WASHINGTON - President Bill Clinton announced a plan yesterday to combat global warming, using a mix of voluntary programmes, government regulation and fresh support for renewable energy. But the plan, under which US greenhouse gas emissions would be cut to 1990 levels by the year 2000, was attacked by environmentalists as inadequate.
The announcement fulfils President Clinton's promise made last April to combat global warming and foresees federal spending of dollars 1.9bn (pounds 1.2bn) by the end of the decade but no new taxes.
The President said the plan was part of 'a long-term strategy that will continue the trend of downward emissions'. He also announced the creation of a task force that would develop within a year a detailed strategy to cut emissions from cars by at least 2 per cent a year.
Carol Browner, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said her office would crack down on industry if the voluntary programmes did not work. 'We are open to modifying the plan if we . . . are not making the kind of progress we need,' she said.
The plan got mixed reviews from environmental groups, who say it does not go far enough and relies too heavily on voluntary measures by industry that will be hard to monitor.
But business executives welcomed the plan's flexibility and praised the President for avoiding costly government mandates. Mr Clinton said the plan's reliance on voluntary measures meant the administration could implement it immediately, since most of the initiatives do not require approval by Congress.
The plan aims to build on an estimated dollars 60bn in private investment in energy-efficiency improvements and other environmental technologies, generating an estimated dollars 60bn in energy savings by the end of the decade.
The plan includes: a collaborative project with industry to develop and market more efficient motor systems; tougher standards for household appliances and methane leakage from landfills; and measures to reduce pesticide use.
Two other measures a change to tax subsidies for employer-paid parking and another that boosts private investment in federal hydroelectric power plants - will generate another dollars 2.7bn for federal coffers.
Mr Clinton challenged other industrialised countries to draft similar plans to meet their obligations under the climate change treaty, signed at the Earth Summit last year. Signatories must submit 'national action plans' to comply with the treaty next year.