the criteria established under the Rio Accord of 1992 calling for effective, voluntary measures to prevent climate change. By every measure, these programs are successful, and have brought us economic and health benefits beyond those associated with the control of global warming.
As with our existing climate change programs, the Climate Change Technology Initiative programs will operate under clear performance standards. EPA's agency-wide Strategic Plan outlines specific goals, objectives and milestones for all climate-related programs and activities. In accordance with the Government Performance and Reporting Act, EPA has developed a successful and extensive system of performance measures and program evaluations for the climate programs. We devote considerable effort to obtaining the best possible information upon which to evaluate our programs. For example, EPA reports the results of the Green Lights program based exclusively on detailed reports submitted by the program's partners on over 14,000 completed projects around the country. We are confident that these important programs can provide maximum accountability and generate valuable information for future program development.
The EPA and DOE work together under a signed memorandum of understanding that ensures complete cooperation between our agencies in managing and evaluating these voluntary programs and the emissions reductions achieved. The effective evaluation of individual program results is a key aspect of the program implementation process. Climate Wise companies agree in joining the program to develop comprehensive Action Plans that describe and quantify actions undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These plans are then subjected to a rigorous interagency review process to ensure accuracy under sector-wide emissions reduction plans.
The Administration evaluates the effectiveness of its climate programs through an interagency program review. The first such interagency evaluation, chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, examined the status of the Climate Change Action Plan. The review included participants from EPA, DOE, DOC, DOT, and USDA, as well as White House offices. The results were published in the U.S. Climate Action Report-- 1997 as part of the United States Submission to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. There were several opportunities for public comment. The Administration will continue to evaluate the future effectiveness of the climate programs through a White House coordinated, interagency process.
This is an economically sound and environmentally sensible approach. We hope the Committee will give these programs the utmost consideration. We thank you for your continued assistance and look forward to working with you in our efforts to prevent climate change and provide a better quality of life for all our people.
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