Warning of floods, drought and rising seas, President Clinton announced plans Saturday to combat global warming through $6.3 billion in spending and tax breaks for home owners, car buyers and businesses.
The series of proposals, disclosed in Clinton’s weekly radio address, includes new spending for research on heat-trapping, greenhouse gases, and such future tax credits as a $3,000 incentive to buy energy-efficient automobiles and $2,000 for installation of solar panels at homes and businesses.
The tax breaks are part of a $24 billion tax cut the White House will unveil Monday as part of its 1999 budget submission. The proposed tax cuts are offset by closures in loopholes and restrictions on corporate subsidies, White House aides said.
“Whether the problem has been acid rain, deadly pesticides, polluted rivers or the ozone hole, the ingenuity of the American people has always proved to carry the day - and we’ll do it once again,” Clinton said. The new proposals would avert the worst dangers of climate change “while keeping our economy going strong,” he said.
The proposals are intended to carry out a global warming accord reached late last year in Kyoto, Japan. They are divided between $3.6 billion in tax cuts and $2.7 billion in research spending over five years.
The proposal, which was welcomed by environmentalists, exceeded the $5 billion plan officials initially had announced. Among the recommendations, which would need approval by Congress:
Tax credits for auto buyers. A $3,000 credit, which in effect reduces the price of the auto by that amount, would be available in 2000 on vehicles that offer gas mileage that is twice the base fuel economy level for autos of similar size.
The credit would phase down to $2,000 in 2004 and phase out in 2006.
“We’re committed to making it not only wiser, but actually cheaper, to buy highly efficient cars,” Clinton said.
Tax breaks for homeowners and businesses. Tax credits would be available equal to 20 percent of the cost of energy-saving water heaters and air conditioners, along with a tax credit of up to $2,000 for installing solar panels. The solar credit would be available for systems installed in 1999.
Although many details were not released, Clinton vowed that such tax breaks would “help turn your home into a model of energy efficiency.”
New research spending and efforts to mobilize “cutting-edge technology” in various ways.
The areas of research include renewable energy sources, efficient consumer appliances, and scientific understanding of climate change.
Clinton said scientists now unequivocally accept the theory that climate change is caused by carbon dioxide and other emissions that trap the Earth’s heat before it can dissipate.
Unless emissions are reduced, he cautioned, “seas will rise and increasingly severe floods and droughts will occur, disrupting life in … coastal areas, disrupting agricultural production and causing other difficulties …”
Under the Kyoto accord, U.S. negotiators agreed that by 2012 the United States will reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels.