Incentives planned for cutting greenhouse emissions Clinton speech to outline new U.S. approach today


WASHINGTON -- Stung by complaints that it is moving too slowly against global warming, the Clinton administration has devised a set of rewards for companies that cut emissions of greenhouse gases faster than the government would require under a new international treaty.

The approach, to be outlined in a speech by President Clinton today, is meant to mollify environmental groups and European nations that have been demanding deep, early cuts in emissions. The administration has resisted those calls out of fear that aggressive action might cause too much economic pain.

Even as the White House wrestled with the details of its latest plan yesterday, aides were testing its appeal among business and environmental groups whose support could be crucial to its success. Administration officials and people who had been briefed described the plan's outlines, but cautioned that important elements had still not been decided by Clinton.

The United States is under pressure to explain its approach this week, as negotiations resume in Bonn, Germany, on a treaty to reduce the world's emissions of pollutants that are building up in the atmosphere and threatening to disrupt the planet's climate during the coming century.

Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, comes mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. With the economy booming and energy cheap, United States emissions have been accelerating.

The administration's new approach has several elements, which include these:

* Energy producers and consumers that reduce emissions quickly would get credits, so that those moving fastest would benefit the most when, as the administration envisions, the government issues pollution permits that companies can buy and sell. This trading of pollution permits is the administration's favored approach.

* Instead of a fixed deadline for reducing emissions, the United States would try to achieve its target within a few years on either side of a deadline. That would help encourage companies to comply earlier.

* Tax incentives and subsidies, requiring congressional approval, would also prompt companies to move more quickly.

The new approach would not substantially change the administration's basic goal: to require in the new treaty that industrial nations emit no more greenhouse gases in the year 2010 than they did in 1990.

Pub Date: 10/22/97

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